When to say "Portable" (follow-up to my "Handheld" post)

I previously had posted about the use of saying “handheld” when you give your callsign on a busy FM satellite.  In short, I think it’s a dumb idea, with few exceptions.

See my post from last year about “handheld” at:

Today I will focus on the over-use of another word: “Portable”

I think that a lot of new hams get on satellites and say their callsign followed by “Portable” because other people are doing it.  If you are standing in your back yard with an Arrow or at the local park, “portable” might seem like a reasonable thing to say.  Heck, if you are taking your XYL to the mall two towns over, you are portable, aren’t you?


Let’s look at this differently for a minute.  To many operators, “portable” gets lost in the proverbial noise. You can say whatever you want.  Heck, I am tempted to say “Ribeye” because it’s my favorite steak.  If you want to say “Howdy Doody,” that’s okay, too except it takes away from precious time on the bird.  Most of the time this “portable” (and “handheld”) nonsense is limited to single-channel FM satellites, a place where time is most precious.

The only reason I believe it is worthwhile to say “portable” is when you are operating outside your home grid. This gives grid-chasers notice that you are essentially “away from home” and perhaps somewhere exotic.  Again, say what you want, but to keep saying “portable” from the backyard is no different than me saying “in the shack” every time I transmit my call letters.

John/K8YSE touches on this on his website at http://www.papays.com/sat/general.html <- Look for the "A Word about signing “PORTABLE” heading.  It’s worth reading.

My advice is to give your callsign clearly and phonetically… BUT timing should be appropriate.  Don’t give your callsign every 3 seconds just because you’re not making a contact.  Let some time pass, maybe 30 seconds, maybe 2 minutes – use some common sense.  It depends on the traffic on the satellite.  If there are a lot of stations on, obviously you don’t need to give your call sign as often.  Take it easy.  COOL IT.  Otherwise, you will look like a lid.  You don’t need to work EVERY station on the pass.

In closing, only use “portable” when it really fits — portable outside your home QTH, preferably outside your home grid/state/city/etc.

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