Any hire or loan options for radios in the UK?

Hi all,

I am planning a visit to the UK in June of this year, and as we are overnighting in Dubai where there are strict rules about radio transmitters (apparently) I am concerned about the possibility of arriving in the UK or back in VK without my radio.

So I am considering several alternative options. One is to post my FT817 to the UK, use disposable or rechargeable batteries only, and post it back home afterwards. Another is to try to hire a radio and battery+charger (or better yet, borrow one) for the several opportunities I have planned to activate a few summits. I would bring my own pole, antenna, cable, key etc. If necessary would also bring my cw filter, I would need permission to take the lid off to install that. It is a small PCB that plugs into some pins on the main board - no soldering and just a menu option to enable it.

I am open to using other types of radios such as the IC703 or MTR, KX3 (dreaming…) I would like to have the option of using 6m & 2m but if it is not possible I can live with that.

Does anyone offer this option? Please contact me by private message here with any details.

(If nobody does offer this, it might be a good idea to start doing so. The UK has lots of visitors and air travel with radios and batteries is becoming complicated.)


Andrew vk1da & vk2uh
(VK2 Association Manager)

Hello Andrew

I hope you find a hirer… To be honest travelling around Europe (Not the middle east / worldwide) by air with radio equipment and batteries as in my opinion become easier. I haven’t had a problem on four flights taken around EU in the last year when I have carried an FT-817 with an external battery and 2m handheld in hand luggage. I put the lack of challenge by security staff of late, down to the number of people now travelling with electronics such as tablets, laptops and batteries for charging such devices making transit of such equipment more commonplace.

73 Phil

Where in the country will you be based? That information would make it easier for someone to decide to loan you a radio.

73, Colin G8TMV

Hi Colin,

We will first spend a week or so in London, then venturing out on a circular kind of tour, starting south east initially, then heading westward via various sites, all the way to the Marconi site, then heading back towards London and eastward to Cambridge, eventually heading northwards to the Sheffield area where some relatives once lived, and that’s mainly when I am planning to activate a few summits. I may get a few chances earlier but if I don’t have equipment at that stage, it won’t be a possibility. Finally we plan to depart from Manchester for Zurich, then on to Friedrichschafen.

I realise the idea of letting a tourist use your precious radio is a bit “out there” and to be honest I am so fussy about my radios I would need to know someone very well before letting it happen with one of mine. However others may not be so concerned especially if they have done it before, or even have a “hire” unit they don’t feel too attached to!



Hi Phil,

yes I gather from you and from Andy that it is quite routine in Europe. And some stopover places would be no problem, but I am concerned that Dubai may be one of the ones that is more sensitive than others.

Let’s see what might come of this request.


Phil, what is the external battery type what you are using for FT-817?

73, Saku OH2NOS

It may seem a flippant response Andrew especially as you may have limited choice in the destinations you can fly through but, put simply, if transiting Dubai is difficult due to local “cultural” issues, then don’t transit through Dubai.

If there are enough people picking routes that avoid Dubai then maybe, somebody will notice.

HI Saku

I’ve carried various types through EU airport security. A 3.3 amp laptop charger battery (now defunct - recently replaced with a Zippy LiFEPo4 4.2 amp), Turnigy LiPo 3SP1 5 Amp with flying leads (Now recently replaced with anotherZippy LiFePo4 4.2 amp - similar appearance) and a hard case Ultramax 7 Amp LiFePo4 battery with flying leads. I only carry one battery on board and I always tape up the connector. It must be around 6 flights since the battery got inspected. I always remove all radio equipment and the battery from the bag and place it in the tray for scanning.

73 Phil

PS Next year when I will likely go to Australia I intend shipping my FT-817 in the hold luggage and carrying on the plane one of my 4.2 Amp LiFePo4’s.

Hi Andrew,

That’s an interesting question. I’m going to be doing the opposite – heading for VK6 this Christmas for a couple of weeks with (hopefully) some SOTA time – and so many flights are via Dubai these days.

Maybe check a suitcase straight through to your final destination with 817 and radio bits in it (=/- batteries of course) Don’t bring radio into Dubai at all. Only risk is of luggage going missing.

73 Graeme

I can lend you a 40/30 or 20/60 MTR…
I’m not sure how I’d get it to you, but it’s not an insurmountable problem.

I’ve never had any issues with radio gear on flights. I always take my gear out of my bag and place in tray. 50% of the time they get stopped and swabbed. The other times no one bats an eyelid.
The biggest issue I’ve ever had is with the antenna. In Bristol they were going to confiscate my 20m of 7/0.2 wire as it could be used to tie someone up (allegedly).
They were unconcerned about the 10m of polyester cord or the 4 guy lines which were probably 100 times stronger. :smile:
That is the problem, you never really know what you’re likely to be stopped for.

IMHO all the searching is a complete waste of time and effort anyway!

HI Pete

Bristol - oddly enough, the only place I have travelled from with everything in my rucksack when I went to Prague last September. I had no problem with all this stuff in my rucksack - a full HF station and handheld plus clothing, gadgets etc. I had no hold luggage. I agree you never know what or who you will find and what they make of you at the security point… it’s a lottery…

73 Phil

1 Like

It must be because tent pegs and poles are banned items on most airlines :slight_smile:

It doesn’t matter whether we’ve had problems in Europe or not. The issue here is Dubai and its laws and culture.

Dubai law != Europe law
Dubai culture != Europe culture
Dubai != Europe

Sorry if this sounds harsh or somewhat anti-Dubai. It’s not, it’s based on 2nd and 3rd hand stories from colleagues/friends/acquaintances who have been in The Emirates and that part of the world. Don’t like the law/culture in Dubai, don’t visit Dubai. The downside is Dubai is building itself into a major hub and not transiting Dubai on long haul flights is not easy.

The rules, after a quick Googling, seem simple. Foreigners are not allowed “walkie talkies” especially UHF gear. The choice is to place £500 worth of radio in you checked in luggage and hope the baggage handlers are honest, chance it may be by being able to ditch the batteries when confronted, arrange with the airline to manage the item (sounds expensive).

To me it sounds far too much hassle. Assuming nobody wants to lend you gear (and I doubt that) and nobody wants to accompany you up some hills and let you carry their gear for them ( and I doubt that too!), then it may be worth a group of VKs and a group of G/GM/GW/GIs buying a pair of 817s and having them available for use by visitors.

But maybe there’s a business opportunity going begging here… SOTA hire: 817+battery+pole+antennas £20/day or £75/5days plus delivery to your hotel.


Yes, “walkie talkies” are the issue at Dubai. I guess my 817 is going back that way in checked baggage :frowning: Not good if you have to overnight there of course.
I gave them my internal battery to retrieve the rig. They seemed happy with that… Although the security guy at boarding also took an interest in the battery-less rig… He did seem happy when I told him his mate had already taken the battery. Thankfully they didn’t enquire what the lifepro4 battery in my bag was for :wink:

If anyone visits the Welsh Borders, I’m more than happy to lend them an 817 (assuming I can get it back home of course) with amp + battery (assuming I can get them home of course…) or an 857 (assuming I haven’t been burgled while I’m away…) With linked dipole, pole, etc


1 Like

Hi Andy

I agree totally. Trouble is that these flights were booked some time ago and are now unchangeable other than by spending more than the value of a new FT817 on doing so. Knowing what I do now I would avoid Dubai altogether until they develop a more sophisticated approach to classifying radio transceivers.



Hi Peter,

Thanks indeed, that’s a very kind offer. Can I see what other options might develop in the next month and let you know… I think the 40/30 would give me enough scope to activate and qualify. Is parcel post within the UK (at an appropriate insurance level) considered sufficiently safe for such items? I would have to return it to you by post, unless you or a friend will be at Friedrichschafen.

I have been reminded also that some of my VK friends will be at FN and are bringing a box full of microwave gear for hilltop microwave contacts in Austria and Germany (strangely, not SOTA!) I might be able to send my own gear back with one of them.



Hi Graeme,

That would be an option and I will consider that. I guess all checked baggage is at the mercy of the handlers to some extent but something sitting in an airport for a day might be at a greater risk.

With several options now offered I will have to consider them and work out which is most suitable and is the least inconvenience to others.

Thanks and 73
Andrew vk1da

I’ve had no problems taking radio gear through Dubai. I think Andrew’s concern is that he is making a stopover in Dubai and hence will be entering and leaving rather than simply transiting in the airport. If the stopover is 3 days or less, I seem to remember that baggage can be left “airside” and so you avoid issues. Emirates airline will be able to clarify this.
If still the case, pack one bag with things not needed in Dubai and leave that at the airport.

73 Ed

I was thinking the same Andy. But on further reflection all sorts of problems come to mind - abuse of equipment, exposure to moisture etc (some of which may not be immediately apparent on return). Still possibly an option for some business to carefully selected customers?

I think I share your concerns about lending radios too Andrew. Not just the above concerns but with modern radios I’d find it irritating if all my carefully selected options were changed. Always happy to lend a spare radio/battery to someone on a shared activation though (oop north)

PS You carry the heavier 857! :smiling_imp:

If there was a business there I would be in it …but there isn’t. Even the most “back of a fag packet” numbers show that it fails on all counts. I’m out.

Ham spirit is the way forward in such cases.