My Ideal POTA Kit!
2021-10-27 With just over 1500 Parks on the Air activation contacts in ten different parks here in the Midwest I've come up with a pretty stable portable package. I mean, nearly every time I head out it is with this kit. About the only customization may be antennas. But the basic single-bag kit includes everything I need including two dependable antennas. It's not quite "minimalist", weighing about ten lbs, but very portable. It provides for both CW and SSB on nearly every HF band and ten watts output. I haven't proven it but I think it will run between five and ten hours on the included battery. The primary antenna, a vertical, is stand alone. the other, and "random wire" end fed requires something to tie off the far end. I've logged 350 contacts between the two antennas with the furthest distance being just over 5000 miles. I'm pretty much assured of plenty contacts with either one every time I take the kit out. Of course there are always those times when that doesn't happen due to propagation or mistakes on my part. My point is, the kit is easy to transport, easy to set up almost anywhere and works!
Top row of photos.
1) The top left photo shows the pack complete and ready to be carried out the door. 2) The top center one shows how it would typically be set up for operating. Connect the key and antenna and all is good to go. I like the simplicity of that. 3) The top right shows the loaded pack open displaying the packed contents.
Bottom row of photos.
1) The bottom left photo shows the contents of the pack spread out. 2) The bottom center photo shows the two antennas. The left side is the random wire antenna and Electraft T1 tuner, since the ic705 does not have an internal tuner. Also shown is my NanoVNA, just in case! 3) The bottom right photo is of my clipboard with logging sheets, mechanical pencil, straight key and paddle with cable to connect the key to the radio. I normally use the paddle but have the straight key as backup. I do my logging manually.
I fabricated a small aluminum bracket on the left side of the pack seen in the top left photo providing external antenna and key jacks. That significantly simplifies connecting the antenna and key. The vertical antenna ground mounting spike is shown on the left side of the pack behind the aluminum bracket. It is a 12" long 3/8" aluminum rod with a 3/8-24 coupling screwed onto top for attaching the vertical's loading coil. The foldable 9' whip of the vertical is collapsed and shown in the pocket on the right side of the pack.
The random wire antenna shown in the left half of the bottom center photo consists of a 29' wire radiator (green) 17' counterpoise (copper) and the QRPGuys mini 9:1 unun. The black bunge cord and yellow cord are for use in suspending the far end of the antenna. All random wire antennas need an antenna tuner, hence the Elecraft T1. The nanoVNA is for testing if either antenna seems whacky!
The small block of wood in the upper right of the bottom center photo is a comfort item. It screws on the top of the ground mounting spike to save your hand when pushing the spike into the ground! Click here for details on that antenna.
I'm under no illusions that this is THE best portable kit. and it may not be my favorite for long! I also have a kit based on the Xiegu x5105 radio. It of course can be paired up with any of the other items, other than the T1 tuner as it has a very good internal tuner. I've logged over 400 contacts with it doing activations compared with just over 800 with the ic705. I also logged almost 500 of my activations using my Wolf River Coils vertical antenna with a 17' whip. It's an excellent antenna, probably better than either of these in my "ideal" kit but is not as convenient to transport or set up. I have about 15 activation contacts using a linked dipole. It is an excellent antenna but again is more difficult to deploy. And I've logged just over 300 contacts with 40 meter EFHW antennas, another excellent antenna but somewhat more difficult to set up and requiring more space. So I recognize this kit is a compromise of weight, transport and setup ease and power. For the moment, and about half of my activations the past couple months it has served me well. So for now....