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How-To: Set Up an HF Portable Radio While Hiking

How-To: Set Up an HF Portable Radio While Hiking
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Fall is the perfect time for hiking, it’s not too hot and not too cold. Last weekend I took a day trip to hike up High Mountain in New Jersey and activate SOTA summit W2/NJ008. It’s really easy to set up an HF portable radio and not a whole lot to carry up the mountain. This video shows how to get set up including how to hang the antenna in a cluster of trees and making contact with Italy.

18 thoughts on “How-To: Set Up an HF Portable Radio While Hiking

  1. mpechner says:

    How much power where you using?
    What was the base elevation and how high into the tree did the antenna get?

    1. Diana Eng says:

      We were using 100W. The elevation was 550m, the trees were roughly 10-15ft.

  2. anon says:

    A great tutorial. Perhaps for completeness, you should mention that FCC rules require an operator transmitting on 20M to hold an amateur (“ham”) radio license. Obtaining a ham license is fun, easy and educational: visit to learn how.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is the antenna and/or radio grounded, or is that not necessary for this type of set up? If there is a ground – where and how?

    1. Diana Eng says:

      No ground is needed with this antenna. It is a par electronics EF-20.

  4. Peter says:

    Nice article. Especially the part about getting the weight over the tree. That’s always where I have problems, too :-) I built a slingshot-fishing reel to compensate for my poor throwing skills…it helps a bit, but it’s probably a bad choice for hiking; takes too much space.


  5. Gabriel says:

    High Mountain Park Preserve welcomes visitors but prohibits fishing, hunting, trapping, collecting, motor vehicles, aircraft, horses and unleashed pets, camping, fires, firearms, rock climbing, spelunking, and feeding of wild animals.
    Sounds like a real swell place

  6. Zarat says:

    She’s beautiful :)

  7. alandove says:

    Cool setup, Diana – the bright orange slickline and throw weight definitely look better than my usual dipole-hanging method, which involves a small fishing weight, invisible monofilament line, and a whole lot of swearing and searching after each throw. Would a small carabiner on the weight work better than tying and cutting the line, or were you concerned the ‘biner would get hung up in the branches?

    I love the SOTA idea, and am now daydreaming about activating some summits here in Western Massachusetts. Is there a reason you chose the FT-857 rather than the lighter (and less power-hungry) 817? In other words, is the extra power output worth the extra pack weight, or was it just a case of using what you had on hand?

  8. Karl says:

    This was a great video to watch. Great to hear all those DX stations on your FT-875d “in the field”…


  9. Bill Dawson says:

    Very good job Diana. I have been a Ham for 33 years and have never done anything like this. It makes me want to get out and try it too. Keep up the good work.


  10. Anonymous says:

    100W, no rf choke.. that’s just dangerous, and bad for your solid state finals…

    go QRP.

  11. Ken says:

    Great to see SOTA taking off in the US. I didn’t have a favourite fashion nerd before, but I do now!


    Ken GI4FLG (Bangor Northern Ireland)

  12. Rich says:

    Hi Diana – Nice video. Just curious, where did you get your slickline and what size weight did you use? This looks like a simple and efficient way to get a wire in the air. Keep up the good work.

    73, Rich

  13. LU1FK says:

    Felicitaciones Diana: Me gusta la idea de colgar la antena. Te voy a agradecer que me envíes a mi mail un dibujo de tu antena, es muy probable que lo hallas explicado en tu video, pero mi ingles todavía es muy mal, pero estoy estudiando y trabajando en mejorarlo.
    73 y DX mi amiga y colega.

  14. LU1FK says:

    Congratulations Diana: I like the idea of ​​hanging the antenna. I will thank you to send me my mail a picture of your antenna, it is very likely that you find it explained in your video, but my English is still bad, but I’m studying and working on improving it.
    DX 73 and my friend and colleague.

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Fashion + Technology Diana was a contestant on Project Runway season 2, graduated from RISD, and currently lives in New York City.

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