Yaesu MH-31 MicrophoneEarlier this week, I was chatting with Field Radio group member Peter VK3YE on Facebook. I had spoken with Peter earlier that day when he called me during my Yalgorup National Park WWFF activation on 40 metres and he mentioned something that I thought I would share with those of you in the group who are using the Yaesu FT817 model.

Apparently the standard microphone that comes with the rig leaves a lot to be desired. Read the rest of this entry

A Handy Resource To Calculate Battery Runtime

Let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating than preparing for and embarking on that long awaited portable outing only to discover your battery isn’t up to the job is there! If you’ve got the luxury of carrying a large battery in your vehicle then you don’t have too much to worry about, but it’s a very different story when you’ve got to carry all of your equipment in a backpack, rucksack or bicycle etc.

Finding the right compromise between battery capacity, intended power output (watts) and how long you intend being on air can be difficult. Read the rest of this entry

About Us

So what is Field Radio?

As children, many of us received walkie-talkies as a gift. Inevitably after opening the box and inserting the batteries we did one of two things:

  • We held the two of them together and hit the key to release that annoying, ear- piercing squeal. This was followed by an even higher pitched maternal scream and the resulting command to…
  • Take your radios outside.

What fun was it anyway being inside? What a thrill it was to run to the park and to hand the other rig to your friend. As you ran off in different directions, you raced to see how far you could separate and still hear each other. Finally you hit that sweet spot where you could no longer see your companion, but their voice still rang true.

Maybe the magic of radio was more apparent outside.fieldradiosetup1 You could visualize the open space where your signal flew through the expansive ether. Sitting in your bedroom, your imagination was thwarted by the painted ceiling and the experience seemed no more mystical than a telephone call.

As time went by, we brought our radios inside safe from the rain and cold. Snug in the corner of a room, we would sit in seclusion unbeknownst to the passing neighbor to what we did. Bringing our radios inside not only snuffed out some of the excitement, it also isolated us from sharing this great hobby with others.

If you’re a Facebook user then you’ll be pleased to know that we have a Field Radio Facebook Group. Just click on the Facebook icon in the right hand sidebar where it says “Join Our Facebook Group” and you’re good to go.

Enter Field Radio

Portable operations are not new. Their roots can be traced far before the first field days in the 1930s. Many operators worldwide practice field ops and for many it is their sole method of transmitting.

fieldradiosetup2What Field Radio serves to do is to provide a forum to discuss and exchange information about portable radio operations and to share the exhilaration of operating in the field. Field operations can be HT’s in the park, a ‘To Go’ box setup on a tailgate or a QRP transceiver hiked up a hill. Seaside or in your backyard, battery or solar power, urban or countryside….it’s all Field Radio to us.

Do what you can with what you have.

Get outside. Take your radio for a hike. Relive the excitement. Then come back and tell us all about it.

Jose Rivera N2LRB portable

Callsign: N2LRB (US)

QTH: New York, New York

When were you first licensed ? I was first licenced in 1991.

How did you become interested in radio? Watching my uncle talk on his HF radio. He would sit under the ground plane antenna in his backyard and talk to his friends. I believe he was in the Civil Air Patrol.

Member of any organizations or clubs? I am a member of the ARRL and actually started a local ham

Jose Rivera N2LRB portable set up

Jose Rivera N2LRB portable set up

club back in the 90s. It was the Spanish Harlem Amateur Radio Club (SHARC) and we had a SHARK as our mascot. The club last a few months. I have my radio website which I created in 2006. It features a few articles and over 1600 photos of my urban ham operations.

And I currently volunteer with the local New York City Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (ARECS) group.

Favorite band and modes? My favorite band is 20 meters SSB. I find it is the most dependable for daytime voice operations. I am working on putting together a good 40 meter antenna so that I can also get on at night time too. I work SSB, though I am studying my CW in order to have that as an option while QRP.

What advantages and disadvantages are there to operating in an urban area? The advantage of operating in an urban area is that of having to learn about your equipment, environment, and people around you in order to be able to operate to the best of your ability. Those who put up towers are blessed indeed. But they may never know art of stealth operations or how to make the best use of speaker wire for an antenna in the attic. In an urban area you are forced to know your working environment and how to best utilize the equipment you have to get out on the air.

Jose Rivera N2LRBThe disadvantages of being an urban ham is that you may be limited by what type of antenna you can put up. Unless you own the property you will probably not be able to put up even a small tower. With access to a roof you may only be able to up a vertical or small VHH/UHF antennas. You may also be restricted by your landlord (if you rent) and not be able to put up any antennas. And you must be very careful to ensure that others are not hurt by a fallen antenna that was badly mounted.

Many urban ham antennas are compromise antennas, tend to be smaller than their tower cousins, and hence don’t transmit and receive as well as their full size cousins.

So in order to operate well you must get the best antenna possible for your location and maximize your radio communications skills. Some hams go portable in order to work around the residential antenna limitations.

Describe some of your favorite Field Radio experiences (locations and/or QSOs). My favorite field locations is New York’s Central Park. Whose northern side is just 4 city blocks from my home location. But I travel another 12 city blocks south to get to my usual operating city park bench. One of favorite QSO happened in August 2013 when I contacted a few stations in the mid-United States and spoke to them for about 35 minutes. They were surprised I was talking to them from a city park running barefoot (100 watts).

My latest experience was making some contacts with my new Elecraft KX3. I was able to be heard by few stations while in Central Park with just 5 Watts of power!! QRP is great fun when you make contacts, no matter how close or how far.

Any Future Hobby Plans or Goals? My goal is to build a Magnetic Loop antenna using thick (diameter) coax, a variable capacitor and some PVC pipe. I also wish to work towards making New York City a less hostile place for hams to operate. Right now landlords and the City Parks Department make it hard to put up antennas. I envy all those who live in suburban and exurban areas where they are free to throw and antenna up a tree and operate. And where no one is around telling them what they can and cannot do.

I am an Advanced Class operator and am thinking about study for my Extra. But being that no one can any longer become an Advance Class Radio Operator, I may just wish to hold out and someday become that last Advance Class operator. (Hihi de K9ATG)

Transceivers and Antennas:
Home: Yaesu FT-857D, FT-897D, FT-950, FTM-350/AR, with Wolf River Coils (Silver Bullet and Mini) and an MFJ-1979 Telescoping Whip
Field: Elecraft KX3 and MFJ-1979 Telescoping Whip

Jose’s You Tube Channel

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Jose also has his own You Tube channel which has very interesting videos of his operations.
Jose also has his own website which has loads of interesting resources..

THANK YOU, Jose! Running Field Radio operations in an urban area is not often attempted. For you, it’s everyday and you make it look so easy despite the complications that come with every outing.

73 de Joe K9ATG

Please note that the photographs appearing on this page can be viewed in a larger size by clicking on them.

Eric Methven member of Field Radio

Callsign: G1SLP Full Licence (UK)

QTH: I live in Durham, in the North of England, a beautiful medieval cathedral city that was home to the Prince Bishops (Bishops that had the powers of the King)..

When were you first licensed ? I first got my license in 1985, when I left the military.  Back then there was just one way to get licenced and that was to study hard and pass a two part written exam.

It’s a lot easier to get into the hobby now in the U.K. with the Foundation (entry level) followed by the Intermediate, then the Full licence.  The different licence stages allow you to operate at different power levels (10w/50w/400w)..

How did you become interested in radio? I first became interested in radio in the military.  I tried CB at first, but soon became frustrated at the way people behaved.  Then I had the chance to listen to radio amateurs operating and thought “Yes!  I’ll have me some of that”.

I started studying the theory and at the same time, went to night school at the local college to get a qualification in electronics as until that point I hadn’t a clue about circuits, transistors, logic gates, boolean algebra or the little man that lives inside the box that speaks to me.  I subsequently passed the electronics exam with a merit and passed the radio amateur’s exams with a distinction.  I didn’t do the morse element though.  Still can’t get morse to stay in my head to this day.  I guess it’s the way my brain works.

Favorite Radio Activities and Locations ? My favourite radio activities are wide and varied.  Experimentation primarily.  I like to see what I can do with different setups and configurations.  I’m not one for rag chewing, but rather trying different scenarios to see what can and can’t be done with my radios and antennas.

I do radio for both pleasure and as a public service as a member of RAYNET (Radio Amateurs Emergency Network).  So my setup for Raynet activities (normally VHF) is completely different from my setup for NVIS, although both can be used for emergency comms (which is one of the things I love about this hobby – so many aspects tie in with other aspects).

Future Hobby Plans or Goals ? My future hobby plans and goals are simple.  Keep going as long as I can, doing what I do. (Great plan! -K9ATG). I don’t have a website, but I do have a blog page where I describe some of the projects I have done (not just radio either, leatherworking and making outdoor clothes).  It’s not regularly updated or maintained though as I spend more time on the radio than blogging.  Check it out if you like: http://eric-methven.blog.co.uk/.

You can also see a bunch of photos of me doing field radio stuff on my QRZ page under my callsign G1SLP.

Member of any radio organizations or clubs ? I am a member of RAYNET (North West Durham Group) and a member of WEARS (Wearside Electronics and Amateur Radio Society), my local very friendly and active club.  We meet on Monday nights.

Describe some of your favorite Field Radio experiences ? Most of my favourite field radio experiences are those where I can set up camp for a week or two and just play radio, occasionally stopping to eat and throw another log on the campfire.  Sometimes it’s an organised camp, like the Bushcraft UK annual Bushmoot in a remote woodland in South Wales, and sometimes it’s up in the Scottish Highlands.  Either way, I set up camp, sleep under a tarp, in a hammock.  I get lots of visitors when I’m set up for more than a day or two and it’s a great way to introduce people to the hobby.

However, if necessary, I have the ability to operate covertly.  My military training gave me the tools and knowledge to remain hidden and stealthy.  I don’t really do that bit though, but could if I needed to.  Neither do I own a tinfoil hat. (hi hi -K9ATG)

Transceivers and Antennas: My main rig is a Yaesu FT-817.  I also have an old Radio Shack 10m transceiver.  For Emcomm VHF I have a number of handheld transceivers. Antennas are: HF – 80m – 10m, a 22m long end fed sloper with 9:1 Unun that sits at the bottom of my garden and slopes up over the roof and down the other side a little bit. For VHF/UHF I have a copper pipe slim-jim dual band antenna, up on a pole off the side of my garden shed.  All my antennas are homebrew.

For field radio though, I use glass fibre fishing poles and wire antennas in many, many configurations.  Field VHF/UHF is usually with a home brew coax antenna known as an FBK.

Modes: Depending on where I am and what I’m doing.  On VHF/UHF, usually FM, but sometimes SSB. On HF, usually SSB and DAT.  I like playing with WSPR a lot, seeing where I can be heard with milliwatts of RF.

Eric Methven operating portable

Note from Joe K9ATG: Let me add: Eric is currently actively monitoring the traffic on and around the frequencies being used for Nepal earthquake support. Through his efforts, interfering transmissions are identified and ceased. This allows net control to have a clear channel to coordinate aid and assist those in great need. Cheers, mate. Another unsung ham helping behind the scenes.

Please note that all photographs appearing on this page can be viewed in a larger size by clicking on them.