Tag Archives: Icom IC-705

SOTA, POTA, and a Total Solar Eclipse Adventure: Conrad and Peter Pack It In!

Many thanks to Conrad (N2YCH) who shares the following field report:

QRP POTA & SOTA on Killington Peak, Vermont

By Conrad Trautmann (N2YCH)

Peter (K1PCN) and I decided to travel from Connecticut to Vermont to view the solar eclipse that occurred on April 8, 2024.

We got an early start on Sunday morning April 7th to drive to Rutland, Vermont where we stayed overnight. This positioned us well for a short drive the next morning to drive North towards Burlington, where we’d be under the path of totality.

Knowing we’d have some extra time on our hands on Sunday afternoon, Peter planned two park activations. Our first stop was Calvin Coolidge State Park (POTA US-5541 & SOTA W1/GM-002), which encompasses Killington Peak and is also a two-fer with the Appalachian Trail (US-4556). We also activated Gifford Woods State Park (US-3115), which isn’t too far from Killington.

For the trip up the mountain, we “walked-on” the K1 Gondola ski lift to get up most of the way.

From the top of the ski lift, we hiked another 360 feet, up 100 feet in elevation, in the snow, to get to the actual summit at approximately 4,230’ above sea level.

Photo of Peter and me on the summit

Our kits needed to be self-contained and not too heavy for the hike. Peter packed his Icom IC-705 along with a fiberglass mast and an end-fed half wave wire antenna to do a sideband activation. I brought my Elecraft KX-3, 3Ah Bioenno LifPo battery, and the Elecraft AX-1 antenna to do a digital activation. We both activated on 20 meters and were far enough apart that we didn’t interfere with one another. We also tried 17 meters.

Conrad, N2YCH’s equipment list

Peter, K1PCN’s Equipment List

After the hike up, we surveyed the area to see where the best spots would be for us to set up. Peter took one side of the summit while I set up on an exposed rock so I wouldn’t be sitting in the snow. Peter wore his ski pants…I, on the other hand, ended up with wet jeans by the end. I’ll re-think my attire the next time I do this. I got the radio equipment right but not the clothing selection. Priorities!

Conrad, N2YCH on the summit of Killington Peak in Vermont
Peter, K1PCN with EFHW antenna, which you can see if you look very closely
Peter, K1PCN and his radio and antenna

In addition to the HF radios, we both brought our VHF/UHF handhelds to make contact with each other as well as anyone who might be nearby. Peter brought a Baofeng UV-5R and I brought a Kenwood TH-D72. I was lucky enough to complete a QSO with someone who was mobile and driving along US Route 89, which at its closest point to Killington Peak is a solid 20 miles away. I verified that via email with the other ham after the fact. Continue reading SOTA, POTA, and a Total Solar Eclipse Adventure: Conrad and Peter Pack It In!

Cabin POTA with the IC-705 and MC-750 at Gorges State Park!

As I mentioned in this previous field report, my buddy Mike and I spent the third weekend of March at Gorges State Park (US-2732) in Sapphire, North Carolina. We had a great weekend of hiking and just hanging out. Of course, I fit in a few activations!

On the morning of Sunday, March 17, 2024, after a nice breakfast and beautiful sunrise, we started packing up. Since we rented a cabin this year, it was an easy process–especially since it was also raining lightly. While I love tent camping, I’m not the biggest fan of packing up a wet tent and gear because later in the day I have to attempt to dry it all out back home.

The cabin also made it very comfortable to do a little Parks on the Air (POTA) until the rain passed and we could start our hike.

I set up my MC-750 vertical next to the cabin.

Inside, assuming I might have more radio frequency interference (QRM) to deal with, I chose my Icom IC-705.

The cabin had a small side table attached to the wall which was the perfect spot to set up my station close to the front door and porch. The weather was very temperate that morning, so I simply left the front door of the cabin open while I operated.

I was correct about the QRM: its pervasive throughout most of the park and is due to arcing on the high-tension power lines that run through the site.

Other than the QRM, Gorges is an amazing park to do POTA.

While I played Parks on the Air, Mike caught up on a book he was reading. Neither of us were pressed for time, so it was a pretty laid-back morning.

QRM Mitigation

After hooking up the IC-705 to the MC-750 and turning it on, the QRM was not only audible–that unmistakable frying sound–but it was clearly visible on the IC-705’s color display.

The noise level was about S5-S6 and persistent.

The IC-705 is a 21st-century radio and I decided to use some of its 21st-century, SDR-powered features in order to improve the audio.

First, I turned on the Noise Blanker (NB). While this feature works best for pulse noises (engine noise and electric fences, in my experience) it also removes a layer of noise from persistent arcing as well.

Next, I also used the IC-705’s built-in DSP (Digital Signal Processing). By turning on the DSP, another layer of noise is removed.

With both NB and DSP engaged, the audio was much more pleasant and less fatiguing.

Keep in mind that even though the noise was minimized in the audio, it was still there in the receiver so this didn’t help much with recovering weak signals under the elevated noise floor. It just made playing radio much more pleasant! Continue reading Cabin POTA with the IC-705 and MC-750 at Gorges State Park!

SOTA and POTA in Japan: Ara combines travel and radio with a little help from friends

Abroad in Japan: SOTA and POTA

by Ara (N6ARA)

Getting the License

Several months ago, my wife and I were planning our first trip to Japan, and I couldn’t help but look at all the nearby SOTA summits and POTA parks and entertain the idea of activating one of them. While stunned by the sheer number of high point summits and local parks (many of which are easily accessible via Japan’s incredible public transport system), I realized one question I hadn’t asked myself yet: Can I even operate in Japan?

I recalled the concept of a reciprocal licenses from the ham test, but never really looked into it. A quick Google search yielded the JARL (the ARRL equivalent in Japan) foreign amateur radio license website, which details the process for submitting your documents to obtain the license.

However, I quickly learned that the application must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the date of operation. Problem was… I was 58 days out.

Around this time, I let my friends, Waka-san (JG0AWE), Kazuhiro (7N1FRE), and Ted (JL1SDA), know that I would be visiting Japan. They leaped into action and helped me figure out if there would be a way to obtain my reciprocal license in time, and advised me on which summits and parks would be doable with my constraints.

Thankfully, Waka-san was very generous and offered to make an appointment with Japanese government to apply for the reciprocal license on my behalf. I was absolutely stunned by this. I struggle to make appointments at the DMV office for myself, let alone for someone else!

Two weeks later, I was surprised to learn that my license had arrived. I was now JJ0XMS in Japan. This news fittingly arrived around Christmas, making it easy to remember the “XMS” part of my call. The reciprocal license I received was classified as “1AM”, meaning 1st Amateur license for mobile. This meant I could operate on all bands at power levels below 50W, which is perfect since I tend to operate QRP most of the time anyway.

It helps to have friends around the world, but please learn from my mistake, submit your JARL-96-04 application at least 60 days (plus margin) prior to your trip and obtain your license the right way. If you have any questions about the form or the process, contact Mr. Ken Yamamoto (JA1CJP) via email at [email protected] 

Band Plan

With my license sorted, the next step was to familiarize myself with the Japanese Band Plan. After careful review, I learned it is entirely possible to accidentally transmit out of band or mode if you are not careful. For example, in the US the 2m band ends at 148 MHz, but in Japan the band ends at 146 MHz. So in theory, an operator with a US radio could accidentally transmit on a forbidden frequency.

It’s also important to note that the calling frequencies are different for all bands and that some bands have dedicated emergency communications frequencies. Thankfully, the translated Japanese Band Plan covers these extensively.

Planning the Activations

I started planning my activations by setting the goal of activating at least one SOTA summit and POTA park. I figured I’d gain the experience of doing both to see how they differ from what I’m used to in the US (and writing this blog post).

For this trip, we mainly stayed with our friend in Tokyo, so I was limited to the summits and parks near the city. To start, I figured I’d take a look at the POTA map since Tokyo is a flat city (read as, no SOTA summits to be found within the city itself), so worst case, I’d only do a POTA activation.

Much to my delight, I learned that Tokyo has 146 POTA parks within the city alone… and best of all… they are accessible via Tokyo’s public transportation system! Overwhelmed with all the options, I figured the best thing to do next is to try and see which nearby parks had the most space and activation count. I figured that would improve my odds of activating without any issues.

To be honest, my main concern was putting up an antenna in a park which I’m not allowed to in, or folks approaching me to ask what I’m doing, only to run into a language barrier issue. After looking through several options, I landed on Yoyogi Park JA-1255. The park was near where I was staying, fairly large, and had almost 100 activations. 

Next was planning the SOTA activation. Since there are no SOTA summits in the city proper, it meant I would have to travel a little to get to one.

Coming from Los Angeles, one of the most car-centric cities in the world, I did not expect to find that most Tokyo residents (including my friend) don’t own a car. Renting one is an option, but I figured it’s not worth the effort. Especially since Japan drives on the left hand side of the road – which I’m not used to. That meant driving to a trailhead was out of the question for this trip. Thankfully, that wasn’t as much of a problem as I initially thought.

Looking through the SOTA map, I found several trailheads to the east of the city that are easily accessible via train/bus and short walk. Again, I looked at the activation count to get a sense of what is attainable and found Mt. Arashiyama JA/KN-032. The summit had 84 activations with a relatively easy 762ft gain across 2.25mi and the trailhead is a 15 minute walk away from the train station. The only downside was that the train ride itself was about an hour and a half away from Tokyo. But as those who do SOTA know, the commute to the trailhead is part of the journey. (I think there’s something wrong with us.)


With a game plan settled, it was time to configure the kit. One important thing to note here is that when I submitted my paperwork to apply for the license, I forgot to include the radio make/model I planned to use (required for the application process). Thankfully, Waka-san registered the ICOM IC-705, an HF/UHF/VHF all mode transceiver (which I so happen to have). This afforded me the flexibility to work a wide range of bands and maximized my odds of having a successful activation.

With the radio figured out, I thought to pair it with a portable antenna that strikes a good balance between volume/mass and performance. My hope was to cover 10/15/20m for DX and 40m for working locals, so naturally I gravitated towards my trusted K6ARK End Fed Half Wave EFHW with an added load coil, making it resonant on 10/15/20/40m. I like to use this antenna in an inverted-V configuration using a 7.2m fishing pole. Since I had one shot at each activation, I figured it would be wise to pack a back up antenna just in case something broke mid-transport, so I also decided to pack my Elecraft AX1 vertical whip antenna and T1 tuner.

For CW paddles, I couldn’t resist packing my recently acquired Ashi Paddle 45 from Mr. Haraguchi 7L4WVU in Japan. Only seemed fitting! Finally, I thought to print out copies of my US and Japanese ham radio license, and a translated note describing ham radio, SOTA, and POTA just in case someone asked what I was doing.

Packing List:

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Welcome to Japan

As soon as we landed in Japan and settle in at our friend’s apartment, we couldn’t help but go out for a nice bowl of warm ramen at Ichiran. It was a cold night, I was jet lagged, and this was exactly the “reset button” my body needed to adjust to the new timezone. I slept like a log that night. Highly recommend. 

Since this was my first time in the country, I tried my best to absorb as much of the food and culture as possible. From the Yakitori, to the Tonkatsu, to all the various Japanese curries, and Onigiri, I was glad to be walking around the city to burn off all the calories I was consuming. Everything we ate tasted incredible!

One of the first orders of business was to visit Akihabara, the electronic town I had heard so much about. Walking through shops, I found every possible component imaginable. Want a transformer? There’s a small shop that has every variant you can think of. LEDs? There’s a shop with a selection that will make you see floating dots when you close your eyes. It was like living in a Digi-Key or Mouser warehouse.

Walking through streets and multi-story markets, I was constantly running into small radio shops. Some selling commercial radios, many selling various ham radios and ham radio accessories. One golden nugget I found was a shop that sells home-brew radios, one of which was a 47.1GHz Transverter! Where else are you going to find something like that for sale in a shop?!

One last stop in Akihabara was Rocket Ham Radio, one of the largest ham radio shops in Japan (think HRO in the US). I couldn’t help myself from buying a 2m/70cm whip antenna for my IC-705 for portable VHF and UHF operations while in town. Would feel wrong leaving without buying *something*!

POTA Activation and Logging

POTA activation day was finally here, and much to my delight, Mr. Haraguchi (7L4WVU) reached out to say he was available to meet me at Yoyogi Park for a joint activation. Continue reading SOTA and POTA in Japan: Ara combines travel and radio with a little help from friends

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:

Note: All Amazon and eBay links are affiliate/partner 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

Ham Radio Workbenches On The Air (& POTA): A short field report and a very long activation video!

Many of you know I’m on the crew of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast. In fact, as of this month, I’ve been there a year now (my how time flies).  Although it shows a certain lack of judgement on their part, I’m glad they invited me on board!

On October 9, fellow HRWB crew member, Mark (N6MTS), pitched an idea to us via email:

“What do y’all think about doing an HRWB On The Air event?”

We all agreed it sounded like a great idea. Things like this normally take a year’s worth of planning, promoting, and organizing. Not when Mark’s in charge, though.

Next thing we know, Mark had us sorting out the best date/time (December 3, 2023/1800-22:00UTC) for HRWBOTA and even reached out to some amazing volunteers who helped put together a website and spotting page.

Holy cow!

December 3, 2023

I planned to operate the entire four hour event period from Lake James State Park (K-2730) since it would be an easy detour en route to Hickory, NC (where I was staying that night). Of course, each contact would could for both HRWBOTA and POTA.

The previous day, however, I learned that one of my daughters had a meeting in downtown Asheville from 18:00-19:00 UTC. She doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, so I had to take her. Had it not been an important meeting in advance of her finals, she would have skipped.

This really threw a wrench in the works. I knew that by the time her meeting ended and I dropped her off at the QTH, the earliest I could be at Lake James was 20:15-20:30 or so.

How could I increase my on-the-air HRWBOTA time?

KH1 to the rescue!

Since the Elecraft KH1 was packed in my EDC bag, I decided to play a little HRWBOTA in the parking lot behind the meeting building.

I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest. I wasn’t spotting myself anywhere but the HRWBOTA spotting page, and I was limited to the 15, 17, and 20M bands with the KH1’s 4′ whip antenna.

I spotted myself, hit the air and started calling CQ HRWBOTA!

In the span of about 45 minutes, I managed to log a total of 15 stations! Not bad considering I was standing in an urban parking lot, swimming in QRM, and going QRP!

I didn’t make a video of this part of the HRWBOTA activation–sorry about that if you worked me then. I needed every moment of on-the-air time I could grab. Here’s my log sheet:

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

I legged it to Lake James after my daughter’s meeting–in fact, to save time, I started my activation video while I was still in my car driving on I-40.

I arrived at Lake James, parked, plugged in the car, grabbed my gear and made my way to the picnic area next to the lakeshore. It wasn’t hard to find a site with a tree that might support my KM4CFT 30/40M linked EFHW antenna.

I include the full antenna deployment and station set-up in my (rather long) activation video below. Continue reading Ham Radio Workbenches On The Air (& POTA): A short field report and a very long activation video!

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.


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.


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

Best protective cases and field kit ideas for the Icom IC-705?

Many thanks to Geoff (VK6HD) who writes with the following question:

Hi Thomas

Love your site, the HRWB podcast and your enthusiasm.

I recently won an IC-705 in a raffle – woohoo – which is a quantum leap from my first txcvr which was an Atlas 210x which first saw the light of day in the early 70s.

Anyway, as I come to grips with the complexities of the 705, I wondered if anyone had any ideas on a field radio kit based on it. I know it is an expensive radio, and one many people may not be keen on dragging through the outback, but who knows?

Keep up the great work


Geoff (VK6HD)

Thanks for your question, Geoff. And congratulations on winning the IC-705! WOO HOO indeed!

I thought I might post your question here on QRPer so folks might comment with IC-705 kit ideas. Oddly enough, at time of publishing this post, I have no examples in our Field Radio Kit Gallery!

I can fix this now, though, because I recall a few ‘705 field kits from our archives:

I’m sure there are more IC-705-based field kits in the archives--feel free to jog my memory, readers.

Out of all of the radios I own, the IC-705 is the only one that is primarily stored and transported in a larger watertight case–a Pelican 1400 to be exact, you can read about that here.

When I want to tuck the IC-705 in a backpack, for a little POTA/SOTA action,  I protect it in a $18 Ape Case Camera insert (affliliate link). It’s not perfect, but fits it well. I know some others have used Maxpedition padded water bottle pouches as well. Perhaps someone can comment with size, etc?

Greg discovers the joy of QRP in his first QRP SSB POTA activation

Many thanks to Greg (KJ6ER) who shares a post he originally published on Facebook regarding his first ever QRP SSB POTA activation. This post is just as much a break down of his field kit, so we’re also including it in our Field Radio Kit Gallery.

My First POTA QRP SSB Activation

by Greg (KJ6ER)

Wooo hooo! After 700 QRO SSB POTA activations in California over the past 2 years, I decided to try my first 10-watt QRP SSB activation from K-3473 in San Jose. To my pleasant surprise, it was very successful: 121 SSB QSOs in 4 bands (10, 12, 15 and 17M) across 5 countries including DX to Japan, Alaska and Argentina. I worked 34 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces. I operated a total of 4 hours, averaging a QRP QSO every 2 minutes. Lesson learned: Inspired by my QRP mentor Kevin Behn, QRP is not only as fun as QRO (when the bands are working) but it is simpler and faster to deploy. And I can wear the entire station on my back!

My QRP shack-in-a-pack is the ICOM IC-705 (in an ICOM backpack) with a 7M Spiderbeam fiberglass telescoping pole and my homebrew resonant halfwave monoband antennas. Quite frankly, a significant contributor to my success was the monoband resonant halfwave antenna: low angle of radiation and more gain than a typical quarterwave with radials. I modeled this after my homebrew POTA Dominator resonant halfwave antenna. If you’re interested in more detailed information about this antenna and components in my backpack, take a look at each photo with descriptions (below).

Starting on 10M, I was planning to work my way down the HF bands to 20M where I assumed would get me the most QSOs and help me officially activate.

Well … I never made it to 20M: by band, 24 QSOs on 10M, 13 QSOs on 12M, 32 QSOs on 15M and 52 QSOs on 17M = 121 QSOs! I will plan to do a 20 and 40M QRP activation soon, as well as 2M and 70cm since the IC-705 supports those bands, too.

Many thanks to all the hunters who helped me complete my first QRP activation! While I certainly did not experience any massive pile-ups like my typical QRO activations, the slower pace QRP activation made it very relaxing. I strongly recommend it! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help  72 KJ6ER, San Jose

Field Kit Details

My complete QRP shack-in-a-pack!

The ICOM IC-705 running 10 watts off a 3Ah Bioenno battery. Just to the right of the pack in the field is my 7M Spiderbeam fiberglass telescoping pole supporting monoband resonant halfwave wire antennas for 10M, 12M and 15M. I also use the pole to operate on 17M and 20M as a sloper or inverted-V, and 40M as an inverted-V. I love how fast I can get operating with just a backpack and telescoping pole!

My first QRP SSB 10-watt activation resulted in 121 QSOs on 10-17M including DX to Japan, Alaska and Argentina.

I thought I would need 20M to activate but the uppers bands worked so well, I never got there. I completed my activation in 4 hours and averaged about 1 QRP QSO every 2 minutes. While I was not getting my usual 5-9 QRO signal reports, I was heard clearly on the low noise upper bands with my QRP SSB signal.

The 7M Spiderbeam fiberglass telescoping pole supports my monoband halfwave vertical wire antennas for 10M, 12M and 15M, as well as 17M and 20M when used as a sloper or inverted-V. I also use it as a center mast for my 40M inverted-V. Continue reading Greg discovers the joy of QRP in his first QRP SSB POTA activation

Guest Post: The Full Moon, Eels, and /P Operation on Mount Peyton, NL, Canada

VO1DR on top of Mount Peyton

Guest Post: The Full Moon, Eels, and /P Operation on Mount Peyton, NL, Canada

by Scott (VO1DR)


I have been eyeing Mount Peyton in central Newfoundland for years as an attractive spot for /P HF operation.  Even before my radio adventure to Mount Sylvester (reported earlier in QRPer.com), I have been seeking a way to get up Mount Peyton.  Like Mount Sylvester, Mount Peyton is an inselberg of granite protruding above the glacial plain of central Newfoundland.  However, Mount Peyton is even larger and higher; an elongated ridge about 800 m long reaching up to 487 m (1,599 ft) above sea level.  For SOTA enthusiasts, it is designated VO1-CE-005, multiplier 4.

Figures 1 and 2 show the location local topography around Mount Peyton.

Figure 1 – Highway map of central Newfoundland showing Mount Peyton and landmarks
Figure 2 – 1:50,000 scale map I used during trip showing topography near Mount Peyton and our hiking route.  Each block is 1 km on a side.

Mount Peyton is a case of “so near and yet so far”.  Just west of Gander, this ridge is visible in the distance south of the Trans-Canada Highway (the main arterial highway traversing the island of Newfoundland).  However, in summer there is no trail directly to the top, and access to its base is only via rough ATV tracks and wet bogs.  One must get to the base of the mountain, then hike overland to the south side and climb a long inclined cleft in the hillside to the top.  This cleft is the surface trace of a fault in the underlying granite (see route on Figure 2).  By contrast in winter, Mount Peyton is a popular and readily accessible snowmobile destination with dozens of machines roaring up this same cleft on a thick blanket of snow.

The Full Moon and Eels

Looking at maps and Google Earth, an approach on foot would entail a three-day hiking trip.  While this sounds delightful, my current living situation would not permit this, and in addition I have no hiking buddies able and willing to make such a commitment.  So, it became clear I needed all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to get quickly to the base, so we could do the entire trip in one long day.

I don’t own an ATV and after multiple attempts over this summer to find any ATVers interested in such an adventure, there were no takers.  Apparently ATVers like to ride, but don’t like to get off their machines ?. I finally found a local outfitter (Paul) who not only could supply ATVs, but had hiked multiple times to the top of Mount Peyton – a perfect fit.  For safety, I needed at least one extra person to go to the top.  All other potential radio or hiking companions fell by the wayside for various reasons, so it became just me and Paul.

As is common in rural Newfoundland, Paul is a Jack of all trades and is also a commercial eel fisherman.  American Eels (Anguilla rostrata) have a fascinating life history (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_eel) and inhabit freshwater rivers and streams in Newfoundland.  Paul harvests them in conical net traps anchored to the stream bottom (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – An eel trap in place in a local stream.  Eels move into the large mouth and get trapped in the bottom cage.

He told me that eels run during the new moon and stay put near the full moon.  Now doesn’t that ring deep bass notes of evolutionary biology!?  Since eel fishing is an important part of Paul’s income, we agreed to fit in my radio around his eel-catching.  He would be available around the full moon when the eels were sluggish; toward the end of September, the moon was full on the 29th.  Given the local weather, we settled on Tuesday, September 26 as our day.  Isn’t life fascinating – the moon controls eel movement, which controls human movement, which controls our /P radio expedition!

Getting There was Half the Fun

I drove from St. John’s to Paul’s cabin west of Glenwood, NL on the afternoon of Sep 25, on the beautiful shores of Indian Arm Pond (Figures 4 and 5).

Figure 4 – Paul’s cabin on Indian Arm Pond
Figure 5 – Shoreline of Indian Arm Pond

We planned an early departure on the ATVs.  Sun-up was around 7 am and sun-down was about 7 pm, so we had 12 hrs of daylight to work with.  September 26 dawned bright and clear (Figure 6) and we were soon packed and underway on two ATVs (Figure 7).  We drove for over 2 hrs on a wide range of roads, tracks, and rough trails to a point where we dropped the ATVs and started hiking (one way distance 26.7 km or 16.6 mi).

Figure 6 – Dawn over Indian Arm Pond on September 26.  Time to get moving!
Figure 7 – Scott on Polaris 450 ATV ready to go.  Black lumbar pack on right.  Blue survival bag on left.  Pole strapped on my left.  Radio and spare water in elbow compartments.
Figure 8 – Turtles are huge in Newfoundland
Figure 9 – Passing over beautiful Neyles Brook.  This is quintessential central Newfoundland scenery.
Figure 10 – Magnificent Mount Peyton looms in the distance.  This view is toward the nearly-vertical NW face.  We are about half-way there.  After dropping the ATVs, we will hike around the right end and climb up the far (SE) side.

This trip reinforced that I am not a motor sports guy.  The ATV ride was long, bone-jarring, and noisy.  Buying an ATV at great expense and doing this for “fun” is a mystery to me; and forget about seeing any wildlife.  But, hey, the ATVs got us there; we couldn’t have done this trip without them! Continue reading Guest Post: The Full Moon, Eels, and /P Operation on Mount Peyton, NL, Canada