Yaesu FT-897DSaturday morning I passed my Amateur Radio Extra Class exam!!  I now have an “all-access” pass to the privileges in my favorite hobby!

I’ve gotta tell you – I used the HamTestOnline website, and it is AWESOME! I purchased my subscription at this year’s Dayton Hamvention, and within two months I’d gone from perpetual No-Code Technician to Extra Class.

Now that I have that license,  it’s definitely time to start saving my pennies so that I can buy my real station.  I’m trying to come up with a direction I’d like to take my involvement in the hobby.  However, because I live in a covenant-controlled neighborhood, large antennae are out of the question.  I think I’d like to restart the 2-meter digital work I did in Detroit, as I think I can put up an inobtrusive 2m vertical antenna without much hassle. However, that doesn’t use my new privileges at all!  So I would like to put together a portable rig that is capable of some DX work.  Something that I can take to field day and they can assign me just about any band…and I’d be able to work SOMETHING.

For my portable system, here’s what I have in mind:

Rig: Yaesu FT-897D

This is one of the newer DC-to-Daylight all-mode rigs that Yaesu has made waves with of late.  From what I can gather, it’s a decent starter base system, and a pretty excellent portable system, which can run on batteries or mains power.

Antenna: Yaesu ATAS-120

This is a automatically-tuned vertical (screwdriver) antenna that I intend to put on top of a 40′ portable pole/tower.  It’s made to go as a system with the FT-897D.  If I had a bit more money, I’d think very hard about a buddipole or some other portable dipole/yagi system.

Of course, there are a bunch of accessories I’m looking for, too…but I’ll save them for another post.

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