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SOTA Antenna Advice

I love the FT817 as I do a lot of VHF Activations…a big deal out here in the mountain west…nothing like VHF form a tall mountain. Obviously works well on HF also. Over 12000 contact from summits on it for me.

It is a very versatile radio…virtually all modes and all bands, and drop proof.

You will not be disappointed.


Wow. I’m eternally grateful for all the responses. I’m still in the soaking-up-information stage. In a sheer fit of irony and at the strong suggestion from a few folks, I was able to get a great deal on a barely used KX2 that FedEx is in the process of rushing to me. Hopefully, by this time next week, I’ll be on the air…not SOTA, but on the air. I want to get to know the radio where I can fiddle with creature comforts before I head into the hills. I’m planning on going with a 35.5 ft random wire and 16 ft counterpoise since the KX2 I’m getting has the internal tuner.

Thankfully, except for a few knobs, most of the ‘peaks’ around here are wooded. I’m still trying to finger out how I want to go for a portable mast. I had a 20 ft collapsible fishing pole, but it really only collapses down to 47”/1.2m and weighs a heavy 22 oz/620g. It’s not the best thing for backpacking.

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I had a 20 ft collapsible fishing pole, but it really only collapses down to 47”/1.2m and weighs a heavy 22 oz/620g. It’s not the best thing for backpacking.

I used such a pole for two years and know several SOTA activators who still do. Strap it to the ouside of your backpack and go out and play. :wink:


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@OE6FEG A filter that can automatically select either SSB or CW mode? That’s what I’ve been looking for! :smiley_cat: Everything I’ve seen for the FT-817 is one or the other requiring two filters to be purchased and manually swapping them when desired. Maybe it just helps Yaesu collect more money by selling two.

Going a bit off topic here, but I have fitted the filter module for a friend and it is a relatively straightforward job. However, I would recommend a magnifying glass and a fine tipped soldering iron as there is one very fiddly bit of soldering to do. Believe me, this filter makes a big difference, well worth the money. It should also be remembered that end fed half waves fed via a tuned circuit, like the one from Sotabeams, also provide excellent out of band rejection for what is a very wide front end on the 817/818. The Fuchskries from QRPproject is a multi band EFHW tuner that works from 80-10m.

It is very popular here in Austria and Germany, and in conjunction with the SWR meter on the 817/818, it is very easy to tune the antenna safely. I made another thread on the construction of this kit here:

If you need an English instruction manual then send me a PM and I can let you have a link.

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Hi Sean

Welcome to SOTA. Like you I have had these debates in my mind over the years. I started out with an FT817 a long time ago and my first contact was VK6LC on SSB (no less). However, I built a K2 in 2012 and a KX3 shortly after. My KX3 has survived many trips overseas while I operated as ON/NY4G (Belgium), TA3/NY4G (Turkey), NY4G/VY2 (Prince Edward Island) and even a solo DXpedition to Saint Pierre and Miquelon as FP/NY4G and my KX3 is robust enough even after 11 SOTA activations. I activated Wine Spring Bald in a pouring rain. I did take precautions to protect the rig but the rig did get wet. The rig survived and worked in the next activation of Lickstone Bald with 1440 feet of elevation gain in the hike of 2 miles. I would prefer a KX2 for SOTA if I had the extra funds to have both a KX3 and a KX2 but all I do now is strengthen my legs for the extra 6 ounces of weight. As for antennas, I prefer EFHW because it is easier to deploy. The linked dipole is perhaps more efficient but the efficiency improvement is marginal - and considering the ease of deployment - the EFHW still edges the linked dipole out. My EFTF 40-20-10 is resonant is my goto antenna as it is shorter than the 40-30-20 MTR and even tunes 30m with the internal tuner in the KX3 and have made dozens of contacts on 30m with it.

Let us all know what you decide and look forward to chasing you.

Ariel NY4G

Actually the 817/818 only allows for one optional filter. However it is an IF filter, meaning that once filtered out, nearby interference does not affect the gain of the receiver. Whereas audio filters are outside the AGC loop so a strong nearby signal can “pump” the AGC, confusing the audio you hear through the audio filter, but only in the case of really strong QRM. The ssb filter is a “nice to have” option, but the cw filter is a must if you are a regular cw user operating on a crowded band. If you are not a frequent cw user, you possibly don’t need the cw filter because you can still use the rig on cw with the ssb bandwidth. This is why those narrower filters are both optional, but as stated, there is only one socket for an optional filter.

But - there is a way of fitting both filters. W4RT offers (or offered) an option to allow both optional filters to be fitted to your radio. The mod required is a little more surgical and requires the stock ceramic filter to be lifted out of the board, a new board added to carry the two filters and so on. That option depends on the availability of the Collins mechanical filters which are no longer in production. Possibly obtainable on the second hand market.

For that reason, the practical option is probably that neat dual bandwidth internal switchable filter from sotabeams. or another the many audio filter options which are nearly all external filters, further complicating your portable station. At that point you may well ask, why didn’t I get a kx2?

Or… (this discussion can go forever) … Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

They show up regularly on the world’s most popular tat bazaar. Second hand ones now offered for the same price as they were when new. Dealers may still have stock too.