Many thanks to Zach (K4ZSR) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post.
K4ZSR’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit
by Zach (K4ZSR)
My primary portable radio station is based around the Xiegu X6100. This was the first HF transceiver I bought after getting my ticket, and I have taken it on well over 100 POTA and SOTA activations across ten countries. Over time, I have learned what does and does not work for me and my operating style, and my field kit now has exactly what I need.
I have used several different packs to hold my portable radio gear, but my current favorite is this Quechua NH Escape 500 from Decathlon (I bought mine in Romania, but you can order them online). While designed as a laptop bag, this pack has all the features I need to carry for radio gear: full-opening main compartment, padded laptop/tablet sleeve, waist belt, good internal organization, and extra room. My field kit always stays in this bag, unless I am going on a long hike or camping.
The heart of this field kit is a fully self-contained station in a semi-hard side case (meant for a portable projector). As long you have a tree or other antenna support, everything you need is in this case. I always have more equipment with me, but this is the bare minimum. Two modifications I made to make the kit smaller was replacing the stock mic coil cable with an ultra-slim CAT 6 cable, and making a 6-inch power cable.
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- LTGEM Hard Case
- SP4 POTA/SOTA Paddles
- Xiegu X6100
- Panasonic Earbuds and Moleskine Cahier notebook
- K6ARK 20w EFRW Antenna (laser-cut winder, 26g PTFE wire)
- GPS/GLONASS Receiver and USB cables for digital modes
- Bioenno 3Ah Battery
- “QRP” sized Weaver 8oz bullet throw weight with braided fishing line
- 10ft RG-316 Feedline
Since I do no always have a tree handy, and you should never be without at least two antennas, I always have a mast and an antenna accessory pouch with me as well.
- DIY spike base, tent stakes, and guy lines for mast
- K4ZSR 20m EFHW “Credit Card” antenna
- SOTABeams Carbon-6 Mast
- Solognac medium organizer pouch – purchased in Europe
- Miscellaneous antenna gear (compass, wire ties, extra stake, bungee cord, carabiners, etc)
- 80m extension for 6-band EFHW
- K4ZSR 6-band EFHW (40-10m, with 30 & 17m links)
Adding my Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet for logging and running WSTJ modes, and my field kit comes in at just over 9 lbs (ignore the scale, the tablet case was empty in this picture).
If I am going to be operating in an accessible and open area, I may bring my vertical whip antenna system. This is one of my newest additions, I assembled this antenna over Christmas 2023. I wanted a ground mount system for a 17 ft whip antenna, but I needed it to pack down relatively flat to be able to carry easily in a back pack. My solution was a modular base designed like a pedestal mount used for soccer flags. Even in somewhat soft ground, this base is incredibly stable despite the small size of the ground spike.
- Wolf River Coils 17’ SS whip
- 25ft RG-8X coax
- Tent Stakes
- Wolf River Coils Sporty 40 coil
- Faraday cloth
- K4ZSR ground spike vertical antenna mount
Assembled, the mount is inserted into the ground until the disk makes firm contact. The spike and the 3/8-24 mount are removable for packing, and the aluminum boss has 4mm holes for inserting banana plugs to ground the faraday cloth, or to attach ground radials.
Here is the antenna system assembled and in use at K-2949, Harpeth River State Park.
My true passion for amateur radio is portable operations, and as I add to my collection my field kits will grow and evolve. The most important lesson I have learned operating portable is to have simple, durable kit that you are very familiar with. That way when the situation is different than expected, or conditions change, you are prepared to adapt and overcome.
73, de K4ZSR