Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Transceiver suggestions for static mobile chasing

If it were me and were looking for a static /M radio I would be choosing between the FT-450D (Good value for money) FT-857 or FT-891.

If size were not a factor I would buy the FT-450D I reckon.

I’ve worked 2E0WDX/M on a fair few summits on HF SSB and he always has a good signal, equivalent to the fixed G stations I may be working at the same time. Not sure what gear Vin uses radio or antenna wise.

My tuppence worth Mark - I suggest you look closely at those 3 transceivers… I have had an FT857 for over 10 years now, still going strong and it has suffered significant SOTA /P use.

73 Phil

PS Take a look at 2E0WDX/M Chaser logs - gives you a good idea of what is achievable from a mobile Mark…

73 Phil

Hi Mark

I would go for the FT-857D. As well as giving you a 100 watts on HF it gives you 50 watts on VHF/UHF. It also gives you the flexibility to use with a LiPo or other external battery on SOTA expeditions. I would also get it broad banded for 5 MHz operation and get a cw or ssb filter fitted. Dave G3TQQ and I used my 857 when we worked you from Stony Cove Pike recently.


1 Like

I noticed that Chiltern DX Club have been using the FT-450D on Worldwide DXpeditions over the past few years. These guys are among the best operators in the UK - take heed Mark!

73 Phil

PS Also note the DB9 CAT socket on the rear of the FT-450D - should you wish to interface to a laptop in the car for logging and fast QSY to spots from the laptop. The radio also has 50 MHz for the summer sporadic e work etc

1A and it does not matter much on filter and volume.

I own a FT-817, FT-857, FT-891 and FT-450.

FT-817 is the perfect radio if you have to carry a lot on steep summits.
FT-857 is ok if you need 100W on HF and you also need VHF/UHF. It is a bit bulkier than my FT-891 and also the Menu, Settings, Filter and so on are much better on the 891.
FT-450 is a desktop radio, would not even think about to carry this one around, nor would i put it into the car. If you like 2m SSB, go for a FT-857, if you need a better HF performace and go for a FT-891. 100W if you need and very cheap. Best bang for the buck you can say.

John - you are a Yaesu man through and through!

73 Phil

Yeah, kind of. I also carry a FT-2 with me on the summits for APRS. I had no need for the FT-891 but it was on sale here in Germany (Wimo) and after Yaesu cashback (80 Euro) I paid only 540 Euro, which is around 475 Pound UK.

I always get superb reports with the 891 and I am so happy I bougt it. If I had to pick a single radio it would definitely be the 891. Only downside is no VHF/UHF but I am more a HF guy these days and for FM I use my FT-2.

Yep, I want one! That’s really good power efficiency for such a complex radio.

Wayne Burdick (N6KR) started working on trail-friendly radio 25 years ago with the NorCal 40. There is a talk about that at Pacificon next weekend.

Wayne says the KX2 is the radio he’s been trying to build for all those years.


I don’t see how receive current consumption is so relevant to “static mobile” in car operation - on the trail definitely but in the subject of this thread less of an issue I would say.


you are right, it isn’t quite so important if you have a big car battery driving the setup. However a longish session of continuous receive with intermittent transmit can take the edge off a car battery and some radios are remarkably sensitive to battery voltage, losing voltage regulation, frequency stability and power output as the voltage drops below 12.
Perhaps sensitivity to input voltage is one of the required criteria, though it is not always so clear that this is a problem with many rigs. The ones designed for portable use seem to have taken variable voltage supply into their design but those designed for mobile use often don’t. I am fairly sure the IC706 is quite intolerant of supply voltage, but the IC703 was intended for portable use and calmly drops the output power to 5w if the supply goes below 12. The FT817 copes with input voltages down to 9.6 without much fuss and without much loss of power. I do not know how the 991 or 891 copes with such problems.

Agreed input voltage is important and in my earlier post I suggested Mark uses a second battery just for the rig so as to avoid being stranded with a flat car battery and not being able to start the car! I would suggest that when the battery is so low that the rig stops working (or starts to have problems) it’s probably time to turn the engine on to top-up the second battery, or alternatively decide to pack up and head home…

It’ll be interesting to see what Mark decides upon - from what I’ve read above in general the FT-891 seems to be the front runner despite its ~ 1 amp receive current needs. as always it’s a matter of finding what best suits Marks needs. I think he’s looking more for one (100w capable) unit rather than a QRP rig plus amplifier from his first comments.

What are your thoughts now Mark. You know of course that asking 10 amateurs any question you’ll get 20 answers!

73 Ed.


Thanks Ed and Andrew for the comments on power.

I have a 110AH leisure battery which I drop in the front foot well when static mobile when using my current setup of MCHF/MiniPA50. It means I can use very short power leads. I bought the battery as part of my commitment to RAYNET - being able to run a radio all day and then some is a requirement there.

Whether a 12v car battery equates to the 13.8v which is maybe what manufactures use to quote power output is another thing entirely of course. I don’t have a split charging system either so once the battery is depleted I’m done (not that it would have any impact on SOTA chasing). From what I have read some radio performance is already being degraded when running off 12v rather than 13.8v which seems strange as you would have thought most rigs suitable for mobile installation would be used static for the most part.

I read back through the ‘show us your chaser’ shack list earlier and was quite surprised at the mention of only using 5 watts or QRP even with quite expensive transceivers and antennas. Is that a matter of principle I wonder?

I will of course post what happens wrt transceiver selection as soon as I know!

Regards, Mark. M0NOM

Hi Mark,
with the “big 3” I would expect full output from their mobile rigs when the battery drops to 12 volts on load. The 13.8v number, I think, comes from when a car battery is fully charged.

You’re well prepared from the power side then. I visualise your system to be sat on the passengers seat while you operate from the drivers seat then?

As you already have the McHF and MiniPA50, why not run with that until a discount comes along for one of the models you are considering? As I said before the difference between 50w and 100w isn’t that great in real signal strength terms. 50w over 5 watts of course is a big change.
Some operators do, out of principal, limit themselves to 5w CW or 10w PEP SSB so they can say they operate QRP - which does have the value when portable of not needing as large and therefore heavy battery as compared to 50 or 100 watts.

Have you got a simple to erect portable antenna for your “static mobile” chasing? My recomendation would be a 5 or 6 metre fibreglass pole that you can support by rubber bands fastened to say the mirror mount on you car door (if it’s not flimsy) and then a linked horizontal wire dipole for the bands you are interested in. Either build yourself using the calculator under “extra” in the Sota Mapping Project site - or buy either a kit or fully built “band hopper” from SOTABeams.

73 Ed.

Ed, I use the same antenna as when activating - a SOTABeams Quadband dipole 80/40/30/20m on a SOTABeams compact 10m mast with the top couple of sections removed, so the antenna is up around 8.5m metres. I strap it to the tow bar on the car. It generally works great.

I don’t know what the next logical step up in terms of antenna would be? I suspect there isn’t really one. At one point I bought two 8m fishing poles with the idea to make a 20m monoband delta loop antenna, but the I managed to break one. I’m not sure of the gain over a dipole however, especially the top 20m antenna section which would be almost a ‘proper’ dipole and not an inverted-v.

I can of course chase with what I have, but I have been selling various pieces of equipment that I no longer use, so the option to buy is available. I suppose some sort of more thought-out installation had crossed my mind - at the moment everything is strewn across the passenger seat as suspected. I don’t know that it is the ideal environment to operate a paddle in!

Cheers, Mark.

Hi Mark,
For a quick set up antenna that SOTABeams band-hopper and FG mast is hard to beat (that’s exactly my “go to” configuration, I’ve added a 60m element that I replace the 80m part with when needed - or leave both off for a shorter antenna - but otherwise exactly what I use.). Depending upon the time you are going out, if any DX starts getting through again early mornings a vertical - for a lower take off angle on 20/17/15/10m might be a good addition to what you have - still use the 10m pole and add a J-pole antenna (that way you don’t have to worry about radials as it does use them. Easy enough to build yourself but at the price you might as well buy them ready made from “Lambdahalbe.de” in Germany:


Under wire Antennas, then KW monoband wire antennas high-power (300W SSB) or KW monoband antennas (100W SSB) - the QRP option will be too low for your intended rigs.

As you don’t have to carry it far, you might want to go to a larger (not compact) mast 12.5m to give you a bit more height for vertical antennas - eBay or DX-Wire - go for the heavy duty version, the lightweight ones are too fragile.

73 Ed.

Just to conclude this thread - I am now a proud owner of an FT-857 - I was offered a deal I was very happy to accept. It is by far the best compromise for my situation. I do access the local repeaters which are 2m and 70cm and I also conduct 2m practice CW sessions so these bands were quite important.

I also have the option with this rig over others (excepting the FT-891) of taking it on SOTA activations, although I will be looking to provide better protection over the waterproof bags I’m using at the moment. Any thoughts on this - I was thinking a cheap Peli substitute -or maybe a waterproof camera case, clearly weight as always will be a key factor!

The plan for chasing now is to put up an 80m EFHW antenna at my QTH with a 49:1 balun using the SOTABeams lightweight antenna wire connected from my existing TV antenna mast to the end of my garage using a fishing pole to provide the tension and support. I will have to bend the end around and either down or across the top of my wooden fence by a few metres as the horizontal distance isn’t quite long enough. I can’t think of a better stealth antenna other than making some much more serious compromises.

Regards, Mark.

1 Like

Bubblewrap then a waterproof bag.

I was making an attempt here to consciously not be such a cheap-ass :grinning:
However, I take note of the valuable addition of bubble wrap to my current protection plan.

Cheers, Mark.

I added up the cost of the radio, technology and walking gear I had on my body and on my back once. The figure was frightening. So I’m not adverse to spending money on my hobbies. It’s just that there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of bubble wrap at work and at home from all the mail order packages which come. Seems a shame to not try to use it a few more times.

So bubble wrap is light, protects against “jiggle damage”, is free most of the time, molds easily to odd shapes. Combined with a waterproof drybag, it seems to make an excellent combination for protecting expensive gear. I’ve been using a bubble wrap bag for my 817 since 2006. That was the year we got 20 new IP Phones for the office. I kept all the bags and have been using them ever since. Down to the current one and one spare now. Just my little bit to try to make plastic that will be waste do more than a single use.

1 Like

Do you create ‘pouches’ from the bubble wrap to ease its’ use, or are you more Jackson Pollock like with its’ deployment?

I can see that working - pouches that is. The free-form deployment is likely to get it lost very quickly. Maybe a bit of velcro in the mix? It looks like my afternoon activities are now planned!