Tag Archives: Field Radio Kit Gallery

Field Radio Kit Gallery: K4ZSR’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit

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.

Gear

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  1. LTGEM Hard Case
  2. SP4 POTA/SOTA Paddles
  3. Xiegu X6100
  4. Panasonic Earbuds and Moleskine Cahier notebook
  5. K6ARK 20w EFRW Antenna (laser-cut winder, 26g PTFE wire)
  6. GPS/GLONASS Receiver and USB cables for digital modes
  7. Bioenno 3Ah Battery
  8. “QRP” sized Weaver 8oz bullet throw weight with braided fishing line
  9. 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.

Gear

  1. DIY spike base, tent stakes, and guy lines for mast
  2. K4ZSR 20m EFHW “Credit Card” antenna
  3. SOTABeams Carbon-6 Mast
  4. Solognac medium organizer pouch – purchased in Europe
  5. Miscellaneous antenna gear (compass, wire ties, extra stake, bungee cord, carabiners, etc)
  6. 80m extension for 6-band EFHW
  7. 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.

Gear

  1. Wolf River Coils 17’ SS whip
  2. 25ft RG-8X coax
  3. Tent Stakes
  4. Wolf River Coils Sporty 40 coil
  5. Faraday cloth
  6. 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

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KV4AN’s Elecraft KH1 Field Kit

Many thanks to Steve (KV4AN) 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


KV4AN’s Elecraft KH1 Field Kit

by Steve (KV4AN)

The Elecraft KH1 is a new radio with less than two hundred delivered, so I thought the readers of QRPer.com may be interested in my take on a KH1 Field Kit.

The KH1 “Edgewood” package has everything necessary for 20-15 meter ultra-portable operation, such as pedestrian mobile, Summits on the Air (SOTA), or Parks on the Air (POTA).  Elecraft put a lot of thought into it and like others have said, “I feel like it is the radio I always wanted.”  However, I also wanted to be able to operate 40 and 30 meters and to be able to take it on a trip for a week; perhaps by air.  There were three challenges that needed to be overcome to meet to do this:  I needed an antenna for 40 and 30 meters, a way to recharge the battery, and everything needed to fit in one small protective case.

Figure 1. KH1 Field Kit Packed Up.

My solution was a field kit that had everything needed to operate 40-15 meters in the smallest possible hard case – the kit and components are shown in figures (1) and (2).

Figure 2.  KH1 Field Kit Components.

Components and Gear Links

The components of the KH1 Field Kit are listed below.  Every piece had to “earn” a spot in the Nanuk 904 hard case.  I tried the Pelican Micro M50 case, which is a little smaller than the Nanuk 904, but not everything would fit.

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  1. KH1 Transceiver – A new ultra-small, self-contained, five-band, QRP, CW transceiver manufactured by Elecraft.  The optional Edgewood Package includes a detachable keyer paddle, logging tray, ballpoint pen, ES20 carrying case, a telescoping whip antenna for 20-15 meters, and a 13 ft. counterpoise wire.
  2. ES20 Carrying Case – A custom soft case made by Elecraft for the KH1.  Protects the KH1 and enables ultra-portable operation.
  3. Panasonic RP-HJE120-K Stereo Earphones – Used as miniature headphones.  Fits in ES20 case.
  4. OLIGHT I3E-VROG-300000 Keychain Flashlight – Chosen for its extremely small size and orange color.  Uses one “AAA” battery.  Fits in ES20 case.
  5. Nanuk 904 Hard Case – This case was selected because it was large enough for the KH1 in its ES-20 soft case and all the gear in this list.  The quality of the Nanuk case is very good.
  6. Tufteln EFRW Antenna – This antenna has a 31 ft. radiator and a 17 ft counterpoise.  It was chosen because of its very small size when packed, good performance on 40 and 30 meters, and ability to be used with the KH1 internal tuner.
  7. Tufeteln Line Winder.  This is Line Winder for the EFHW antenna kit, purchased separately to store the arborist throw line.
  8. Gerber Mullet Micro-Multitool – Chosen for small size.  Has a Phillips and straight screw driver and a wire cutter/stripper.
  9. SOB 8 oz. Arborist Throw Bag –A durable arborist throw bag.  This is a replacement for the Camnal Throw Bag pictured.  Used to loft the antenna support line over a tree limb.
  10. X Monster Throw Line 1.8mm Easter Rope for Aborists, 50 ft. – Used to enable suspension of the end of a wire antenna from a tree.
  11. OXZEEWEE 12V 1A Power Supply Charger Adapter – a small wall-wart AC adapter used to charge the battery.
  12. Wisedry Desiccant Pack – 20 oz rechargeable silica gel pack – used to keep the inside of the sealed case dry.
  13. BNC to SO-239 Adapter – Enables use of coaxial cable with PL-259 connectors.

CONCLUSION

The Nanuk 904 Hard Case was the perfect size for all the things I needed for 40-15 meter operation on a muti-day trip and it is small and light enough to put in your carry-on bag for a flight.

Field Radio Kit Gallery: Micah’s Flight-Ready Compact MTR-4B Field Kit

Many thanks to Micah (N4MJL) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page.


Mountain Topper MTR-4B Field Kit

by Micah (N4MJL)

I am a very, very new CW operator! I’m also an airline pilot who travels quite a bit. Many times when I’m out flying my company provided hotel rooms are within walking distance of POTA parks.

The MTR-4B is my travel radio. It lives in my suitcase nestled in a Magpul DAKA Utility Organizer pouch.

The DAKA pouch holds:

Everything has to fit nicely in my 22″ roller board.

As flight crew, our roller boards are typically from Luggage Works or StrongBags. I have found that I can always make room for more radio gear in my luggage by packing less undergarments. I mean, you can always make your underwear and socks last another 24 hours by turning them inside out for another wear. Lol

The SOTA beams Tactical Mini Mast fits diagonally in my 22″ roller board. Wrapped around it are some rubber coated heavy wire for securing it to a post/shrub if available.

The SOTAbeams Band Hopper III is my go to antenna. This antenna does it all!

  • rated 125W
  • it’s a a full size half wave dipole
  • with 33ft RG174 coax
  • guying system
  • resonant on (20m 30m 40m) no tuner needed
  • has a balun
  • only weighs 14oz

The wire/guying winders are awesome. I have used this system in the sand on a beach and on a mountain top above the tree line. I replaced the aluminum tent pegs with some plastic ones to keep TSA a bit more happy with me.

I use a Talent cell battery [affiliate link] everyday for a recharge while on the go. It is large enough to power my cell phone/iPad while also powering my MTR, and the voltage output is safe for the MTR to handle.

My CW skills are not yet to the point that I am able to activate a park by running a pile up, so I do a lot of hunting. If one day you have me in you log book from California and the very next day I’m sending from Massachusetts that’s not a mistake, that’s just my life. 73!

~ Micah J. LaVanchy N4MJL

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KM4CFT’s IC-705 Field Kit in a Lens Case

Many thanks to Jonathan (KM4CFT) 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


IC-705 Field Kit

by Jonathan (KM4CFT)


This is my new field kit for my IC-705. The 705 is my favorite radio in my collection and I prefer to use it for any casual field work where size and weight isn’t a concern. (When I am concerned about size and weight I typically take my KX2.)

It consists of a protected IC-705 and a camera lens case. I cannot take credit for this idea since I copied it from Aaron Bowman, W4ARB. (see his video here)

The kit consists of the following:

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Field Radio Kit Gallery: N7KOM’s Pocket HF Go Kit

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it or held it – just how small this kit is. Tim (N7KOM) and I met up in December 2023 when I was on a trip in the Pacific Northwest and he and I stopped for a lunchtime activation.

Tim’s ENTIRE kit for mountain-top activating less his mast and the 9V battery seen in the background. It’s a stark comparison to my KX3 Go-Kit.

His kit is super light and small. I’ll let Tim take up the description from here:


A Pocket HF Go Kit.

by Tim (N7KOM)

There are few pleasures in life more satisfying than making QSOs on a thin wire tuned for a half wave.

One of my favorite radios is the classic MTR3B. At 9.8cm x 6.5cm x 2.4cm it is truly a pocket radio. Everything I need to get on the air fits into an Amazon external Harddrive case. Here’s a breakdown with weight measurements:

  • MTR-3B – 126 g
  • 9V Li-Poly USB-C rechargeable battery + power plug – 29 g
  • K6ARK 3D printed paddle and 3.5mm cable – 22 g
  • Earbuds + external volume control knob – 26 g
  • Trapped EFHW on an RCA connector (matching the radio’s connector) tuned for 20m/30m/40m. 28-32 ga wire on a 3d printed winder. – 42 g
N7KOM’s ultra-lightweight HF Kit

As is, it weighs a total of 323 grams or 0.7 lbs. Add in a lightweight 9 foot mast from ali-express and I have everything I need to make contacts. I could even string the wire on some bushes or the ground if I was really in a pinch.

Other notes

I could reduce the weight and packability further by using shorter cables on the earbuds/volume control as well as the paddle cable.

The antenna winder is a K6ARK 3D printed winder printed at around 70% size.

A 41 g external speaker may also be added to the kit, but it does not fit in the HDD case and must be carried separately.

Here is a video tour of the kit on YouTube:


So there you have it folks -323g of portable HF kit everything included! Check out Tim’s YouTube page or his Microlight QRP Traps on Etsy for your next QRP outing.

Tim’s field kit is now featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post

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Field Radio Kit Gallery: KK7ISX’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit

Many thanks to Todd (KK7ISX) 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.


KK7ISX’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit

Hey Thomas, I love perusing the Field Radio Kit Gallery section of your website. It’s helped me dial in my SOTA kit while I’ve been injured this fall so I’d like to pay it forward.

Photos

This is my current set up for my Xiegu X6100:

Equipment list:

[Note: All Amazon and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.]

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KV4AN’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

Many thanks to Steve (KV4AN) 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


KV4AN’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

by Steve (KV4AN)

A requirements-driven portable communication capability, using a modular implementation concept, was the basis for my IC-705 Field Kit.  I’ve loved portable radio operating since shortly after getting my license back in 1975.  My first portable radio was the over-the-shoulder Kenwood TR-2200A 2m FM transceiver.  There is now a happy confluence of advanced electronics technology, customer-focused radio manufacturers, radio sport groups like POTA and SOTA, and hams who want to combine outdoor adventures with their ham radio hobby.   The result is the ability to create and operate highly capable portable ham radio field kits, such as the IC-705 Field Kit that I’m going to describe in this article.

The kit consists of up to three man-packable bags: a Radio Bag, an Antenna Bag, and a Computer Bag, as shown in figure (1).  The Radio and Antenna bags must be brought to every activation, but the computer bag can be left at home if I don’t plan to use digital modes.  I can also swap out Antenna Bags, depending on what kind of antenna you need for the specific activation location and park rules, like: ability to use a ground spike, size of activation area, presence of suitable trees, primary operating bands and expected propagation conditions, and so forth.

Figure 1.  IC-705 Field Kit loaded up and ready for a park activation (click image to enlarge).

Radio Bag

The Radio Bag contains everything necessary to operate the IC-705 in the field.  It can be carried in one hand, worn over-the-should, or worn as a fanny pack.  With the load-out listed below and shown in figure (2), it weighs around 15 lbs.

[Gear links list at end of article.]

A. Icom IC-705 Transceiver.  Chosen for its “all-band”, “all-mode” capability with base station features and performance.  It’s a superb, state-of-the art radio, and a joy to operate – but, it “feels” a little delicate with the large unprotected touch screen and protruding light plastic knobs.

B. IC-705 Front Panel Cover. This was chosen to protect the delicate front panel of the IC-705.  I didn’t want one of the cages, because they add bulk and weight to a reasonably small and light weight radio.  This cover fits perfectly, doesn’t mar the radio body, and provides great impact protection when the radio is not in use.

C. Icom AH-705 Antenna Tuner. This is a good antenna tuner and matches the IC-705 (in appearance and electronic functionality) very well.  It is large compared to the Elecraft T1, but it runs off two “AA” batteries, which I really like.  The tuner uses a BNC coaxial patch cable and a 1/8” stereo patch cable for connection to the IC-705.   I don’t need to use this tuner very often as my antenna typically has a low SWR on 40 – 10 meters.

D. Icom HM-243 Speaker-Microphone. The HM-243 comes with the IC-705.  I’ve never used the speaker part of it, but the microphone has good voice reproduction.  If needed, I planned to use the speaker in place of headphones.

E. N3ZN ZN-QRP Special Iambic Keyer Paddle.  I got this marvelous quality and wonderful feeling paddle in beautiful Blaze Orange – so I feel like I’m the radio operator from a downed aircraft trying to get rescued.  The paddle is a little heavy for portable use, but at least it doesn’t move around while sending.  It uses a 1/8” stereo plug patch cable for connection to the IC-705.

F. Tactical Range Bag. This bag was chosen because the IC-705 fit perfectly in the main compartment and there were additional compartments for all the small accessories.  It also came in Army Green color.

G. Icom MBF-705 Desk Stand. Stabilizes the radio when it is on a table or in the Radio Bag and positions it for easy viewing and operating.

Figure 2. Radio Bag and Contents (click image to enlarge).

H. Icom BP-272 Standard Battery Pack. 7.4v, 1880 mAh pack that came with the radio and attaches to the back of it.  I use this as the spare battery pack.

I. Icom BP-307 High-Capacity Battery Pack. 7.2V, 3150 mAh pack that attaches to the back of the IC-705.  So far, this battery pack has been sufficient for my POTA activations.

J. Tactical Drop Pouch.  This pouch fits in the bottom of the main compartment of the Radio Bag and can hold either a Bioenno 12V, 12Ah, LiFePO4 battery or the front panel cover (used as a spacer).  The IC-705 sits on top of the Tactical Drop Pouch when in the Radio Bag, which elevates it enough that the IC-705 can be easily operated.

K. Smiley Antenna Company TRI-Band.  This is a telescoping 1/4 wave 2m and 5/8 wave 440 antenna that attaches directly to the IC-705.  It performs well with the IC-705 and fits inside the tactical bag when collapsed.  Another advantage of the telescoping whip is it can be adjusted for best SWR.

L. USB Cable.  The USB C to Micro USB cable is used to connect the IC-705 to the portable station computer to control the radio and pass audio and data.  This cable is needed, even if you connect using WiFi for rig control and audio, to send GPS NMEA format position and time data from the IC-705 to the computer.  I was told by Icom Technical Support that the cable should not be longer than 3 feet and should have an RFI Choke at each end.  The combination of the short cable, USB C connector instead of USB A, and the RFI chokes seems to help the noise problem that that the IC-705 has when a USB cable is plugged into it.  The other solution is using the RS-BA1 software.

M. Emergency HF Antenna. This is a home-brew antenna with a 24 1/2 foot radiator and 12 1/2 foot counterpoise that attaches to the AH-705 Antenna Tuner with a BNC to binding post adapter.  It is rolled up on a line winder and there is some paracord to hold up the end of the radiator.  This is a back up antenna in case something happens to the regular antenna.

N. Assorted Coaxial Adapters: BNC to SO-239, SO-239 Barrel, BNC Elbow, and BNC to binding post.

O. Tactical Pen.  A nice heavy pen for outdoors use.   Used for logging.

P. All-Weather Notebook. Weather-proof notepad for outdoor use.  Used for logging.

Q. Leatherman squirt E4: A Swiss Army-like miniature tool set with a wire stripper and screw drivers.  It is used to perform minor repairs in the field.  This tool has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

R. Gerber Recon Task Flashlight.   A rugged miniature flashlight that runs on 1 “AA battery and has different color lens.

Antenna Bag

An Antenna Bag goes on every activation.  The primary bag contains the components of the Chameleon Antenna Tactical Delta Loop (TDL) antenna.  The TDL is a versatile antenna that can be configured as a small Inverted Delta Loop or a 17 foot ground mounted vertical.  I usually use the 17 foot ground mounted vertical configuration because it takes less than five minutes to deploy, performs well, doesn’t attract much attention, and does not require a tuner for 40 through 10 meters.

The Antenna Bag itself is the Sunrise Tactical Gear, Tactical Tripod Bag Gen 2 (32 inch length).  It is exceptionally durable and holds all the components of the TDL antenna.  It can be worn across the back for easy carrying.  The Antenna Bag and all components weigh around 11 lbs. Continue reading Field Radio Kit Gallery: KV4AN’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KD0FNR’s Rockmite 20 and Tuna Topper

Many thanks to Hamilton (KD0FNR) 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.


Rockmite 20 and Tuna Topper Pack QRP Punch

by Hamilton (KD0FNR)

Our ham radio field kit—in my mind—revolves around simplicity. I’ll walk you through a lot of details, because we have a blast with the field kit and I love talking about it. At the end of the day, it’s a kit radio and amplifier housed in a couple of cans with lengths of wire we bought at a hardware store for an antenna, a cell phone power brick, and a keyer glued together out of video game switches and an old battery case. We’ve thrown the kit into cloth shopping bags and backpacks with equal measures of success. We once patched an antenna connection using washi tape.

OK, I said ‘our’ and ‘we’, but who are we? I’m the dad of three kids—one of whom recently passed her Technician radio exam, KO6BTY—who are 12, 11, and 8 years old. Right now, they’re rarely on the radio—of course, that’s about to change—they help with most aspects of our radio outings.

Which brings up the question, what do our radio outings look like? Our outings are pretty equally divided between, camping and day trips. Our entire family has enjoyed camping—and done a lot of it—since long before I got back into ham radio. Each of the kids went on their first camping trip when they were a few weeks old.  Our camping trips range from local, public transit enabled outings—we take the bus to Pantol Campground, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco where there are two POTAs readily available: Mt. Tamalpais State Park and  Muir Woods. We also take multi-day/week trips: I grew up in New Mexico, so the kids and I frequently find ourselves back there activating or attempting to activate sites like Villa Nueva State Park, Organ Mountains National Monument, and Cibola National Forest, among others. These are the outings that have led to large-ish battery selections you’ll see below.

Our day trips are quick runs along various local bus, train, and ferry lines with a hike tacked on the end. Within the peninsula that encloses San Francisco, we have several POTA locations and two easily reachable SOTA locations. We pretty frequently bus to a spot, and then spend a few hours hanging out in a nice park getting some radio time.

Having said all of that, you might have guessed that our kit would be optimized for easy travel. You’d be right. Now, finally, let’s talk about the kit!

Radio Details:

All of our equipment is home-built. It’s evolved over the last year-and-a-half into he tidy kit you see above. Finally having a ‘typical’ kit picture is actually what inspired this article.

Equipment List:

[Please note: All Amazon links are affiliate and support QRPer.com.]

  • Rockmite 20
  • Tuna Topper
  • One 20 ounce can Dole Pineapple Slices (emptied—see support crew; and cleaned)
  • Two RJ-45 breakout boards
  • One spool butcher’s twine (two if you’re feeling bougie)
  • One Imuto power brick that supplies 15 V when funneled through:
  • One Adafruit USB Type C Power Delivery Dummy Breakout – I2C or Fixed – HUSB238
  • Two banana jack sockets (plus a few more for spares)
  • Forty feet 12 gauge insulated/stranded wire
  • Twenty-five feet (or so) RJ-45 Ethernet cable (scavenged from the parts bin at our local maker space)
  • One antenna launcher (scavenged from available fallen tree limbs onsite)
  • One donut Bag from your favorite donut store
  • One roll of washi tape

The Rockmite is a rock-locked radio with two available frequencies that are 500 Hz apart from each other. That makes our antenna design really simple; we’ve got a dipole that’s trimmed to be resonant at 14057.5 kHz. Project TouCans puts out a QRP maximum 5 Watts. Our field kit has evolved to that 5 Watts though. We started out with the Flying Rockmite at 250 mW, then we made a power bump to 750 mW, and then with the addition of a Tuna Topper amplifier and a lot of experimenting we finally achieved a QRP maximum 5 Watts output power.

The QRPp Rockmites–having so little power combined with lots of somewhat confusing reading about antenna matchers and coaxial cable and baluns–led to the original Flying Rockmite. “Do you know what makes you not have to discuss feed lines?” I reasoned, “Not having a feedline.” And so, the RockMite was inserted into the dipole. I brought the keyer controls down to me and sent the power up along an Ethernet cable. Continue reading Field Radio Kit Gallery: KD0FNR’s Rockmite 20 and Tuna Topper

Field Radio Kit Gallery: VA2NW’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

Many thanks to Tom (VA2NW) 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


VA2NW’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

by Tom (VA2NW)

I got my start in field radio with Summits on the Air (SOTA) a little over 12 years ago. With SOTA, size and weight are the main considerations when building out a field kit; you have to haul everything up a mountain after all.

These days, my focus has shifted to Parks on the Air (POTA). With POTA, activations I don’t need to include any hiking at all. With that in mind, I decided to build a field kit that focused on high quality gear to maximize performance and enjoyment while minimizing my impact on nature (i.e. no wires in trees, no spikes in the ground, etc).

The ideal use case for this kit is a rural POTA park or a low difficulty SOTA summit that involves zero to twenty minutes of hiking or walking for a medium length activation of one to three hours with a maximum setup and teardown time of ten minutes. This article showcases the various items in the field kit and provides some context on the decisions that were made about what I’ve included.

Radio

After buying and trying many QRP radios, I decided that I wanted an all band all mode QRP radio with a waterfall display, SWR sweep, tuning knob (Sorry KD1JV), CW filters, optional battery pack which can be removed or replaced easily in the field, full 5W output, reasonable power consumption, plenty of options for accessories, a large community, well written manuals, availability for purchase without a long backorder, and easy configuration with touch screen and/or intuitive menus.

The Icom IC-705 fit the bill.

Several of the Xiegu brand radios come close to meeting these requirements and are much more budget-friendly. However, I have encountered some issues with my Xiegu X6100 becoming too hot to touch in the first half hour of a normal CW activation, and that was concerning enough to me to take it out of contention for being my main portable transceiver.

Key

For the key, I chose the CW Morse double lever paddles with steel base. The base does add weight to the kit, but this key fits my operating style perfectly. I key with my left hand and write with my right hand, so having a solid base that keeps the key from moving when in use helps me avoid having to hold the key with my non-keying hand. The paddles are good quality and won’t break the bank. I really like the feel of the hard stop when the paddles hit the contacts.

The paddles are easy to use with or without gloves which is a huge plus where I operate in Canada.

Antenna and feedline

Throughout the years, I’ve experimented with many different types of antennas from simple wire antennas to magnetic loops to yagis to verticals and more. I’ve gone on many group outings and have gotten to see a lot of options. I live in Canada, and I wanted something I can use all year round. As I realized in the field last November with my JPC-12 ground spike vertical, you can’t drive a ground spike into the ground when the ground is frozen. I’m a big fan of wire antennas; however, I’ve never found a support system that I liked. Tree branches can break easily, especially in the winter, damaging the trees. Additionally, not all locations have suitable trees.

Telescoping poles are an alternative but need some sort of support, usually with something in the ground. Magnetic loops don’t require anything in trees or in the ground, but dealing with the narrow bandwidth and constant re-tuning makes searching and pouncing quite a chore. An antenna that can cover the most activte POTA bands, 20m and 40m, is also important to me. My last requirement for an antenna is one that doesn’t require an external tuner; manual tuners require some fiddling and auto-tuners generally require some sort of power supply and coax jumper. In both cases, external tuners generally have some amount of insertion loss.

Those requirements led me to focus in on a tripod mounted vertical antenna. There are several options in this space including the SuperAntenna, Slidewinder, Wolf River Coils, JPC-12 with tripod, REZ Ranger 80, and others. I ultimately picked the REZ Ranger 80. The key features that led me to choosing the REZ Ranger 80 were the quality, the bands supported, the online reviews, and the availability to ship to Canada without backorder nor complicated ordering process. It’s built like a tank, can go all the way down to 80m, has glowing online reviews, was in-stock, and I could take care of the customs and import fees at time of purchase with DX Engineering. Continue reading Field Radio Kit Gallery: VA2NW’s Icom IC-705 Field Kit

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KO4WDE’s Dual Purpose Xiegu G90 Field Kit

Many thanks to Doug (KO4WDE) 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


KO4WDE’s Dual Purpose G90 Field Kit

by Doug (KO4WDE)

I have always been an outdoorsman, and for all of my professional life I have been a teacher.   It wasn’t until 2021 that I became a ham. I started out with my tech, and earned my general a few days later.  I built a modest shack around an IC7300 and a Par Endfedz 80-10M EFHW. When these three facets of my life combined something sparked in me and I immediately did two things, took my radio with me outdoors, and I took it to school. Long story short, we now have a school radio club. (KQ4CWT), and I am a POTA junkie.

The Need:

To go portable, I would take my 7300 with me, powered by a Bioenno 20Ah battery, packed neatly into a hard case, with the battery and Wolf River Coil SB1000 stuffed in the front pockets of a massive brown deployment style bag.  My “go kit” was more like a “Hire a mover kit” and weighed a ton.  This worked well, but I really wanted something different.  I needed a portable field radio kit that would be small enough for me to use when hiking and camping, but also serve as a valid and friendly introductory platform for middle and high school students exploring ham radio.

I needed a radio that would provide some of the luxury of the IC7300, including the panadapter waterfall for seeing signals, as well as SSB, and digital mode capability.  The kids, like me, really like FT8.

The Solution:

I settled on the Xiegu G90 radio.  It was much smaller and lighter in weight, had less power consumption, and had many of the features that I thought would still hook kids’ interests, as well as serve me well in the field.  An internal and capable tuner is much appreciated as well. I love the G90, and my students love the G90.

The Build:

To build this kit, I started out with the basic components: the radio, the battery, and the antenna.  To power the radio I use a Bioenno 9ah battery.  It is a bit bigger than what I need but this comes in handy for FT8 activations and the demanding duty cycle penalty that entails, and gives me some slack for device charging. The Wolf River Coil antenna was replaced by an antenna that my club built as a project.   It is a 3D printed chassis and winder for the antennas components and wire designed by (IU10PK) and listed online as “tactical end fed antenna winder” on thingiverse. In addition to these basic components I added an FT8 kit consisting of a DigiRig Mobile, needed cabling and a Evolve III notebook pc.

After reading all of the gallery builds here, I decided to choose a medium sized sling bag to fit the rest of the loadout. Again, I was looking for something to pull double duty for POTA and student work.  My huge original “Hire a mover kit” taught me that I had a tendency to carry way too much. I wasn’t aiming for “Spartan Simple” but I wanted to cut as much as I could. I made a list of my radio critical components, and my support components and shopped accordingly.  I intentionally chose a bag slightly smaller than what I thought I would need to force myself to trim the fat.  I settled on the “Large Rover” sling pack by Red Rock Outdoors.  I chose gray because it would look more at home in my classroom than FDE or OD green, but the color has really grown on me.

The Bag: Red Rock Outdoors Large Rover

(Meme dog talisman adds 5db to all antennas- a wonderful handmade gift from a student!)

The main compartment:

 The main compartment of the bag carries the G90 (with the semi-attached and very bulky fan unit), battery and a Tactical Tailor shemagh I use as a table cloth or ground cover for my bum.  I use the rolled shemagh as a protective layer between the battery and radio.  The battery sits inside the main compartment nicely as well.  Inside the main compartment, there are two sleeves, the rear is unused but the front sleeve houses my coax cable.  The zippered “flap pouch in the top of the main compartment stores my hand mic.  I use little 3D printed protective covers for the mic connectors.

(Little 3D printed protectors for connectors)

The other compartment(s):

The front of the bag has a medium sized pouch with several elastic loops and sleeves.  I use this pouch for my EFHW antenna and my “K4SWL” style bare bones 25M arborist throwline.  There is a small zippered sleeve on the outside that carries an additional 100 feet of 3mm Paracord divided into two sections.

(The front compartment is quite roomy)

At the top of the bag, there is a small zippered pouch that houses my Digirig Mobile and assorted cabling for the G90.  It also carries my charger for the Bioenno battery, and a tiny Anderson Powerpole to USB-C PD charging adapter made by Tufteln that I use to top off the Evolve III’s battery.

The rear of the bag has a very nice sleeve for a device.  The evolve III is a perfect fit.

The Wrap-up:

Although I am new to ham radio and field operations I feel like this little budget kit works exceptionally well for its dual intended purpose.  It’s capable for use in the classroom (or school grounds) as a teaching tool, but also small enough to not murder me on the trail.

The Kit Components:

            Red Rock Outdoors “Large Rover” sling bag

  1. G90 radio with “H2” stand (note: this is an affiliate link that also offers a discount to QRPer.com readers)
  2. 9Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 battery and 2 amp charger
  3. 150A Power meter (Powerwerx clone)
  4. DIY 40-10m EFHW antenna (Link to 3d file)
  5. 25’ Rg8x coax
  6. 25 meters of Marlow Excel 2mm line and a 10oz weight.
  7. Digirig Mobile and cabling
  8. Tufteln Anderson to USB-C adapter
  9. Two 50’ foot lengths of 3mm paracord on scaled down 3d printed antenna winders
  10. Evolve III notebook
  11. 3D printed ethernet cable protectors for mic jacks
  12. Tactical Tailor Shemagh (Discontinued)

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