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Man-Pack System which radio to use?

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SGO

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Are asking about portable radios or portable antennas?
I'm asking about portable radio and what is the best way to carry them:

Putting them into a bag like the second video

or

Attaching them to a hard mount/rack like those on the first video

I like the fact that the bag is very light weight but will probably not protect the radio system like the rack.
 

prcguy

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First off you would not want to use a Chameleon antenna if you want a manpack system that actually radiates a signal. Second, even with a real antenna its not going to be verynefficient using the whip below about 20m. All military manpacks are equipped with a whip but almost never (if ever) used in that mode. They use dipoles or various wire antennas to make up for the low power.

The Yaesu FT-857 is a popular radio for manpack use for several important reasons. It has reasonably low current consumption on receive, it runs ok at lower voltages encountered with portable batteries and its fairly small and light for a 100w radio.

Many other radios like the Icom 706 series draw way too much current on receive and the IC-7000 is also a power hog and known to be problematic when running on gel cell or other batteries that can drop below 12.5v
prcguy

What would be the best radio to build a reliable Man-Pack system?

I found the two following examples online:

Chameleon HYBRID MINI VE3FAL Manpack - YouTube
Chameleon Antenna ManPack: CHA HYBRID-MINI + CHA MIL - YouTube
Chameleon Man Pack System - YouTube

Thanks

SGO
 

SGO

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First off you would not want to use a Chameleon antenna if you want a manpack system that actually radiates a signal.
Thank you for the info about which radio to use. But concerning the antenna selection you can use whatever you want. I'll personally going to seek that valuable info elsewhere and get the input from actual owners. My surrounding (family members, club members, friends and neighbors) are heavy users of chameleon antenna products for years and they never got disappointed.

SGO
 

W9BU

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I'm asking about portable radio and what is the best way to carry them.
That being the case, I have moved this thread to the Amateur Radio Equipment forum which is more appropriate location for a non-antenna question.
 

prcguy

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Your response hints you are either the owner or friends with the owner of Chamemeon antennas (my opinion) and if so your endorsement would be questionable, again my opinion. I have talked with a few past owners of their whip type antennas and the performance is reported to be grim. These past owners are fairly antenna savy and both admitted they should have known better but made the purchase anyway hoping for a miracle which never materialized.

The Chameleon wire type version works a bit better but no better than anyones 6:1 or 9:1 balun and a similar length of wire. I have lots of experience with those and in general they are a poor performer compared to end fed half wave or multiband versions that are a half wave on the lowest band and work very well on harmonically related bands.
prcguy



Thank you for the info about which radio to use. But concerning the antenna selection you can use whatever you want. I'll personally going to seek that valuable info elsewhere and get the input from actual owners. My surrounding (family members, club members, friends and neighbors) are heavy users of chameleon antenna products for years and they never got disappointed.

SGO
 

ve3fal

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My Pack VE3FAL-Fred

Just found this thread and thought I would put my 2 cents worth in here.
My pack in the video does utilize the following:
FT-857
LDG 100 PROII tuner
Chameleon Hy-Brid Mini Coil
V1L (or PRC-271) for whip section
25' counterpoise
2 PBox LiPo battery packs (Andersons)
I run the rig at 20w at high power when I run it.
The frame came from China, I mounted it to the Alice Pack
I can remove the frame from the Alice Pack and it will fit in a Pelican Box for travel
I can attach longer wires to the coil if I need something else, but the coil and antenna tune very fast and very well with the setup I have. I opted for this as my first set up was:
FT817 and HF packer amp and Z817H tuner and mt 2 PBox batteries, all in an pack mounted on a hiking frame. I also had the coil on it and my PRC-271 antenna, but I figured that since I wanted the little extra power I might as well go with the FT-857. Having been and still involved with Canadian Military (CFARS) and former member of The 736th Communications Regiment in Thunder Bay I have always had a love for portable opertions and radio.
Now at the same time I am and have been a QRPer for a long time and I agree that you always need as much wire out as possible to be efficient...when portable QRP I would string up what I could where I could as high as I could not caring about how long the wire was, I just beleive the more out the better.
However my manpack is made for hiking and parking where some of those elevating devices are not.
I have tried homebrew outbackers, MP1, buddistick and a whole bunch of others for portable use and on my backpack, but tuning WAS NOT easy.
At the same time my pack will sit up nice and does not move when the wind blows on the antenna, unlike a small pack it will not sit very well I am sure...once again my observations.
So that is my answer to this thread....

Cheers
Fred
VE3FAL
 
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SGO

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I can only say that VE3FAL did a great job with his manpack! The equipment selection is very good for his needs. He can use a long wire end-fed or a vertical depending of the situation. With low power you always need a very long antenna. I don't know if you've the room for it but I would install a removable Samlex 12345m power supply just in case that you would have access to AC power.
 

ve3fal

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I might add as well that I am currently selling off some gear as I would like to purchase a VX-1210 with ATU installed. They are hard to find as Vertex discontinued them in January of this year (2013).
Some are still available in China and other areas of Asia( that is where they were mostly used), cost is about $1700 for radio and ATU unit. Radio does 20 watts like most of the green radios I have and do use, but built like a brick you know what?

Cheers
Fred
VE3FAL
 

ve3fal

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VE3FAL Manpack Radio

I can only say that VE3FAL did a great job with his manpack! removable Samlex 12345m power supply just in case that you would have access to AC power.
SGO thanks for the comments but I probably put well over 50 hours on the pack putting it together, drilling, moving parts and still not done, I am putting some LED lights on it for night time and leave the light in the radio off when not using it, I also want to have a flip down tray on the front for my log book or log sheets etc. I have a cw jack on the front and have made cables for the radio so I can run ALE and other digital modes with my netbook.
As I say it is a W.I.P. (Work In Progress) and always changing to suit my needs.
Antenna choices are tough as not everyone lives in the Boreal Forest and is blessed with all kinds of antenna supporting devices. Like I said I like portable and this suits me fine. I am playing still with other homebrew coils and the MP1, I know it should work but I am still trying to decide what the rave was about this antenna. I have a buddipole I use when camping in the campgrounds on an 8' tripod and it works well if not going anywhere.

Ok out of here again..

Fred
VE3FAL
 
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prcguy

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I just saw a VX1210 for sale at a reasonable price about a week ago and will forward the info if I can find it. However, I know at least four people who bought VX-1210s and can't think of anyone who is all that happy with it. They never bring it on outings and at least one guy dumped his shortly after purchasing.

Nor sure what's up with the radio but apparently it appears better on paper than in actual operation. If you can live with10w the Elecraft KX3 fully loaded costs about the same as a used VX-1210 and is a lot more radio and can easily adapt to pack configurations.
prcguy



I might add as well that I am currently selling off some gear as I would like to purchase a VX-1210 with ATU installed. They are hard to find as Vertex discontinued them in January of this year (2013).
Some are still available in China and other areas of Asia( that is where they were mostly used), cost is about $1700 for radio and ATU unit. Radio does 20 watts like most of the green radios I have and do use, but built like a brick you know what?

Cheers
Fred
VE3FAL
 

ve3fal

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VX-1210

PRCGUY:
I find that interesting since folks on teh HFPack group swear by the VX-1210 and praise em up and down..
I guess it depends on what one wants and likes. I just read a review by a guy who said teh KX3 was TOO GOOD for a QRP radio, or a waste to use on QRP I think is what he was saying. I have been a QRPer all my ham career, i am 49 and been playing with radios since age 14 at least, cb and shortwave then ham radio in high school.
I am also a tester, reviewer and Canadian Contact for YouKits. I use a X1M Pro and love that little rig as well, will be nice when all the bugs are ironed out.
I am going off topic here.
I have a VX1700 in the shack and man, the noise floor on it is the best I have ever(or maybe never) heard. Audio reports are exceptional on this radio be it LSB,USB or AM, it has one heck of a punch.
If one comes through I will still ike to look at one. I am looking at selling a fully loaded K2 with many options and a HL-45B to put some $$$ towards another rig for backpack use.

Later
Fred
VE3FAL
 

prcguy

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Fred,
Sounds like have similar interests where I was playing with CBs and making them into manpacks in the late 1960's and spending most of my life experimenting with QRP and antennas and I even had my own reoccurring column in a major hobby communications magazine, etc., although I am a bit older than you reported.

I believe all my friends with VX-1210s are members of HF Pack and we go back before Bonnie lit up the HF Pack Yahoo group. I believe it was my good friend Bart (now a SK) with one of the orphaned VX-1210s that introduced Bonnie (from HF Pack) to amateur radio. I have not personally used a VX-1210 and can only go by what trusted and qualified friends have experienced.

BTW, your HL-45B is a great little amp and I just finished a nice coast to coast net of military radio and packset enthusiasts on 60m using my HL-50B driven with a KX3 and run from a 5AH A123 Systems 12V7 battery pack. From Texas and outdoors in the freezing rain I might add!

The net controller tonight has or had a VX-1210 and dos not seem to be very fond of it and he's probably owned every manpack rig on the planet. With that said I hope you get to use a VX-1210 and thoroughly check it out before spending any $$.
prcguy







PRCGUY:
I find that interesting since folks on teh HFPack group swear by the VX-1210 and praise em up and down..
I guess it depends on what one wants and likes. I just read a review by a guy who said teh KX3 was TOO GOOD for a QRP radio, or a waste to use on QRP I think is what he was saying. I have been a QRPer all my ham career, i am 49 and been playing with radios since age 14 at least, cb and shortwave then ham radio in high school.
I am also a tester, reviewer and Canadian Contact for YouKits. I use a X1M Pro and love that little rig as well, will be nice when all the bugs are ironed out.
I am going off topic here.
I have a VX1700 in the shack and man, the noise floor on it is the best I have ever(or maybe never) heard. Audio reports are exceptional on this radio be it LSB,USB or AM, it has one heck of a punch.
If one comes through I will still ike to look at one. I am looking at selling a fully loaded K2 with many options and a HL-45B to put some $$$ towards another rig for backpack use.

Later
Fred
VE3FAL
 
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ve3fal

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RE:VX-1210

Maybe they praise and talk about them on HFPack then because they are still in the CHEAPER range of radios for mapacks...Most other stuff Codan , barret and others start at $10,000 and up to $40,000 depending on what toys you want with it I guess...
See what happens, for now I wil use my FT-857, FT-817(s) and enjoy them.
Same with the X1M Pro, sweet little rig.
Fred
VE3FAL
 

prcguy

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I found the VX-1210, it was on Ebay and the price is reasonable with free shipping. See:
Vertex Standard VX 1210 HF Manpack Portable Radio RX 0 5 30MHz TX 1 6 30MHz | eBay
prcguy


I just saw a VX1210 for sale at a reasonable price about a week ago and will forward the info if I can find it. However, I know at least four people who bought VX-1210s and can't think of anyone who is all that happy with it. They never bring it on outings and at least one guy dumped his shortly after purchasing.

Nor sure what's up with the radio but apparently it appears better on paper than in actual operation. If you can live with10w the Elecraft KX3 fully loaded costs about the same as a used VX-1210 and is a lot more radio and can easily adapt to pack configurations.
prcguy
 

hertzian

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I have tried homebrew outbackers, MP1, buddistick and a whole bunch of others for portable use and on my backpack, but tuning WAS NOT easy.
Quick tip on what I do - we all know that hand body capacitance detunes the antenna. Let's actually use detuning to help!

Coarse - move slider / coil tap and remove hands. Repeat for loudest noise.

Medium - At resonance, a coil is easily detuned by hand capacitance. Again move slider / taps up or down a turn or two, and with coil in between your hands, use a clapping motion without actually touching the coil. This will help your ears notice the difference in the loudness of the noise. The best resonance occurs when your hands are detuning the antenna at the farthest they are away from the coil. With slider-coils, I use a twisting motion rather than using a straight up and down motion to get very close.

Fine - adjust the whip. If you start out with the last section of the whip only extended half-way, this gives you a little leeway either direction.

Of course body capacitance detunes everything too, but usually this can be taken care of with the fine whip tune and walking back to the rig once or twice.

One reason manpacks or directly-attached antennas to the rig with very inefficient whips may seem to perform better than a tripod-mounted vertical located a short distance away from the um, picnic table, is that not enough attention has been paid to rf-choking the feedline at the feedpoint.

Unless you provide a decent amount of feedline choking, AND especially if your feedline runs along the ground, THAT common-mode of the shield's outer skin-depth becomes essentially a 1-wire on ground radial system, despite any other radials you may have elevated. Merely elevating your feedline 6 inches or so above ground with plastic beer coolers (or whatever) and watching your swr change drastically will help confirm this.

If your swr gets worse, you are actually heading in the right direction! Although this may put it out of the range of an internal tuner, now that the antenna is resonant, you can take care of higher swr's with shunt-coils (ie, 4 turns 1" diameter for 20m) across the feedpoint. Or of course use an external tuner, but this should be the LAST step. Antenna analyzers certainly help out, but if you use it to tune 1:1 and don't actually listen-for-resonance, you could end up with a very reactive low-swr. Your transmitter will love it, but you may not get out of the camping ground. :)

Ferrites or air-core coax loops can help, BUT the amount of turns depends on frequency. See this chart to help out, although personally I prefer ferrites or transformer rf-isolators:

Common-mode chokes

You may not need a manpack after all as long as that feedline is taken care of.
 
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mancow

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I picked up a Tadiran PRC2200 reasonably on eBay a while back. I bough an 18 ah lithium pack that fits inside and out has been the single best hf I have ever had for general use and portability. I just wish it had a vfo and ale.
 
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