VHF has a longer range than most people assume. Try it, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.
If you consider the KX3 to be an ultralight rig, I shudder to think how heavy the rest of your pack is.
I’m primarily a CW activator, but I always take along my H/T and it has saved my bacon on several activations where I wasn’t getting spotted. A bunch of people around here (W7W Washington State) are very successful using nothing but an H/T. The key to FM activations is cultivating your pool of chasers. Get on some local repeater nets and let people know when/where you are going to be. People get a kick out of working you when you are on a summit, and will happily listen for you if you ask them to. Another strategy is to get on a repeater from the summit and ask people to pop over to a simplex freq. and listen for you. It is a bit more social engineering than using CW where we have a fantastic pool of dedicated chasers who are always there for you… but its definitely doable.
I almost said “lightweight” because people are so weird about the word “ultralight”.
My big three are under eight pounds and my base weight is 15 pounds. You can call that anything you want. I call it a comfortable, safe load. That leaves room to carry two pounds of camera (Canon SL1 and lenses) and/or three pounds of radio.
Hike your own hike,
Amen to that.
That does not has to be! If you are willing to learn CW, you can cover the entire world with a full HF station that is easily less than 1 kg including pole and antenna.
See this link:
My current station is
- A MTR 3 B in a “TinySOTA” enclosure including battery for >2h operation, SWR meter, USB charger, etc. - less than 350 g including earphones and rugged case.
- An endfed or vertical wire antenna - 100 - 200 g
- A carbon-fiber mast 5 - 6m, starting with less than 200g.
Here are pictures of the station:
Of course, you do not have take the effort of building a similar station - an MTR as off-the-shelf from LNR will go a long way. And SOTA DX contacts are well possible even at this point of the solar cycle.
73 de Martin, DK3IT
Edit: One more thing: 5 W QRP is really plenty for SOTA HF. No need to carry a 100W beast up on the summit.
An 857D drains 650 mA at full RX. Not too bad, though the weight is the real drawback.
Yes, but an MTR-5B draws 15 mA Rx at 12V and maybe 500-550 mA at 4…5W Tx.
Of course, those are entirely different radios for entirely different purposes. But to be frank, I personally find it hard to understand to use an 857D for SOTA.
73 de Martin
Because you do not do any moderately QRO 2m SSB activations.
The best radio is the one in your hands.
What’s your goal? to call home from the other side of the country, or to make contact with locals? Define your goals then determine your needs. What’s your pocket book? I’ve learned that for the price of the radio you must double the cost for appropriate accessories. For $200.00 US, you’re in.
As the underlying intent of HAM radio is emergency preparedness I’d never be caught without a radio on my hip. My areas has a strong 2-meter network so I’m tuned in to 2-meter.
HF is down the road.
Now, if someone would make a quality Jerk and Run radio nest that serves two radios…
Actually, my first SOTA QSO ever was on 2m SSB;)
But, yes, you are right, that’s not my kind of play;)
Is 2m worth it?
Yes. Next question? (Sorry if I’m too brusque, it’s a lovely day and I’ve been drinking with the neighbours in their garden ).
That’s the joy of SOTA - everything has its place and if the atmosphere isn’t playing… at least we had a good walk.
I want to thank everyone for their comments and the awesome discussion. I’m still very much in the soak-up-information-like-a-sponge phase (as I hope I’ll always be). I hadn’t thought of an 817/818 with a linear amp as a base station option. I saw 891 as a compromised middle ground.
As far as the HT goes, I do feel a bit better about it. I finished making a ladder-line j pole for it, but haven’t tested it out yet. I’m waiting for some double digit temps before I step out of the hermetically sealed house into the Hades beyond today. I also found some plans for a 2m yogi using music wire and a fiberglass arrow shaft, so I’m going to try my hand at building that too.
I don’t quite qualify as “ultralight” myself, but I always aim for that mentality. It keeps me from killing my back. Happily sitting under 14 lbs/6.3kgs base weight though. To me, radios are a great reason to break those pesky UL rules though.
The areas I’m heading to in CO in August has about 4 separate peaks that are along my route. I have a good feeling I’ll be attempting to activate a couple of them at least. N0MAP hooking me up with the NASOTA group will help a lot too.
Apart VHF, it’s 13 dB.
… and SSB.
I have had a lot of nice 2m fm Qs with HT and roll up jpole when in the 8000ft mountains àbove LA. In less populated areas, 5W CW HF has been the way to go. When I feel reallly energetic will take the IC706 and 20ah Li battery and do 20m ssb. 73 Hal N6JZT.
I’m in a similar boat, being a new SOTAer (?). Since I’m in LA there typically is traffic on 2M, but on my first activation I was having a tough time HT with an upgraded small whip. I brought an Elk log periodic with me and that was the hot ticket - no problems being heard for 100+ miles running 5W on the HT.
I have an FT-891 coming as well, as I’ve not had a lot of luck on HF running SSB w/10W. That radio combined with a 12Ah LiFePO4 battery comes in at less than 8 lbs combined, so while it certainly is more than a KX2 and small external battery, hopefully “portable enough” until I learn CW sufficiently.
Hal - I live nearby you (Gardena) and often listen for SOTA activations on 2M and often find them, even though my antenna is a 2M loop horizontal and tuned to the low end of the band. This is a great area for V/UHF SOTA.
As to your hauling the IC706…isn’t LiFePO4 a wonderful innovation!
Recently went without a VHF HT with me. I got 3 contacts on HF, no more. Bad conditions. So I’m headed back to that summit soon with my vhf ht along with hf radio so I can ensure to finish the activation.
Yes, 2-meter is worth it. ALL bands are worth it.
Depending on your nation, some must continually fight for legislative permissions to maintain bandwidth of lose them to commercial entities, a situation we can ill-afford. The only way to ensure the future of amateur radio is to operate on all bands and encourage operators to operate on bands that are accessible to them. I’m exclusive to 2 meter/70 cm, but I support the use of all bands allocated to us. Uose it or lose it.
Yes, 2-meter is worth it.
Hello- 2m 100% worth it. All my early SOTA were mostly VHF and I had a blast. I tried many different antennas and radios as well. HTs and mobile radios w battery, bamboo or fishing pole masts w mobile antennas (Diamond NR770 was one I used a lot) and I talked to tons of people. Learned a LOT. Tried SSTV as well w laptop and an HT w a friend, learned about cheap radios in high rf environments (smaller antennas actually better they rx less rf), etc. Worked 160mi into my home repeater system from Mt. Whitney and a friend was able to spot me and secured my activation on 40m there. Worked to MEX border once from Mt Wilson from a Motorola handheld (CHI radios totally dead in that extreme rf environment on Wilson)
73 and have fun-
Clifford - KK6QMS