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Tool kit

I had a Swiss Army Knife but I hadn’t seen it for ages. I was sure it was with the camping stuff but I searched high and low through all our outdoor kit yesterday but couldn’t find it anywhere. Then I had one last look today in the box of camping kitchen stuff (pots, pans, plates etc) and finally found it hidden inside an insulated mug. It’s had a good clean, sharpen and oil and is now with the SOTA stuff along with some insulating tape, a mini screwdriver, connection block and a few other bits and pieces. All of it is less than 100g so not bad for a chance to rescue a failed activation. Thanks for all the comments.

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Unfortunately, this connection was also already on my Palm Mini, which I bought in 2018.

73 Armin

The Palm Mini uses a 3 pin Molex connector. The Pico was a later product but both were in production at the same time.

The original mini cable was just a normal connector with heatshrink to cover the join. The cable was rather thick and stiff and prone to failure. The cable was then re-designed with a special plastic moulding to hold the cable to connector join, the cable itself was also much thinner and more flexible.

Old Palm Mini cable

Old versus new Palm Mini cable

73, Colin


Do you think this will work on a summit if it’s cold and windy?
I remember when I tried to solder something in my backyard with my 40W soldering iron in a cold and breezy day and I found that the iron wasn’t even able to melt the tin (Sn), so I had to borrow a more powerful iron from one of my neighbours to do the work.


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The “unknown” connector on the original Palm Paddle is a standard Molex 0.1in PCB plug and socket. The parts are available from all good electronics suppliers such as Farnell, RS, Mouser, Digi-Key etc.

The original Palm cable was a sturdy cable with a 3.5mm stereo jack and Molex 3 pin male, mine is 1.2m long and 4mm OD and stiff. These receive much criticism as the Molex end would fail as the cable was too sturdy and not flexible enough. Mostly it was user error. Anyway after receiving lots of negative press, Palm offered a free replacement cable. This is about 70cm long and 2mm OD. It feels like it may be silicone cable and is ultra flexible. I can remember talking to Palm at Friedrichshafen saying there must plenty of ham-fisted hams as my cable had done many SOTA activations and hadn’t yet failed. I got a free cable because I hadn’t broken mine!

ISTR the last Palm Paddles., both full size and mini replaced the Molex with a 2.5mm stereo jack plug and socket. So there are 3 cable types.

Despite not breaking mine I was worried mine may fail so I made an ultra light replacement from a Molex connector soldered onto a piece of cable from some Walkman style earphones. I had plenty of these as my kids got through a pair a month and I kept the cables and plugs, it was always the earphones that broke. I then thought why am I carry a heavy cable and a light cable. So I dumped the heavy original and made another ex-Walkman cable. The two cables weigh less that the original Palm cable.

The original copy failed on Andrewhinney Hill last weekend, the soldering to the Molex where it meets a piece of Vero cracked. This cable is at least 10 years old and has been on 400+ activations. I must make my cables better so they last longer.

Thinking of field failures since December 2006.

  • Pulled the BNC of the feeder when the feeder wrapped around my leg and I walked off on GM/SS-158 Black Mount 2007. Activation stopped then!

  • Buddistick clone radial connector failed GM/SS-232 Pibble Hill 2012, cut off Lucar connector, stripped wire with knife. Worked Texas on 15m for new state QRP<>QRP QSO.

  • Spade terminal to dipole at centre became intermittent on GM/WS-256 Beinn na Sroine 2013 finally failing on GM/NS-123 Breac-Bheinn 3 weeks later. Removed spade and stripped wire with knife. Worked 35 stations on jury rigged antenna.

  • Forgot power cable for 817 when on works sponsored jolly to Linuxcon Ireland 2015. Bought a disposable knife and reel of insulating tape at ships chandlers in Howth before dismembering VX170 cable on EI/IE-072 Ben of Howth summit.

  • Had more problems on Buddistick clone radial after activating F/CR-007 Mont Ventoux in 2018. Crushed Lucar connectors tight together, cut cable a few cms from connector to make it detachable. Used a piece of chocolate block from my brother-in-law’s workshop to attach/detach radial till I could make new radial. Used knife, leatherman and tape.

  • Broke a link on link dipole on GM/SS-208 White Meldon in 2020, used knife to strip cable to make link workable.

  • Broke the 817 positive lead to battery connector a few weeks later. Cut wire, stripped with knife and wedged lead into battery.

  • Forgot extra battery for 13cms gear on GM/SS-037 (Hart Fell). Cut and removed connectors using knife, jury rigged so I could work HF and 13cms. Later melted negative lead at connector with a short. Now all power cables have dual fused leads.

So I think carrying the Swiss Army knife, Leatherman and tape has saved enough activations to be worth carrying them. I do understand Andy G8CPZ’s pragmatic solution of carrying less weight as he his 10dbYears older than me. I may do the same should I get that old :wink:


Calculated for power or voltage?


As far as I recall, I’ve only had one major failure that couldn’t be remedied with a Swiss army knife and a reel of tape, though on one occasion i was pleased to have wrapped my lunch in aluminium foil as it enabled me to repair the reflector on my 2m yagi. All other failures have been connectors, mainly BNCs. I have noted a significant increase in the risk of failure on multiple summit days when the station has to be set up and dismantled several times over a short time period and keeping to a reasonably tight schedule is paramount.

By the way Andy, I’ve sorted out my tool kit for the next electric handbag event and it only weighs 285g. :wink:



Mine is a short list:

  1. Small roll of electricians tape for emergency mast repairs.
  2. Very lightweight craft blade.
  3. Home brew titanium spanner for SMA plugs.
  4. Ear buds
  5. H Brew electret mike.
  6. 2 pencils.
  7. Spare torch / GPS batteries.

Back in the car:

  1. Mast
  2. Feeder
  3. HF dipoles
  4. End fed 2m ant…
  5. Battery
  6. HF radio / VHF radio
  7. Morse key
  8. Log books
  9. Waterproof bags
  10. Ear buds
  11. H Brew electret mike
  12. Electricians tape
  13. Leatherman
  14. Super glue
  15. Spare torch / GPS batteries


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Hi David,
I asked my ex-wife step-brother and he told me not only that the one I showed in the picture of my post above was used by my ex-wife father while he was Boatswain of the School Ship* Juan Sebastian Elcano:

but also told me that the Spanish Navy used to have and use them.

(*) I’m not sure about the expression School Ship. I tried to find the right expression in English but I couldn’t, so I made a literal translation from the Spanish “Buque Escuela”.
In summary is a training Ship for the future Navy officials.
I remember when our current King Felipe VI spent some time having his training onboard that ship several years ago.




Hi Guru,

I found “training ship” and “drill ship”. Btw. you can translate your wording “School Ship” one by one in German language: “Schulschiff”.

73 Ludwig


Perfect Guru. School ship would translate in English as a “Sail Training Ship”,

Thanks for the information. interesting to know that the Spanish Navy (armarda?)used them too. I wonder whether yours was used by the Uk or by Spain? Its looks pretty old - It must have an interesting history.


Hello Richard @G4TGJ

Like many others, I mainly use a Swiss Army knife and/or a Leatherman Micra.

So far, these have been quite sufficient to carry out repairs on various wires. Otherwise, I always have these flexible cable ties (cable-fix) and a pin screwdriver in my luggage.

All together very light and sufficient for quick repairs and fixes.

73 Marcel DM3FAM


My philosophy too Andy; the only “spare” I carry is the 2m HH in the hope of getting the one essential contact in case of HF failure.

However, the holiday spare/repair kit is fairly comprehensive and the car does the hard work of carrying it for me.

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Ok, noted. Thanks!

Yes, the Spanish navy is “La Armada”.

I’d say by Spain, at least while it was owned by my ex-wife’s father.

I think so too.




By experience from a windy summit at approx. +5 degrees: for something small like a broken wire or a small connector, it does. I still soldered it again properly when I came home, but it was sufficient to rescue the activation.

73 Jens HB9EKO