Operating portable can be a lot of fun. You don't need a massive tower and yagi array to work the world. A simple wire antenna and a small rig is all you really need. My favorite high power rig for portable operating is the Yaesu FT-897D. For a rig in the 100 watt category, it draws fairly low current compared to other rigs like the Yaesu FT-450 and the Icom IC 7000. With less current drain on you battery, you will be able operate a lot longer before the battery goes to a low voltage state where the rig will no longer operate correctly.
I published a product review of the Yaesu FT 897D in the local club's newsletter. Here is the article: FT 897D product review PDF. There is a rig current drain comparison chart in this review.
I found operating at one of the local parks, on top of a mountian, to be a lot of fun. I've used numerous antennas ranging from a simple table top home brew antenna as well as numerous antennas made by Hy Power Antenna Company.
Shown is my FT 897D w/500 hz CW filter. I mostly operate CW but at times, if the band is in good shape, I will operate SSB. When operating portable I will either run 5 or 50 watts. The battery can handle short operating times of 100 watts but that limits the amount of time I can stay on the air. Remember, 50 watts out is only 3 DB down in power from 100 watts. That comes out to only ½ of an S unit less in signal strength. I judge my power level on band conditions.
The day this picture was taken I was using an Off Center Fed antenna (OCF40Q) made by, "Hy Power Antenna Company" . This antenna will cover 6, 10, 20 and 40 meters. It is their low power version that is rated at 250 watts. The Kenwood TH F6A is to the left of the rig and I listen to the local repeater while I’m at the park. I can’t hit the repeater from that location with the HT but the repeater has a 6 meter input. If I want to talk to anybody on the repeater I just put the 897 on 6 meters and with 50 watts to the "OCF40Q" I can easily talk to the repeater.
If there is enough room, I will erect the "OCF80Q" . This Off Center Fed antenna will work on 6, 10, 12, 17, 20, 40 and 80 meters. The overall length of this antenna is 135 feet.
Table Top Vertical Antenna with ground radials:
The photo to the right shows another idea for operating when there are no tie points to erect a wire antenna. This is a home brew table top vertical. The mast is made by Hustler and is the 22 inch long mobile mast. I picked up a B&W high Q coil at a hamfest for a few dollars. I use a short jumper to change bands. With the telescopic whip and a few ground radials I am able to operate from 10 to 40 meters. The antenna can be broken down and carried along with the rest of the equipment. The efficiency is down from a simple dipole but you can work DX with this setup if the band is in favorable condition.The antenna will easily handle up to 100 watts. The performance can be enhanced by adding more ground radials.
If you would like to build the table top vertical, here are the plans to do it: Table Top Vertical PDF