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Workin' On Gear

If winter was when I throughly overhauled my desk rigs, then spring (a cruel and evil joke of a word in nw Manitoba right now) is when i am starting to compile equipment for SOTA-soon-to-come. (Does spring just bring this instinct out in me or are others in the boat with me as well?)

After trying unsuccessfully to order poles from the mother-land I had to settle on Shakespeare Wonder Poles from The Fishin’ Hole. My XYL will pick them up in a week when she travels south (6 hours) to Winterpeg :wink: for a conference. That’s taken care of.

And I have everything for a doublet.

How about recommendations for a kit transmatch? 10 watts will be standard for now, but perhaps a 50 watt amp in the future? …something for both? …or just one?



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I’m pretty much a year round SOTA guy so I’m always compiling equipment. :wink:

What radio will you be using? You can check out QRPguys or Sotabeams (just to name 2) for kit tuners. As far as an amp goes, I never used an amp for SOTA. Some activators do though. I would probably skip the amp for now and see how your activations go without one. I believe most activators use QRP power.

Almost forgot to mention the Elecraft T1 tuner and the ZM2 tuner. I have both and they both work well. Both can be bought as kits.

Roland K7FOP

Hello Craig,
I’m Canadian, and I had to look on the map to see where Swan River, Manitoba is! I also used the SOTA mapping project to find your closest peaks, which appear to be in the USA nearly 500 km away.

I’m impressed with your desire to take radio to the hills.

You asked about trans-matches. I must admit that even though I have a unit, I never use it, preferring instead to use resonant antennas. The inverted-V when trimmed to length doesn’t need a trans-match, handles higher power with no problem, and works consistently in a variety of locations. If you want to use multiple bands, a couple of links in the wire harness give it to you.

Good luck in your SOTA ventures, and if you venture west to Alberta, please contact me and come and meet the local SOTA folk.

…thanks Roland

…I’ll start with a uBITX kit I’ve been waiting on…I like the MTR-5 which I want to add asap, as well as the KX2…and I have a couple of kits laying around…pixies, etc…

…the elevations here won’t now access in winter because of snow…at least not walking anyway…perhaps with snowshoes? …i’ll have to wait and see (if I do I want POINTS…LOTS and LOTS of POINTS! :wink: )


…nice to meet you! I spend a lot of time outdoors…it’s a remote and beautiful area with few people especially back in the bush. Why not pack a rig? :slight_smile:

I’m making up several doublets and in spite of them being resonant I always feel nervous without knowing what’s going on with the SWR.

I’ve already made contact with SOTA admin and they are working on mapping Manitoba next after Ontario, so there’s actually a hill right outside my back door which is what twigged SOTA for me this winter…can’t wait to get up there with an antenna!

…where is your QTH?


I don’t have the uBITX but I do have the MTR5B. It’s become my main radio for SOTA.

I’ve done some snowshoeing for SOTA. Lots of fun.

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Adding to the list of companies QRP-Kits have offerings such as the SOTA tuner: http://www.qrpkits.com/sota.html

You might find this bit of gear useful:

Or a good one to make for yourself, using solid dielectric tuning caps:

I find the Z-match useful as you don’t need a coil switch.


WHERE are your pics taken? I hope to like the MTR 5 as much as you!


Do you know how the SOTA kit compare with others in the field? And do many run SOTA on 80?



TNK for the links. I like the endfed tuner kit. The other link does not come up for me, do you have another way in? I would be interested in building one myself and I like what I read on a Z-match.


I’ve been doing it when I can get enough wire in the air. In my experience, it’s worth it. It’s added a more personal or local element to the activation that I’ve found fun. Obviously if you’re in an area where there aren’t many people locally, it might not be worth it.

Funny, I just tried it and it came up for me. Try the higher powered version at users.tpg.com.au/users/ldbutler/SingleCoilZMatch.htm and link to the toroid version from there. If that fails then try http://www.qsl.net/g3vgr/zmatch.html which is a full power one but you can minaturise it using minature variable caps.

I’ve chased eleven activations on 80 so far this month, plus two on top band and twenty on 60 metres.

I like tuned inverted V dipoles for SOTA work. I have multiple them depending on the pole I use.Most of my dipoles are made from Army fieldphone wire that I picked up. I also have a tuned trapped 20/40 which I use at 18’. It was a kit from QRPkits. http://www.qrpkits.com/dualbanddipole.html
I found tuning my dipoles on the type of terrain planned for them to be used has worked for me awesome for consistent match.
I want to echo Ian (IXD above) if you ever come to Alberta look us up.


Hi Craig,
I’m happy to say all of the kits from the companies mentioned so far in this thread are of good quality and good value for money. the tuner I pointed to is meant for end fed half wave antennas. If you’re asking for which company to go to, out of all the companies mentioned, go to SOTABeams for the simple reason that Richard G3CWI, the owner of the company, was one of the people who originally set-up SOTA in the first place and hence his products are definitely suitable for SOTA usage - in fact their suitable any lightweight QRP portable operation, but especially SOTA.

I think I’ve operated SOTA on 80m once, perhaps twice. The problem is getting enough room on a summit for an 80m antenna be it a dipole or an end-fed antenna. A loaded vertical can be another option but it’s a compromise.

73 Ed.

Hey Craig,

Those 2 photos were taken at Tumalo Mountain in Bend Oregon.

I try to keep the points rolling in year round so I have been out on snowshoes quite a bit during the winter since I’ve started SOTA. It’s a long road to Mountain Goat. :wink:

When you start buying gear for your SOTA activations remember that what you start off with now probably will get changed out as you continue and get more experience. I started with an 857, then went with an 817 for less weight. Now I’m using a Mountain Topper for even less weight. My antenna choices, even though they have changed a little bit, have always been wire antenna.

Roland K7FOP


80m works well on the zs6bkw multiband doublet. Mine uses 11.1m of tv ribbon as the feed line. Switches between bands and the tuner in the 703 memorises settings like many other atus do. I use banana plugs on the feedline and sockets on the antenna wires. I tape the top of the feedline to the pole as a strain relief for the connections.

When 40m goes into long skip mode, 80 can be a very useful band.

The g5rv doublet also works fine on 80m. Its a bit longer than the zs6bkw variant but still way shorter than a full sized dipole.

Roland, I’m not sure how far I can get toward goat, I have fibromyalgia and have a new med that’s working much better so can finally walk and even run! Reconditioning will start when the snow leaves although I’m up to about 1/2 mile run now which is the first in 15 years. Time will tell. But SOTA’s been a huge incentive for me with a SOTA hill a mile walk away and a couple hundred yards elevation so it’s a start. :slight_smile:

I’ve been reading a lot on the radios - reworked my base station and now have 3 great rigs in front of me, and new antennas going up with the thaw. Winters here are pretty brutal…-30 and -40 for several months on end with lots of wind and the snow gets waist deep in heavy bush. But like I said, time will tell. The uBITS is a good place to start…my hopes are a KX2 for outdoor work.

I like your pics very much!

Thanks all for the links to the tuners…great to hear the reports and I will certainly do my homework over the next week and order one. The build links did not come up on Safari, but the full power one did. TNX! Going so see an Elmer tomorrow and will take the schematics with me as he is my component supplier…