I started to get interested in QRP and EMCOM (emergency communications) after hurricane Katrina 2005 and the Haiti 2010 earthquake.
My humble opinion is to maximize fun and not kill yourself in setting up an antenna. More fun=simple antenna=so so performance. I am in favor of a base load antenna type of antenna. Weight is also a factor to me. I am sure a simple longwire can out perform any FT 817 baseload antenna but you need something to string it up to. I live in a city and limited to mobile/park operation. Ham radio in public parks and demonstrations in classrooms won't allow me to string up a wire antenna. I will limit my experiences and comments to a park picnic bench near my house. The middle picture is a Watson ATX-WBN 80 to 6m, 25 watts approx length is 168 cm/66 inches.The BNC connector makes it wobbly Let me list a few antennas I have accumulated so I can compare them in the future. Comet UHV6 , Maldol HMC6, Blue Star P1, Comet CHA 721, Spider Antenna. and a portable MFJ wire dipole.
Since I had the original LDG QRP automatic antenna tuner, predecessor to the Z11 and the Z 817, I thought I would just make it a base for my FT817. I used straps to hold the radio to the tuner/base. My thinking was to make it easy just to grab the radio when I was using it for AO51 satellite qso's. The QRP tuner is also linked with the radio with the W4RT One Touch Tune. I disconnected the internal tune button connections and connected the OTT to the tune button on the front of the antenna tuner. Its easy to undo what I did. If you have a LDG Z11 its a wonderful accessory. The newer Z817 tuner comes with a connector for the 817. When I was searching though the FT-817 Yahoo Groups I saw that KG0WX had already come up with almost same type of stand for his 817. ICOM's QRP solution is more interesting. They had a special made backpack so you could remote the control panel on your belt, flip the radio upside down, and screw in an antenna so it would stick straight up out of the backpack. All you had to was to string out a counterpoise behind you. I noticed in the FT-817 Yahoo groups was a posting about if Yaesu developed the "next" FT818 wish list. I though some of the wishes were included in the IC 703+. Few interesting ones, better battery door, tilt bail, built in tnc pcb like Alinco has, display port for all us old blind men, all BNC connectors front and back, speech processor, latch relay for antenna switching, small section for mods. Sigh if they did address those requests I would go broke buying the new model.
The one and only NUE PSK Digital modem. What a great device. Sure hope it won't get replaced by an Ipod I touch or I Phone, my wife won't let me have one of those. Since I have the FT 817 I was lucky to pickup one of these. I found the recommended Dauphin keyboard also but as you know most PS2 key boards work great but are large. I made some foldable arms to hold the NUE up. You just unscrew the white thumb screws and it tilts over out of the way for storage. Also you can use them as stand legs.
QRP Solar Panels
This is a 6800ma LI ION 12v battery. I think its around $22 US. Comes with a short cable and a wall charger. Its small and light. The other one is a 2000ma nimh AA battery pack. I added a lighter socket and power connector. The battery case got bigger and bigger as I kept adding stuff to the battery. DOH.
There are three accessories in the picture. One is a USB light you get at the trade show booths. I think its handy if you set the radio displays to go out. Next is a the cigarette socket adapter. I use the lighter plug for my QRP radios instead of the anderson power poles. I think its more adaptable in emergencies. This plug adapter has a USB port / 5v built in for my light. Last is the digital cigarette plug volt meter. the next picture is another cigarette plug extension but it has a built in voltage level led's.
Questions or comments? Drop me a line. KA6PUW@ARRL.NET