HAM from the boondocks

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by W9FOG, Jul 16, 2016.

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  1. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'll just underscore what's already been said here. Portable operation is popular and can be lots of fun. If you're operating near a vehicle, you can afford a bit of weight for batteries, rig, and antenna supports, so you've got quite a bit of flexibility to set up a good HF station. If you're carrying your radio for many miles in a backpack along with your camping gear, you're a bit more constrained, but you can still set up a station capable of contacts many states away, and even across the oceans when you're lucky.

    For a given power level, CW carries farther than voice, so it's worth the learning curve. CW takes time and regular practice to learn, but it can be done, and I've seen many people of many ages do it. But until you get comfortable with CW, SSB can work. The computerized digital modes can carry as well or better than CW, but they require a computer with its own power requirements. Nothing beats CW for its combination of simple gear and amount of range for a given power level. There are lots of very small CW-only rigs, many available as kits (and many discontinued and only available used).

    When considering gear, look carefully at power consumption, both on receive and transmit. Batteries can easily outweigh rigs if you're not careful.

    I've got pictures of my portable operations in my QRZ bio page. My equipment is far from the only way to do it, but it works for me. The SOTA sites already mentioned are good places to get more ideas.
    N3AWS likes this.
  2. KI5WW

    KI5WW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I enjoy portable ham radio.

    1. Get out of the shack for a while, that's a good thing.
    2. Noise floor of zero where I go. Noise floor at home on forty is s5 to a s7 every day, 24 hours.

    Those are the main reasons I go.

  3. K7JEO

    K7JEO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Portable is my primary operating mode as I enjoy vehicle camping (tent) most weekends the weather is good. I operate completely off of solar power from very remote locations. I have a whole web page setup on my portable experiences so far. Also check out the field day page for more pictures.


    Jim Olsen
  4. AC0GV

    AC0GV Ham Member QRZ Page

    [​IMG] Did someone say Boondocking?? Check out ac0gv on Face book. September 19 at 2:25pm ยท
    I spread the word to area amateur radio operators and others interested in the hobby and we had a camping weekend. Most just stop by to visit, a few get on the air and talk to others around the nation. I do not think we contacted anyone outside of the country this year. I only talked to hams from two states this year, Minnesota, and the Indiana bi-centennial special event station near Fort Wayne. I run an old Kenwood 440 from the house battery to a dipole in the trees and towers and get great reports.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  5. KE5NCP

    KE5NCP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I enjoy sitting out in the AZ desert during the winter running a IC 746 pro off my screwdriver mounted on the truck using coax from the 5th wheel, when I need more power I just fire up the generator and turn on the amp, otherwise I run the radio off the inverter and battery bank. That is the way I like to boondock.
  6. KQ2N

    KQ2N XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Been a ham and camper since 1979, this was the first year I combined the two! Bought a "new to me" Yaesu FT-897 with LDG tuner as well and use a random wire antenna for HF and the Arrow 2m/70cm yagi for local or satellite operating. I can use either the FT-897's internal batteries or my class C camper's bank of batteries. My home QTH is very quiet QRN wise, but to my surprise, a couple state campgrounds I visit have noisy utility lines that run to the scattered bathrooms in the parks causing QRN on the HF bands. As others have mentioned, on HF, cw is the mode of choice. 73 de KQ2N
  7. WD5ABC

    WD5ABC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Depending on how far in the boondocks you plan to go, if you're backpacking you'll want something very light. That means mostly CW but there are some fairly small rigs that do SSB like the Elecraft and MFJ rigs. I have a NorCal 40A which weighs almost nothing and will sip power from batteries, something the newer digital rigs can't do, but it's only 40m and only CW. If you're going to stay close to the car and can carry batteries, something like the guys have mentioned will be fine. Or a Yaesu 857D like mine. It all depends on the mission! If there are trees you can use lightweight wire and feedline with a very light tuner to use a dipole on several bands. If there are no trees you can make a vertical out of a crappie pole or one of the fancy fiberglass extending or stackable poles. There are lots of choices, have fun and congrats on the upgrade!
  8. KD5AUU

    KD5AUU Ham Member QRZ Page

    A lot of HAM's like to capitalize maybe as a show of respect for the hobby. I don't know.......here is one account of how the name came to be and this author chose to capitalize HAM at every mention of the word - Hardly something worth criticizing a fellow HAM over.

    Why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"
    (from Florida Skip Magazine - 1959)

    Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS?" Well, it goes like this: The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station CALL of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY.

    At first they called their station "HYMAN-ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out such a long name in code soon became tiresome and called for a revision. They changed it to "HY-AL-MU," using the first two letters of each of their names. Early in 1901 some confusion resulted between signals from amateur wireless station "HYALMU" and a Mexican ship named "HYALMO." They then decided to use only the first letter of each name, and the station CALL became "HAM."

    In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators picked their own frequency and call-letters. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals than commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity. In 1911 ALBERT HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic for his Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator DAVID I. WALSH, a member of one of the committees hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed with the thesis is that he asked HYMAN to appear before the committee. ALBERT HYMAN took the stand and described how the little station was built and almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the BILL went through that they would have to close down the station because they could not afford the license fees and all the other requirements which the BILL imposed on amateur stations.

    Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and little station "HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country crying to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them around. The BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked about the "...poor little station HAM." That's how it all started. You will find the whole story in the Congressional Record.

    Nation-wide publicity associated station ""HAM" with amateur radio operators. From that day to this, and probably until the end of time in radio an amateur is a "HAM."
  9. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    The story is a complete fabrication. No such station ever existed.

    All one has to do is look up the history of the Harvard Amateur Radio Club - W1AF.


    The "ham" in "ham radio" is not an acronym and should not be all-caps.
  10. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nowadays using HAM has a different connotation. Especially when used in phrases like "I got my HAM".
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