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.
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.
This picture shows a summer /P setup of an IC-7300, LDG AT-200 auto-ATU and a Bencher paddle. Notice the “neckband” earphones – very useful when it’s windy or for when there are many callers.
After using an FT-857D with 7+12Ah batteries for a few years, I’ve since “upgraded” to a Numax 32Ah leisure battery which cost around £48 from Amazon and has been a reliable performer since 2017.
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/4m Transceiver
Not a bad radio for /P as it’s light, has decent filtering, spectrum display/waterfall and a voice-keyer which make it an attractive solution for a /P “session”. I often pair it with 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 the laptop using a simple 3.5mm to 6pin mini-DIN lead. I also have an LDG YT-100 auto-ATU with the CAT-link cable for 1-touch tuning.
10m Telescopic Fishing Poles : Standard and “Travel”
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.
This particular pole came from SOTAbeams. I’ve also got a 10m “travel” pole plus a set of interlocking heavy-duty GRP poles which I use with my 6m/4m dipoles and 2m 5ele yagi. There are numerous “flag pole” variants available online and these may also work – You may also have some luck with the 7m versions although you’ll lose at least 1m of that due to the whippy nature of the top section. These shorter poles, however, are ideal for summits and are the base is thin enough to be used with a parasol holder.
Base/Aerial Support: For keeping the poles up, I use 1m lengths of “steel corner” aka: angle-iron which are thrashed into the ground using a suitable hammer. The steel corner comes in 1m lengths and can be purchased for around £6 from B&Q here. Alternatively, and for passenger-seat-portable operating, I’ll use home-brew drive-on copper base.
Kit-Bag of Assorted Stuff
This bag originally 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.
Anderson PowerPoles are a very useful connector as they prevent you from connecting the polarity incorrectly. The plastic shells are common, and you can simply buy the metal crimp/solder contacts in whatever amperage rating you need. The shells come in a variety of colours so you make up a set of interlocking counterpoise wires (in green) as well as a set of red+black power cables.
There’s a set of PowerPole leads with both spade and crocodile-clips which connect the IC-7300 and FT-857 to my various batteries. I also have a USB adapter allowing me to charge my phone/tablet when “in the field”.
SOTAbeams do a “ShackPack” of 12 PowerPole shells with 30A contacts and Torberry stock the complete range of contact-ratings and connector colours.
For operating comfort and convenience, I have a Yellowstone Executive Camping Chair and a Regatta Matano folding table . These were chosen as they weren’t too pricey and also the right size for me and my kit.
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 metal 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 the open hatchback of my car 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).
This was purchased from Maplin when they had a store nearby. It comfortably held the FT-857D, LDG YT-100 ATU (under the radio body) plus the MH-31, DC cable and a 7Ah SLAB. The radio could be used in-situ by raising its stand and attaching the front-panel. There’s plenty of clearance at the back of the radio to get plugs connected. Since this picture was taken, I have removed some of the foam sections to use the case for transporting the IC-7300.
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:
- 40m Doublet (10m per leg) – fed with 300-ohm feeder and home-brew 1:1 Choke/Balun
- Linked Dipole for 40/30/20/17m
- 2m Slim-Jim
- 2m 5ele “Maspro” Yagi aka: Mr My Yagi
Here’s a great multiband /P aerial solution that’ll get you on 40m, 20m and 2m with a single pole. It’s an Inverted-Vee featuring dipole wires for 40m+20m plus a 2m Slim-Jim – 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.