My portable rigs

Discuss and share portable operating equipment and techniques. Photos are encouraged.

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Posts: 319
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:25 am
Location: Melbourne, Florida, USA

My portable rigs

Post by NT9K » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:57 pm

If my health would permit, I would like to do more portable operating. I started out with a 20 meter Rockmite. Mine turned out to be darn close to the FIST calling frequency.


The Rockmite is crystal bound, but has a shift to allow 2 operating frquencies. The real problem with a Rockmite is the receive passband is too wide. I'm spoiled with my narrow filters on my Kenwood. So, I wanted a better radio for portable use with a much better receive.

I decided on the ATS-3B kit. It is a 6 band transceiver that fits in an Altoids tin. It was a tough build with most of the parts surface mount. The hardest parts was my eyes.

I used the Cash Olsen method of soldering with paste, a hot plate and a hot air embossing gun to flow the solder. Basically, you use a syringe of solder paste and put little dots of paste on each of the PCB solder pads. Then you carefully place the parts on the circuit board. You do one entire side at a time.

I used a coffee warmer as my hot plate. Took the top off to allow a larger surface. I heated the board for 30 minutes and started blowing hot air straight down on it from about 3 feet and worked my way down to about 1 foot above the PCB. The solder flowed perfectly, the parts wiggled into place and it turned out great. Looked like Kenwood soldered it. Here are some photos. Notice how tiny the IC chip is.




The ATS-3B performs great and has excellent receive. What do you use for portable operating?
73, Bill - NT9K
SKCC #1926c69t9was8hofdxq2dxc1

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Location: Houston/Austin, Texas

Post by W5ALT » Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:38 pm

My FT-817 has lots and lots of miles on it! Haven't put it on the air real recently though.

Walt, W5ALT

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Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:17 pm
Location: Homewood, IL

Maybe a bit off topic, sorry.

Post by aa9kh » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:02 pm

My portable rig is also my mobile rig. Does this count? Or matter? (hee)

An FT-100, ATAS-120, Kent single lever paddle and a Dodge Neon, when mobile. For portable/Field Day use I have a deep-cycle 12 volt battery that I bring along.

My rig is wired as in the "olden days" for mobile use ... directly to the vehicle's battery. This has caused no end of headaches. However the headaches are less severe this way than adding my own wiring just for the rig's sake. Let me explain. Chrysler even published a Technical Service Bulletin that confirmed my (earlier) suspicions. If one wires an additional electrical load to the vehicle's battery directly the load will NOT be recognized by the vehicle's on-board computer systems. As a direct result what you will end up with, in VERY short order, is a dead battery. The on-board systems check the battery voltage each time an electrical system is engaged. If necessary, as determined by the computer(s), the Engine Control Computer routes as much current from the alternator/generator to the vehicle's battery as needed to maintain a nominal 12 VDC. By NOT having the load of my rig processed by the on-board systems, I carry an AC-powered battery charger for my Neon's battery when on extended trips. As a regular matter of routine maintenance, I also give the battery only a "top off" charge at least once a month. This gives me the peace of mind knowing that I am not relying on the vehicle's systems to alert me to a potential (hee) "problem" ("idiot light").

The FT-100 is also notoriously "power hungry" drawing over 1100 mA during no signal receive and with a minimum AF level/maximum RF (receiver) level. This makes portable operation for an extended period undesirable, even using a "deep discharge cycle", "marine"-type battery for my 12VDC supply. Another reason I operate it during Field Day, either solo or as part of a group effort, using CW and 5 watts or less. During FD especially, someone will hear you (hee) no matter how much power output you are generating. The antenna system can be as good (or marginal) as necessary and available. Some one WILL hear you. It goes without saying, the better the antenna system the more enjoyment you will receive operating your station.

When on multi-day trips I always manage to find somewhere to operate from using my rig's internal keyer operated in "Semi-auto" mode to see what I can work on the various SKCC and/or FISTS calling frequencies. Even have a modified 75M Hamstik that's resonant between about 3545 and 3560 kHz. Of course, my radiation resistance, given a Dodge Neon for a "ground plane" is probably on the order of micro-ohms (HI!) but, hey ... It is ALWAYS worth a try.

CU dn the log.

Jay AA9KH #219C

Post Scriptum: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

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Post by kb4qqj » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:27 am

Wow! I think I could fill a room with present and past portable rigs! hi hi
Until recently ( about a year) I had a different kit for each band. Some homebrew from QST plans and some kits. I have the full band spread of OHR as well as the SW and A&A Engineering mono banders.
Several Pixie's left over and more than a few Ten-Tec's. For several years my mobile rig was an MFJ 9020 and 9040. They were great with the homebrew "hustler" type antennas. I then went through the Kx1, K1 and K1-4 phase. Built several of them and somebody would offer me a good price, poof! Sold and buy another. It still didn't quite fit the "total rig" concept I had. I drowned a Kx1 after a bad day operating canoe portable. As age, (and gravity) have caught up with me I became spoiled. I sprung for an Icom 703+ about a year ago and now wonder how I ever got a long with out it. It has a fantastic receive, plenty of power for me and I can operate all weekend from the caboose's or parks/campgrounds on a couple solar panels and a 10aH gel. Shortly after that I wanted to take my UHF VHF cw portable and found a deal on the FT-817nd. I can now take one or the other rig and go play radio anytime. I carry a 30 foot telescoping pole, 54 foot random wire, 73 foot doublet, folding chair, TV tray and a cooler everywhere I go. hi hi Ask Milt, K4OSO. He sent me an email got on cell phone) of a freq one day while I was driving between portable sites. I pulled over at a convenience mart parking lot and set up in about 5 minutes, worked him, nice easy QSO, took photo's while operating and emailed to him and was back on the road to site two. All told about 30 minutes from pull over to pull out. I got it bad and I'm having a ball at it. In the mobile I use a J-47 on a leg brace. never have used paddles mobile. I tried for a long time to use the bugs mobile, however, right turns and bumpy roads make for nasty rogue dits!! Never have got it to work so I stick with the J47 or a homebrew cootie.
I have a McElroy p-500 I take portable with me for a bug. I'm restoring an Telegraph Apparatus Co. 510 now to add to the portable bug count.
Ok, sorry for the book, but that was my START to a topic I can go on and on about. I would like to hear what some of you are using for antennas. I have experimented with many over the last three decades and have settled on a few favorites.

Randy _ KB4QQJ
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up and worn out, holding champagne and roses,
and loudly proclaiming - WOW - What a ride!"
Last edited by kb4qqj on Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by k4oso » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:31 am

My portable rig is my new Icom 703 Plus. I keep it and all the fixuns in my Playmate cooler. My key is a Navy Flameproof mounted on a 3/16" piece of cherry. The battery is the same 7 ah type we use in our alarm system. The antenna is 50' of 22 awg hookup wire and the counterpoise is the same length. I use 3/16" line over a tree limb about 25' up to hoist the wire and just lay the counterpoise out on the ground. Both are hooked to my UNUN transformer. The rig tuner does the rest. VOILA!...I'm portable.
Milt - #180 - k4oso

Posts: 331
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:15 pm
Location: Commerce, MI

portable gear.

Post by k8jd » Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:17 am

My first "portable" rig (ca 1961, novice days) was a one tube transmitter with a BC454, command set receiver with a homebrew power supply that provided 350 V B+ and filament ac voltage. this all fit in a 12X 18 inch wooden box with a carrying hndle on top. I had a roll of inlsulated wire, 65 ft long for the antenna stowed with a J-38 and logbook.

Today I use my MFJ Cubs or the MFJ 9030 with a variety of end fed or dipole wires for 80/40/30M and a small tuner and a 6 AH nicad battery for power. I can run for days with this battery before recharging.
This all fits into a gym bag I can fit into the storage bin in my camper.
73 from K8JD, SKCC 1395, Centurion 18, Tribune 12, Band Endorsements; 160, 80, 60, 40, 30M, 20, 17, and 10M

Ham radio is real Radio, CW is real Hamming!

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