Many thanks to Ed (W4EMB) 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, check out this post. Ed writes:
My QRP Portable Set up
by Ed (W4EMB)
Radio: I have one priority rig I use 99% of my time. It is the TR45L Penntek. I have both versions. The fullsize one with built-in tuner and battery, I also have the “Skinny” version. The skinny does not have the tuner nor battery. My second Rig is the Yaesu 817 with the Windcamp Battery upgrade. I also have a 40m only QSX and the 5 band TruSdx.
Antenna: I use the Chelegance MC-750 most of the time, but also use a Homebrew EFHW with 49:1 balun and 67’ of wire.
I have the QRP guys Tri-Band vertical kit, and two pieces of 16ga Speaker wire cut to 33’ that I carry as well. To support the EFHW and Speaker wire antenna, I use the SOTABEAMS 10m (32 ft) “Travel Mast”.
For the QRP Guys Tri-band vertical, I use the SOTABEAMS Carbon-6 ultra light 6m (19.6 ft) mast. To support the 32’ mast I usually just lean it into the trees and slope my EFHW up from the feed point.
For the speaker wire antenna, I run the “red wire” straight up the mast while it is strapped to the picnic table. The “black wire” is simply thrown out across the ground. I might even elevate the black wire with sticks.
My carbon-6 fits right into a piece of 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe I have clamped to my brush guard on my van. Or, I use a Tiki-Torch stake to hold my carbon-6 in open ground.
I find for me, that my QRP Guys antenna works great on 20m without a tuner. But when I try to use it on 30m or 40m, I require a tuner. For this reason, I lean on my MC-750 to be the main antenna.
I have modified my MC-750 slightly. I made my own set of radials to match the factory ones. I chose to make them out of silicone wire. I find it to be more flexible and does not kink or tangle as easy as the standard factory radials. I used 3mm banana plugs and 24ga yellow wire. I also crimped small ring connectors onto the ends of the radials. I did NOT strip the insulation and place them on the wire. I simply crimped them on the silicone. I use them to stake down the wire. I use four nails as “stakes” to pin the wire down. I find I only stake the radials out when I am on un-even ground.
The second modification, I made a set of “double” radials out of 26ga green silicone wire. Colors do not matter. It is what I had. I spread them evenly around the base of the MC-750.
My key is a Czech military straight key from the 1950s. It was new old stock when I bought it. I also carry a small mini set of paddles. For the TR45L radio, I can not play my recoded CQ or 73 with out a paddle. The “play” button is dit or dah trough the paddle jack.
For coax, I use RG316 and the appropriate adapter for the MC-750.
I have two pencils from Kuru Toga. One pencil is .5mm the other is .7mm. I make my own POTA log sheets and I paper log, and then type them later. I am a not talented enough yet to play with a tablet or PC while operating. I have only done CW for the last 12 months.
On my table: I have a really thin yoga mat. I find the concrete picnic tables a bit rough on my equipment. The yoga mat can get a bit sticky when it is warm, so I drape a small hand towel over the edge where my arms lay. I also have a Write in the Rain tablet in full size paper. I have been out early in the mornings in this summer and humidity and steamy fog makes normal paper hard to write on. The .7mm pencil matches up well with the Write in the Rain paper.
I have found CW and POTA have re-energized my ham radio hobby and resurrected it from a dusty shack, to a fun out door activity.
My first challenge was how to get from the car to the table in one trip. Downsize to the necessities. Next was figuring out the antenna and radio combo that could work in different conditions. By conditions I mean space.
Location, location….. I had a dog run between me and my antenna. It pulled my radio right off the table and tumble behind the dog. So now I choose my locations like Bill Hickock… always face the door. Hihi. Food for thought.
Thank you to Thomas for inspiring me to get out there and do it. His you tube videos were great copy practice to give me the confidence to get out there. Finally, my Elmer. John, KM6NN. Without him I would have never started my CW journey. He is a true Elmer in every definition of the word. I am proud to know him and lucky he is in my life. Thank you John.
- SOTABEAM 32′ Mast
- SOTABEAM carbon-6
- Amazon: Tiki Torch Stake
- Bioenno 12V and 12Ah Battery
- Amazon: Coax: 25′ RG316 with BNC connectors
- Sams Club: Folding Table
- Amazon: Thin yoga mat
- Amazon: Kuru Toga .5mm
- Amazon: Kuru Toga .7mm