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Sub Kilo SOTA Station

Started with the sub 600G SOTA Station and keep adding equipment.


Current Hardware;

Of course that is not the entire kit you have to carry. Additional equipment for safety;

  • GPS etrax 30 – 165g
  • Camera 300g
  • VX8r – 280g
  • SPOT device – 120g
  • First Aid – 600g
  • Bivvy Bag – 382g

The pack with ready to go including 2.5L of water, apples, jacket and hat comes in at  6.5Kg

Kenwood TS850S

 Maintaining the Kenwood TS850SAT.


This device supports

  • Internal ATU
  • CW memorys
  • Dual VFO
  • Internal keyer
  • CAT interface. ( Search ebay for sjgwilliam)


Type: Amateur HF transceiver
Frequency range: TX: 10-160 m + WARC RX: 0.1-30 MHz
RF Power output: Max 100 W
Voltage: 13.8 VDC
Current drain: RX: ? A TX: 20.5 A
Impedance: 50 ohms, SO-239
Dimensions (W*H*D): 330*120*334 mm
Weight: 11 Kg
Manufactured: 19xx-19xx (Discontinued)
Other: 100 memories New price 1992 in Sweden: 18894:- SEK


The main issues appear to be relate to capacitors failing.The CAR unit has signs of the capacitors leaking.

Could have been much worse.  The dialectic has not spread among the pins of the 6331’s.

Capacitor Kits –

The ATU requires a drop of oil as can hear it operating.

02042015 – CAR Unit repair.

The replacement capacitor kit arrived from Germany. I had not addressed straight away as big days at work so waited until Easter.

There were several activations planned for Friday and  a 80m QRP CW hour contest Easter Saturday night.

OK this device is not QRP. I can adjust the power down and having a good run with CW. We are out Saturday so decided to address Thursday night.

Watched a couple of uTube videos of others completing this repair then got the device on the kitchen table and set about replacing the capacitors.


View before cleaning up. You can see the leaked dialectic .

Removed the capacitors. Several came off as soon as I touched them. This was not a good sign, obviously there was was more damage then expected. Cleaned the dialetic with a fibreglass pen then washed with Isopropyl alcohol. This was a slow process as being careful not to damage the tracks. In the end there was only one track that was damaged and missing.


After removing caps and cleaning. Below is the damaged track


The replacement caps had longer leads then the original devices so able to bridge the span with no issues.

Useing solder paster I place a small dot on each track, positioned the caps then soldered with the fine pencil topped soldering iron. Replacing the caps took little time and after inspecting the results put the unit back in the radio.

Worked first time and as it was thursday night went looking for the SOTA CW net and found Tony VK3CAT. 

All good. 

Kenwood TS850 CAT Interface

Yesterday I got a FTDI (UART to USB) CAT interface. Delivered from UK.

Cable 001

This is a USB operation utilising the common FTDI Chipset. Search ebay for sjgwfilliam or goto Kenwood Interface Shop.

Little bit to do to get the device to work on the Mac as Apple have a driver in 10.x which you need to disable and install the genuine FTDI drivers.

Disable the AppleUSBFTDI.kext extension;

  • sudo mv /System/Library/Extensions/IOUSBFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleUSBFTDI.kext AppleUSBFTDI.disabled

Then downloaded and installed the Mac OX 64 bit FTDI Drivers;

Follow the installation directions.

Finally reboot.

Verify the device is detected and driver loaded;

Config 003

Config 001

The Apple drive has been removed and the FTDI drives added,so now configure the application.

I’m using MacLoggerDX (5.59b4) on MacOS:10.10. One panel to setup. Verify the device name;

Config 002

The RS232 settings for the Kenwood are 4800 Baud, 1 Stop bit and no DTR or RTS. Here are working settings;


Companied with having SOTAWatch in the the DX Cluster list the radio will now autotune to the spots and have the activators details up. Not sure if that’s the activators pet dog or sheep.

MaxLoggerDX 001

Too easy….


I’ve added a ADIF to CSV tool to ParksnPeaks-


Another tool form the MAC OS is available from


Simply highlight the entries in MacLoggerDX, export as ADF then drag the file into the icon and a single file suitable for import into the SOTA Database process is created.

Kenwood TS120V

Picked up a second hand Kenwood TS120V.

I have a soft spot for these little radios. Previously owned one which I regret selling.

Was able to pick this one up for a $120. Full power output. Receiver great. She is a bit rough.

Need to address;

  • Cosmetic
    • front panel
    • surface rust
  • Logical
    • PLL Unlock, 15 meters only (Dots on display)
      • internal clean
      • Re solder joints
      • Realign
Taking the top off has revealed a straight but dirty radio.
Bit to do here…



Real QRP action !



Sensitivity:0.25 uV (10 dB S/N)

Type: Amateur HF transceiver
Frequency range: 10-80 m
Mode: SSB/CW
RF Power output: Max 10 W
Selectivity: SSB: 2.4 KHz (-6 dB), 4.4 KHz (-60 dB)
CW: 500 Hz (-6 dB), 1.8 KHz (-60 dB)
Image rejection: N/A
Voltage: 12-16 VDC
Current drain: RX: 2 A
TX: 5 A
Impedance: 50 ohms, SO-239
Dimensions (W*H*D): 241*94*235mm
Weight: 4.9Kg
Manufactured: Japan, 1978-19xx (Discontinued)
Other: Vox, NB, RIT, Digital readout

Preparing the Garmin for use

Garmin eTrex 30

eTrex® 30

Weight – 141.7g with 2 AA batteries for 25hrs use.

Replaced the Garmin eTrex Legend

IMG 0307

Weight – 150g with 2 AA batteries for 18hrs use.


Basic Configuration

  • Datum – GDA 94
  • Position UTM UPS
  • Units – Metric

To configure BaseCamp with summits download GPX file from ParksnPeaks then import. 

Tracks V’s Routes

I have had issues in the past where a route defined at home is shown as a straight line in the bush. This is despite keeping the device FW current and using licences Garmin maps. To prevent this happening have decided to define proposed routes then convert to tracks for use. This device has a 2G SD card in it so storage not a issue.

  • Routes are where you are planning to go
  • Tracks are about where you have been
  • Routes typically use straight-line, “as the crow flies” navigation; tracks more accurately reflect the shape of the trail, with all its twists and turns

A ROUTE follows the network of the activated map. A TRACK defines your path. Read more about Tracks V Routes here.

Tracks are recorded waypoints (coordinates) after a certain distance or time, usually distance. Depending on memory you can record an unlimited number of points. Tracks are not as efficient as routes for storage but they don’t require a map and roads to function. Routes can be as simple as a start and end point. BaseCamp and the GPS can use map information to calculate a route. When you convert a track to a route, BC inserts enough waypoints onto the track such that hopefully when the route is calculated through the inserted waypoints you get a route that follows the tracks. If there is no road or trail to follow on the map then you will get a straight line. Manually insert waypoints when no tracks are available.


  1. Create Track in Basecamp.
  2. Modify points as required
  3. Convert to Route
  4. Send to GPS

MTR v2 Completed

Finished the build of MTR but was not convinced the device is working optimally. I aligned manually by the manual without access to a real cro or frequency counter.

David VK3IL has these tools and has updated the firmware to addresses a minor bug with stepping through the band and expanded the bands to match Australian conditions.

Jumped at a opportunity to use the correct equipment to align the MTR and update the firmware.


David V3IL  with the super specs and Glen VK3YY supervising.

After a short period involving probing measuring and adjusting the conclusion was 4W out at for 12V 8W in so 50% efficient. Both David and Glens devices were able to get 5W out. This must come down to the winding of the toroids. Combined with the addition of the capacitor to increase the audio gain the MTR burst into activity. 

Very happy with the outcome. Finally got out 24th August 2014.See below for MTR in action in the Aussie bush,