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Posted: 1/19/2015 11:26:33 PM EST
Since my NV guide was a big hit a few years back, here is my other hobby.

Lightweight Pack radios
I’m writing this piece from the standpoint of needing a lightweight back-packable radio that I can take with me on overnight and several night outings so weight and power out are critical considerations.My definition of lightweight is that I will use the target weight of approximately 5lbs or less to design a lightweight packable radio system (minus antennas) capable of SSB use.

Thoughts on power
One thing I will talk about is what I consider useable power levels, and I acknowledge that this topic is highly divisive so I’ll put down my opinions on it and people can disagree with me if they like (and I know they will). I will begin with a simple fact: nearly all of the worlds militaries have for four decades decided on a ~20-30W power level for their portable SSB backpack radios as the best compromise for reliable man portable SSB HF communications and in my opinion for reliable SSB work this is probably the best compromise between power out and weight and power consumption. However, very few of the examples examined here offer a full 20W output as a stock configuration, so some sort of amplifier is required. I will fully acknowledge that SSB contacts CAN be made with very little power under the right conditions, been there done that, but in general it is my experience that there is a big difference between making SSB contacts with 5W and 20W, not merely the measly 1 S unit of power as many folks with come back with as a counterpoint. I will break it down as saying as 5W SSB is great for CW and data modes such as PSK31 but generally unsuitable for making reliable SSB comms. 10W of power is again great for CW and data but still a bit marginal for SSB. In my opinion and experience, 20W+ is the best range for low power SSB under most ionospheric conditions. That being said I will jump in and examine the commonly available options in the new and used ham radio market, the list isn’t meant to be comprehensive but I feel like I’ve covered most of the basic rigs available.

The configurations
I will discuss 3 different configurations, the base radio and what it weighs (with batteries) and then 20W and 50W configurations with an outboard amplifier. For the sake of comparison I have chosen the MX-P50 Chinese amplifier and a Zippy 4.2Ah LiFePo4 external battery and various elecraft or LDG ATUs (noted) for the comparison to keep the configurations simple, all weights posted include internal batteries if available as well. Certainly one can decide if 4.2Ah is enough capacity to run the system for the required time, but I’ve used it as convenient placeholder. It should be noted the amplifier listed does require a very good antenna match, hence all configurations will include an ATU. Alternately I suppose you could use a perfectly matched antenna, but in practice in the field its too much of a pain IMO, a tuner is the same weight or less and much easier to use.

The contenders

KX3 HF+6m
The KX3 is often bandied about as the do it all super lightweight wonder radio for backpacking, SOTA and other lightweight activities. It certainly boasts a lot of great features such as IF DSP, internal ATU and batteries and fancy things like CW/PSK31 decode, AND it is lightweight and compact to boot. Unfortunately the advertised weight is listed without internal batteries, or optional things like an ATU or optional 2m radio module or extra filters or the “optional” mic so it is a bit misleading. Also unadvertised is the fact that to realize its full 10W of output power it does require an external 13.8vdc power source. With those two caveats however it is still very lightweight and does put out a very usable 10W of power. With an external LiFePo4 battery and internal batteries and ATU option the weight comes in at 3.4lbs for 10W output which has the best power to weight and volume ratio at that power option of the radios listed. Adding an external 20 or 50W amplifier is certainly an option however to my knowledge one must also add an external tuner to utilize it with the KX3. With a MX-P50M tuner and outboard T1 or Z817H ATU the weight climbs to 4.9lbs and 5.5lbs for 20W/50W respectively, we can use the outboard battery to run the amplifier and the internal batteries to run the radio. The one area where the KX3 does fall short compared to all the other options is cost, the price for the various configurations is roughly double that for any other configuration running from about 1430 for a loaded (ATU/Filters/mic) base configuration to about 1800 for a configuration with the amplifier and external ATU.

FT817 HF/VHF/UHF
The FT817 was the first QRP radio marketed as such, with a very small footprint for the base radio and a 5W power output, achievable on internal batteries, it took the low power world by storm. However almost all later radios had 10W+ power output after folks became frustrated by the FT817’s lack of SSB performance, also partly due to lack of power and any sort of speech processing which should absolutely be included (easily fixed by aftermarket mics or kits). It should be noted that the FT817 is the only radio reviewed that can cover the whole frequency range from HF to UHF, which may make it attractive to some. The base configuration with batteries weighs in at 2.5lbs for 5W of performance (I should note the kx3 is a bit lighter ~2lbs running 5W). For effective HF SSB performance the FT817 benefits the most from an outboard amplifier, using theMXP50A amp and a LDG Z817/Z817H tuners one gets weights of 5.5 and 6lbs for 20W/50W respectively. Essentially the FT817 is half a pound more than the KX3 at every turn and volumetrically comparable to the KX3 configurations. Cost wise it depends, used FT817’s vary widely from ~300-600 USD so the configurations can run from 800 (assuming a 450 base cost) to ~1000 USD depending on if one gets a new or used FT817 to start off with.

IC703/703+ HF+6m
The ICOM703 comes in a 10W configuration with a built in narrow range autotuner. This was a very popular radio for some time but was discontinued by ICOM for some reason. At first glance it is very comparable to the KX3, though the KX3 boasts features like IF DSP vs AF DSP and CW/PSK decoding. Also the stock IC703 with external battery (no internal batts) weighs in at a hefty 5.5lbs and volumetrically is comparable to the 20 and 50W configurations of the FT817. If we start adding things like the amplifier and external ATU the weight rapidly climbs out of “lightweight” territory. The 703 isn’t a terrible choice if you can find one cheaply, and it is nicely integrated aside from the external battery, its just going to be a bit heavier than other options. For those interested add about 2.5lbs to add the 50W amplifier and Z817H tuner for a final weight of ~8lbs and about double the volume. Cost wise since its discontinued varies quite a bit, anywhere from 500-700 on auction sites in the authors experience and then 50 dollars for the battery, in this sense it’s a pretty good deal if one decides 10W is all that is required for the user and one doesn’t need the fancy features and light weight of the KX3.

SG2020 HF only
The SGC SG2020 is sort of the oddball, like the 703 it is no longer produced, it had a mixed repuatation for problems and perhaps that is why it is no longer made. It is a genuine 20-25W radio though it also needs an external battery to run and an ATU is again recommended to match field antennas. In a configuration with our battery and a lightweight elecraft T1 ATU the weight comes in right at 6lbs; not terrible given the power out it compares reasonably well to the amplified KX3 and FT817 based configurations in terms of weight and volume. Cost wise since its discontinued varies quite a bit, anywhere from 500-700 in the authors experience and then 50 dollars for the battery and $160 for theT1 ATU.

TJ5A 4 HF bands only
A recent interesting offering from youkits targeted at the SOTA and backpacking crowd and running 20W power out. The base rig is fairly barebones, but it is offered with a clip on 4AH LiIon battery pack. Combine this with an T1 ATU and the rig becomes a very lightweight 4.3lb 20W rig, it has a superior power to weight ratio at the 20W power level to every other rig examined. It is fairly basic however and does not cover all bands, it comes in two configurations of 40/20/15/10m and 40/20/17/15m or fancy things such as speech processing (though one presumes this could be user added like on the FT817). The fully assembled radio with T1 ATU and battery comes in at 610 making the cheapest option.

Antennas
No discussion of QRP radios would be complete without discussing antennas. There are a ton of options in this regard, from ultra-lightweight wires to fancy portable vertical systems such as the buddistick and buddipole. From the authors standpoint of camping antennas, they have to be lightweight and fairly idiotproof. The paar EFZ trail friendly comes in at .5lbs advertised and will handle 25W power on 40/20/10m. If ones camping site has trees (this is not always possible for me) then it is an ideal antenna to take to throw in a tree. Comparable designs include the EARC antenna kit from Hawaii. The buddistick is another popular option, and one that can be emplaced without supports, though it weighs a bit more. It should be noted that while both of these options can be used without tuners in theory, in my experience the EFZ and other multiband designs will be mostly resonant on only one band and close on the others which necessitates some sort of ATU (unless one is very confident of their finals). It is a similar story for the buddistick, the swr will vary somewhat on the surrounding environment, therefore either an antenna analyzer or ATU is required for the best match and frankly the ATU’s weigh about the same as analyzers and are easier to use with presets for the buddistick.

Concluding thoughts.
The right radio for someone really depends on primarily on budget and operating style. If you are a drive to your operating site and setup on the picknick table type of operator, a few pounds weight means absolutely nothing to you (why are you even reading this?). However, if one seeks the lightest weights possible at any cost and is willing to give up a bit of SSB power, the base KX3 with an external power pack is probably the best option. If one wants a highly flexible, highly modular and lightweight setup that can be heavily customized ala carte, the FT817 based platform is the best choice as it can run from a uber lightweight 2.5lb 5W CW rig to a 6lb 50W SSB rig and a variety of configurations in between. If one requires a cheap 20W SSB radio and lightweight, then the youkits offering is very tempting both in terms of price and performance though it is limited in terms of band coverage. However if budget and frequency coverage are desirable then the SG2020 and IC703’s if acquired at the right price can also be good choices.

What I’m doing in case you care
I got into a used FT817 for a very good price a few years back, so frankly upgrading that has made a lot of sense for me since I didn’t pay anywhere near “new” prices. I really do like the flexibility of the platform, if I really need lightweight I can take the radio and the internal lithium pack I run and it is enough to work CW barefoot (or data if I did that sort of thing) for a few nights at a weight of 2.5lbs. I can add an outboard Z817 tuner or external battery if I’m concerned about antenna mismatches (and I usually am) or need more runtime for a pound more at 3.5lbs. And then If I feel I need more power, or need to take a SSB radio I can add the Z817 tuner MX-P50 amp and the zippy battery for a 5.5lb 20W out configuration (I use 20W since I am limited by my tuner and by battery life).

What I would do if I were starting from scratch
If I were to do it using “new” components and had a pile of money to spend I would very seriously consider the KX3, it would be as good on SSB in the stock configuration (5w), but it would weigh a bit less (2lbs if numbers can be believed) and have an internal ATU compared to my current setup. If I decided I needed lightweight and a bit more power I just grab a battery pack which gets the weight to 3.4 lbs. Then if I decided I needed more talk power I’d grab the amp and outboard tuner for a weight of 5.5lbs and 20 or 50W out (assuming I used the Z817H tuner so I could run 50W). The only thing I would really give up vs the KX3 is the 440mhz capability, which I really don’t need in the wilds (though 2m has come in handy once in a while).
However, If I weren’t daddy warbucks, I would also very seriously consider the TJ5A as a runner up for a man portable SSB rig given its very low cost and high power output. The band limitations might bother me a bit, but realistically one can certainly get by without 80, 30 and 12m, and the 40/20/15/10m configuration nearly perfectly matches the paar EFZ.

What I wish one of the major manufactures would build.
A waterproof(rainproof, not diveable), durable 20W all mode/band rig that weighs less than 5lbs and is compact with a wideband ATU and with an internal battery bay or clip on Lithium battery pack that can run the rig for an hour or two on SSB (say about the size of the IC703 with battery included max). There should be a provision for vertically mounted HF whip for manpack use, and possibly a separate VHF/UHF whip (though that could be switched internally I suppose) and a front panel mounted BNC connector. There should be a 3 position switch VHF/HF/BNC to indicate where the active antenna is connected. Also there should be effective DSP, and there should be a USB connector for DATA. And it should cost no more than currently priced FT817

Link Posted: 1/20/2015 12:59:05 AM EST
Tag

Link Posted: 1/20/2015 5:45:00 AM EST
Good info, Harlikwin. Thank you.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 7:25:16 AM EST
I may wanna copy/paste this into a blog post (with credit to you)!
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 9:20:11 AM EST
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Originally Posted By SCWolverine:
I may wanna copy/paste this into a blog post (with credit to you)!
View Quote


Sure.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 9:40:10 AM EST
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 10:55:00 AM EST
What about an FT-857D at (4.6 lbs) with a LDG Z-11ProII (1.5 lbs) the LDG even has the ability to have a internal battery within the housing. Compared to the IC703 options at roughly the same weight you can bump the Watts for the extra S units punch when needed. Especially if you are considering adding external amplifiers to other radio setups this option is all-in-one with less connections to fail.
You also have the ability to SSB on 2M and adjust watts when needed UHF/VHF. With emergency communications in mind, more S units get you heard but be mindful of the extra battery drain.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 10:58:40 AM EST
Yeah, tagged.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 11:47:48 AM EST
[Last Edit: 1/20/2015 11:58:14 AM EST by Harlikwin]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Tangotag:
What about an FT-857D at (4.6 lbs) with a LDG Z-11ProII (1.5 lbs) the LDG even has the ability to have a internal battery within the housing. Compared to the IC703 options at roughly the same weight you can bump the Watts for the extra S units punch when needed. Especially if you are considering adding external amplifiers to other radio setups this option is all-in-one with less connections to fail.
You also have the ability to SSB on 2M and adjust watts when needed UHF/VHF. With emergency communications in mind, more S units get you heard but be mindful of the extra battery drain.
View Quote


My calc on the 857 with Yt100 tuner and the zippy batt came out to about 7 lbs. not terrible but not great. Also running it at high power on that batt would mean a really short runtime. It's not a bad rig, but if I can save 2 lbs I'm going to. I was seriously considering the kx3 to save half a pound . I didn't include RX or TX draw in the descriptions but it can be a major consideration. The 857 is also significantly bulkier than the other setups and at 50w has a much worse power to wt and power to volume ratios. My pack for a multi day trip is already way too full and I can carry a lot of food for 2 lbs.

Also, this is NOT emcomm focused.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 11:59:38 AM EST

I skip the tuner and take par-endfedz antennas for the 3 bands I typically work remote 10/20/40.
4 lipos let me talk for about two hours at 100W on the 857D.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 12:08:18 PM EST
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Originally Posted By stimpsonjcat:

I skip the tuner and take par-endfedz antennas for the 3 bands I typically work remote 10/20/40.
4 lipos let me talk for about two hours at 100W on the 857D.
View Quote


The past EFZ is not perfect on all 3 bands and is rated at 25w, I'm impressed that you can run it at 100w. Mine is resonant on 40 and "close" on 10 and 20. I have used it barefoot with the 817 without issue with no tuner. I'm not sure I trust the amp tho.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 12:43:45 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Harlikwin:


The past EFZ is not perfect on all 3 bands and is rated at 25w, I'm impressed that you can run it at 100w. Mine is resonant on 40 and "close" on 10 and 20. I have used it barefoot with the 817 without issue with no tuner. I'm not sure I trust the amp tho.
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Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Originally Posted By stimpsonjcat:

I skip the tuner and take par-endfedz antennas for the 3 bands I typically work remote 10/20/40.
4 lipos let me talk for about two hours at 100W on the 857D.


The past EFZ is not perfect on all 3 bands and is rated at 25w, I'm impressed that you can run it at 100w. Mine is resonant on 40 and "close" on 10 and 20. I have used it barefoot with the 817 without issue with no tuner. I'm not sure I trust the amp tho.



I might be wrong, but I believe he takes three separate, dedicated end fed antennas. One for each band.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 1:17:54 PM EST
In that case, all you really need is a 10m length of wire, a 20m length minus the 10m length, and a 40m length minus the 20m length. It's what I do in my car, and works great.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 1:41:20 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Kekoa:



I might be wrong, but I believe he takes three separate, dedicated end fed antennas. One for each band.
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Originally Posted By Kekoa:
Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Originally Posted By stimpsonjcat:

I skip the tuner and take par-endfedz antennas for the 3 bands I typically work remote 10/20/40.
4 lipos let me talk for about two hours at 100W on the 857D.


The past EFZ is not perfect on all 3 bands and is rated at 25w, I'm impressed that you can run it at 100w. Mine is resonant on 40 and "close" on 10 and 20. I have used it barefoot with the 817 without issue with no tuner. I'm not sure I trust the amp tho.



I might be wrong, but I believe he takes three separate, dedicated end fed antennas. One for each band.


This is correct.

Once the YL gets licensed I can see us running two bands at the same time off summits or islands.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 1:42:59 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/20/2015 1:46:17 PM EST by gcw]
Ounces are pounds and pounds equal pain. I bought my KX3 with intentions on hiking it. I had been using a YouKits TJ4a (big/older brother to the YouKits OP mentioned). I liked the radio but it was lacking some features that I thought I would want. Plus it was a pretty big radio, it weighed nothing but was bulky.

My Kit now comes in at 12lbs. That is the entire station.
-KX3 with tuner and 2m module
-70' and 30' of wire and a 9:1 unun
-5aH lithium battery with battery management
-Charge controller
-20w solar panel
-Kenwood APRS HT
-Chromebook running linux
--Power bag contains just about any jumper or adapter needed and 12v laptop charger

That is essentially everything needed to sustain comms for an extended period of time.

However I don't think it is the end all be all. If I were using the 817 I could drop the HT and save a pound or two. If/when fldigi gets ported to android I can ditch the laptop and use my tablet that weighs less and has a better battery.

Everything is a trade of between size, performance, cost. You can pick two but you are going to have to sacrifice one.

Awesome write up OP

Link Posted: 1/20/2015 2:27:50 PM EST
Awesome post!

Mind if I copy it to my blog with credit to you and a link back here?
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 2:43:23 PM EST
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Originally Posted By SCWolverine:
dang bro, you should start blogging
http://amateurradio15.com/lightweight-backpack-radio-guide-from-harlikwin-ep-3/
View Quote


Thanks, but blogging takes time and dedication that I largely lack. Besides I don't want to be a famous HAM...
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 2:50:18 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By gcw:
Ounces are pounds and pounds equal pain. I bought my KX3 with intentions on hiking it. I had been using a YouKits TJ4a (big/older brother to the YouKits OP mentioned). I liked the radio but it was lacking some features that I thought I would want. Plus it was a pretty big radio, it weighed nothing but was bulky.

My Kit now comes in at 12lbs. That is the entire station.
-KX3 with tuner and 2m module
-70' and 30' of wire and a 9:1 unun
-5aH lithium battery with battery management
-Charge controller
-20w solar panel
-Kenwood APRS HT
-Chromebook running linux
--Power bag contains just about any jumper or adapter needed and 12v laptop charger

That is essentially everything needed to sustain comms for an extended period of time.

However I don't think it is the end all be all. If I were using the 817 I could drop the HT and save a pound or two. If/when fldigi gets ported to android I can ditch the laptop and use my tablet that weighs less and has a better battery.

Everything is a trade of between size, performance, cost. You can pick two but you are going to have to sacrifice one.

Awesome write up OP

<a href="http://s1166.photobucket.com/user/jnu5/media/20140805_185543_zps4dcxgbqs.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i1166.photobucket.com/albums/q610/jnu5/20140805_185543_zps4dcxgbqs.jpg</a>
View Quote


Look into woplhi link and his data stuff, works on android phones/tablets pretty well.

I have hauled 10-15lbs of radio gear on a multi day hike a few times. That is mainly what inspired me to never ever do it again. 20% of my hike weight can't be devoted to radio gear. I can live with 10% or so, and less would be better. I often just take the 817 and run CW and that is a nice amount of weight/power out for CW. It just mostly sucks for SSB.

In a way I love and hate the 817 setup for being ala-carte, I love the versatility at times since its super handy, but I hate how clunky it is and all the cables and then buying all the "optional" bits. I just wish it was more like my PRC319, just clip the parts you need together and they work seamlessly and robustly, sadly this is not the case.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 3:01:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/20/2015 3:02:19 PM EST by awptickes]
I have a wolphilink adapter, and it's worked flawlessly for me with an old android phone and a full-size bluetooth keyboard (apple 104-key I got from walmart). For software, I use APRSDroid. It's pay, but it's worth it.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 3:06:44 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/20/2015 3:19:22 PM EST by mancow]
What they need to make is a large sdr based hf-uhf hand held about the size of a Motorola mx300 that's water proof with an oled display, integrated tuner like the kx3, top tuning knob in the center with offset knobs like a racal25 , and large 5ah lithium removable pack with normally 5 watts out and optional 10 out for ssb.

If I had the means I would love to do like the connect started guy and have a product like that built then offer it for sale.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 4:00:41 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Dave_Markowitz:
Awesome post!

Mind if I copy it to my blog with credit to you and a link back here?
View Quote


Sure, just post a link to your blog here too.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 4:24:44 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Harlikwin:


Sure, just post a link to your blog here too.
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Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Originally Posted By Dave_Markowitz:
Awesome post!

Mind if I copy it to my blog with credit to you and a link back here?


Sure, just post a link to your blog here too.

Thanks! It's online here:

Link Posted: 1/20/2015 5:09:22 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Look into woplhi link and his data stuff, works on android phones/tablets pretty well.

I have hauled 10-15lbs of radio gear on a multi day hike a few times. That is mainly what inspired me to never ever do it again. 20% of my hike weight can't be devoted to radio gear. I can live with 10% or so, and less would be better. I often just take the 817 and run CW and that is a nice amount of weight/power out for CW. It just mostly sucks for SSB.

In a way I love and hate the 817 setup for being ala-carte, I love the versatility at times since its super handy, but I hate how clunky it is and all the cables and then buying all the "optional" bits. I just wish it was more like my PRC319, just clip the parts you need together and they work seamlessly and robustly, sadly this is not the case.
View Quote


I have a couple of the apps. The KX3 companion app will do CW, RTTY, and PSK over USB. I like both solutions but neither are a substitution for FLDIGI.

Shoot old man, I thought with all of those mil pack radios you would be use to 10-15lbs. My PRC-117 is about 10lbs without any batteries, and that is just the radio. My last Appellation Trail hike my pack weighed out at 35 pounds and that was a winter pack. The other thing with my 12# number is all of that gear is packed into "protective" cases, that adds a little.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 5:16:48 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/20/2015 5:24:06 PM EST by Harlikwin]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By gcw:


I have a couple of the apps. The KX3 companion app will do CW, RTTY, and PSK over USB. I like both solutions but neither are a substitution for FLDIGI.

Shoot old man, I thought with all of those mil pack radios you would be use to 10-15lbs. My PRC-117 is about 10lbs without any batteries, and that is just the radio. My last Appellation Trail hike my pack weighed out at 35 pounds and that was a winter pack. The other thing with my 12# number is all of that gear is packed into "protective" cases, that adds a little.
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Originally Posted By gcw:
Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Look into woplhi link and his data stuff, works on android phones/tablets pretty well.

I have hauled 10-15lbs of radio gear on a multi day hike a few times. That is mainly what inspired me to never ever do it again. 20% of my hike weight can't be devoted to radio gear. I can live with 10% or so, and less would be better. I often just take the 817 and run CW and that is a nice amount of weight/power out for CW. It just mostly sucks for SSB.

In a way I love and hate the 817 setup for being ala-carte, I love the versatility at times since its super handy, but I hate how clunky it is and all the cables and then buying all the "optional" bits. I just wish it was more like my PRC319, just clip the parts you need together and they work seamlessly and robustly, sadly this is not the case.


I have a couple of the apps. The KX3 companion app will do CW, RTTY, and PSK over USB. I like both solutions but neither are a substitution for FLDIGI.

Shoot old man, I thought with all of those mil pack radios you would be use to 10-15lbs. My PRC-117 is about 10lbs without any batteries, and that is just the radio. My last Appellation Trail hike my pack weighed out at 35 pounds and that was a winter pack. The other thing with my 12# number is all of that gear is packed into "protective" cases, that adds a little.


Oh I'm still in ok shape, I'd just rather carry more like 40-45 rather than 55+. I think the conditions where I am are about what your winter temps might be and much drier than appalachia as well which means somewhat heavier gear, and way more water. I've done plenty of the travel light freeze at night routine to not want to be doing it too often at this point, same with hauling lots of heavy shit. How long was your trail hike because that seems quite lightweight to me was that 35 with the radio? My general multiday ~3day summer packout is about 35 counting the pack with no radio gear. Which is fairly light, so 40 ish with radio and wires, When I hauled my PRC319 that was more like 50lbs (15 for the radio/batteries/antenna).


Link Posted: 1/20/2015 10:40:43 PM EST
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Originally Posted By mancow:
What they need to make is a large sdr based hf-uhf hand held about the size of a Motorola mx300 that's water proof with an oled display, integrated tuner like the kx3, top tuning knob in the center with offset knobs like a racal25 , and large 5ah lithium removable pack with normally 5 watts out and optional 10 out for ssb.

If I had the means I would love to do like the connect started guy and have a product like that built then offer it for sale.
View Quote

Actually I have a plan to build such a radio and include WiFi, satellite, ATV and Hamnet. All built inside of a pelican case. With hot swappable batteries. Separate antenna ports and dedicated matched antennas for each of several bands. Relays instead of tuners to save weight and complexity.

I think what the op wants is doable as an SDR project with additional amps that are off the shelf or homemade. I'm planning a similar project. I like the basic idea of 25 SSB plus digital on batteries.
Link Posted: 1/20/2015 11:28:36 PM EST
Mainly what I want is an integrated radio with components (or boxes for them) that neatly clip together so I don't have an pile of wires strewn about. I mainly want lightweight, and compact though. In the age of 3D printing I can't see why the manufactures can't rapidly prototype decent enclosures for their products. The 817 is actually one of the better designs IMO, but the addons generally suck from a form/fit standpoint.
Link Posted: 1/21/2015 9:32:52 AM EST
[Last Edit: 1/21/2015 9:38:17 AM EST by 444]
Having everything in one box is a huge plus.

Out of the stuff that I have played with, the only radio that comes close to ideal is the KX3.

It has the tuner built in. It operates several modes including RTTY and PSK31 natively. It has a built in power supply (although I am less than satisfied with it), it operates from 160m through 2m (although I am far from satisfied with the 2 meter module). You can easily attach a CW key to the radio (it's built for that) and you can use a laptop microphone with it so you have no long cord to take up space and add weight. The whole package is fairly small and lightweight. If you have to run it with a computer or tablet, you can easily do that. It seems to do just about everything other than put out the kind of power you are talking about.


I have an 817 and used it for years. I think about selling it all the time but then I keep reading things about it that make me want to keep it.



FWIW: a cool war story (cool to me), I worked a major DXpedition (I don't remember which one). Running my KX3 at 5 watts and using a laptop microphone: on 40 meters. It wasn't easy, he asked me to repeat about five times, and it wasn't in a pile-up. They were in the last hours of the last day of the DXpedition and they were begging for calls, so I gave it a shot.
The mic I am talking about is something just like THIS
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