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Author Topic: 6m SSB portable questions  (Read 3327 times)
KF4LXB
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Posts: 36




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« on: February 24, 2011, 08:23:25 AM »

Hi all,

    I'm interested in getting a 6 meter SSB portable rig that I can use for backpacking, hiking etc. What I have found thus far is:

1. MFJ 9406
2. Icom IC-502
3. Ranger RCI 5054

I know Yaesu makes a really nice one but I'd rather not spend several hundred $$ for an all-band, all-mode transceiver. I feel like I could find one of the ones listed above at a hamfest or on eBay for relatively cheap. Also, I'm not stuck on SSB but it seems like most of what I'm finding that is portable is SSB but FM operation is fine as well. Oh, antenna-wise, I'm looking to build a wire dipole that I can string up in the trees if that makes any difference in the advice. Any pointers, ideas and guidance would be much appreciated and it is good to be here, this is only my 2nd post!

73
Christian
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Christian
Albemarle, NC
EM95
http://kf4lxb.blogspot.com
WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2011, 03:38:12 PM »

If you really want to make contacts, SSB is more productive than FM almost everywhere -- and surely everywhere I've ever lived.

For backpacking you might want to avoid anything heavy with sharp corners that can tear canvas, so I'd rule out the RCI.

The Icom is very cute but very old and if you load it up with all its internal batteries, is also pretty heavy.  The Icom is also SSB-CW only, no FM.

I think the MFJ also has no FM.

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W5DQ
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 03:45:06 PM »

Unless you're a brute and want to carry enough batteries and possibly a solar charge system to power a 50-100W rig, you're most likely going to do it QRP. If that is the case, I'd look at the FT-817 from Yeasu. 5W output, can run on internal batteries for limited time and a small 12V gelcell and a small roll up solar panel along with the FT-817 and you can cover all of 6M on SSB, CW, FM, Packet, PSK31, etc. I had one and it was a great little portable rig. Make yourself a roll up 6M vertical or dipole and when the band is open and you're on top of a mountain or high terrain, you should be able to work many stations with 5W. Granted it isn't going to compete with a 100W station driving a 11 element long boom yagi but it will make QSOs.

Good Luck

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KB9TMP
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2011, 05:13:31 PM »

Unless you're a brute and want to carry enough batteries and possibly a solar charge system to power a 50-100W rig, you're most likely going to do it QRP. If that is the case, I'd look at the FT-817 from Yeasu. 5W output, can run on internal batteries for limited time and a small 12V gelcell and a small roll up solar panel along with the FT-817 and you can cover all of 6M on SSB, CW, FM, Packet, PSK31, etc. I had one and it was a great little portable rig. Make yourself a roll up 6M vertical or dipole and when the band is open and you're on top of a mountain or high terrain, you should be able to work many stations with 5W. Granted it isn't going to compete with a 100W station driving a 11 element long boom yagi but it will make QSOs.

Good Luck

Gene W5DQ

I agree with Gene W5DQ. Plus the 817 would give you 10m CW & SSB 28.1 to 28.5 MHz. Also 2m & 70cm all modes, and with an antenna from Arrow Antenna you could do hill-topping and satellite options as well. Not to mention all of the HF bands if you get your license upgraded. Just something to think about.

WW KB9TMP
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 05:26:49 PM by KB9TMP » Logged
KD4LLA
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Posts: 457




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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2011, 05:26:16 PM »

Owned a Ranger RCI 5054 for a time, nothing outstanding, sold it and bought a Icom 706MkIIG.

Mike
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KF4LXB
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2011, 05:46:08 PM »

Awesome input folks, I really appreciate it. I didn't realize that the Icom was CW only, that rules it out for now. I guess I assumed (oops) that the MFJ was capable of FM simply because it came with a mic and that may have been a rookie mistake. I am certainly no brute so I do want to be weight conscious. Although, the times I would want to take this rig on a backpacking trip would be for something like Field Day or QSO party so there would be a minimum of other gear and provisions. However, that could change. I am working towards getting this set for both the QSO party and Field Day this year and will hopefully be in the Uwharrie Mountains at the oxygen deprived elevation of 960 feet. It isn't high but it is the highest point in this part of NC so I'll be interested to see how things go on VHF/UHF and potentially 6m if I can get something worked out. I will say I'm going to have to save my pocket change to get the 817 but it is certainly on the wish list. Thanks again for the advice and any more is most welcome.

73
Christian
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Christian
Albemarle, NC
EM95
http://kf4lxb.blogspot.com
W5DQ
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2011, 09:19:12 AM »

I will say I'm going to have to save my pocket change to get the 817 but it is certainly on the wish list. Thanks again for the advice and any more is most welcome.

Christian,

Unless you are a 'must have NEW only' type of equipment shopper, investigate a earlier model of the FT-817 without 60M (the non-ND version??). I have been looking at the prices they are going for and while they are not free by no means, you could save some coin to add the one item I feel that the FT-817 should come stock with and that is the W4RT Speech Processor ('One Big Punch' I think it is called). Like I mentioned I had an FT-817 and curse the day I sold it. I had bigger and better visions then and did a dumb thing and sold my setup. I had integrated the One Big Punch along with the Heil HC-4 and HC-5 mic elements into the stock Yeasu hand mic and what a difference that made in my signal, especially when working DX. Made that little 5W sound like a BIG PISTOL, hihi.

If you haven't played with an FT-817, find someone who has one and see if they'll let you try it out for a day. I think you will find it surprisingly more than most folks give it credit for. One of our club members built a little 50W amp for his FT-817 from a semi-kit he got somewhere (one of the QRP groups I think). Anyway, combined together it made a really effective portable lightweight CW station using a 7A gelcell and a roll up solar panel charger.

Good Luck

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K7RBW
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Posts: 390




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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 06:19:43 AM »

if you're going to use a gelcell and add a linear to the 817, you might consider getting the 857 and a gelcell. The advantage of the 817 is that it has all you need for QRP in one, light, tiny, self-contained package. Once you start hanging extra stuff off of it, it quickly loses that advantage.

I went through a similar thought process and ended up with an 857 in a backpack that holds a 8AH gel cell. Weighs about 10 pounds. That's more than an 817, but not much more than an 817 + battery + linear. With the 857 I can turn the power down to 5W or up to 100.

Just another idea.

--bob
K7RBW
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W5DQ
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2011, 09:32:07 AM »

if you're going to use a gelcell and add a linear to the 817, you might consider getting the 857 and a gelcell. The advantage of the 817 is that it has all you need for QRP in one, light, tiny, self-contained package. Once you start hanging extra stuff off of it, it quickly loses that advantage.

I went through a similar thought process and ended up with an 857 in a backpack that holds a 8AH gel cell. Weighs about 10 pounds. That's more than an 817, but not much more than an 817 + battery + linear. With the 857 I can turn the power down to 5W or up to 100.

Just another idea.

--bob
K7RBW


Possibly. The 50W amp was an optional idea. The one the club member made was very light and compact. I was thinking along the lines of digital / CW modes like only needing 25W or so for solid PSK31 ops. But then having 100W for SSB makes sense but unless you are listening alot and xmitting very little, I think you'll find you're going to need a bigger battery or LARGER solar panel. I have only used a FD setup with solar and it had a large deep cycle marine battery and 100W of solar panels  (2 x 50W large panels) in the bright desert June sun.

PERSONALLY, I never considered the FT-857 because I find it one of the ugliest radios ever concieved. Although I hear good things about it but I just can't get past the myriad of buttons placed willy-nilly all over 'Millenium Falcon looking' face plate. I have the grandfather of the 857, the FT-100D and use it mobile. Nice rig and I'm sure the operation of the 857 is likewise, but to each their own Smiley
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K7RBW
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Posts: 390




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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 09:16:33 PM »

I know what you mean about ugly Smiley They definitely put function over form.

But if you can only afford one radio, it's not a bad deal.

On a battery, you can crank it down to QRP and it does pretty well.
In the car or connected to a power supply, you can crank it up.

One thing about the 857 and its big brother, the 897 is they have a battery sense lead in their power cable. If you ground that, it limits the radio to 20 watts out, dims the display, and limits the fan usage to help save more battery power.

It's still not as neat and tiny (nor as cute) as an 817 running off its internal batteries, but, for a 1-size-fits-most solution, it's been pretty good.
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 11:47:33 PM »

Depending on just how far you plan to go hiking from your home station or your vehicle, If you are within a few miles of either, About the best way to do it is to just carry any standard dual band FM VHF/UHF hand held and cross band repeat through a Kenwood TS 2000 that is in your mobil or home station. This method gives you full power out on 6 meter SSB (Or for that matter any HF band) and from a much better antenna system than you could hope to carry out hiking......
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W3HKK
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Posts: 596




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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2011, 02:41:50 PM »

Just got on 6m this past summer after 55 yrs in ham radio.  Lots of Es openings in May-JUN-JUL so  you could do a nice job  with 5-10w ssb and a  light wt dipole antenna strung from a couple of trees  about 10-20 ft high.  Most guys use horizontal polarization on 6m, so u better stick to a horizontally polarized antenna like a dipole to avoid some major cross-polarization loss ( 3-6 S units) on the direct wave contacts. Not such a factor on  Es.

Sounds like fun.
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