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Going "portable" in the woods, on mountains

Mar 1st 2013, 20:10

Bart_KJ6BWB

Joined: Aug 28th 2009, 08:43
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
So, let's discuss how to really go portable. Maybe a 50 watt car-mountable base station run to an antenna mounted on a camera tripod for steadiness so that I don't have to hold it while I type or do anything else. Pair a Raspberry Pi with one of those new DDS's for really low power requirements, and the ability to run through a huge amount of frequencies, all powered by one of those backpack solar panels. If I then hiked up to the top of Mount San Gorgonio with that, I should be able to DX fairly far just on a ground wave alone (it's about 11,500 feet high, with direct line of sight to most of Southern California, depending on how much smog there is)...

Are there any requirements to transmit out of a wilderness area when it's not an emergency? Anyone have any comments on good portable antennas (I'd be looking for one that didn't weigh more than about 10 pounds)? Do I need to talk to the forest service or anyone because it's in a wilderness area? Anyone else done something like this, anyone have any suggestions, comments, etc.?
Mar 5th 2013, 13:21

W1VT

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0

http://www.scaruffi.com/travel/gorgonio.html

According to this web page, you need to get the appropriate permits to hike there, even for a day hike. This is much different from the East Coast, in which I've done many hikes to peaks that don't require a permit. The only place I've gotten a permit to operate the radio is Mt Greylock--which proved to be quite useful when two big weddings were scheduled on the same day! The rangers were kind enough to find a parking spot for me, the permit holder, when I finally showed up mid-day, when everyone was going crazy...

The politics of Mt Greylock, the site of a war memorial, is quite difficult. It is a great spot for ham radio, hiking, birding and weddings.

Typically, you want to bring a small Yagi--this will boost your effective power by a factor of 5 to 10. This will allow you to run less power. You might also consider getting a radio that does SSB--this has more range with less battery consumption. I used to routinely work a guy who climbed to the top of Grand Monadnock and ran 1 watt of SSB.

Zack W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer

Mar 9th 2013, 09:04

Bart_KJ6BWB

Joined: Aug 28th 2009, 08:43
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
A wilderness adventure pass is easy to get, they're even sold in most gas stations up here. Even so, currently one isn't required just for parking and hiking, unless you use the bathroom, because of a recent lawsuit. Basically, the areas are already created and supported from our taxes, so unless we use something (like a bathroom) that costs extra to regularly maintain, we shouldn't have ot pay an extra fee: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/29/local/la-me-forest-fee-20120229
Anyway, I'm digressing. I plan on buying a pass anyway then filing for a refund afterward. My whole question was about radios. For instance, this Extra question:

What must be done before placing an amateur station within an officially designated wilderness area or wildlife preserve, or an area listed in the National Register of Historical Places?
An Environmental Assessment must be submitted to the FCC

What does "placing an amateur station" mean? Does that refer only to a permanent installation, or can I pack something in and pack it back out again? Does size/weight make a difference? Does the source of the power matter, for instance is battery power or solar power considered a different matter from pluging into an outlet next to something like a bathroom or is power just power?

Any other suggestions regarding light weight portable stuff?
Mar 9th 2013, 20:30

W1VT

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=cce5b45b7c5f450f054310d44ddd3172&rgn=div8&view=text&node=47:1.0.1.1.2.9.192.7&idno=47

Here are the rules.

http://www.fcc.gov/help/filing-environmental-assessment-antenna-structure-registration-asr-system

As I understand it, these rules are relatively new and may not have much case law to pin down exact interpretations.

There are many suitable QRP HF CW only rigs that lend themselves to lightweight hiking compatible stations, but you typically need a lot of skill to use them effectively. But, some people can pick up CW very quickly.

10M can be rather disappointing--the solar flux hasn't been reliable enough in years to make it a good band for hiking portable operations. But, I can remember when 10M would be open all day.

Zack Lau W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer
Mar 14th 2013, 19:44

Bart_KJ6BWB

Joined: Aug 28th 2009, 08:43
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Great, so it looks like as long as I don't go over 1000 watts ERP and don't leave any trace of my activities afterward, then I'm most likely going to be ok. I'll go with that. :)

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