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Author Topic: Backpacking with a rig  (Read 1754 times)
KC7HBP
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Posts: 3




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« on: December 05, 2001, 05:47:35 PM »

I have been a ham for a while (although not serious) and have just picked up another hobby, backpacking. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions to a HT that is light but has a long battery life. Part of my backpacking will be taking me into deep valeys, should I get a HT with 6M capabilities so I can get out of the hole? I figured having a radio would be a good idea when out on a 7 day trip... Smiley
I am a Tech. so a HF rig won't do me any good.
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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2001, 05:56:53 PM »

Au contraire......as a tech can't you can get on 10 meters voice? If you plan on upgrading to get to HF it wouldn't be unreasonable to get a suitable HF rig now. Christmas is close too!  Look at FT-100 or IC-706 for a nifty backpacker rig or the FT-817 made specifically for backpacking. Look at my article (shamelessly self serving) at: http://www.eham.net/articles/2291 Good luck .
73
Frank
KL7IPV
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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2001, 05:57:26 PM »

Au contraire......as a tech can't you can get on 10 meters voice? If you plan on upgrading to get to HF it wouldn't be unreasonable to get a suitable HF rig now. Christmas is close too!  Look at FT-100 or IC-706 for a nifty backpacker rig or the FT-817 made specifically for backpacking. Look at my article (shamelessly self serving) at: http://www.eham.net/articles/2291 Good luck .
73
Frank
KL7IPV
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KC7HBP
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2001, 07:01:34 PM »

Those look like some nice rigs, but "just a little" out of my price range. I am looking for something under $300 (and preferably under $200).
I guess I had forgotten about the 10M voice. I will have to look into that. Thanks.
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AA8LL
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Posts: 400




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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2001, 12:29:44 AM »

I think you'd better check those tech bands again.  You need the 5 wpm code for 10-meter voice.  Sorry.  You'll probably need a 144/440 dual bander with a satellite antenna to get out of a hole.  ...or are you a tech+ with the 5 wpm code?  I think you'll have fun with something like an FT-817 but you ought to study for you general license.  It's not that hard and it's well worth it.

73,
Wade
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INITZERO
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Posts: 102


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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2001, 12:12:12 PM »

Are you familar with ARPS?

If you're heavy into backpacking, you probably
already have a GPS. That GPS plus a radio that will
support APRS will get you some really neat features.
For one, it will allow non-hams to track your
progress on the internet (to the accuracy of your
GPS) assuming that you can hit a digipeater from
the trail.

Though it's a bit out of your price range at $400,
you might want to check out the Kenwood D7AG...

http://www.kenwood.net/products/index.cfm?AMA=open&ama_hheld=open&radio=TH-D7AG&selection=Amateur&ID=80

There's even a picture of a hiker on the brochure!

http://216.133.235.165/Amateur/Current_Brochures/TH-D7A.PDF

The D7 a 5-watt dual-band HT that will interface
with your GPS. Not only will it do normal HT stuff,
it has a built-in TNC that allows you to do the cool
ARPS stuff such as uploading your GPS position to
the outside world and sending short text messages.

As another noted, with a portable beam (check out
the Arrow II... http://hometown.aol.com/Arrow146/146-437.html)
or even a good HT antenna or roll-up j-poll, you
might even be able to work some satellites.

It all depends on how much you like ham radio
compared to backpacking. I've found that a 70%/30%
mix works just fine between bicycle touring and
ham radio. Any more than 30% and I find my radio
equipment out-weights my bike and other folk so
the road start to make fun of me.

Matt (k4mls)


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KC7HBP
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2001, 01:21:17 AM »

Thanks for all the comments. The Kenwood TH-D7AG certanly looks like a good one.
I have been looking around and found the Icom IC-T81A, which has 6m/2m/70cm/23cm, and the Yaesu VX-5R which has 6m/2m/70cm.
I know the 6m band doesn't have the propogation of 10m, it still can to some degree. Has anyone used these, and do you know if it would be an acceptable choice.
I'm not planning on using it a lot while backpacking, just occaionaly while on the top of a mountian or during emergencies.

Matt
KC7HBP
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W7DJM
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2001, 11:23:29 PM »

The other thing you can do, is build yourself a small wire antenna using some light coax for the vx-5.  I wouldn't count on too much help on 6m, unless there is a lot of local activity in your area.

J-poles, coax verticals, light quads and yagis, are all over the internet, and some good easy to build designs.

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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2001, 01:53:50 AM »

Don't forget the new Kenwood that does 2 meters, 220 and 440 Mhz. It is the only one I know of that does those three. Pryme does make a 220 HT. If I had a choice to make now (I have the VX-5R) I would go to the Kenwood since it covers so much in receive in all modes and the VX-5R is only AM and FM. No SSB or CW as I understand the Kenwood will do. Which also means no SSB on 6 or 2 either on the VX-5R. Good luck
73
Frank
KL7IPV
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G4AON
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Posts: 545




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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2001, 05:15:40 AM »

Have you seen the Adventure Radio web site?

http://www.natworld.com/ars/

Backpacking on HF is quite good, VHF/UHF depends on how remote you are! Beware that many rigs aren't at all efficient, some HF rigs draw 2 amps on receive! There are transceivers that draw well under 100 mA on receive (the Elecraft K1 HF CW transceiver draws around 58 mA on RX, 750 mA at 5 W TX).

The ARS have lots of information on the subject, ranging from reviews of transceivers (HF bias), what antennas to use and even what non radio kit to take.

Have fun...

Dave
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K7LA
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Posts: 64


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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2001, 07:58:03 PM »

There is a lot of technical support for you in this endeavor.  
Consider looking at an excellent group, HFPack, located at
http://www.hfpack.com/

In addition, you might want to check out Bonnie Crystal's website
for some effective ideas on Pedestrian Mobile setups at
http://www.qsl.net/kq6xa

7  3 de K7LA Jim
http://www.ql.net/k7la
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KE4SKY
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Posts: 1045


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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2001, 05:32:36 AM »

You didn't indicate where you were, or how remote an area you would be back packing into (whether there is repeater coverage - or if you'd be limited to simplex).

Along the Appalachian Trail on the east coast there is hardly a place where you can't get into at least one 2-meter repeater, and there are several linked repeater systems on both 2 meters and 440 which provide good HT coverage through most of the AT in southern PA, western MD, Virginia and WV.

You could have alot of fun with a VX-5R taking along a telescoping half-wave 2-meter whip, or a ladder-line J-pole which you could pull up into a tree.

I'm not so sure that 6 meters FM could be any better in getting "out of a hole" down in valleys.  You can do just as well with 2 meters using a "tiger tail": counterpoise and directing the main lobe of your radiation pattern over terrain by grasping and pointing the couinterpoise to where you get the best signal around terrain and obstructions.

If you are going to backpack into remote areas beyond reliable repeater coverage, an all-mode rig such as the FT-817 would be a better choice, since you can still work FM repeaters, but you should do quite well for distance with 5 watts on 2 meters and 6 meters SSB, with a suitable horizontally polarized antenna.

For backpack use a 2 meter half-wave loop is compact and easy to carry.  I use the half-wave loop from KB6KQ.com, but M-Squared or Par Electronics also offer them, or, of course, you could make your own.

A 6 meter loop is quite a bit larger, but if your expedition is primarily a radio excursion, you won't mind carrying it along.

I could encourage you to upgrade and get your General license so that you could take advantage of all the bands on the FT-817.   Take along a G5RV and string it between a couple of trees and have a ball!  Or a simple hamstick dipole is quite portable and should will get you on the air with reasonable effectiveness on 10 through 20 meters, though its performance is not anywhere near as good 40 and 75.

73 de KE4SKY
Virginia State RACES Training Officer  
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KB1FPM
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2002, 03:54:40 PM »

I would echo KE4SKY's comments.  A lot depends on where you are.  I backpack in the northeast and repeater coverage is, as mentioned, quite good.  I am primarily interested in emergency service use, since the family has no interest in sitting around listening to ragchewing on the bands.  With these factors in mind, a 2m or dual band HT works fine.  220 and 6m are not as common, and 6m needs more antenna than you can screw onto an HT -- you need to stop and deploy something more appropriate, I have found (the Yaesu rubber duck really doesn't work well at all, in my experience).

You want to watch the weight and power efficiency.  Make sure you compare rx and slumber modes, since the radio may spend most of its time in those conditions.  We carry two Kenwood TH-G71A dual banders...not the smallest or lightest, but very good, and very thrifty with power.  I don't miss having SSB or CW receive, or 6m or HF receive, under the circumstances, under the circumstances.

Make sure you take backup batteries.  We get 4 days and more on the OEM NiCds (and even more from Maha NiMHs), but a drycell case with lithium AAs makes a lot of sense and doesn't weigh much.  The Li AAs also have very long shelf life, so if you don't use them, they're good stored for a long time.

You should carry additional antenna(s).  I would suggest at least a good half wave telescoping antenna and a twinlead j-pole with appropriate line to suspend it.  Again, these are relatively light but should give you operating flexibility if local geography or other conditions require.

Don't forget to pack things in ziplock bags, and bring extras.
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