Thursday, July 15, 2010

Portable operating thoughts

The PFR3A is a very good radio. Better than I was willing to admit given the sour taste I had towards it as a result if my building experience. Still not quite as good as the K1; but a solid performer. Major need for improvement in one area - the display. Man, is it hard to read an LED display outdoors in the daytime. An LCD would have been the way to go; but I guess that would have raised the price of the radio considerably. I found myself shielding the display with my hand, so I could know what frequency I was on. Tuning is a breeze. Even with the initial bias I had against push button tuning, I acclimated myself to it quickly.

The receiver is solid and the built in tuner works like a charm. I would recommend this kit to anyone with more than one or two kits under their belt. You will have a very good time using this radio in the field. Another built in advantage is the color. Many scoff at the bright yellow enamel coating; but as a side benefit, the radio does not get hot. The dark gray case of the K1 can heat up the radio and cause it to drift in the hot sun, Not so with the PFR3A. All in all, I am very glad that I ended up not selling this radio. It will not replace the K1; but it will get used.

I am going to ditch the doublets as part of my portable operating antenna arsenal. From now on it will be the Buddistick and maybe an end fed wire. Doublets and dipoles are ideal for a camping set up, where you might be situated in a base camp for a few days to a week. For just a couple hours of operating, they are more a pain than it's worth. The Hamsticks will also remain a part of the scheme when operating solely from the back of the car. My kind of outings are very temporary in nature. I want to get set up and get in as much operating time as possible.

72 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Hi Larry,

    I'm enjoying reading your posts about operating mobile. I'm a really new ham, I just took my Tech and General exams in May, so these kinds of posts are fun and educational.

    I just picked up my first HF rig, an 857D (not exactly QRP, but I'll probably only be operating it at 5W when I'm mobile!), and got my Buddistick in the mail yesterday. I can't wait to get outside with the radio tonight or tomorrow and see what I can do with the Buddistick. I'm really hoping I can get some reasonable success on 20m, but we'll see. I have the long whip, I hope that will help over the standard whip.


    Seth KJ6HZC

  2. Larry,
    I agree that getting dipoles or doublets up can be a bit of a time consuming process.

    Have you tried inverted vee instead of the dipole arrangement? Only one elevated point (i.e. one slingshot/toss/launcher shot needed) and put the other legs to the ground or any handy object you can tie off and keep the angles and heights about right. With my 20 ft jackite, it is about as fast as setting up my Buddistick and doesn't require as much tuning.

    Kelly K4UPG

  3. Kelly,

    That's how I ended up going one day at Lake George. Set up the NorCal Doublet as an Inverted Vee. I used two tent pegs as anchors and my 20 foot Black Widow crappie pole as a center support. Unfortunately, I didn't work anyone that day. I think it was more lack of signals than a matter of a bad antenna.

    You're right though, Buddistick vs. Inverted Vee - a situation of "six of one and a half dozen of the other".

    Larry W2LJ