Monday, September 14, 2015

My portable HF station is almost complete!

I've been trying to put together a portable HF station, one that I can bring to another location and set up easily. As you have read recently, I was working on getting the Signalink USB connected to the Icom IC-706MkII for digital modes, which is working successfully. I also got the K1EL WKUSB winkeyer working with N1MM+ on the Acer netbook. I was shopping in Lidl the other day and came across a metal file box which I thought might fit everything. So I bought it. And I was right - everything fits in it!

This is me with the entire EI2KC portable HF
station in one box, at EI4DIB's QTH.
In order to test the portability of the station, I packed it into the box and brought it to Tony EI4DIB's shack to hook it up to his HF dipole antenna. There I am, pictured on right, with the case containing everything needed - the IC-706MkII, LDG tuner, Signalink USB, K1EL Winkeyer, morse paddle, Acer netbook and all associated cables.

A few things are still missing from the setup at this stage - an antenna, a PSU and an interface dongle. I spent a good bit of time yesterday trying to get a Prolific dongle to work with the IC-706MkII without any success. So I will order a proper CIV interface on the internet. In the meantime, this does not matter too much as I can work and log QSOs in phone, CW and digital. I just have to be careful when changing bands and modes to ensure that I manually change these items in the software.

All in all it took about five minutes to get the entire station set up on Tony's shack bench, and within a couple of minutes of putting out a CQ on 40m PSK31, I made a QSO. Happy days.

Below are a couple of photos taken during this nice Sunday afternoon visit of one ham to another ham.

The portable HF station sitting in front of Tony's lovely VHF radio array.
In the above photo, you can see (in front of all of Tony's radios!) the Icom IC706MkII on left with the LDG autotuner sitting on top. In the middle is the Acer netbook. It's not very powerful but it's small and can comfortably run FLdigi and N1MM+, which are both free programs and both are great. On the right of the computer is my EI2KC home brew Hacksaw Blade CW Paddle (Mark II) and right of that is the K1EL WKUSB winkeyer. A simple but effective setup, capable of being taken anywhere in a box.

Working a station from Tony's shack using the portable gear.
So I still have a few pieces to get. I've been told the West Mountain RigTalk dongle is very good for Icom CI-V interfacing, so I might get one of those. I need to get my own portable power supply. I would like to get one of the small switch mode PSU's that the like of Watson supplies. And then to finish it off I'd like to have a portable antenna. For now, the Watson Multi-Ranger whip antenna for the car will have to do. But down the line I'd like to get a Sota pole and something like a multi-band dipole for easy portable setup. Something like the "Iona dipole" demonstrated in this video from the EJ7NET activation of Inis Mór in 2013 might do the trick:

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