Even though I’m in the middle of figuring out the build of a shortened end-fed half-wave antenna, an improvement on my current EFHW setup, I’d had my eyes on various vertical antenna solutions for a while, even though they’re not as efficient as a full-size antenna. Recently, QRPGuys released a new vertical antenna kit for portable ops, and I couldn’t resist trying it out.
I’ve had the Mountain Topper for a couple of weeks now, after having wanted it for a long time. I’ve been really happy with it, and I’ve even already done three SOTA activations with it and lots of SOTA chasing from my back yard. One thing I noticed when doing my pre-purchase research is that not many people report on the power output (probably because it doesn’t matter that much). Well, I got curious! Here’s my extremely inaccurate and non-scientific report.
I’ve been wanting to get a good CW-only lightweight rig since I started really getting into SOTA. Especially trying to do HF summit activations while trail running! I saw a good deal for this used Mountain Topper QRP transceiver, and I went out of my way to get it! I actually even sold my LDG Z-817 tuner to help provide the funds, making my home station temporarily non-functional.
OK, so saying “DCP Paddle” is redundant. “DCP” stands for “Dirt Cheap Paddle.” While this paddle is inexpensive compared to a lot of morse/CW paddles out there, I would definitely not call it “cheap.” It is exquisitely designed and expertly machined by Doug W6AME of American Morse Equipment. I don’t remember where I first heard about his paddles and keys, but I knew I had to have one as soon as I saw it. The DCP is the least expensive paddle he makes (hence the name) but doesn’t lack quality. I have a pretty tight budget for my ham activities and equipment, so I was holding off on getting one until I really needed it.
I like running, hiking, summits, and ham radio. Well, lots of other things, too. But this is about those four things. Since I started doing SOTA, I’ve wanted to try to put together an HF summit activation kit for use on trail runs. I’ve done a a few SOTA activations while trail running, but it had always been with just a hand-held radio—usually my tiny Yaesu VX-2R with a 12-inch ultra-flexible whip antenna, or an MFJ “Long Ranger” telescoping antenna.
On most of my activations, I’ve used a SOTABeams “Band Hopper” with my FT-817. It’s a resonant dipole for 40 and 20 meters, with a nice convenient bag, stakes, guy lines and 1:1 balun. It’s a very nice antenna, easy to set up. But it’s a bit on the heavy side compared to an end-fed half-wave (EFHW) antenna. And not quite as easy to throw into a tree. Continue reading →