jueves, 11 de marzo de 2021

Portable radio basic setup

 As the age goes ahead, portable setup optimization becomes a must. Rig, batteries, antenna, mast,.. all must be adapted to minimum weight and size. Of course, the rest of the equipment must pass across the same process. Water, food, winter clothes, emergency medical kit, etc. are always being changed to obtain the best results with the less possible weight.

At this moment, and apart from VHF/UHF mountain activations, I have been able to design and carry a basic CW equipment which I consider basic and light enough. All items divided in 3 parts: equipment, antenna, and antenna support. Let's see all them!

Equipment: All it fits in a small box of 1 l.

Inside the bag fit all the parts:

  • 20/30/40 m 4 w CW SW-3B. Last transceiver bought, gives three bands whith a weight of only  180 g. For more flexible activations I use the heavier but much better Elecraft KX2. 
  • An Anderson Powerpole adapter fits any battery I have, as -at last- this year I standardized all my rigs and batteries to this connector type.
  • CW paddle, made with 3D printer, and its cable. You can find several designs on Thingiverse. As an alternative I use the excellent paddles made by Andrés EA3PP . I would want to make some kind of adapter to attach the keyer to my leg, as in this way you have both hands free to write down the log or operate the transceiver.
  • Earbuds. When I carry the Elecraft KX2, I use ones with integrated microphone using the vox or PTT button, in case I would want to make some SSB contacts (very unlikely).
  • 11.1 v 2.5 Ah LiPo battery. This is the smallest useful size to carry on 1-2 activations without having to recharge it. The 10 w power output of the KX2 is obviously more demanding than SW-3B.

Antenna: I usually carry two different antennas, a Norcal Doublet or a recently made end fed half wave trapped dipole for 20, 30 and 40 m bands. 

In my opinion, the Norcal is a very light antenna and has being largely tested for a good performance on all bands from 10 m to 40 m. Unfortunately, you must use it with an antenna tuner and its weight would be added to the total. On the other hand, the EFHW dipole doesn't need it at all, but the operation position cannot be chosen as well as with the Norcal. You must sacrifice some operability in order to -again- optimize the weight you will carry. Anyway, both antennas are carried inside the ruckshack, using self-made wire winders.

Antenna support: Being portable means that you must also carry some system to put the antenna high enough on the field. As you cannot expect being trees in all the places you want to transmit, the obvious choice is carrying a some kind of pole. In my case, and if the path is short, I bring a 10 m pole which gives me a good height and better isolation of the antenna from the ground characteristics. However, it is not at all the lightest thing you can use. If  I would carry it for more than 1 hour, my choice will be a 7.2 m Chinese fishing rod (found on ebay). Not the strongest one, but very light.
For raising the pole at the summit, I use 3 x 3 mm thick polypropylene guy ropes and 3 aluminium pegs, or some velcro strips of different lengths, if some kind of support is available to be attached to.

Finally, and if I -rarely- planned some V/UHF activity to be made, I would carry the smallest walky-talkie I have found, having both 2 m and 70 cm bands, analog & digital. Now I am using the Alinco DJ-MD5 with a bigger antenna than standard (43 cm long) or a glass fiber 3 elements yagi (home made too). But up to date, the V/UHF items together make more weight than the HF "station", so sometimes I am quite reluctant to get them into the backpack... 

I wish some of these ideas would be useful to you while ageing... Have a good retirement and radio portable activity!

73, Mikel EA2CW

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