In mid 2002 I was planning to spend my holidays in EA7 for some weeks, and although I didn't plan to be seriusly QRV on radio, I wanted to carry with me some kind of VHF-SSB station that allowed me to make some QSOs in case I had some time. My requirements for this station were:
It should operate on 144 MHz SSB/CW with enough power to make long distance QSOs
It should use some kind of directional antenna providing some extra gain.
Everthing (even antenna & mast) should fit into a relatively small case so that it could be easily moved together with the baggage
I should be able to set up quickly the station and antenna allowing eventual operations.
I should be able to use it both from the car and from the room of the hotel.
And this was the result !.. The VIPS (VHF Integrated Portable Station)
An unexpensive alumium case of 49x37x16.5 cm. (used typically by electricians) was selected. The weight of the case with the complete station, antenna and masts inside is only 12 Kg. so it can be easily carried.
The main compartiment with the rig (IC-202), 100 W. amplifier, 25 A power supply, CW keyer, cables, etc. And the cover separator with the basic tools just in case they are needed.
And in the cover compartiment the 4 element Yagi antenna, the five 50 cm. aluminum tubes used as mast (in fact they are from a tent mast) and the 4 meters of RG-223U (same diameter than RG-58 but with lower losses)
The old but great IC-202, the Mirage B-310-G (capable of giving over 100W when driven with the 2.5W of the IC-202), The Telecom SPS-4128A 12V/25A Switch power supply and the Heathkit uMatic keyer.
Here the 4 element "Arrow"antenna. Notice the boom split in 3 parts and the elements made using aluminum arrows (from where it takes its name). Both the boom sections and the elements are mounted without the need of any tool, just with your bare hands and in less than two minutes. Definitively an excellent antenna for improvised operations.
The Arrow antenna ready. It handles up to 150 W, the boom is only 1.2 m long but its gain and directivity is noticiable for such small Yagi.
A detail of the mount bracket. Again no tools are required to fix the antenna to the mast.
And finally the VIPS on the air...here at 2200 m. high in Sierra Nevada, EA6VQ/7 (IM87HC). In 15 minutes the station was ready to start making QSOs.
And these are some of the QSOs over 500 km. achieved via tropo with this small station:
From JM19LM: IF9/IK1RGM (JM67DW / 828 km), IT9GVO (JM68MB / 888 km), I3EME/IT9 (JM68MA / 889 km), IW9DZV (JM67KR / 883 km), TK/IW2EGJ/P (JN41KN / 549 km), IK?XO (JN52WA / 800 km)
Fom JM19GQ: EE2MAF (IN82FQ / 608 km), EB1ILV/P (IN81MW / 526 km), ED4GER (IM79HL / 678 km), EA2BLK/P (IN82ST / 543 km), F5KPO/P (JN24PE / 549 km)
From IM87HC: EE2MAF (IN82FQ / 621 km), EA2URE (IN91CP / 523 km)
From JM19QS: S55AW (JN75DS / 1111 km), 9H1GB (JM75FU / 1065 Km), 9H1AW (JM75EX / 1052 km), I4YNO (JN54KP / 821 km), IQ5AE/5 (JN54JD / 782 km), IK5FTQ (JN53LW / 780 km), IK5AMB/5 (JN54FF / 766 km), IK?XO (JN52WA / 756 km), I5BLH/5 (JN53LK / 750 km), IZ1EVF/1 (JN44IX / 726 km), I5IAR (JN53EM / 715 km), I5JRR (JN53DN / 712 km), I1XOI (JN44FF / 649 km), F6KHS/P (JN?EV / 621 km), F5VHX (JN?FT / 609 km), IZ1ESM/1 (JN43BW / 607 km), IK2PCU/1 (JN33XX / 602 km), F1ULK (JN14FX / 584 km), EA2AAZ/P (IN93CC / 568 km), EA1DVY/P (IN82RC / 560 km), IS?IK5QLO (JM49SC / 534 km), ISO/IK6DZH (JN4?O / 532 km), EA2URE (IN93IA / 531 km), F?JL/P (JN24VD / 526 km), F4AME/P (JN24VC / 521 km), IS?IK?UP (JN41OG / 520 km), TK/F6APE (JN42HF / 518 km), F5KPO/P (JN24PE / 516 km)
(You can also see pictures of other portable operations)