I started out on HF with an attic 40-20 dipole and my Yaesu 857D all band all mode rig.
It was November of 2016 and I had just earned my General license.
I was hooked...and of course looked forward to the spring of 2017 when I could put up my first outdoor antenna.
When I earned my Amateur Extra license in January of 2017, I began to lust after a portable rig that I could take on hikes and to other locations with either higher elevation (my home is at 400 feet) or some ocean nearby.
After lots of reading and help from 'Elmers' such as Norm NZ5L and fellow OMARC club member Frank AB2ZO I assembled my 'dream team' of parts:
1. A 'slightly used' Yaesu 857D purchased from NZ5L who has been a Ham for over 50 years...he has earned the DXCC several times over and rarely used the rig. I had already become comfortable with the operation and programming of the radio and it is the smallest, lightest all band, all mode rig out there to date. I absolutely love it.
2. A Chameleon Antenna HF Modular Portable Antenna System (CHA MPAS) [Details at: http://chameleonantenna.com/resources/CHA-MPAS-11.1.pdf]
This is really an 'antenna kit' with various 'lego parts' you can put together depending on your location and conditions.
It operates on 160M to 6 M amateur bands (from 1.8 - 54 MHz) with a wide range antenna tuners - I use an LDG Z-100 Plus 100 watt automatic Tuner which is compatible with the Yaesu 857D (It weighs about 9 oz.).
So far I'm able to get SWRs under 1.5 on 80, 40 and 20 meters.
This system is amazing. There is a nice YouTube Video demonstrating it's use at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U_sxreIDAM&t=612s. By the way, this is one very nice Amateur Radio focused channel.
3. A Bioenno Power Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) 12 volt 15 amp hour battery which weighs 4.2 pounds, about 1/3 what a sealed lead-acid type batter would weigh. I've tested it for over 10 hours of operation with a 20 per cent transmit duty cycle and it continues to deliver about 13.1 volts. Priceless in my humble opinion. There have been articles and reviews on this type of battery in QST and on eHamNet. I consider it an equal play on my 'dream team' because I was not going to embark on a 'portable journey' without this newer type of lightweight and reliable battery. (I am a septuagenarian after all.)
Results so far as of September 7, 2017:
Below is a picture of the rig laid out on a picnic table at Minnewaska State Park about 14 miles from our home.
I can get everything into my back pack and an over the shoulder airline travel bag. Also found room for a sandwich (turkey not 'Ham') and some water.
The antenna system includes a 'military whip' style antenna as well as a 60 foot antenna wire. I used the whip on this day.
Spent about 3 hours at 1760’ at Minnewaska State Park about 14 miles from our home.
The portable HF rig worked flawlessly contacts on 20 meters with Oregon, Hungary and Norway and New Haven CT. …heard many more QSOs both sides between Europe and U.S. West Coast…an amazing day.