My wife has a knack of knowing exactly what I want for my birthday. Since I started SOTA five years ago she’s got me something SOTA related every time (sometimes very expensive, bless her). For my next one in June, I’m guessing she’s getting me a 7-el 70cm handheld Yagi and a 15L rucksack (to replace the current highly-used worn-out one).
On hearing this an old G8 school friend of mine said that I must have an extensive suite of portable gear, which got me thinking, What SOTA/portable-specific radio gear do I have? (i.e. not shack stuff, not test equipment, not hiking gear).
The list is not as long as I thought. I’m lucky to have pretty much everything I need. So, I’m curious to know if my list is long or short compared to other activators. So, what’s your SOTA radio gear inventory?
My SOTA gear lives in my SOTA pack at home, too:
FT818 with Windcamp battery,
2 ham sticks (usually 17m & 20m),
ham stick mount (auto mirror mount clamped to a short aluminum tube),
2 ground wires,
bungee cord if ham stick mount won’t push into ground (not alot of soil in the White Mnts of NH; I’ve bungeed the mount to granite boulders!)
BaoFeng HT with extended whip,
golf pencil and small notebook for logging
iPhone w GAIA gps app
2’ x 3’ tarp for wet ground
My list is:
FT857, RF converters for SMA with water proof bag
2 X 5Ah 3c lipos
5m “put on” glass fiber pole
3 parachute cord supports with pegs
7m RG 58 feeder with balun, all SMA
Link dipole for 60/40/30/20m
Link elevated GP for 20/17
Modified High Mound manipulator
Home brew electret mike
End fed dipole for 2m
Titanium HB spanner for SMA with attachment cord
Waterproof paper and 3 pencils
Photo copy of map at 25000 scale
Sardine sandwich and 2 piglet pies
Home brew oatmeal biscuits (recipe on request, email: email@example.com)
All my SOTA kit is used for other purposes… HEMA, WWFF, the odd contest and general portable activity. What SOTA has done is to give me a preference for operating portable in the open air rather from a vehicle.
Here’s my kit list:
Radios: IC-703 Plus, FT-817ND, Youkits HB1A, Standard C710 (2m/70cm/23cm HH).
Linear amplifiers: MM 25w 2m linear, MX-P50M HF linear.
HF Ants: 20/17m vertical, three HF linked dipoles, 40m EFHW with 49:1 unun.
Auto-ATU: LDG Z100.
Key: portable straight key.
Headphones: Sony over ear headphones.
Poles: 4m, 5m, 6m, 7m.
Coax: 4.5m 5D-FB semi-rigid for VHF (×2), RG-714 to each HF antenna, misc patch leads.
Batteries: four 4.2AH LiFePO4s, three 4AH LiPOs (old), two 2.2AH LiPOs.
Miscellaneous: paper logging, bothy bag, first aid kit, bungies, guying kit, small towel, hi-viz waistcoat, headtorch, etc., etc.
Under consideration: KX2 with internal ATU.
Much of it lives in my 35L Eurohike backpack and the remainder in a storage cupboard. I also have a Berghaus 60L pack. I select items for specific activations. Somewhere I’ve a 6m delta loop, but it has not been used for a decade.
Much of my outdoor clothing list has been developed on account of SOTA. I soon found sitting on a summit for an hour or more can be far more demanding than continuing the walk. I wear Paramo jacket and trousers with various merino base layers and a Berghaus technical fleece. I have a choice of three boots.
I’d prefer 10m. I’ve done the mainly single hop 6m SpE to death in a previous life and it no longer floats my boat. Yes multi-hop SpE is more fun as are the other exotic modes but single hop SpE, done it, got the t-shirt, seen the film, seen the sequel and prequel and have the box set on DVD and Blueray.
Hence the decade since I used the band for SOTA. Anyway, it’s back to that thing that has been discussed before - the fact that on an activation I prefer to work actual chasers rather than just anyone and sporadic as in Sporadic E doesn’t usually oblige.
This thread could go a long way…not all my activations are the same but the kit list is…
Rigs: FT817 for long uns, VX8G for vhf uns and an sg lab 13cm xverter for wonky uns & mtr5b for the yans where I’m looking to confuse people with cw.
Antennas: Trapped end fed for 40,30,20,17,15m, efhw for 40m and 30m, flowerpot for 2m, ye olde sotabeams 270 for er 2m & 70cms, PCB ant for 13cm
Hardware: broken walking pole + 3d printed bracket + various lengths of PVC pipe for flowerpot and efhw low end. Carbon 6 for long end.
FT 270 2m FM HH
FT817ND (now mostly retired as it is heavier)
MX P50m Linear - now mostly left behind…
2 internal batteries for the KX2 ( On in the other as a spare which just plugs in the DC socket…3500mAh)
2 x “Zippy” LiFePO4 4200 mAh - or the linear and the FT 817
Small USB “booster” and leads for USB / Lighting to charge either phone or Garmin inReach - or if I take the big battery a usb adapter…
2m J pole
80/60/40 linked dipole
60/40/20/17/15 linked dipole
EFHW transformer and 40m efhw or 20/17/15 (linked) half wave antennas
6m tactical mast - velcro and tent pegs / guys
( I usually take the J Pole, 6m mast and pick the HF antenna depending on what the bands have been like)
Garmin inReach - sometimes used for spotting but mostly as an emergency back up as there is still lots of the North Pennines with no phone signals…
Leartherman Skeletool and some screwdriver blades
Water filter and bag… (Sawyer)
Blizzard Bag ( Survival bag still in the wrapper…)
DD tarps ultralight and small collapsable aluminium support pole - depending on the weather
Fingerless fishing gloves which seem to work well on cold summits
Petzl headlamp (tiny one as a backup)
Rite in the rain note pad (log)
Lots of dry bags…
Usually backup 1:25000 map although I tend to use the phone for navigation
Suunto Ambit Peak watch - which includes GPS and pressure systems for determining altitude, and depressingly shows the ascent rate…
Pretty much all of my gear has veen obtained with SOTA in mind.
I have two SOTA rucksacks, one is an Osprey Mutant 38, the other is a Mammut Lithium 32. The Mammut Lithium gets used more than the other one as it’s really light and a good size, not too big, not too small.
I have various antennas, mostly home brew, but I do have two SOTAbeams BandHoppers, although both have been repaired a couple of times.
In terms of rigs, I have quite a few for SOTA.
LNR Precision MTR-3B
LNR Precision MTR-3B LCD
Soda Pop 30m
Soda Pop 40m
Slop Bucket 20m
Home brew SST-30
QCX classic 20
Several RockMites (10?)
Radio Adventure Gear Paddle
Usual safety gear - GPS, first aid kit, bothy bag etc
Begali Adventure, Palm Mini, Palm Pico, British Military Telegraph Key w/leg strap and J45/J37 Telegraph Key/leg clamp
End fed (133 ft/40m or 66 ft/20m), linked dipole (20/30/40m), AlexLoop on a tripod, and Buddipole on a tripod. I always carry a small backup antenna which is a 33 ft/10m long end fed and a 3 ft/1m long RG174 coax.