Other Gear for HF Portable work
In addition to the radio, in many cases you need batteries, antennas, and often backpacks or other ways to carry the gear. This is an area where operators have become quite creative and have repurposed or created new equipment from scratch. Also, surplus military gear is also quite handy.
There are many options for backpacks to use with HF Portable operations. I have found several that work well:
British Radio Pack
It's hard to beat the British Radio Pack for overall flexibility and "mission suitability". I use it with the PRC-104, FT-897, etc. It is much more robust than daypack type packs, and more comfortable.
I also converted the (otherwise useless) grenade launcher zip on pockets to antenna mounts. If you don't need these, you can use zip on pockets the British troopies call "Rocket Launchers", as they look you added rocket engines to the pack.
The "rocket launcher" pockets are great for holding the audio accessories and AT-271 whip. There is an internal pocket which will hold the AB-??? spring base.
Even with a larger radio like the PRC-104 loaded there is room in the bottom of the pack, for rainjacket, lunch, water bottle, etc.
Radios like the FT-897 & FT-857 will need a carrier to mount them securely. (Not difficult to make)
It's also possible to buckle the radio in at the bottom of the pack. It's a little harder to change frequency this way, but does have the advantage you can stand the pack upright, which you cannot do if the bottom of the pack is empty.
This pack was mentioned on HFPack. I had to take a look, and it turned out to be a useful pack. Especially for $14! While I initially bought it for use with smaller radios, it turns out it is wide enough to carry the PRC-104 with no problems. It's not as sturdy as the British Radio pack's Cordura construction, but it's well padded and should be OK for light duty usage.
It's a bit of a trick to find these, they are typically found in the boys/girls section as "back to school" items, and not in luggage or sporting goods as the store employees would tell you.
Antennas & Tuners:
|SG-211 Portable Tuner||SG-211 Portable Tuner|
|AT-271 military whip||I use the plain jane AT-271 on the PRC-104 more than anything, often without the spring base. If not in motion, or in clear fields it works quite well without the spring. With the AB???? spring you really have to be careful in crowds, as it will spring forward and hit people if you bend over slightly!|
|Shakespear Coil||For lower bands I add an old Shakespere coil to the mix to increase the inductance. Though the tuner will match 60m and higher with just the AT-271 whip, it works a bit better with a coil.|
|Buddi-Stick||Others use a Buddi-stick with good results. See K6ERO's "Bushwacker" page for more info. This is probably the optimal setup for pedestrian mobile on the lower bands. Bud W3FF has a great product, and is a nice guy to boot!|
|Vertical wire||I keep a small coil of wire and line in the pack. It's easy to toss up into a tree and raise a 25' vertical whip. I use the AB-xxx base to attach it to the radio feedpoint.|