IC-7100 & PackTenna Dry Run
Radios / March 26, 2016

This weekend is the CQ WPX contest, a great opportunity to try out the IC-7100 + PackTenna portable station.  I like to throw the radio, battery case and antenna in the back of the SUV.  Then drive to the park or where ever I plan to operate, flip open the back hatch and set up to operate from the tailgate.  This pic shows the PackTenna mounted to a photo tripod. The station is an IC-7100 and LDG tuner mounted in a Ridgid tool case. The PackTenna in this test is a 29′ vertical wire with the PackTenna 9:1 UNUN at the base fed with 25′ of RG-58 coax.  There is no counterpoise.  The red bag is weight to keep the antenna upright. This perspective view is shot looking up the antenna.  The picture is deceptive because the black mounting tube is only about 20″ long.  The rest of the antenna mast, the gray part, is 32′ tall.  You can see the wire radiating element and the UNUN on the right side. The whole portable station is in three cases.  Left to right is the black Ridgid radio case, the orange battery box and the black nylon bag is the antenna system…

IC-7100 Portable Station
Radios / March 25, 2016

I wanted a good performing, do-all radio for portable operating from the car, camp site and field day.  I choose the IC-7100 because it has a good reputation for performance, lots of features, and a form factor that would work perfectly for my application.  The most common use would be to throw the radio in the back of the SUV along with a battery box and portable antenna like the PackTenna.  Head to a local park and operate off the tailgate of the SUV.  Over the years I have learned that if you want a quick and easy setup, you should have all your gear wired up and mounted in some sort of case.  I have built several portable HF stations over the years.  I have used Pelican cases, 19″ rack mount “effects cases” and other containers and when I saw these Ridgid cases at Home Depot, I thought, wow ! that would make a great radio box !  So I set out to build a new portable station and the results are shown here. The case is a RIDGID Model # 222571 22 in. Pro Organizer, Black.  These are only $29 at Home Depot. A 2.5″ hole is drilled…

Dayton Forum: HF Antennas… Think Like a Backpacker !
Events , Operating / March 23, 2016

Dayton is around the corner and I was invited to give a talk about portable HF antennas.  The title is “Portable HF Antenna Design – Think Like a Backpacker”.  Here is the description…   Whether you operate SOTA, Field Day, or just setup in the back yard, operating portable HF radio is more popular than ever.  In this session we will apply the light weight backpacker’s approach to compact, portable antennas including the new trail friendly PackTenna Mini.  Wire antennas are simple to build if you know a few basic design techniques.  In addition to the antenna, we will also look at new light weight battery technology, solar power and other operating accessories. The timing is good as we just finished field testing the new PackTenna Mini end-fed wire antenna.  There is quite a bit of mystery around end-fed antennas, ferrite materials, antenna tuners, common mode currents and the like.  While there is a lot of material out there, some dating back to the pre-WWII era, when it comes to figuring out *exactly* what materials to use or how many turns of wire you need, the information gets a little sketchy.  There is nothing like making yourself design and build something to help you…

PackTenna Mini – SOTA Friendly Antenna
Antennas / March 22, 2016

Last year I designed the PackTenna portable HF antenna system and showed it off at Dayton.  Nick, N3WG, and I made a bunch of antennas and they all sold out.  We got a lot of feedback from users and it was all very positive.  Given all that, we may make another batch later this year.  In the mean time…  we wanted to make an even smaller, SOTA friendly antenna so we came up with the idea of a “PackTenna Mini”. 20 Meter End-Fed Version The design is a combination wire winder + matching circuit + antenna wire all in one little package you can toss into your backpack.  When I operate in the field, I want something that is quick to set up and quick to put away that is also fairly robust.  The PackTenna Mini fits the bill. The antenna wire is 26 AWG copper clad steel wire with a great “silky” jacket.  This makes keeps the weight and bulk down while delivering a very strong antenna element. There are two versions of the “Mini”.  There is a 9:1 UNUN version that is designed for use with radios that have an internal antenna tuner, like the KX3.  This version would use…