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Author Topic: QRP GOAT BACKPACKING TRIP FOR FIELD DAY  (Read 3843 times)

Posts: 297

« on: November 27, 2011, 06:18:10 PM »

Hi, I had this all spell checked then it disappeared into cyberspace. Here is the iea. My friend who is a ham in Ga and has a farm has been following this guy that uses goats to backpack into remote areas and do qrp. He is willing to buy the equipment if I can come up with the suggestions for radio , antenna, ect. Guy that has web site has goats same breed he has , and we are thinking buddypole, a qrp rig like a yasu 817 or if can get good used rig ok . I have a old majeestic  tripod that could support a mast, wants to keep weight around 40 pounds, not sure how much weight goats can carry if we use two . batteries, cables , buddypole , I will be working ssb and he wants to do ssb and cw, we don't want o go two high , but don't want junk t hat will fr  fall apart either. I had read about icom 703, know a cw qarp righ   would be ideal , but we want to sork  work ssb also . Want to work mabey l5, 20, 40,  10, mabey  try ot her bands,  he has goats same size and breed as guy w6 goat?  ue  uses.  I know the outfit in orlado hrs got bad reviews but he has used them before and I have so if we can work up ideas on a packagle   mabey they can work us a deal .  I also  know that throwing in a wire dipole would be good idea, or mabey get a piece of pvc, a dipole of some kind and use my tripod e and go a verticle type sety  setup, mabey one of the s9 antennas?  joey? buddy pole verticle?  thanks for the the ideas. kg4ymc  would use spell check , but my pc is missing up, also hope this is ok post site . thanks

Posts: 13008

« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 07:43:00 PM »

I've carried a complete QRP station in a backpack for many miles.  I used a Ten-Tec Argonaut, kit of
wire dipoles, and a single lead gel battery.  Might take a couple batteries to get through Field Day with
a serious operation.  I operated both SSB and CW from VK, ZL, KH6, KL7, VE1, and several states on
both the East and West coasts.

Total weight was well under 40 pounds, since I was carrying everything on my own back.  The radio
equipment was probably less than 15 pounds - I'd have to go weigh it to check.

Antennas:  I use wire dipoles and hang them from whatever supports I find locally available:  usually
trees, but I've used rock outcrops or my walking stick when above timberline.  That will depend where
you are going.  Otherwise take along a telescoping fiberglass mast.  Some masts get pretty flimsy near
the top, so you can use RG-174 coax at least to get to the bottom.  Or just put up a 40m dipole fed
with twinlead and use a lightweight tuner.  (But if you have to install the antenna as an inverted vee,
you may be better off using a shorter dipole on 10m.)

The horizontal antenna runs rings around a vertical unless you are sitting beside salt water.

Don't bother with a tripod to support it - just guy it with rope.

I have a center insulator attached to the coax, then add dipole elements for whatever bands I want
to use each time I set up.  This also allows me to use the wire in other configurations, such as a loop
or long wire, when it suits conditions.  #22 stranded, insulated hookup wire works well.

Total cost:  Perhaps a few dollars for hookup wire and coax.
Weight:  My whole dipole kit for 80 / 40 / 20 / 15 and 10m with feedline and rope is less than 2 pounds.

Rig:  The Argonaut is pretty long in the tooth now, though still working.  It is physically much
larger than most modern rigs, but fairly light.  It has relatively low current draw on receive, and
2 - 3 watts output.  A modern replacement might be a K2 with SSB option.  The old Index Labs QRP+
rig is a nice small unit and runs SSB/CW, but somewhat heavier.  There are probably some newer rigs
out that run SSB and are suitable for backpacking, but I haven't tried them.  For CW there are many
more options - I like the SW40+ for extended backpacking - monoband, CW only, and runs 1 watt,
but with only 25mA receive current I can operate for a long time on a single battery.

I don't consider the FT-817 / IC703 as backpacking rigs, though they can be pressed into service.
The main factor is weight and current draw, especially on receive.  That means you need to carry
heavier batteries - it may be practical on a goat, but certainly not something I would take out for a
week where I'm carrying all my other equipment and food as well.  For short periods where you've
got a pack animal and/or don't need to carry the equipment very far, they maybe it isn't a problem.

One thing you'll want, especially with the FT-817, but with many other rigs as well, is a speech
processor of some sort.  You don't need to run it up very high, but that extra bit of punch makes
a big difference to a QRP signal.  I often wished I had one on the Argonaut.  (Make sure you get
it set up properly beforehand, though.)

Batteries:  you'll probably end up with rechargeable sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries, though
there are other more expensive options.  How much capacity you need depends you the rig you
are using.  Plan on between 10% and 25% transmit duty cycle and calculate the power requirements
for 24 hours of operation (or however long you plan to operate.)  For example, the K2 draws around
160mA on receive and 2A on transmit (from memory, depends on options)  so for a 20% duty cycle
I'd calculate (0.8 * 0.16) + (0.2 * 2.0 ) = 528mA average draw.    Multiply this by the number of
hours you plan to operate to get the total amp-hour capacity you need.  In my case, I'd need
about 5Ah capacity to operate 10 hours.  (This year I operated for 8hours, which is typical for
me as a single operator.)  While it may seem that a single 7Ah battery would do, I never plan to
use more than half the capacity of my gel cells.  (That's because some rigs don't operate well
when the battery voltage gets low.)  So I might take a pair of 7Ah batteries along.  They weigh
about 5 pounds each.  (I used to figure that a 4.5Ah cell would last me a week of intermittent
operation on the trail, or a weekend of regular use, but the Argonaut, HW-8, etc. draw less current
than the K2.)

You have to repeat the calculations using the figures for the radio you are planning to use.  You
may end up needing a larger battery - a 33Ah battery weighs around 25 pounds, which starts
getting you up towards your 40 pound limit.  You also have to look at the battery discharge
curves to see how the voltage drops with time for various load currents and compare that to the
minimum voltage that your rig is rated to operate from.

Gel cell batteries come in a wide variety of sizes, but the 7 or 8 Ah and the 33Ah are the most
common ones that I've found as pulls from UPSs or other equipment - some places they have to
be replaced every year, and the old ones are often available cheap with lots of life in them.

There are other options, including using a solar panel to recharge the batteries during the day, but
that is more expense, weight and complexity.  It may make sense for an extended trip where
you are using the radio for a couple hours each evening and can easily recharge it that much
while you are hiking during the day.

Posts: 297

« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 12:59:58 PM »

Dale, thanks for ideas  and not thinking we are full of goatberries hi. Wire dipoles sound good and if we can find an  argonaunt good. Noticed that the tripod I had for cameras is lightweight alumium titan that has a center piece that will come out, has two collars that tighten up . I had used it to hold viewcameas and rb67, so strong but light . I could use push up  fiberglass poles for it . I am thinking if went with buddypole it would be used horizonal or in v or differnt configuration than verticale . Wire dipoles sound good tho , probably less  pron t o problems than a double bazoka and I will have manual antenna tuner mfj mobile that works good . Guy on website goat was carrying 40 pounds , medium size goat . My friend is inhalation therphist said for me to get physical before we do trip , I am 58 , .   think we will try either ga or northwest fla area  or woods . west fla has some higer areas. or even alabama is possibilty .I was just thinking if had tripod I could get some kind of pushup poles , like painter use and put in center of tripod and run dipoles off  it as inverted v if had to  , if no trees nearby. But if going in woods not an issue.        radios... if went with two , could considd considr, mfj single band radio for ssb, he could go separate band on cw or so . have to figure food , tents , portable stove , ect . lot of options , and Like I said just kicking around ideas for now . thanks for imput and oen to all suggestions .  oh web site is rooster and peasnuts if want to check this guy out  on web site, it is a hoot  or mabey I should say baay.. 73 terry  w3mod

Posts: 2232

« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 11:32:58 PM »

So the goats carry the gear?

Why not rent a mule or two?
Carry better gear, more antenna poles, bigger batteries,
nice tent and seeping bags, more and better food (i.e. steaks
for the first night).  Grin None of that freeze dried crap.

Or is the "goofball factor" with the "Goat Backpacking"
that you are going for? I can see that. Gooofy can be fun!
Not many ops can say "We are backpacking. Transportation
is goats. How copy? BTU de ........"

Good luck with your trip.
73, Ken  AD6KA

Posts: 297

« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 08:32:26 AM »

ken, hey its my friend idea, He has the goats and wants to spend the money . We probably will just do day trip or something . I could rough it in an rv. Using goats, we may do first QTH from chattahoochie . Sounds abour right .  Web site is peanuts and rooster qrp backpacking is the one the guy that does this , funny web site . His idea is goats will eat anything . Yes, I could be bad and offer to have mutton at the end of the trip .If really wanted adventure, we could put gear on his two big tom turkeys doing hunting season . Anyway, let you know what happens . Friend is dale myers,W? muo , got to get first part of call . said it had light snow in macon . On web site that goat qrp guy has , his one goat had caption asking if cw operators recoginze his 'hoof' as opposed to fist. Dale took his kids camping one time , rented big rv. Said time to set up camp. pushed  buttons , rv leveled itself, next  generator starts up, awning pops out . yea, that was roughting it .kg4ymc  we could take flo from progrssive, talk about goofy .  Grin

Posts: 1

« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 09:22:14 AM »

I hear that Alpacas and Llamas are another good small pack mule.  Plus if you encounter a bear in the woods, you have something for the bear to feast on while you high tail it out of there!  :-)

Posts: 13008

« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 01:12:21 PM »

If you are going to be serious about it, you really want to try everything out ahead of time.
Set up the radio equipment and antennas in your backyard, or a local park.  Try different
antennas to see which works best, practice getting ropes over tree branches, see how
much feedline you really need and how long your battery lasts, etc.  That gives you a
chance to make changes and optimize your equipment, as well as finding the minor
things that you might have forgotten to take otherwise, like cables and adaptors.

The same goes for the backpacking / camping side of things, especially if you don't do
it regularly.  How big of a tent do you need?  Do you still sleep as well laying on the
ground as you did in your youth, or do you need some sort of mattress?  How much
water do you need to carry?  What food packs well that agrees with your stomach?

Then consider what you are going to sit on and/or put the rig on to operate:  do you
have to hunch over, or is the rig at a convenient height?  (Most folks bring their standard
folding fabric chairs out to Field Day, and were surprised I had a straight-backed desk chair. 
But it meant I could sit up to the table and operate the rig for many hours without
killing my back.)

You also want to get some experience with packing the goats.  For example, two smaller
batteries may be better than one big one because you can distribute the weight better. 
And how long of a mast section can a goat carry?

When you are ready to put everything together, don't pick too ambitious of a target.
3 miles isn't bad for a first trip - you don't want to collapse before lunch and be too
tired once you get there to do any operating.  Also, spend some time researching a
good site (preferably by visiting it beforehand.)  You want a site that is open enough
to string antennas, but with convenient trees for supports.  Even if you bring your own
mast, shade is nice.  Probably need some water for the goats.  The top of a hill is
particularly good for VHF, while for HF you may want to be a bit down one side (with
the ground dropping off in the direction where you want to work the furthest distance.) 
A valley surrounded by high mountains may limit your propagation on the higher bands,
but small hills (up to a few thousand feet) shouldn't be an issue if you aren't too close
to them.

Also, be aware that goats like to eat poison ivy, and can get it all over themselves
if they get carried away doing so.

Posts: 297

« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 09:25:59 PM »

thanks for input guys. Think we are gonna try a dry run this springtime around st joe park area north west fla . Without the goats. Want to try out rigs and ideas. T hink we are leaning toward a buddypole , mabey  a small honda or harbor freight generator . Dale  kb4mud , wans to try a mfj mono radio . and mabey use our rigs for now . He has a kenwood , I  could try my ncg for now . Just want to try getting used to buddypole , tuning , mabey try near beach and saltwate for now , either way will be fun to try  a protable type setup , see what happens .  This hobby is way cool  with possiblites. Got heath checked out , ekg and blood work ok , not in bad shape for old goat ( me hi )  like you said not gonna try big hikes but just camping out , fishing some , portable work should be fun . 73 kg4ymc hoping and trying for steady job and sell house , funds would be avaiable then  , hopefully .  wishing everyone a better year ahead and great dx , Merry christmas to all .

Posts: 386

« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 06:36:31 AM »

Look up WG0AT on you tube.
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