I never had any intention to invest in ham radio outside of the truck, but that changed once I realized how much time I’ve spent idling in the driveway. I decided to build a portable setup that could be moved from house to RV with me, and even used outside. A lot of people seem to love, and a lot of people seem to hate the Icom IC-7100 radio, but it is the only radio on the market that meets all of my requirements for this project, so I decided to give it a chance. I’ve been told that it has display issues and that parts can be hard to find, but ultimately I decided to take the chance based on reviews I read online and the availability of an extended warranty from Giga-Parts (which I didn’t buy, but am thinking about). The reason this radio fits my requirements so nicely is that it is a HF/VHF/UHF rig in one, which is rare in itself, but allows for split operation with only a single RJ45 cable between the head and base. I can mount the base, antenna tuner, and power supply in a box and use a single 50′ shielded cable to access all bands.
The antenna I chose is designed for portable operation, and is perfect for camping. The Alpha Antenna kit covers 80m-6m and they have a jaw mount clamp to add an additional VHF/UHF antenna. With the heavy duty tripod upgrade it will weigh in at around 15lb and fit into a cylindrical bag just over 3′ long. Extended it can be used as a 21′ (ish) vertical antenna or have elements configured a few different ways for other types. They offer an element upgrade to hit 160m that I did not buy. I bought two 50′ RG58 cables to run from the HF and the VHF/UHF antennas back to the radio. Even though it claims not to require a tuner, I’m going to run a LDG IT-100 with it to ensure safe operation on all bands.
The box design is heavily based off of this idea, but for my needs will house an internal AC to DC power supply since between an extension cord, antenna cables, and the head unit cable, I can sit 100′ away from electric or the antenna. Plenty far for use in the home or RV. In the field it can run off of the RV’s inverter, generator, shore power, or my truck’s inverter, a portable generator, or a solar box I’ll eventually build. Instead of a toolbox, I’ll be mounting it all in a MCM box.