Leaving the Shack and operating somewhere outside can be fun – Often it gives you a better chance of hearing something distant thanks to the low noise-floor and extra space for decent/resonant aerials. It was around 7 years after I got my “ticket” that I started venturing outdoors to play radio. From around 2009 I often visited the local village green and then, from 2014, I was what you’d call a dedicated portable operator!
Despite the obvious requirements of a radio, aerial and a power-source – it’s amazing what else you find yourself needing so my kit-box has expanded over time and I’ll try to detail the important bits on this page…
At my disposal are an Icom IC-7300 HF/6m transceiver plus a Yaesu FT-857D for excursions onto VHF/UHF.
This first picture shows a summer /P setup: IC-7300 plus LDG auto-ATU and Bencher paddle. Notice the earphones – very useful when it’s windy or for when there are many callers!
Power comes via a 32Ah lead-acid battery which was an “Amazon” purchase (around £48) that has been a reliable performer for just over 2 years. Aerial-wise, I typically use a 40m Doublet (10m wire either side of 17m of 300-ohm balanced feeder) either in an Inverted-V config or as a “flat-top” using 3 of my telescopic poles. My previous /P aerial was a linked-dipole for 40m/30m/20m/17m – a nice home-brew project and a handy aerial to have if you find yourself without an ATU.
The Main /P Kit-List :
A Really Useful Box – 21L capacity, for transporting most of my /P kit when I’m in the car – it also serves as a radio stand when I operate passenger-seat portable during the winter: The box sits on the driver’s seat allowing the radio to be at a more natural operating height.
Icom IC-7300 HF/6m Transceiver
Purchased June 2018 to be my main /P radio – great RX filtering, the spectrum display/waterfall and voice-keyer make it an attractive solution for a /P “session”. There’s also an LDG AT-200proII auto-ATU.
FT-857D HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver
All bands, all modes etc – It offers “digivox” so I can use PSK/RTTY/JT on my laptop using a simple 3.5mm to 6pin mini-DIN lead (no PTT faffing). I intend to add the Collins narrow CW filter for 2018’s /P season. There’s also an LDG YT-100 auto-ATU.
10m Telescopic Fishing Poles : Standard and “Travel” aka: DX-Wire/SOTAbeams
It’s 115cm closed and a few cm short of 10m when extended – The dipole centre can sit on top of the 2nd section making the apex of my 40m Inverted-V around 9m up. It’s also possible to run a 40m 1/4wave vertical up the side with a little winding on the lower sections.
Also works great as a simple “end-fed” vertical with a few radials. This particular one came from SOTAbeams. I’ve also got one of their 10m “travel” poles (originally from DX-Wire). I also have a set of interlocking heavy-duty GRP poles which I use with my VHF dipoles+yagi.
Base/Aerial Support: I use 1m lengths of “steel corner” aka: angle-iron to support the pole in the ground (example here) which can be purchased for around £6/m from B&Q here. Alternatively, and for passenger-seat-portable operating, I’ll use my drive-on copper base.
Kit-Bag of Assorted Stuff
This bag contained a modem/networking kit and it makes a great way to transport my “consumables”. There are little pockets for a dipole centre, insulators plus a zipped pouch for cable-ties and coax adapters. A further compartment houses my ground-pegs and yellow support cords.
There’s a set of PowerPole leads with both spade and croc-clips which connect the IC-7300 and FT-857 my various batteries.
Anderson PowerPoles are a great connector as they prevent you from connecting the polarity incorrectly. The plastic shells are common, and you can buy metal crimp/solder contacts in various amperage ratings.
SOTAbeams do a good “ShackPack” of 12 PowerPole shells with 30A contacts and Torberry stock the complete range of contact-ratings and connector colours.
Keeping the sun off me, and perhaps acting as a shelter if I should ever get caught in the rain – The DD Solo Tarp (2.8×1.5m) comes highly recommended.
I use some cheap interlocking poles and the 4 supplied guy-lines plus pegs to secure it in this arrangement. The tarp can also be configured in a variety of other ways thanks to the numerous holes/loops.
Lately, I’ve been securing it length-ways to my open hatchback and supporting the opposite ends with 2 metal poles: This makes a nice operating environment as I’m close to the car, in the shade and I don’t have to keep adjusting it to keep the sun off me (and the equipment).
A home-made transportation and operating enclosure for the FT-857D, ATU and battery – this has its own page – here…
This was picked-up from Maplin as it was on special offer at just £19.99 (reduced from £37). It comfortably takes the FT-857D, LDG YT-100 ATU (under the radio body) plus the MH-31, DC cable and a 7Ah SLAB. I can use the lid as a wind-break and simply attach the display and prop the radio+tuner onto the lip of the case and start operating. There’s plenty of clearance at the back of the radio to get plugs connected.
40m Bandpass Filter
An essential item for multi-station operating. I purchased this one as part of a “group buy” in April 2016 – see my blog post “We Have Filters!” for details.
This style of headset is great not only for ease of transport but they are comfortable for long-term use. Sure, they don’t attenuate as much sound as closed-ear headphones but they are comfy so perfect for extended /P’ing!
This is the typical setup for a /P adventure:
- Linked Dipole for 40/30/20/17m … plus Inverted-V wires for 40m and 20m – also workable on 15m SSB
- 2m Slim-Jim made from 450-ohm ladder-line
- 40m Doublet (10m per leg) – fed with 17m of 300-ohm feeder and home-brew 1:1 Choke/Balun
A great multiband /P aerial solution is a 40m+20m Inv-V with a 2m Slim-Jim also up the pole – below is an example of this arrangement:
Small diameter fishing poles can often be secured with a screw-in parasol base, but I prefer to use 1m lengths of “steel corner” aka: angle-iron which are hammered into the ground. They can be purchased for around £6/m from B&Q here. If don’t have a soft surface to push into, then I’ll use my drive-on copper base.