HAM Radio 101

Going on Vacation? Great Options for Bringing Ham Radio Along for the Trip (Part 1)

For many hams, taking a summer vacation without bringing ham radio gear along isn’t much of a vacation at all. If you’re planning on making some casual QSOs far from the shack—or perhaps embarking on a mini-DXpedition—you’ve come to the right place. OnAllBands will be highlighting a few items that are popular with operators who like to mix getting away from it all with getting on the air.

Of course, what gear you’ll need to operate will depend on what kind of vacation you have planned. Will you be sipping sparkling water from a champagne flute on the veranda of your tropical bungalow while operating vacation style or roughing it in the deep woods with a stream-water-filled canteen and some deer jerky? Both sound like fun to us, but you’ll want to be fully prepared either way.

If your mind is set on having out-of-the-shack experiences in the days ahead, read this excellent article from OnAllBands blogger Mark, K8MSH, “Ham Radio to Go, Portable Hamming.” It’s full of ideas for what to pack whether you’re heading to a cabin on the lake, a weekend at Uncle Joe’s, hiking trails, or a hotel room.

For our series on vacation-friendly gear, we’ll be kicking it off with the TransWorld Antenna, which, in the words of one satisfied DX Engineering customer, “yields far greater results than its diminutive size would suggest.” This comment came after making phone QSOs with stations in Alaska, Alberta, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, California, Moscow, Panama, Spain, Texas, and Venezuela over a week of operation on 20 meters using 100 watts.

HF Portable TransWorld Antennas

These compact, high-performing, and easily portable antenna systems were made for vacations—no matter where you set down temporary roots. DX Engineering has been manufacturing these unique antennas since 2016 when it purchased TW Antennas, ensuring that these small but durable troopers would keep providing hams with DX capabilities they could take just about anywhere. The QSL card below from the 2014 VK9X/K7Co DXpedition shows a TW Antenna that was deployed on Christmas Island.

Planning on roaming no farther than your backyard this summer? TW Antennas (8.25 feet tall, 5 feet wide) are also a great choice for “staycations” and permanent installations. Check out the video below on how easy TW antennas are to set up:


The stealthy TW Antenna is a basic structure consisting of top, bottom, and tee sections with an interchangeable array box center section that can be purchased separately for the bands you want. While there are multiple combinations, DX Engineering makes it simple by offering these packages:

  • 5-Band Explorer: Enjoy excellent 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meter coverage with manual switchable band box. It includes a portable Quadrastand portable base, basic antenna structure, and travel bag.
  • 5-Band Adventurer: Similar to the 5-Band Explorer with the addition of a remote band-switching console and 65.5-foot control cable. The travel bag is available separately.
  • Band-Specific Solo Explorer: This monoband system gives you an impressive presence on your choice of 80, 40, and 30 meters. Packages include basic antenna structure, Quadrastand, and band box.
  • 5-Band Globetrotter: Like the 5-Band Adventurer (20-10M), this package comes with remote band-switching console and 65.5-foot control cable. Instead of the Quadrastand, it includes a permanent antenna mounting post (DXE-TW-PMP) for an effective home station HF setup without having to deal with massive antennas.

Visit DXEngineering.com for all TransWorld Antenna packages and accessories, along with other vacation-ready items you’ll want to consider:

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