Small SSB SOTA Rig Choices- ILER-40, LNR FX-4A, etc

I’m a new ham looking to start SOTA activities. I have a couple of nice CW rigs to (TenTec Rebel, KD1JV MTR), but responsibilities have not allowed me learn my CW, and I want to get outside activating.

Would appreciate an opinions/experience on two small SSB rigs:

  1. ILER-40 40 Meter Kit
  • $150 out the door with DDS, AGC module
  • Report-ably simple to build
  • Single Band/SSB only
  1. LNR Precision FX-4A
  • $399 (may break my budget)
  • Pre-built
  • 40/20/30/17M bands
  • 2 VFOs (has RIT)
  • CW and SSB modes

I want to start activating Southern California peaks, probably afternoon on weekends, eventually peaks up and down California.

It it reasonable to expect success with these 5W SSB rigs on 40M? Should I be looking at 20M?


BTW, I would plan to be using a simple end fend wire antenna with an Altoids tuner.


A used IC-703 is just outside the upper end of your budget, but it covers 160-10, or 160-6 for the IC-703 Plus.

Rigs without 6m are around $400-500. It is a 10W rig with an internal ATU. The ATU matches up to 3:1, so it needs to be used with antennas that close to resonance. Obviously, you could use an external tuner.

It is a little on the heavy side for long hikes, around 4.5 pounds without batteries. Nice rig, though.


Hi Wayne
You will need 20m, which is pretty much the bread and butter band for HF sota activating from here in SoCal. I don’t think you will be at all happy with 40m only.
In the mean time, you could take a 2m HT up to some of the nearby peaks off the Angeles Crest Highway like Kratka Ridge, Mt Waterman, Mt Islip, Throop Peak. They have good coverage to the LA basin. A rubber duck will work, but something like a slim jim made out of 300 ohm line will work much better.
73 Hal n6jzt

Wayne -
Let’s not forget the ‘classic’ Yaesu FT-817. It isn’t super in many regards, but probably holds the place for the best value in a portable rig. I’ve seen used ones right around $400 and you get all bands and all modes in a reasonable package.
There’s also value in having VHF/UHF capabilities with SSB as the antennas are small and easy to build and there should be a fair number of people to work on the calling frequencies for 6m and 2m. And the 817 does FM too, so it’s like a big heavy HT as Hal suggested.
73, Etienne-K7ATN

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Hi Wayne, at the $399 price point, and not a kit (there are some chinese kits around this price but these tend to be single band, so not approriate for your needs),you will be looking probably at second hand equipment. The Yaesu FT817 or later FT817ND model is probably what would best suit. An Icom 703 (albeit a little heavier and only HF/6m) would also be good, but they come less often on the second hand market. If you could stretch (double?) the budget you may find a second hand Elecraft KX3, again this is only HF/6m (unless you buy additional transvertors) but can have a built in ATU (not an option on the FT817) and uses current technologies in the Rx and gives 10w out rather than the FT817’s 5w.

73 Ed DD5LP / VK2JI / G8GLM.