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Messages - STN

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General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 28, 2018, 01:23:11 PM »
Hi Andy
I guess you're in luck. I just published a video on Portable Off Grid Power Communications. Here is the description and links.

If you've been following any of my other  videos  on portable off-grid power,
this video may seem out out of sequence, considering three DIY LiFePO4 builds published, and an extensive amount of other information supporting the off grid ham radio operator. Anyway,  it was time to publish a video which tied everything together. The video is titled, Portable Off Grid Power for Amateur Field Communications.

Currently there are 3 LiFePO4 builds on the channel.
DIY 5Ah A123 26650 build QRP+ 
DIY 10Ah Headway build QRP+
DIY 10Ah Headway build QRO+
There are several more incoming, including one QRO LiFePO4 pack, using 18650 cells. You'll find all of those build videos on the series playlist

Julian oh8stn

General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 15, 2018, 04:27:22 PM »
Looking forward to some real field testing from you Gil.
I'm truly skeptical, but I have an open mind.

General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 15, 2018, 12:52:59 PM »
Hi Gil
I guess what I was really hoping for, was something concrete to support your positions. I mean what is behind the opinion?
here are the points
  • You say you prefer low power current consumption radios like the kx2 and PRC320, but you can't show us how you would charge them in the field, or modify them to be charged while in use. Would you please make a video sometime about off grid portable power in a grid down, showing us how you would keep your radios powered using your chosen ebay solar panel and your choice of charge controller?
  • On the topic of low current consumption, you prefer to carry the RT/PRC320, but would not carry a radio a quarter of the weight and 3.5x the TX power because it has higher current consumption, even when the radio and solar panel are lighter weight than your own choices. Some operators blindly support your low current position (which in principle is a good one), perhaps without knowing if yours in a personal preference, or if there is some hidden preparedness perspective behind the opinion, we can't see yet. So far there are lots of vague comments, but I want to understand from a preparedness perspective, how you reconcile your choices in comms gear and off grid portable power.

These would be extremely popular video topics for the channel,

Julian oh8stn

General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 15, 2018, 09:15:04 AM »
One point which is not accurate in your reply Gil
 My QRO system is not focused on emergency communications. It is 100% self reliance. My skills can be used for organized emergency communications, but the gear is all about survival. We can't look at my radio gear without looking at my pulk sled, or my tipi shelter, or wood stove, axe, or a any of the other items which make up my field station. The field station is my bugout home away from home. It can serve as a temporary shelter, or a warm space to operate when it is -20.
I'm not a "yellow vest", and never will be! :D


Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

When you add power you do quickly add cost. Everything must handle the power, including the antenna, tuner, etc. You need a bigger solar panel, battery, everything. For some applications, I can see how Julian's setup could be useful. I am thinking of more of a community-based emergency system, first responders, etc. His primary kit is still the FT-817nd. Cost can then be taken up by an association or NGO. Not everyone minds cost; more power to those who can afford it, literally, LOL.


General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 15, 2018, 09:00:01 AM »
Actually, it is not a budget breaker.
The last build is designed for powering my entire field station. That's mentioned in the video, and in my reply to Gil. It's a 50A draw battery pack pack :D If you would be happy with 35w TX, any of my other budget diy packs on the channel will work. That was the point of sharing the portable off grid power series By replacing the BMS (or not using it all all and bottom balancing) you're talking about a 80$ battery pack, good for 100Amps for your 100w radio or whatever you would like to power. Maybe I need to do a budget battery build video since it seems, if one hasnt not watched the series of portable power vids, the point of modularity and cost adjustment is lost.

The powerFilm panels are costly, no doubt. However, there are panels which come between the PowerFilm and cheap Chinese in terms of cost. The more portable the panel, the higher the price. Sucks but that is what it is. I keep going back to this point but, I saved and spent on a nice Belgium made rxxxe because what everyone else was using, didn't work in winters up here. It's the same for portable off grid power. I could save money by buying something cheap on ebay, but what good does it do me, if it breaks when I need it most. That's why I am critical of "cost saving" strategy from people who don't do any real field testing. It is all a process and we need to prioritize what is best for us. The PowerFilms were painful but necessary.

The QRPver 10w am is awesome. It actually puts out a little more than 10w without driving the ALC nuts. What I have found is using this amp in combination with mechanical filters in an 817, will get my signal out there far more than I ever expected. The only thing I would add/change to the 10w amp is a heavier gauge power cable, powerpoles, and an on/off switch.

Julian oh8stn

I watched Julians latest DIY batterypack video with full excitement until I calculated the cost of that pack. Also those solarpanels are expensive as ****.
Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

How does that 10W amp perform? Does it have enough punch to get heard in tough propagations?

General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 15, 2018, 08:32:48 AM »
Hi Gil
I actually love green radios, but they can be difficult to carry when one must carry additional gear. There is a CODAN on my horizon, but I won't talk about that yet :)

Olivia and Contesia are fine modes for random contacts or skeds, and their weak signal capabilities are amazing. There are two prepper friendly digital systems being developed/re-developed right now. I'm in the beta test groups with both of them. The first is called FT8Call. It takes the extremely efficient FT8 mode and extends the capabilities for long message format, group messages, ...It is not used on the traditional FT8 frequencies, but is meant to be used on a fixed frequency with a group of users wishing to stay in touch all the time. Participating stations are displayed on a heard list. You can pick one or more station to chat or message with. Your group stays on frequency according to their comms plan. Once stations are on your heard list, you can get a list of station they hear, then route through station you hear to reach stations you don't. I'll do a demo on this in the coming months.

The next is APRS Messenger HF APRS This is another fixed frequency mode using MFSK4, MFSK16, PSK63, PSK250, GMSKx ... It works just like traditional APRS only it does it on HF, and can decode multiple modes at the same time. For group communications, stations beacon at user defined intervals, then get displayed on the heard list of other stations- Once on the heard list, you can click on a station to send a message to them in any of the modes that app supports. If condx are bad or extremely low power are required, use MFSK4. Need fast chat during good condx or local comms, use PSK250 or GMSKX for chat or messaging. The best thing here is it can be used offline without internet, or can be used with the APRS-IS to include internet only stations, or connect groups with a combination of HF/Internet where no RF path exists between them. It integrates with VHF APRS, HF APRS and internet client APRS like APRSDroid. Functionality to beacon HFAPRS over PSK63 is already built into DroidPSK btw. This one is a game changer.

The point of my rambling is, there is no point in using tools designed for random contacts on ham radio. Group messaging sets up a network of stations, alerting you when one or all of the stations are there, or not. I have a station up and running 24/7, allowing others in my group to send messages to me if I am there or not, chat in real-time if I am there, and see my location if I allow then to do so. Your RT320 wth a tablet or laptop and audio interface, would make an excellent HFAPRS setup. We use network systems like this to avoid chasing down a random contact. Olivia and Contestia are great for the log book, and weekly net, or sked with a local station, but not the best way to communicate in an emergency. Having established group communications whether fixed or in the field, makes network group comms, far more reliable.

You should join our fb group Portable Digital & QRP It is all about low power pratical digital field communications. We have a good group of helpful operators there.

I'm kind of sad about the KX2. I wanted one and probably would have purchased one if I could afford to have a radio for fun. For that reason, I am extremely happy with the FT-817ND. I will add the 500hz filter and TCXO to it in the coming weeks. The receiver will never match a KX2, but the KX2 can't be used in minus 20c :D
Could you explain how to charge the internal KX2 battery with a solar panel?

Anyway, you have to do what you love to do sometimes :)
Nothing wrong with the kits but, ...

I would very much enjoy seeing you out in the field again. The mountain camping video was epic!

Julian oh8stn


General Discussion / Re: Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:43:05 PM »
Hi Gil
The "too high" position is a matter of perspective. I deploy each weekend regardless of wx, either qrp or qro- A solar panel is always part of the system. It is the only way to augment the current draw of our rigs. On a good day(8 months out of the year), I walk out of the field with a full battery! It doesn't have to be PowerFilm. I just thought it would be a smart investment. Remember, a rig (any rig) without a way to field charge it, becomes a boat anchor when batteries are dead.

I don't understand carrying a green radio 4x the weight of my 817 or 891, but has 0.18A current draw, when I can carry a lighter setup with solar panel and less weight. I also do not understand the KX2. Although small, it cannot be charged/discharged simultaneously while in the field.

Here are my two kits
Yaesu FT-817ND Primary GoKit
- FT-817ND
- 10w amp
- Powerfilm FM16-1200 1-2A Panel
- Genasun GV-5 mppt charge controller
- DIY 5Ah LiFePO4 pack with BMS

Yaesu FT-891 Field Station GoKit
- FT-891
- PowerFilm 120w 7.2A panel
- Genasun GV-10 mppt charge controller
- DIY 10Ah LiFePO4 with BMS

Both kits use a small 12v DC laptop running:
(All of these apps are well-suited for group communications on HF)
- APRS Messenger
- FSQCall
- FT8Call
- FLDigi

Regarding the battery question. Here is a better answer to your question.
The LiFePO4 chemistry curve is called "the hockey stick curve". It basically flat until nearly full discharge, then it drops like a rock. For the most part, it is like having two SLABS for one LiFePO4 pack of the same capacity. I know that's hard to get ones head around, which is why I made the capacity test video.

Thanks for the kindness. I am creating an operating methodology for various scenarios, "not a QRO system". Been a qrp operator for 19 years. Having a qro radio is not going to change that. ;)

I'm happy to support you through Patreon unless you plan on building another kit.
Would love to teach you some digital mode ops.

Julian oh8stn

General Discussion / Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 13, 2018, 01:25:53 PM »
Hello Operators
Topic of the day is the Yaesu FT-891. Many field radio operators have turned away from the Yaesu FT-891, because of the specs regarding current draw on RX, published on the Yaesu website. Since I have owned the Yaesu FT-857, and 897 in past years, the current specs for the 891, seemed somewhat off! In fact, I wondered if Yaesu simply published "worst case" numbers on the site, without bothering to publish a range of numbers which would make more sense to potential buyers. So, in this video we'll be measuring the current draw of the Yaesu FT-891 at RX, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 Watts.

I've had many requests on the channel for such a video. Operators would like to compare current consumption to other popular rigs like the Yaesu FT-857D, Icom 7200, Icom 7300, as well as understanding how hungry this radio is when deployed in the field. Operators would also like to know why someone would choose a rig with a 1A RX current draw. Spoiler Alert! The truth is, we need to find the balance between QRP/Ultralight amateur radio, and QRO/when your life depends on getting the message out.

The truth is, the FT-891 weighs in slightly more than the FT-817ND with internal batteries. The LiFePO4 batteries I use can work with my 817 or 891. The trick to deploying a rig having such a current draw, is deploying with a lightweight solar panel and charge controller. I know Gil and I disagree on this topic but cheap is never going to be lightweight, and eventually, when your life depends on it, we all wish we would have purchased a thin-film flexible solar panel. No real survival minded person seriously thinks the ebay special from China with a built-in voltage regulator will do the job, but it is cheap! So I deploy both the 817 with a 20w thin film panel, and the 891 with a 120w thin film panel. The 120w panel runs my entire field station btw.

The following link is to my Yaesu FT-891 Current draw test.

This link is a playlist (which completely contradicts much of the gospel found here) on off grid solar and battery power for field communications.
Portable off grid power for amateur radio. amateur radio
Don't let the titles fool you. Everything I do is about extended field communications in a grid down scenario- The vanilla titles and tags help spread the word to a wider audience.

I do encourage everyone to get off the couch, get out in the field, and test their gear to near failure. Anybody can make videos, blogs or write forum posts. At the end of the day, it is field experience which will save your life.

Julian oh8stn

Batteries & Solar / Re: Man Portable Off-Grid Power for Amateur Radio
« on: October 14, 2017, 11:46:24 PM »
Here's the playlist for the portable power for ham radii series.
There's also another battery build incoming based on A123 26650 LiFePO4 cells. It's a 5Ah 4S2P protected pack with simultaneous charge and discharge in the field.

I have really started to move away from this idea of counting on using what I can find in the field (eg 18650 batteries) versus  building my gear the best way that I can in the first place. Puerto Rico and the island country of Dominiqu are perfect examples of a real preparedness or survival event. During the first week of the event, people were reaching out to ham radio operators through social media for news and information into and from the region. The biggest problems in Puerto Rico were ham radio operators lost their fixed operating locations, were forced to evacuate, had no grid power, and were lacking portable field renewable power sources. Where are we going to find fresh 18650 batteries, when the entire region is scrounging for them!?
Now I focus on building my knowledge and skills on portable power, while simultaneously building my own reliable gear. This last part was just thinking out loud.


Tactical Corner / Re: All Weather Shelter for Field Communications
« on: August 08, 2017, 03:31:08 AM »
I like the combat shelter's too, they just don't work in Scandinavia during winter.
I enjoyed that second video you woke up showing the shelter and we hear the sound of a sheep in the background. So now we know how you stayed warm over the cold Pyrenees night 😃

Tactical Corner / Re: All Weather Shelter for Field Communications
« on: August 08, 2017, 12:20:19 AM »
I used to go backpacking in the New England states in winter.  The one thing I learned, and it seems to be a universal rule for those that winter camp, is either get the proper gear or don't do it.  Without an appropriate tent, sleeping bag, pad/mattress, boots, clothes.... it's at best miserable and risky. 

That TipiTent looks interesting, but not having a floor is disqualifier for me.  Between bugs and critters having access when not on snow, and that a high wind could get under the edges.  Ohhh, but to have all that room and a wood stove would be luxury!

Totally agree!
My cold weather sleep gear is Finnish Army winter kit. The tipi has a floor and inner tent,  but they are not shown in that photo. I figure a 2.9 kilos for the whole system plus the stove make it a winner. Have to remember my conditions up here at 65 degrees north are a little different than New England, although we don't have very many nor'easters up here, winter temp can kill you.

General Discussion / Portable Solar Powered GoKit for Ham Radio
« on: August 02, 2017, 12:56:13 AM »
Hello Operators.
Over the past few weeks I've published several articles entitled "Man Portable Off-grid Power for Amateur Radio", on This video is the result of that research & field testing. In this video, I'll breakdown each module & component of my Portable Solar Powered GoKit for Ham Radio. Later on I'll do individual build/review videos for each component.
The  kit follows a "Lego block" approach, and is designed to be modular. The kit is based on three unique  modules:
- Power & DC distribution
- Radio & Computing
- Antennas & Support

The entire kit weighs between 7-10 kg depending on the options chosen (including 1L water and rucksack) .
You can find links to the original blog posts, research, field testing, and the usual plethora of full HD images, in the video description, or by visiting the companion blog post at
de oh8stn

Tactical Corner / All Weather Shelter for Field Communications
« on: August 02, 2017, 12:34:56 AM »
Hello Operators.
Today we're talking about field stations, or actually the shelters we use when operating man portable or as portable field stations. Last April 2017 I participated in the radar challenge. I suffered some pretty awful conditions with snow, freezing rain, frostbite. After that, I began to realized it was time to reconcile my all-weather operating conditions.
This article discusses an all-weather shelter for amateur field communications. It shows you what I'm using now, and what I'm upgrading to in the near future.
If you've also been thinking about shelters or already have a solution, please tell me about it in the comments.
de oh8stn

Batteries & Solar / Re: Man Portable Off-Grid Power for Amateur Radio
« on: June 29, 2017, 11:21:18 PM »
Thanks SCARRY.
Yeah we all need to justify the costs find the balance for our needs.
Looking forward to your show & tell.

Batteries & Solar / Re: Man Portable Off-Grid Power for Amateur Radio
« on: June 28, 2017, 01:48:27 AM »
Thanks Gil.
Honestly, I've had so many different solar panels, and wasted so much money, that I finally just wanted to get the real deal. The PowerFilm is lightweight, flexible, redundant, and proven in the field. (I'm not getting paid to say that @VBM) Everything else is compared against the PowerFilm. Just like those baofeng radios, I'm not going to bet my life, on something that looks "Tactical", but is too heavy, too rigid, has no spare parts availability, and will fail during the first serious rain, sleet or snow storm. 😉
To be fair, please send me a link to that 50 watt solar panel. I'll order one for the channel at some point and compare it against the PowerFilm.  There should always be a budget option as long as we realize the budget option is not necessarily a one-to-one comparison.

The Genasun  controllers are amazing. I will order a second one with higher amperage rating, for the 10Ah battery pack I'm working on. I've had good luck with the Morningstar 10L & 6L (after mod) charge controllers also, but they only work with lead acid. My backup system uses the 6L, and the hamshack runs off of a 10L.

Will you ever build a new boat Gil?
Very informative Julian, thank you!

Do you think the 20W PowerFilm is worth the $220 when I can get a 50W foldable panel for $150? Is quality that much better?

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