working HF while hiking

Discussion in 'RV Operating and Camping' started by KE8PMV, Sep 5, 2021.

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  1. KE8PMV

    KE8PMV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey y’all ! Relatively speaking new ham here (since sept last year). Myself and a few buddies are scheduled to head out on a hiking trip in about 2 weeks ! Ever since getting my general back in June of this year I’ve wanted to do a POTA activation and I see my chance with this hike (porcupine mts state park , park k-1534) for those of you familiar with hiking extra weight = bad . Add to this I’ve never up to this point worked any digital modes . So this post has multiple ?s
    1) in the interest of keeping equipment weight down and not carrying a PC .. are there options to work Ft8 via either the iPhone i carry or the spare android phone in the drawer?
    2) if FT8 is an option can y’all make a recommendation on a decent, light weight QRP radio ?

    thanks in advance !!
    Jayson ~ KE8PMV
    N3AWS likes this.
  2. KA2TVX

    KA2TVX Ham Member QRZ Page

    not sure if you can work ft8 on a phone, but no reason you could not on a small tablet. If you can do it on an android based tablet (the guy from Ham Radio Crash Course was just talking about a new one in the last month), it should be possibly on a phone?

    Julien (radio tech nordique?) OH8??? does portable digital, not sure about ft8 but other modes. He also has older videos of doing HF SSB while walking around (although if I recall several are done in the snow, where the trailing wire does not get snagged.
  3. KA2TVX

    KA2TVX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Simplest radio - Icom IC 705 - built in sound card, connects to computer/ other with 1USB cord. Pricy, but high quality and simple.
    W7UUU and K0UO like this.
  4. W5UAA

    W5UAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ya, every ounce counts... that's for sure. Everything packed has to have at least two purposes or it's not worth bringing--ham radio being the exception.

    Every time I put together a pack to spend a few nights out in the wilderness (several national parks in California), I thought about packing some ham gear. But even after I put together the absolute bare minimum to survive comfortably at night in the wilderness, even a handheld was too much. So I never did it. (I need more water than most people too... and I'm sure you know how heavy that can be if there's no source of water you can run through a <2 micron filter...)

    Many of the places I hiked/primitive camped had views I'd rather spend time enjoying rather than staring at a computer screen or radio panel anyway.

    The only thing I can suggest is put your pack together and see how much space you have left over. (I never had any room without packing my other stuff even tighter.) And of course, weigh it and see if it's within your fitness level needed. And then look up the specs on the lightest QRP radio (IC-705 is a pretty good bet today), the smallest computer that runs FT8, a wire between them, and some sort of wire antenna you can hang (along with some coax) and see if there's room left in your pack... and still within your comfortable weight limit. You may have to leave the computer behind and just work CW (pack a key instead of a small computer) or Voice (microphone). That would be good too.

    And if you're good so far, gather your equipment, connect up everything you plan to pack, turn it on and make sure it works the way you expect it to work at home, antenna and all, before your trip. It would be a total emotional let down if you pack it up the mountain and then realized you forgot something vitally important and can't use it... and then have to pack it back down... with nothing in your log book. Then, just make sure you're fully charged before you start your hike.

    Good luck!
    KE8PMV and WN1MB like this.
  5. AA5ET

    AA5ET Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suppose that if operating is the primary objective of the hike it wouldn't be as much of an issue, but I never tried digital while backpacking, as the weight of carrying some kind of SSB radio, computer with a screen (even a raspberry pi), and the battery power needed would take away some of the fun of lightweight backpacking. I don't even like carrying the weight of a smartphone! Before adding food and water my pack typically weighs less than 15 pounds - depends on the expected weather and terrain.

    Every ounce counts when hiking, especially as I get older, so I've always used a very small single band CW rig with a built in keyer (such as a rock mite built into an Altoids tin), 9V or lithium 12V battery, home-brew wire antenna, and a tiny iambic paddle. I confess though, that I haven't done it much in the past several years mostly due to the lull in the solar cycle.

    The digital operating I save for the camper van or home.
    W5ESE and KG4RRH like this.
  6. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have talked to a number of mountain toppers today in Colo.
    Both on HF and VHF
    Several of them had FT8

    RVing at +10,000 ft
  7. K6EEN

    K6EEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Might get some additional relevant responses in the "QRP Corner" part of the forum, rather than here the RV Camping part of the forum. RVing is pretty much polar opposite from hiking/backpacking, i.e. when RVing you bring everything including the kitchen sink and a bathroom sink!

    My QRP setup was a single-band CW 4 watt 20m radio built from a kit, micro CW paddle, homebrew wire dipole with RG-174 mini coax feeding it, lightweight string for hanging the dipole in trees or anchoring the antenna on a hiking pole if no trees (inverted V with apex/center 6 feet off the ground), small 12V battery. If you don't do CW, I'm not sure FT8 is an option unless you can interface a smartphone app to one of the newer production QRP radios. Never tried SSB QRP.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
  8. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    At 2.4lbs, it's not a very hiking friendly radio. A Elecraft K2 is about 13oz, and was built to be taken in this fashion. You certainly don't need a waterfall display, nor the battery penalty that comes with it for a hike! RX current on K2 is ~150mA and "1-2A typical on transmit" (owners manual), on 705 it's shown as 500mA in RX, and "less than 3A" in TX. That's a HUGE difference that could mean a much lighter battery for the same operating time.
  9. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMO the weakest link in most stations resting on a boulder, under a dashboard, or on a large desk is the antenna. If antenna and antenna placement is your focus, you're way ahead of HF challenges.

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