Minimum equipment activation (HF "handie-talkie" mode)

We all take more gear than we need to a summit “just in case” but there are situations where a minimal amount of equipment and a very quick set-up/take down time is required (such as when going to the summit with friends who are not interested in your radio activities).

So on Boxing Day, I hope to go up Laber (DL/AM-060) above Oberammergau in Southern Bavaria and only take my FT-817 running just 5w SSB off an internal LIPO battery, with its microphone and the Diamond HF antenna that fastens directly to the BNC connector on the rig. I’ll also clip a counterpoise wire to the bottom of the rig to hopefully improve the antenna somewhat. Apart from that all I intend to have with me is my log book, pen and smartphone to be able to self spot.

As I’ve already activated Laber this year as a 60m test, I won’t be desperate if I don’t make the needed 4 contacts but I’m hoping, even with this very simple set-up to possibly make quite a few contacts.(However I would also get the three winter bonus points if I do manage 4 contacts as the last activation was after the end of the winter period).

Once the activation becomes certain, I’ll post an alert with an aproximate time and bands but what will be certain is that I wont be carrying my usual two bags and a mast with me!

73 Ed.


Hi Ed!

I am sure you will qualify the summit for the 3 points! I have done it many time in the past two years with my KX-3 and the MFJ 1820 T or 1840 T antennas. The only neccessary thing is “Availiable Chasers”. Althoght Greece is not in the best distance for 40m or 20m working 5 Watts I am going to try coping you just for a listening test! Good luck and M XMAS es HNY!

73 DE SV2OXS, Christos.

The least equipment I have taken to a summit is an FT-60R handheld for 2m and my Android phone for logging and spotting.

Qualified with 4 simplex QSOs from the lookout tower and uploaded the log before leaving the peak.

Can’t get much simpler than that.

Take a VHF hand held with a rolled up slim jim type antenna. It can help you make contacts if you have issues with your main rig. Good Luck.

HI javi,
The intention is to see how little gear I can get away with for a HF SSB activation of a summit. I could certainly take a 2m HT to this summit and qualify it with even just the standard rubber duck antenna on 2m or 70cm, that’s not the point here. My intention is to see what the absolute minimum is for HF.

Peter, I only need to activate, not qualify the summit as I have already qualified the summit earlier in the year on 60m. I think I’m right in saying getting one contact will get me the winter bonus 3 points as I will then have activated the summit in winter (the last activation was after the end of the winter bonus period). My target is around 10 contacts from across Europe, that would prove to me that even with minimum equipment a HF SSB activation is possible, even in the current limited HF propagation conditions.

Merry Xmas and HNY Christos (and everyone else). That range of single band loaded telescopic antennas from MFJ look interesting. One of those for 20m and one for 40m would only cost the half of what the Diamond cost (ignoring shipping costs) but the Diamond has the advantage of being multi-band but also has the disadvantage of having to be tuned (and putting a lot of weight on the BNC connector).

The Diamond antenna I have is the Diamond RHM8B ( ).

73 Ed.

Is this correct, Ed?
We have often re-done summits for the bonus and have always assumed that a full qualification with 4 contacts is required.
Good luck with the lightweight HF; I have only once qualified a summit while walking with a group and that was just luck as they decided to take lunch in the AZ :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, not. Activation and bonus points are awarded for a successful activation of 4 QSOs or more. When the DB checks the QSOs it checks for a valid activation and then

if valid {
 if no activator points this year {
  award activator points
 if bonus time {
  if no bonus points {
   award bonus points

So you can activate a summit a second time to claim the bonus but its has to be a valid activation of 4 QSOs.

Yep, 4 QSOs required to pick up any points on offer, regardless of whether they are summit points, or seasonal bonus points. One QSO required to be able to record it as a SOTA activation!

I have done a huge amount of activations with just a VHF handheld + rubber duck antenna - no problem at all. There have been varying levels of success reported with “very portable” HF antennas - Miracle Whips and the like - though I have never used anything like that.

My currently favoured “light-quick-easy” HF set-up is a 20m GP. Very light to carry (negligible compared to an 817’s weight), set-up and take-down no more than two minutes each, and works really well.

OK thanks for the clarification Rod and Andy - as I said, my target is probably around 10 contacts and that just got a lot easier as the German DARC 80&40m contest is on Boxing day, so even without SOTA chasers (which I would prefer), at least four ground wave contacts on 40m should be possible, to qualify the summit again.

It’ll be interesting to see how the set-up works in any case. There can be occasions where taking a “propper” set of gear along and setting up, is not possible or socially desirable. If I can get good contacts with just the 817 acting as a “handie talkie”, that’d be useful.

73 Ed.

I think these tests with quite highly compromised antennas are interesting. Stick the 2m 817 rubber duck in the bag, just in case.

Hi Andy,
As this is an experiment - I don’t care if it fails and I get no contacts - I can walk back to the restaurant in less than 5 minutes and get a nice warm drink - perhaps a Gluehwein! Hmm, actually the balcony of the restaurant is well within the AZ and while masts and dipole wires may not be welcome a rig attached telescopic loaded antenna is not going to harm anyone (apart from myself perhaps).

In any case, the main purpose of the visit is for my brother Jim (G8DCD) to get some nice photos. SOTA would be a bonus.

If this does work to an extent, does anyone have a KX2 with it’s rig attached whip antenna? An S2S would be the next challenge - compromised antenna to compromised antenna!

73 Ed.

Maybe the bigger challenge Ed would be a S2S contact between 2 “perfect” antennae! Is there such a thing? Enjoy your test

Well the test was not a great success. Rather than this being a propagation or even power question however the problem turned out to be the RHM-8B antenna itself. It was very difficult to tune and physically very unstable sat on the top of the FT-817. I think I need to build some kind on non-metallic grip to hold the antenna stable on top of the rig so that it is easier to tune.

Due to a lot of the area on the summit being closed off and quite a few people on the summit, I was not able to get the counterpoise wire out very well - some work is needed there also to make it easier to deploy.

Thanks to those who managed to work me.

73 Ed.

Ouch, well Kudos for trying and sticking to your plan. Sounds like you figured out your issues and will be succesful next time. “Minimalist” gear for SOTA activation is a challenge. Personally, I like redundancy, so the minimalist approach does not work for me, that’s why I always take a main rig & a handheld.

Hi Javi,
For “normal” activations, I will no doubt continue to take redundant antennas and my portable amplifier. I am planning for those quick activations where others are present who don’t want me spending the time putting up a dipole or even a vertical or for those summits where I know I will have to scramble up and having less weight with me is a positive option.

As it turned out this week, I would not have been able to get the linked dipole out in any case due to the number of people in the small cleared area on the summit.

73 Ed.