Portable operations with the FT-857

Just before the weather got cooler and the snow fell I was able to take my manpack setup outside in the backyard and do some pedestrian mobile communications, this was the week of Nov 11-16 2013. 10 and 12 meters were in great shape and 10 meter FM simplex was even better.

My manpack consists of a frame I bought on eBay from China, it is attached to my Alice Pack. In the frame I have a FT-857, LDG AT-100 PROII tuner, PBox LiPO batteries(x2) ran in parallel. My antenna for HF is a Chameleon Hy-Brid Mini with a V1L whip or a PRC-271 10’ whip. Power out was typically 10 watts for all contacts. I worked into TX and CA on 29.600 FM Simplex with a 60 over report. I worked Northern Ireland and South Africa as well.

This is a picture of my setup:


It works quite well and I use a comet antenna for 2/440 on it as well. It has a jack on the front for a morse code key and I have connections on the back for the computer for soundcard digital modes.

A video of the setup in operation can be seen here on YouTube:

I am waiting for a CHA CAP Hat so I can tune on 80 and 160. I use a counterpoise as well of 25’ with a quick connect/disconnect in case someone trips on it or when I am walking I get it snagged. The pack is continually taking on new changes. I have a strip of LED lights I want to use for night operations to lessen current draw and want to put a fold down tray on the pack for my logbook as well.

Hope to work you this winter from the cross country ski trails pedestrian mobile.

Fred Lesnick, VE3FAL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “Portable operations with the FT-857”

  • Ernest Gregoire, AA1IK:

    Nice job Fred! How much does this pack weigh?

  • Charles N1CAI:

    Great job love the self contained aspects of man packs and SOTA I’m up to VT alot so hope our pths cross on the bands sometime. You obviously put alot of time and thought into this rig. I also use a mini hybrid and love it , I used it with a cha zepp and alpha antenna 12 ft shock corded whip.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Very nice setup Fred and it seems rugged and will for sure do the job. Looking forward to posts of the pack in action…..nice YouTube video as well.

  • Fred VE3FAL:

    Thanks guys, I have yet to finish the pack before the actual weigh in Ernie, but you know it really is not that heavy. Lots of fun with it..I just got the Chameleon CAP Hat and 10’8″ whip for the V1L, should be able to tune it with a longer counterpoise for 80 and 160.. I thought of putting handles on it so I can lay it down on a table, but it works fine in the configuration I use it in.

  • KB9HHI:

    For $199, I’ve found the best value and performance in back packing antennas to be the Ez-Military system from Alpha Antenna. http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/11272

  • SGO:

    The Alpha Antenna are absolute Chameleon Antenna knock-offs!!

    The Ez-Military are made with ABS toilet sewer pipes while the Chameleon Antenna are made with Delrin, anodized aluminum and stainless steel.

    The first one is made on the kitchen table while the second one with a CNC mill in a real shop!!

  • Fred VE3FAL:

    If things warm up and we get out of the deep freeze I would like to get back outside, but with daytime highs of -26c and evening at -40c not playing anytime soon.


  • Ka9p Scott:

    Hi Fred, love the set up. I’m using an Alice woo. Was curious how you secured the cage to the frame? Is it bolted together or are you using shelves to slide the equipment rack on and off?

    Thanks, Scott ka9p

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