HF Recommendations for Camping in MN Northwoods

Discussion in 'RV Operating and Camping' started by KN0TZA, Apr 8, 2021.

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  1. KN0TZA

    KN0TZA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey everyone, I am a pretty new HAM. I got into HAM because of all the COVID lockdowns (I call it my Covid hobby!): shutting down the gyms, shut down my Taekwondo Dojang, pretty much screwed up everything in 2020. So, during all those lockdowns I decided to chase after an interest I've always had in passing: Amateur Radio. Got my Tech license in Feb of 2021, and just got my General license on April 3rd. That being said, I'm soliciting some recommendations for a HAM in the can type set up for camping.

    I've met so many great, knowledgeable people just working the 2m repeaters in my area. I just want to reach out to you guys and gals out there for your opinions on this. I know there are a ton of a lot smarter people than me out there who could give me a good recommendation!

    After this grueling year, many hours worked, I'm ready to take a 4-5 day vacation. I'd like to pack up the truck and head up to the northwoods of Minnesota or Wisconsin. Spend my days hiking around enjoying the peace and serenity, and spend the evenings seeing if I can work some HF bands (or 2m bands if there are repeaters in the area) while cooking dinner over the fire under the stars. But one thing I am not sure of, is what kind of antenna works best in this situation? A directional Yagi? What kind of setup would you use?

    I was thinking of getting a deep cycle marine battery, getting a mobile solar panel to charge the battery during the day, finding a decent all mode transceiver (I already have a Yaesu FTM-300DR for my mobile, 2m and 70 cm, which I love) then look on dxengineering for a mobile antenna setup. Any suggestions?

    Thank you all for taking the time to read and respond. I hope everyone has a great summer!
  2. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Adam; So, Just what does the accronym HAM stand for?
    Most all of us are just hams, no accronym, no caps involved.
    My advice is something small and light. My FT-857 does all bands and all modes, 5 to 100w. Find NOS or used.
    10 amperes current consumpton at 30w or less output which is enough to make HF QSO's CW or SSB.
    Antenna(s) are the main thing to consider... I'm using a 31' vert and radials of odd length on the ground for HF.
    Likely for UHF/VHF a mobile whip bonded to the frame will work well for you there.
    I use my coach battery to power my rig. I hv a battery isolator so not to run down the crank battery.
    Many things to consider as far as battery charging etc. I just run my engine a little each morning for now.
    Enjoy ham radio and get out there...

    Learn Morse.
    Do CW.
    K7WFM likes this.
  3. N1RV

    N1RV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use my FT817ND with an external battery (I a few different types) z817 atu, and the chameleon mpas antenna as it can tune 6-160m. This has worked well for me using ssb as I like to jump around the bands rather than being limited to a single band . I've had campgrounds that don't allow ropes and wires thrown into trees which makes dipoles difficult to use. Its personal preference and what works best for you. Experiment and enjoy the hobby!!!
  4. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I do a lot of camping (hammock Fall-Winter-Spring mostly) and always take my radio gear with me. These days my HF rig is an Elecraft KX2 with ATU, so I just use a 54' wire for the radiator and a 17' counterpoise or an MFJ-1820T whip directly on the radio if I don't feel like messing about with the wire. When I had a Yaesu FT-817nd I had a small QRPKits SOTA tuner and 71' of wire on a chalk reel.

    If you don't have a tuner, you'll need a resonant antenna. In that case, I would not hesitate to buy a Wolf River Coils Take-It-Along Mini. My buddy has one and it's a great portable antenna system. You can tune it by ear and get "close enough" most of the time without resorting to an antenna analyzer.

    Don't feel like you have to stick to repeaters with 2m FM. Give simplex a try. A j-pole or a directional yagi will let you get out and you may be surprised how far your signal can go without a repeater.

    Battery-wise, if you haven't purchased one yet, consider a LifePO4 battery such as sold by Bioenno. They're a bit pricey, but are much smaller and lighter than SLA or deep cycle, but not as explodey as traditional lithium ion. I can use a 4.5ah one all weekend in the field to run my KX2 and recharge the battery in my HT.

  5. K2WPM

    K2WPM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congrats on General.
    Sounds like you might enjoy POTA.
    I have used my Yaesu FT-450D or IC-7300, because they do 100 watts and have built-in ATU. Lower bands - 80 and 40 - good in evening.
    I built a linked dipole, use as inverted vee.
    Throw a wire up and ur ready to go.
    Two Bioenno 15 aH LiFePo batteries.
    I charge them off the vehicle, also have small solar charger from Amazon.
    They all fit in a backpack with 50 feet coax.
    73, David K2WPM

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