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Rekindling my radio interest


#1

Hi,

I’m Steve G1YBB. I used to be very active in 2m contesting in the late 80s and early 90s, as part of GW1VDF/P (2 main ops)
Other interests saw me stop operating and not really bother with radio. I probably have 2 or 3 years of RadComs still in the original wrappers unread before I stopped membership.

Anyway, I am rekindling the interest and now I have access to hf too, should be a new learning curve for me.
I fancy activating some SOTA summits, as hills are one of my things and I walk up GW/SW-016 pretty much once a week to keep fit.

I’m looking for tips and suggestions for lightweight masts and hf antennas, and ideally something for 2m ssb. I still have all my 2m contesting stuff, but it’s not really back packing material!


#2

Hi Steve, welcome aboard.

We have all of the threads and messages available for this message board online. You can search through these and I’m sure you’ll find lots of stuff to help you get started. Of course that’s in addition to the answers people will give you.

See the picture below and click the magnifying glass in the top right of your screen ( marked in read in the copy I took) then type your search term in the box (highlighted) and away you go.

There’s a lot to wade through :wink:


#3

Hi Steve, welcome aboard.

Fibreglass telescopic fishing poles are probably the most common antenna support - available from many sources. Walking poles can be used creatively as well…

As Andy mentions above, you will find reviews of various poles on this Reflector, but I would just have a go with whatever you have to hand, and that will give you an idea of what you need to improve, and what suits your style of activating. Often there is a fence or rocky outcrop to bungee the pole to, but something to guy it with in the clear is a good idea too.
The simplest HF antenna is probably a single band dipole, fed with twin flex or thin coax, and cut to length so that you don’t need an ATU. Beyond that, you will find lots of other practical suggestions by searching on here.

Good luck, hope to hear you on soon,
73
Adrian
G4AZS


#4

Hi Steve,

The main thing you need to know is that SOTA is addictive… especially so if you are fit as you appear to be walking up The Skirrid each week. As Andy says you will find it all here on the reflector and if you have any specific queries, then just ask.

Specifically with regards to 2m SSB, I suggest that you put an alert on SOTAwatch before you go out on the hills so the 2m SSB regulars are alerted in advance. You will find 2m generally has much lower occupancy nowadays, so rallying the troops is a good idea. As for kit, I use the ubiquitous FT-817, usually with a small Microwave Modules 25W linear and a 5 element beam which sits at around 4m up a 7m glass fibre pole and is fed via 7mm semi-rigid coax (5D-FB). I used to carry a 5 element Tonna, 4m of 25mm ally pole and a 5m run of RG-213, but I had to start somewhere. You will find how battery technology has improved immensely as well.

So I hope to work you on 2m SSB from a summit some time. Hope you enjoy the activity.

73, Gerald G4OIG
ex. G4ANT/P Norfolk VHF/UHF Group and G3SDC/P De Montfort Uni ARS


#5

Thanks for the replies guys, some useful stuff there.
Sad to hear 2m is quieter these days, I guess us (old) Bs now having access to the HF bands they have moved on to the lure of the intercontinental contacts.

@ Gerald are you still using the tonna as your 5 ele yagi? Do you build it each time?
I still have a 30foot ali 3 section pole that was retired when we went toa 60 foot mast and gin pole etc for 2x19 ele which is quite light, but quite long to carry. What battery are you using for the linear, something like a yuasa sealed unit?
I’m hoping to get a FT-897D for the battery operation but a little more oomph than the 817.


#6

897 for SOTA? You are Arnold Schwarzenegger and I claim my five pounds! :wink:

Most SOTA ops who are not using a small CW only home brew radio or an 817 or a KX3 use an 857. That seems to offer the best compromise of weight and size to power and performance. I think the 857 and 897 are the same radio inside. So really it’s the weight/size you have to consider.


#7

Hi Steve, and Welcome.

From my point of view - and ESPECIALLY if you enjoy V/UHF - there really is only one radio to use. That is the Yaesu FT-817. There is just nothing out there that is as complete all in one package. With the addition of some accessories, the FT-817 can hold its own on any summit, and surpass many more expensive radios in a few areas.

There are plenty of choices for antennas and masts. Check SOTA-BEAMS. The only thing I dislike about the SOTA-BEAMS is that the 2m and 70cm antenna are cross-polarized. I mean, one is vert and one is horz. Because of this, I much prefer the American ARROW ANTENNAS. They make a 4 or 4 ele 2m yagi, and up to a 7-ele 70cm yagi.

Welcome to SOTA.

Vy73 - Mike - KD5KC (currently DL/KD5KC)
W5-SOTA Association Manager.


#8

Steve, for higher power than the 817, probably a better solution to go for the 857 rather than the 897. I use my 897 for those summits when I want more power than the 817 provides, but it is heavier than the 857. Battery technology as Andy mentioned has moved well forwards - I use LiPo batteries (3S 2500 mAh) for my 817 and LiFePO4 (4S 8400mAh) with my 897 - both of these battery types are much lighter than the SLA type. There are many postings on the battery front, so a search through the archives would be quite fruitful - although I would not recommend the 4S LiPo batteries as without a regulator or diode to drop the voltage of the fully charged battery (16.8V) you are exceeding recommended voltage range for most radios. The 4S LiFePO4 batteries do not have this issue and are in my opinion the best option for portable radios needing around 13.8V (the 817 works from 8 to16V so the 3S LiPo is in my opinion the best battery type for that radio).

Matt
MM/VK1MA


#9

Hi Steve

I intend to activate GW/SW-016 in the near future. Perhaps you would like to join me for the activation and hopefully it will give you an insight into SOTA. Send me an e-mail (address on QRZ.com) if you are interested.

73 Allan GW4VPX


#10

Aha! Found how to multiquote here now.

Yeah is is quite a bit heavier.hopefully I’ll be OK :smile:
I like the 897 for the versatility it can offer allowing the fitting of the PSU module for base use, keeping the table footprint down, as I don’t have a shack to speak of any more, it’ll be squeezed into some spare space I can find aroyund the PC desk in the living room. Also the internal batteries it can use, as well as the external power source.
I often slog up hills with heavy photography gear, so hopefully I won’t feel like jettisoning it on an ascent :smile:

Thanks for the heads up. I have been looking at the sotabeam yagis (which don’t appear to be sold now?) and I may have a go at maiking my own. I have two home brew 9 ele DJ9BVs in the garage I used to use contesting, so a wee 5 ele should be OK.

All those battery terms are new to me! apart from SLA. Some more research to do.
Is this the type of battery you mean?

[quote=“GW4VPX, post:9, topic:11059”]
I intend to activate GW/SW-016 in the near future. Perhaps you would like to join me for the activation and hopefully it will give you an insight into SOTA. Send me an e-mail (address on QRZ.com) if you are interested.[/quote]

Thanks for that offer, email sent.


#11

Likewise.
I may be doing SW-003 or SW-004 mid week if you’re interested.

Pete


#12

Hi Mike, I think you may have mixed these two antennas up. The Arrow antennas I have are cross polarised - i.e. the 2m and 70cm elements are at 90 degrees to each other. One I have has the optional duplexer. This antenna is designed for use for portable satellite operation using a dual-band HT.
http://www.arrowantennas.com/arrowii/146-437.html

Steve, There are a few designs on the web to make your own 2m/70cm beam, such as here:
http://www.qsl.net/dk7zb/Duoband/4+5_2m-70cm.htm
This design has a single feed point and all elements are in the same plane. I know there is also a commercial dual band portable yagi with the elements in the same plane, but can’t seem to find it on the web at the moment.

73 Ed.

P.S. Found a commercial dual band,same plane, antenna from Diamond - A-1430S7 Dualband Yagi VHF/UHF.


#13

No, too much aluminium to carry around. I use a SOTAbeam SB5. Unfortunately not many were made, but you can see the design on the website of Martin DK7ZB. I have actually added 70cms elements to mine, so I have an 8 element on the higher band, all on a single feed. For more rapid fire / tentative 2m SSB activations, when HF is the primary activation, I have started using a homebuilt Moxon which just fits onto the pole, but being a closed loop, I have to remember to feed the pole through it first.

For the linear I use a 4AH 3 cell LiPO in series with a 10AH NiMH, typically two lots paralleled. I gave up with SLABs in 2009. The LiFePO4 batteries look to be a good solution, but I am still on my original LiPOs whereas the SLABs I used to carry expired after not that many activations.If you go the LiPO + NiMH route, feed the 817 just with the LiPO as it doesn’t require the higher voltage. An 857 is an alternative option, but it takes more power on receive and you don’t have the benefit of a preamp that is in-built in the Microwave Modules linear.

73, Gerald G4OIG

P.S. Look through the photos on the two SOTA Flickr groups for the set-ups people use. To see my stuff, Google Flickr and my callsign and that will get you there… and I apologise for the mist in many of the photos - it comes with the territory!


#14

Thursday evenings are good for me, but I hear from Allan mornings are better. Unfortunately I am shackled to an office desk then.

Thanks for that. The dk7zb stuff looks good. I will check out the bought one though, as lack of time is my problem! Though I do enjoy making antennas, my existing 2m and 6m contest antennas are all home made.

[quote=“G4OIG, post:13, topic:11059”]
.
.
.
.

.
.
P.S. Look through the photos on the two SOTA Flickr groups for the set-ups people use. To see my stuff, Google Flickr and my callsign and that will get you there… and I apologise for the mist in many of the photos - it comes with the territory![/quote]

No worries, I will do that. Do you have any example links to the type of batteries to go for? LiPo and LifePo4 etc are new terms to me.
thanks all.


#15

Sorry to disagree… but I think I have it exactly right. Please check the ARROW ANTENNAS Web site. You will discover that IN ADDITION to the satellite antenna they also offer a 3 ele and a 4 ele for 2m, 3 or 4 versions for 70cm up to 7 elements, and you can also special order a custom Yagi built to your frequency of choice.

Vy73 - Mike - KD5KC.
Strahlungen, Germany - JO50cg.
W5-SOTA Association Manager.


#16

Hi !

Do you have any example links to the type of batteries to go for? LiPo and LifePo4 etc are new terms to me.

I’d go with the LiFePo4 types.

Cons:

  • Their energy content is slightly lower than the one of LiPo cells.
    Pros:
  • They have a nominal voltage of approx. 3.2V, giving 12.8V in a 4 cell stack.
  • The most important advantage over LiPo cells is thermal and chemical stability, which improves battery safety.
  • Slower rate of capacity loss over time.

Important for both cell types: Be sure to order your cells or battery packs with a BMS (Battery Management System), this protects you from having nasty surprises when using them.

Sadly I do not know any trustworthy shops in the UK. If you don’t mind coping with a (No hablas inglese) shop over here, take a look: http://shop.i-tecc.de/

For more general information on the topic look around here:
http://www.a123systems.com/lithium-iron-phosphate-battery.htm


Have Fun !
73 de Robert.


#17

Hi Steve et al.,

For an antenna, you might also look at another option on the DK7ZB site:
http://www.qsl.net/dk7zb/PVC-Yagis/6-Ele-2m.htm
I have built a variant on this antenna and have a description on my blog:


It works great on 2 m, but I have not yet tried the antenna on 70 cm, other than checking that the impedance looks OK. I use 2 sections of a squid pole for the boom, and use the remaining 4 m of pole as the antenna support.

Regards,

Peter VK3PF


#18

Hi Mike,
Yes I saw the single band antennas - I thought you were referring to their (3ele 2m / 7ele 70cm) dual band 146/437-10 (which is what they are very well known for), - the satellite antenna. Good to hear that they also build custom antennas to order. You don’t find that very often. My dealings with them a few years back was very positive, although they did not ship outside of the US at the time, they put me on to one of their resellers who did. The antenna itself has provided several years of good service.

73 Ed.

P.S, Steve if you are looking for a small 2m horizontal antenna for SSB usage, I use a PARelectronics 2m Moxon anttenna http://www.parelectronics.com/moxon-OM-144.php which is directional, lightweight and small. They also do “Omniangle” omni directional horizontally polarised antennas for 6m, 4m, 2m or 70cm. These are “similar” to the Halo or Squalo antennas of 30 years ago.


#19

Yes… those are the antennas I have. They work quite well on 2m and 70cm. I did a little machine work on the mounting hardware and now I can flip the polarization V or H quickly. I have done very well in several V/UHF contests.

With the usual mode of operation being to make a contact with a station on one band and then run up the bands for credit on each band, constantly flipping the satellite antenna would be a PITA.

Starting to pack, it is time to go home.

Vy73 - Mike - KD5KC.
Strahlungen, Germany - JO50cg.
W5-SOTA Association Manager.


#20

Have a safe trip back home Mike and hope someday to work you when you’re activating a SOTA summit in Texas!

73 Ed.