VHF handheld

At the beginning I used UV-9R+. Moved to FT-70D and never looked back. I use it with homebrew flower pot and slim jim antennas suspended on 10m spider pole. About 2 weeks ago during activation of Great Whernside I had a QSO with mobile station from Wales.

Radio itself is great, but you need to be aware of few things. It takes ages to charge. It does have parasitic draw, so don’t leave your battery in it. I always take mine out after charging and put it in on the summit, not a big issue for me. Battery life is kinda decent though, after yapping for 2 hours on Kinder Scout at the beginning of the year I still had some juice left - those who chased me know I can talk too much :slight_smile: . While the radio still worked, low battery icon was flashing during transmissions. Now I wouldn’t be without it, I always have spare Baofeng with me but I’ll deffo be getting another Yaesu.

Go for it, you won’t regret it.


I have 3 VHF/UHF HTs (4 actually, but the little VX-3 isn’t used for SOTA).
Yaesu VX-7r: Actually my very first ham rig, purchased new from HRO in 2006. Great general use radio with lots of band coverage, but really struggles in the presence of strong signals. It’s virtually useless on summits hosting radio towers. It keeps getting used for SOTA and VHF contesting for the 6m coverage. It’s also my most compact 5w HT, so when space is at a premium, I’ll take it.

Icom IC-V8: I bought this one to get a better receiver and for full power on AA batteries. It’ll work in challenging RF environments where the VX-7 fails. Otherwise, not much to say about it. They can be had for cheap (paid $50 for mine). I don’t use it much anymore because if I’m taking an HT, it’s almost always the Kenwood TH-D74 described below.

Kenwood TH-D74: I bought this one for the APRS and GPS features. It’s a rather expensive HT to take in the field, but in addition to the features I bought it for, I also make use of the full power 220mhz capability (we have a few activators/chasers in this region on 220mhz). I’ve also started mucking about with DSTAR. Receiver performance is average, but it seems to be less sensitive to intermod than the VX-7. It’s a power hog though. I can use the VX-7 all weekend on a single battery, I can’t even get through a full day on the TH-D74’s battery. I 3d-printed a protective cover for field use.

I mentioned the VX-3 above as not being a SOTA rig, but I have used it in combination with a 3-element Arrow yagi “just because”. I made contacts, but it definitely required some careful aiming with the yagi to get the most out of that 1.5w. :smiley:


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reading in your tent ! :grinning::grinning::smile:

Geoff vk3sq

I have tried numerous for activating. Here it goes:
FT3- too complicated menu when in adverse conditions.
FT4- ok but semi short battety life.
UV5r- crap front end.
D72- short battery life.
D74- short battery life and expensive for field work.
V86- small screen, long battery life, high power.
For me V86 it is.


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Hi Richard,

Yes, the antennas for my Baofeng looks like that in your pic - an SMA Female. I hold up my hand to incorrectly using the RP tag when trying to the express the difference. My point still stands though, i.e. all my existing antennas that fit the Baofeng (inc. 2m Slim Jims + Yagi) fit the FT-65 whereas they wont go onto the VX-170. So, if Anthony is migrating from Baofeng to Yaesu, then going for a FT-65 would allow use of his existing antenna collection assuming it’s extensive and he would want to keep them.

73, Lea M0XPO

If you don’t know which end of a soldering iron gets hot or don’t have access to a crimp tool…

If you just want to connect an antenna cable then this


Also visually examine all SMA connectors from the Middle Kingdom. Some are closer to the SMA dimensions than others. :wink:

I use a D74 also Chris, for APRS and also its nice to have the built in recorder for being my “logbook” for contacts. If I’m in a really highly intermod environment I’ll use the SOTABEAMS 2m band pass filter inline. I carry two batteries. Usually the First battery is for beaconing while hiking and monitoring 146.52. Once I get to the summit, I change batteries. I’ve found the battery usually lasts about 4 hours of beaconing and light transmitting.

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I looked at one of those filters, but ever since getting my KX2, I’m more of an HF activator anyway. I generally use VHF for convenience or when HF traffic slows down.

But, for drive-ups where I’ll be lingering, I have an OCI filter that works great (big aluminum brick). I typically use that in conjunction with a slim-jim hung as high as possible. I’ll probably do that on our upcoming camping and VHF contest trip since I’ll be on the summit for 2 nights.


Finding in the dark after you inevitably drop it! I lost a non-glow signal stick antenna on a Arizona summit a while back it dropped straight down, might have bounced a foot or two away but for the life of me could not find it.

Last winter I fumbled it on a Pennsylvania summit with cold hands dropping a glow version antenna and couldn’t find it initially with my bright flashlight-torch for our UK brethren! My illumination of the area charged the tip inadvertently but thinking on it I turned off all lights and like a green firefly there it was!

Also if your with others or heck even alone the tip is visible reducing chance of poking eye!

Hi all,

I am not a very active activator, but I can share my little experience in VHF SOTA.

I started with a Baofeng GT-3-TP (7 watts) I was able to make a few QSOs over distances of 30 to 40km.
Things got complicated on summits where there were communication towers!
On the other hand on summits without QRM like F/MC-024 (Mont Mouchet 1497m) with a 360° view was possible to work 2 stations between 90 and 100km with the Baofeng + 5/8° telescopic antenna.

And on a summit like F/CR-220 (Mont Bouquet 629m) with at least 3 towers (communications and TV) I worked only 1 station at 25km while many stations were calling me including F5LKW/P who was on F/CR-204 at 139km, that’s how Roger received me! :face_with_peeking_eye:

After these disappointing results, I searched through my old boxes for an old Icom IC-2GAT that I had acquired in Cambodia in 1993 during a 6-month stint there as a Blue Helmet (I was XU5DX). I put a new battery in it (13.8v give 7w) and now I got an anvil :crazy_face: but is working nicely.

Here you can compare his size vs an AnyTone AT-878UV2+.

The result:
I used this TX (with an RH-770) again on the F/CR-220 last May, I was able to QSO 6 stations (25 to 40km) and another at 80km without QRM. Something I couldn’t have done with a Baofeng!

73, Éric


I really like the VX6. Paid something like £140 new in the UK. Might be discontinued now though. Fully waterproof metal case lends itself well to serious outdoor application. 70cm receiver is very nice.

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