Plato and the art of HF portability

(Apologies to Mr. Pirsig…)

Portability is becoming more & more popular in HF today and I don’t mean in the sense of the KX1, Micro-Mountaineer, SST and other CW-only transceivers of yore.

Portable operation on HF in a variety of modes is now an established genre of ham radio rather than the fad it at one time may have seemed and its adherents have an increasingly wide choice of radios and modes with which to operate.

In a case of perfect timing, the trend in technology allowing such portability coincides with the growing housing restrictions regarding external antennas, thus providing incentive for such operation.

Necessity really is the mother of invention, as Plato said in 400 BC.

From military surplus rigs to Elecraft’s upcoming transceiver to this one I hadn’t seen before, manufacturers are answering the call, each in their own way, as to what constitutes portability and how to address it commercially.

Assisting the trend greatly are newer and better battery technologies.

Portable operation used to be the exclusive realm of CW operators who, with QRP levels, could (and do) work the world.

But with LiPo, Li-Ion, LiFePO4 and even newer technologies that were once driven only by the cellular/laptop markets and now by the automobile industry, there is no longer a need to prefer CW since portability need no longer be synonymous with QRP.

Completing the package are the incentives offered by SOTA, IOTA and the camaraderie of groups like HFPack.

For many, portable operation is not a necessity but a choice. My own activity in the field started as the former and ended in the latter as I discovered the fun of hanging a wire in a tree and chatting with a distant station an ocean away.

Along the way, I met and teamed up with others interested in the same aspect of the hobby – some of whom are written about within the pages at the previous link – and had a great time.

In fact, as much as I like DXing, I have to say that the most enjoyment I’ve had in 33 years in this hobby has been due to the the people and activities in the outdoor aspect of ham radio.

I’m glad to see it going mainstream.

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