My first QRP rig was my first radio ever. As a Novice (1979) I bought a used Ten-Tec PM3-A that I used on 80 and 40 meters. That was followed by an old Heathkit HW-16 with external VFO, it's 90 watt input really put me the game on HF.
Then I went and upgraded to Technician I bought a brand new TS-520SE in 1980 and got involved in QRP on 6 meters with 10 watts using a new Yaesu FT-680R (that I still use and by the way is NOT for sale guys) however I let QRP operation fade away on HF.
My QRP operation continued on 6 meters and in 1990 I began QRP SSB on 2 meters when I aquired a pair of Santec 2m SSB HT that I used for a number of years until I sold them off in the spring of 2000.
In the years to follow I operated portable HF using a variety of antennas and power output. When I wanted to operate QRP again I just turned down the output on my rig, such as my FT-890AT. However during the 1980's the idea getting a real man pack type low power radio for HF started to enter the picture.
The during the late 80's and into the 90's my desire to operate QRP resurfaced. I wanted to have a take anywhere commercial makpack. My first choice to fit the build was a Yaesu FT-70G, AES listed them in their catalog for a while but I could never could place an order for one that ended in delivery
A true man pack radio made by Yaesu for use by the armies of Japan, India and other, the most notable user was the Contras. It covers the frequency range of 2-29.9999 Mhz, with 10W output for AM, CW, USB, and LSB. They are very rare on the used market, I have looked for one for years.
The full package included the FT70G with FC-70M antenna tuner (front mounted SO-239 jacks), YH-70 telephone handset, CSC-70 padded carrying case, NC-70 3-speed charger/power supply, MH-17A8 splash proof speaker/mic and an extra battery containter.
As can be seen in the photo above, the radio was thumb dial tuned for oprating frequency and was very similar in styling to the amateur products, of which this basically was, of the 1980's sold by Yaesu.
I have also looked for the Yaesu FL-110 160-10 meter 10w/in 100w/out amplifier that went with the FT70 or FT-7 and finally found one of those. It is agreat match for the FT-817.
I the early 1990's I became interested in the Tokyo High Power Labs HT-750 for 40/15/6 meters. However I was never able to purchase one of these either. Then as other radios came along I always looked but never bought for various reasons, I almost bought a Ten-Tec Scout, but it just did not appeal to me. Neither did anything else that came later in either kit form (time to assemble a kit ?) or commercial form, the commercial stuff was either too expensive and or did not have the features that I wanted.
I did finally settle for an Alinco DJ-X10T receiver, all mode, HT form factor, take anywhere, hey I got my start as an SWL listener, it was a start, next a CW transmitter kit and T/R relay and I would have a portable QRP traveling station.
Flash forward to the year 2000, the present as they say, in the summer Yaesu released their new FT-817. I placed my order in the U.S. in October and received it in November. I was lucky enough to find about about this radio before it was ever announced in the U.S. and placed my order for one as soon as I found a dealer that would accept it. All that I can say is the Yaesu FT-817 was worth the wait, as it is the most complete QRP transceiver to date.
Click here for information and photo's of my Yaesu FT-817 QRP travel kit
My main travel/portable antenna system is the MP-1 by Vern Wright, W6MMA. It is compact, covers 40-6 meters with 80/75 an option by use of an additional screw on coil.
Click here for the W6MMA MP-1 portable antenna.
My other wonderful portable antenna when I can erect it is a Hy-Gain HA-4000 military stainless steel tape-reel doublet antenna.
Click here for the Hy-Gain HA-4000.
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Entire contents Copyright © 1999-2001 by Stephen B. Hajducek, N2CKH. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.