Hi chaps,

I’m going to begin doing some (at least what I consider to be) more serious activations over the coming months. I’m starting to get really tired of lugging the 2m mobile rig and SLAB up these summits. I have a (really cheap and kinda ok for the money) Baofeng 2m handheld, which is a nice toy, but fails in so many areas.

I wonder if anyone out there in good old SOTA land is using a handheld which works with a “proper” antenna (like a beam or dipole or whatever - not the rubber duck thing is what I mean) and works well in the areas I currently have issues with. I guess I mean one where it rejects pager interference nicely, has about 5w output and actually listens properly to what’s going into the antenna!

I’m thinking of selling up my beloved Icom IC-E208 - but I really want a handheld that works PROPERLY.

Great activation of Fan Brycheiniog (GW/SW-003) yesterday BTW - I’m really starting to enjoy the more challenging activations.

Any suggestions gratefully welcomed…

Rob G(W)7LAS

In reply to G7LAS: I have a 27 year old Trio TH205E which definitely has a more robust receiver than any of my newer handhelds but it is the size, shape and weight of a brick. On the plus side it could double as a tool for hammering in guying pegs.

A solution to using more modern rigs might be to use a helical bandpass filter between rig and antenna.

Julian, G4ILO

In reply to G7LAS:

Hi Rob, until recently I used to carry an FT897 with attached Tuner and Slabs up, but no more with my failing mobility.

I now use an FT-60 with a spare battery, for HH ops which I know a lot of activators on here use! A cracker radio and as you say light enough to carry without much effort.

I use a Home-brew slim Jim,similar to the Garex design but mine is duel band 2m & 70cm with an adjustable section to get resonant on both FM and SSB sections of the bands

you have also asked a question that will get you lots of different opinions and radio types and models

Good luck


Tony G1JPV

In reply to G7LAS:

Hi I have a Yaesu FT60E which has served me well on over 200 fells.
It has been dropped on numerous occasions, has had a few soakings and when connected to a high gain antenna seems to reject all but the strongest front end interference.
Certainly a lot better than my IC E90 which is a multiple of barn doors when it comes down to rejecting unwanted signals.

73, Derek

In reply to 2E0MIX:

In reply to G7LAS:

Certainly a lot better than my IC E90 which is a multiple of barn
doors when it comes down to rejecting unwanted signals.

I have to agree with Derek re the Icom IC-E90, it hears pagers and other unwanted signals when ‘tuned’ to 2m even when there are no PMR masts in sight (due to its wideband front end).

Mike G4BLH

In reply to 2E0MIX:

Appreciate the replies so far guys… (at least) so far sounds like a resounding vote for the FT-60e!


In reply to G7LAS:

Anything in the Yaesu VX-170 range (VX-170/VX-150/VX-110) single band 2m range will be very good. These are discontinued but you should find plenty secondhand. Waterproof, metal chasis, loud audio, BIG NiMH battery pack. The replacement FT-250/270 is good too. My VX-170 was only £83 new so you wont break the bank.

Have you considered an old FT-290? You should be able to find mint examples of the MkI for around £60-80. Not as robust as the previous handhelds but they will give you SSB as well. Whilst they are bigger than a handy they’re not that big nor that heavy. You could run them off internal cells but you wont get 2.5W out that way. A high capacity external NiMH will drive one for a long time. They sip current on RX unlike FT-817s.


In reply to MM0FMF:

I’m a great admirer of the FT290R1, one of the great classic rigs, but they are getting elderly now, and a filling of NiMHs costs noticably more than they would for an 817. A set of high capacity NiMHs in an 817 will run for over six hours on receive - longer if you take steps to minimise current consumption, - and are good for over an hour of activating, probably more. The 817 will fit comfortably in a poachers pocket and will get you on any band 160 metres to 70 cm except for 4 metres - I’ve heard of a mod for 4 metres but am doubtful of its efficiency. The 817 is not perfectly bomb proof, but I have successfully operated from one end of the summit of CE-002 on 2 metres SSB whilst somebody operated from the other end on 2 metres FM, so its not too bad! I would consider a good used 817, its the Swiss Army penknife of portable rigs!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G7LAS:

In reply to 2E0MIX:

Appreciate the replies so far guys… (at least) so far sounds like a
resounding vote for the FT-60e!

Hi Rob,

If you want my honest opinion, get yourself a dual band Wouxun, cheap as chips and great value for money. Invest in in a couple of spare 1700 mAh batteries. This will give you 10+ hours TX time.

I’ve done thousands of qso’s on mine, absolutely bulletproof little rig.
Be warned, many summits will give you pager grief on any H/H using anything other than the rubber duck.

I have a very expensive Yaesu VX8-GR with built in GPS, APRS and I’m sure, if I programmed it properly, would happily dispense a cup of coffee. However, I don’t rate it one bit. Barn door front end and about 10 million menus to trawl through…

Used it twice about 8 months ago, after which I chucked it back in the box, where its never seen the light of day since.

Just my 2¢ worth…

73 Mike

In reply to 2E0YYY:
I agree with you Mike. I have a mono band 2M Wouxon, better filtering than the dual band, and it works very well on my nearest hill (ce001) which has high power pager transmitters on it. I have used a 5/8 external antenna on it and it still copes quite well. The 1700mAh battery lasts very well and spares are cheap. My choice for lightweight activations.
73, Frank

In reply to G7LAS:

Since Karen and I have been activating summits, we have tried many different handhelds from the various manufacturers…Their effectiveness at dealing with the amazing amount of R.F. crud on a summit has been somewhat illuminating!

My preferred radio to use would be the Yaesu FT 530…Built like a brick, the size of a brick, the weight of a brick, proper controls, good audio in and out, a lovely H/H but a front end like an R.F. sponge…Totally useless.

Icom E90…Poor front end but we only use it for 4m…It works well there.

Kenwood TH79/78/22/42 etc etc …Decent radios but there are better ones.

Alinco DJ/G5…Surprisingly good, front end seemed pretty bomb proof and I don’t recall it ever letting anything through that I didn’t want to hear…Downside? it was a little bit on the deaf side.

Alinco DJ/G7 a cracking radio for 23 cms…However, on one summit, we ran out of battery power on the H/H we were using, so utilised the G7 for 2m, went to the simplex channel we were on and called back to the station we had been working…No response, so listened around the band and all signals were way down.
We’ve since done more tests with the G7 on 2m and come to the conclusion that this rig will only ever be used on 23 cms!

Kenwood TH7e Pretty decent, certainly a radio we use often and had no issues with.

Kenwood TH7d Fair…I bought it with APRS in mind, as such it will do the job nicely but not a radio I would take on a known problem summit.

There have been others as well, all consigned to the ‘No longer of use’ drawer!

This brings us to what we do now use…No contest as far as we are concerned, the Yaesu FT 270 ticks all the boxes…Very well made, waterproof, stunning battery life, cracking tx audio (with speaker mic), simple controls regardless of the wx, and for what they offer, they’re good value for money…We have 4 of them and have no intention of trying anything else to replace them.

Antenna used with the 270 is either a Diamond X5000 triband or a Sandpiper Delta Quad and have had no problems with breakthrough (so far!)

Regards, Neil.

In reply to 2E0TDX:

Hi Neil,
Agreed the FT-270 is excellent.

… cracking tx audio (with speaker mic) …

Is that the MH-73 waterproof speaker mic you have, or the
normal version? I carry an FT-270 for when it’s too wet to
use the FT-817, was thinking of getting a speaker mic, and
wondered how the waterproofing would affect performance.

73, John M0VCM (aka 2E0VCO)

In reply to M0VCM:

Is that the MH-73 waterproof speaker mic you have, or the
normal version?

Hi John
We made the decision to buy the normal MH-57 mic to get around the reports/reviews of muffled audio from other waterproof h/h users. We assumed the MH-73 would not improve the audio. We wanted to keep the waterproof membrane intact on the FT-270 and decided it wasn’t too difficult to shield the mic from the worst rain. If necessary, we’d rather sacrifice the mic than the radio. We have used that set up in all weather since buying a 270 and not had any problems so far (about 18 months, I think). There has only been one occasion in torrential driving rain where I’ve really tried to shield the mic with my coat collar.
Hope that helps.

Karen 2E0XYL

In reply to 2E0XYL:

Thanks Karen - that’s very helpful. The only review
I’ve seen of the MH-73 described making a pin-hole to
improve poor audio, which rather defeats the purpose!
Your experience suggests the MH-57 is the way to go,
so thanks again for taking the time to explain.

73, John M0VCM

In reply to G7LAS:
Hi Rob,

Have to say that I am very impressed with my Yaesu FT-60e and as the price has come down I think it is damn good value for money too.

In reply to G1STQ:

Thanks to everyone on here for their honesty and informed opinions, it’s very much appreciated. I’m going for an ft-270e. I’ve never had a new decent radio in my life! Really looking forward to it.

All the very best de G7LAS


For SOTA I currently use a Yaesu VX-7R and a MFJ-1714 ‘Long Ranger’ half-wave 2m telescopic antenna and also a SOTA Beam. I also like travelling light and this arrangement is working very well for me. Like many of the modern multi-band HTs it has a wide front end, but I can say that I’ve not experienced any problems because of this. In fact, I operate from a hill a few minutes walk from my home and is approx 1.5 miles from a major TV and comms mast. I’d expect this to be a problem but it isn’t, and when I venture into the hills to operate I have had no problems at all.

Hope this helps.

Rick M1RAL

In reply to G7LAS:
Rob, Can you QRZ me and email me re a contact we had from Muncaster Fell.
David G6LKB

In reply to G6LKB:

Pleased to help you out today David.

All the best, Rob