Show us your rig! (Part 1)

I’m always interested in seeing what others are using on summits. I started out with a Yaesu FT-817ND which was a great rig with a ton of capability, but it’s pretty heavy! I got on the waiting list when I heard about the LNR FX-4 and was luck enough to get one of the early models. With some more luck, I ended up with one that has no quality issues.

The FX-4 has gone a long way to lighten up my pack. As a SSB activator, I’m a bit more limited in my radio selection. I’m learning CW, but I can’t yet copy quick enough to use it for an activation. Soon…

The FX-4 is a pretty sweet little rig offering 4 bands - 17m, 20m, 30m, and 40m - putting out 5 watts on CW and SSB. The cheap mic it came with was obnoxiously large compared to the size of the radio, so I hacked together a mini-mic from an earbud/lapel mic assembly that came with a Baofeng HT. It works great, weighs next to nothing, and takes up a lot less space in the pack.

With the radio, I purchased the Trail Friendly End-Fed 10/20/40 antenna. Not long after I got it, I added a link for 17m so I could operate on that band as well. A 6" coax jumper connects the radio to the antenna, and earbuds provide my audio.

One more thing I added, but haven’t used much yet except in practice into a dummy load is a touch keyer. I opened up the FX-4 and found there was just barely enough space for a CW Touch Keyer P3 circuit. I soldered that in, and added a couple of touch points insulated from the chassis to eliminate the need for an external keyer. It’s not perfect - the touch points are a bit farther apart than they should be, but with a little practice, I think it’ll work just fine.

Total weight including the LowePro cases, 2200mAh Li Ion battery, and the Cabelas 14’ telescopic pole is 33.4 oz which I’m pretty happy about. Just over 2lbs for a multi-band CW and SSB rig isn’t bad.

Now show me your tiny CW rig and make me want to hone my skills so I can do the same. Or show me your beefier system with more power and more gain to work DX SOTA stations. Show us what you’ve got and tell us why you like it. We’re all gear junkies at heart and would love to see it.


Here’s the current kit…

The “small” LowePro bag - 2200mAh 11.1V Li battery and LNR Trail-Friendly antenna

The “larger” LowePro bag - LNR FX-4, power cable, coax jumper, earbuds, and mini-mic

Here’s a close-up of the touch keyer touch points. They’re just a couple of cap nuts insulated from the chassis.

And the rig in use!


I have been use a home-brew 40m DSB rig. It has output of around 4watts.




Hello Adam,
I was not so worried about the weight of my equipment, so I choose the almighty SG-2020:

Total weight including the fishpole and the end-fed antenna: 8kg.
The single improvement I want to do for the future is when my batteries will die (2 x Yuasa 12V 8,5Ah used alternative) to replace them with something like the one shown below (12V 9800mAh) that will reduce the weight with 2kg.

Sorin YO2MSB


total weight including Buddipole Dipole on 2,4m mast: 3,6 kg (1,6 kg rig+battery, 2 kg antenna)


I knew I would get some cool replies on this one.

VK5TX / Ben - there’s a special kind of pleasure in using equipment that you built from scratch.

YO2MSB / Sorin - I hadn’t seen the SG-2020 before. Looks like a solid, well-built rig that would be great for SOTA. Li battery technology sure is nice!

OE2ATN / Thomas - Your KX-3 box is nothing short of a work of art. Excellent work on that thing.

Keep 'em coming, folks…


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This is my home brew 70MHz SSB rig, based on a 2m design by DC6HL. I built it in the 1970s for hill-topping, but there isn’t much SSB activity on 4m outside of contests. I have used it on a couple of SOTA activations. Anyone activating with home brew gear older than that? :o)

A peep under the hood -

Maybe now that the KX3 has a 4m option there will be more activity. Maybe I should build something more up to date too :o)



Yeah Adam, SG-2020 it’s a rock solid transceiver, just perfect for SOTA if you are not scared to carry some kilos in your backpack. Check the web for details. I couldn’t understand why in the world SGC stop the production for this rig, but it’s an error - even today you must be very lucky to buy a SH in Europe under 400 euros.
Sorin YO2MSB

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I’m using a MP1 aerial for 10 and 14 Mhz.
Yaesu FT-817nd - not on full power.


Hi Adam,

I haven’t seen the FT-817 in this post yet…
My set up consists in a FT-817 put in a special tray I manufactured using light wood. I operate with this pack inside the rucksack.
As for the aerial, I use a homebrew quarter wave vertical with multiple links for bands change.
As for the mic: I use a cheap PC headset, with an adapter for the electret microphone. It works fine and is very lightweight,

Total weight of FT-817 + LiPo batt + aerial wire + fishpole for supporting the wire is about 2,1 kg (74 oz).

Some pictures:
Rig packed:

Rucksack ready to operate

Aerial collapsed

73 Ignacio EA2BD


Good thread.
I’ll dig out all my details later, but as a starter, my regular kit consists of all KD1JV equipment.

More info here:


My SOTA equipment:

  • Yaesu FT-817ND
  • LDG Z-817 automatic antenna tuner
  • 11,1V 2200mAh LiPo accu
  • Buddistick vertical antenna
  • Palm CW paddle
  • AMP-3 FT817 bag

73, Milos S57D


New to activating. Simple set up so far. Yaesu 857D. 7.2 AH SLAB Battery. LNR ENDFEDZ 20m enfed Dipole. 15ft Black Widow crappie pole.


Mark/ W7MCP

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My SOTA rig: nothing special here. Elecraft KX1 2 bands with internal ATU, Wilderness SST 20 m band, 3 x 4.5 V alkaline battery soon to be replaced by LiPo, end fed antenna with parallel LC tuner for 20 m band. The tuner is way oversized and it is actually a QRO tuner; this also is going to be replaced soon.

Frank IZ2DQB.



tomorrow I am going to fly to UK with my SOTA equipment. Nothing special as you can see in my pic. I will activate 2 references but at the time I will announce.

Best 73 all.

David Quental


Nice job Ignacio with your pack, I hope you publish details of the vertical on your hamtennas web.

Here is what I used on my last activation.

MTR v2 30-20-17m 5W (120gr)
Lipo 3S 1000mAh + custom made jumper (fuse + polarity protection)
Palm mini paddle
Picokeyer +
Elecraft T1
betterqrp backacker 9:1 unun
Longwire 30’’
Lightweight notebook & pen
Lipo safe bag
Antenna bag - 4 Al pegs, velcro tape, reusable tie zip
7m sotapole
Total weight is 1998gr

At the moment I bubble-wrap the various bits into the box, I am looking at optimising the package so I can minimise the time it takes to assemble and disassemble the station. There are some opportunities to take 200-300gr overall too I think.

I also use regularly a Multiband linked EFHW 40-30-20-17m & SB Mountain tuner (above) - 214grs combined. One of my favorites.

73 de Angel


I use the KN-Q7A 40m 10W SSB rig and inverted vee for 40m. Dipole is very efficient for QRP and does not act funny when there is no ground rod around. Only drawback is the feedline. I am now using RG-174 - loss of 10m of such coax at 7Mhz is comparable to RG-58. At 10W I loose only 0.5-1W more than I would with RG-58, while having a very lightweight cable which can be easily operated even at low temperatures.

The original KN-Q7A comes with a varicap based LC local oscilator, which is very energy efficient (RX < 30mA), but not that easy to operate. I decided to build N3ZI DDS2, and integrate it into the original case.

And here comes the new kid on the block I received yesterday! Unfortunatelly I have to quit SOTA activating, because I paid arm and leg for this, hi hi.

73, Marek OK1BIL


Hello everyone what great kit you all use when activating just thought I would post a picture of my gear.

This is my lightest kit for SOTA.
73 de ian vk5cz


This is my "High Power " Kit the ft 857 and bigger battery is a lot heavier so I only take it to summits easier to get to.


The Zippy 4200 is LiFePo? How many cells?

4S2P I think, the one that charges to 14.3 volts max its a LiFe 30c check the specs on their web site.
I pull 7 amps from it with the ft 857 30w ssb 25w cw. my activation was about 2 hours and it done it easy.
You need the Reaktor balanced charger for this battery as it pulls about 10amps at the start of the recharge, the ACCUELL 6
is not powerful enough for over 6 amps at start up of the recharge. Well having said that I am not game to try my smaller charger on the 8400 battery and pull the guts out of it. I hook it up to my shack power supply which can handle 10 amps easily. Have fun 73 de Ian vk5cz …