Since nearby Tuttle Educational State Forest is closed on Mondays in the summer, I chose to visit South Mountains State Park (K-2753) instead–it was only a few minutes further afield than Tuttle.
After leaving Table Rock, I picked up a quick lunch in Morganton and drove to the main entrance of South Mountains and set up at the equestrian picnic area.
South Mountains State Park (K-2753)
The weather that day was beautiful and so was the drive.
I decided to deploy my Chelegance MC-750 this time, just to shake things up a bit. If you know me, when I do little roves like this, I typically like to use different radios and/or antennas at each site.
I paired the MC-750 with my Yaesu FT-817ND. My reasoning for picking the ‘817 was because I could use the SO-239 connection on the back of the radio. The new cable assembly/feedline I was using had PL-259s on each end.
Speaking of the new assembly, at the Dayton Hamvention this year, I popped by the ABR Industries booth and Chuck gave me (full disclosure–at no cost to me) a new product to test in the field: a 20 foot PL-259 to PL-259 assembly made with their ABR240-UF cable and with 5 in-line ferrites. What makes this cable unique is that it sports a bright orange flexible webbed jacketing which makes it very easy to see on the ground.
They’ve been informally calling it their “POTA cable.” I immediately knew why this would appeal to POTA ops: one of my constant fears is that someone will unknowingly trip on my feedline while I’m in the middle of an activation. Black coax cable on the ground is very difficult to see (I’ve even tripped on my own lines)–this high visibility jacketing makes cable very conspicuous. Just check out the photos above. Continue reading Pairing the Yaesu FT-817ND and Chelegance MC-750 at South Mountains State Park→
Many of you know that I’m a big fan of cable assemblies from ABR Industries. I’ve been a customer of theirs for well over a decade and I’ve never had one of their cables fail me.
I’ve hinted to ABR in the past that it would be great to have a sponsorship or affiliate relationship with them.
ABR came through this week by starting an affiliate program with QRPer.com and will give our community a 10% discount on any items purchased on the ABR website via our link and by using the discount code: ABR10QRPER
I made a few suggestions of cable assembly types and standard lengths based on the ones I use the most and I feel others would find useful in the field. They created a page specifically for these options and the selection will likely grow with time:
“it’s important to use the 10% discount code under ABR10QRPER. It’s in the checkout section under coupon. The reason is if a customer buys other items they will enjoy the discount beyond these focused products.”
So there you go!
If you need something other than what is listed in this selection, ABR will help you find what you want on their website–just make sure you enter the coupon code for the discount!
Many thanks to ABR for setting up this affiliate relationship and discount code. You may note that I only have affiliate relationships with companies I trust and patronize myself. Very proud to have ABR on board with QRPer.com!
On the morning of Wednesday, June 14, 2023, I left the QTH with a goal in mind: fit in a POTA activation before taking my sweet mom to an appointment that afternoon. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are about four park options that are easy detours off the 1.5 hour drive to my parents’ home, so it was very much doable.
I decided to go to Tuttle (K-4861) since it would be very close to one of my favorite lunch spots (Food Matters in Morganton). I figured I could fit in an activation, then grab lunch after, and still make the appointment with time to spare.
In almost every case, this is how I do POTA these days: it’s all about fitting in activations with weekly travels and errands. It’s rare that I simply plot out an activation or two the day before. More often than not, I schedule my activation a max of 30 minutes before I arrive at the park.
I arrived at Tuttle around 11:30 AM and had the park to myself. There were no other guests there, just park rangers. And lots of birds.
I speak about this at length in my video below, but I’ve been a customer of ABR Industries for well over a decade now. ABR is a USA supplier of high quality cable, cable assemblies, and other cable components. I’m a huge fan. In fact, I wrote about them separately on the SWLing Post a couple years ago.
Full disclosure: ABR Industries sent me this cable assembly (and one other I’ll feature in a future report) free of charge. They are not a sponsor (although I’d love for them to be) and I’ve no other relationship with them other than being a customer.
I go into greater detail in my video, but I learned a while back just how important it is to use high-quality cable assemblies, adapters, and connectors in the field and at the QTH.
As a field operator, I know my cable assemblies are essentially consumables. With all of the winding, deployments, packing, being outdoors, rough handling, etc. they will eventually fail. (In fact, Alan made a point of this in his latest field report when a mishap in the field broke a good assembly.)
High quality cable assemblies will not only provide better longevity and better durability, but also less loss and overall higher performance. It’s worth the cost because when I hike to a summit, the last think I want to discover is that my cable assembly has failed.
Note that I also build my own cable assemblies (indeed, I feel like all radio ops should learn this simple skill) and try to use quality components and best practices to make the best assemblies I can.
Take-away is: don’t skimp on your cable assemblies. I no longer buy my cable assemblies from random suppliers on eBay or Amazon, I buy them from companies that build and test their assemblies within our hobby; companies like PackTenna, Tufteln, Messi & Paoloni, and ABR Industries.
Here ends my PSA…let’s get on with the activation!
Note that this post was originally published on theSWLing Post, but I feel like quality cable is especially important for those of us who are into field activities like Parks On The Air (POTA) and Summits On The Air (SOTA) where our gear gets a lot of handling and outdoor time.
Two radio accessories I often forget to mention in my posts and reviews are cable and connectors. When a cable functions well, it’s taken for granted and easily overlooked.
You’ll hear me say that a radio is only as good as its antenna and while that’s true, the important link in the system is your antenna cable and connectors. If you have a fabulous antenna and a benchmark radio, but you connect the two with substandard cables, it will create unnecessary losses and even shorts if you’re not careful.
But let’s be honest: it’s easy to cheap out on cables.
When I first started using tabletop receivers and transceivers in my youth, I had a tight budget. When I would go to a local hamfest where I’d find excellent prices on cable assemblies from those accessory retailers who sell a little bit of everything. You know…the tables with everything from $10 multimeters to $5 blinking lights–? I’d find their prices for cable assemblies too attractive and would grab them.
Back when I owned my original Yaesu FT-817, I used one of these cables on Field Day and blew my finals due to a small short ono a connector end (if memory serves, braiding was touching the conductor). From that point forward, I decided I’d invest in quality cables.
At the Hamvention in 2010, I found ABR Industries’ table. The only thing they had on display were cable assemblies and a handful of cable accessories. I picked one cable up and inspected it–I could tell it was good quality. Although I know how to make my own cable assemblies (with PL-259s, at least) I appreciate professionally-built assemblies.
I spoke with the representative that day and learned about their company and how they go about making standard and custom cable assemblies in the USA for the consumer, commercial, and government markets.
Although the price was at least double what I would have paid at one of the discount retailers, I never looked back.
From that point forward, I’ve only purchased ABR cables typically at Hamvention, Universal Radio, or even directly from ABR’s website (when I ordered custom assemblies).
The quality of ABR cables is second to none. I have never had one fail at home or (especially) in the field.
For my QRP POTA activations, I started investing in ABR316 and ABR100 BNC to BNC assemblies. I’m especially fond of the ABR316 assemblies (above) because they’re so resistant to memory when I coil them.
You pay for what you get
I suppose this is on my mind because I’m about to do an assessment and make another ABR order so that my new field radio kits have their own dedicated cable assemblies with correct ends (so I’m also not forced to use BNC or PL adapters for matching).
I’m also replacing some of my 3 foot cable assemblies with SMA connectors to PL-259 for my bank of SDRs. This is a part of achieving one of my goals for 2021. I’ll know then that each receiver will have a quality link to my antenna splitter and antenna.
My point here is don’t skimp on your cable, adapters, or cable assemblies.
If you have the skill to build your own, buy quality components and take your time building them.
If you prefer purchasing pre-made cable assemblies, talk with your local ham radio retailer, or seek out cable assembly houses like ABR Industries. I’d avoid purchasing cheap cables you may find on eBay or Amazon.com, for example. That’s not to say that there aren’t quality discount assemblies out there, I just prefer buying from a company that takes pride in their work and stands behind the quality.