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Operating Portable QRO

Richard Schmidt (K7NSW) on January 22, 2018
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I like to operate 100 watts battery power for ARRL Field Day and other portable outings I take such as operating from a rare county for County Hunters. For power I bought two Wal-Mart Ever-Start deep cycle power model 29 DC lead acid batteries each with a 114 amp/hour rating. I parallel the batteries and attach them to the latest version of an N8XJK Boost Regulator rated at 25 amps/30 amps peak. This device contains a switching power supply. As the battery voltage drops the unit keeps the supply to my transceiver constant at 14 volts. This continues until the battery voltage drops to 10 volts. Then the Booster Regulator shuts down to protect the batteries and I am QRT unless I switch to my generator.

I use a Kenwood TS-590SG transceiver on SSB or CW. My antenna is an MFJ G5RV for 80 - 10 meters up 30 feet on a guyed portable pole. I operate with a headset with boom mike all triggered by a foot switch. Thus my hands are free to log or whatever.

Make no mistake - the batteries are very HEAVY! This is not a back-pack operation. I operate out of my 18-foot trailer pulled by my Ford F-150 truck. If I want to chase SOTA there needs to be a road all the way to the top! So I am not your usual QRP guy.

Am I having fun? YOU BET I AM! I do this because I love the outdoors and want to stay out there operating as long as I can. ON 2017 Field Day I operated throughout the night on 75 meters SSB. My battery output voltage into the Boost Regulator started out at 12.5 volts and did not drop below 12.2 volts. So I have STAYING POWER. I also carry a suitcase-type Honda 2 KW generator in case I need it for my radios or my microwave oven in my trailer. You do not have to be uncomfortable when operating portable.

I live in SW Arizona and typically go portable out into the Sonoran Desert. Nothing out there but me, a few range cows, all kinds of wild life and an incredible night sky.

Member Comments:
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Operating Portable QRO Reply
by K7NSW on November 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
OUCH! Error in my article. I operate CW and SSB - not CCW. Sorry about that.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by SWMAN on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
COOL !
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by W0WCA on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Like your style - operating and the telling of it!
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by AC7CW on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Best shack I ever had was a trailer.
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KG0SH on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Richard, I share your enthusiasm on portable QRO! I've run a beam, 500W amp, rotor, etc., all from the back of my truck off batteries. Here in Colorado, one can drive to the top of many 10,000 foot mountain passes. You tend to get confused with aeronautical mobile on the bands!

One field day running only about 20W into a screwdriver vertical on 80m on one of my favorite peaks, I kept getting reports that I has the strongest signal on the band! Antenna height does matter...

73,
Bruce KG0SH
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by LB1LF on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
When in university, I spent more time at the students' radio club (LA1K) than I did attending lectures.

Anyway, we tended to get a bit carried away during Field Day; we usually brought a 3el fullsize 20m beam, a 12m/37ft mast and a legal limit PA into the boonies.

My fondest FD memory is doing S&P on 20 and having a DX operator reply to my 'Lima Alfa One Kilo - stroke portable' with a 'Portable? The h*** you are!!!'

Made my day.
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by K7ZOV on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
JUST SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
.......
QRP TO QRO COMPARISON MADE SIMPLE


You have to QUADRUPLE (X4) your signal to DOUBLE your signal strength at the receiver end. Likewise, if you drop your power by one-fourth, your received signal strength will be one-half less, or 1 S-unit.

Suppose you are working a station running 100W and he is S8. If he drops his power to 1/4th, or 25W, his signal strength should drop about 1 S-unit, or to S7.If he drops another 1/4th, to about 6W, he should drop another S unit, or to about S6.

Therefore, the difference between 100W and 5W QRP is about 2 S-units. Big deal. Dropping to 1W is about another S-unit, then to 250mW another S-unit, etc. OK, now you're getting down into the S4 noise level on 40M. Now you're hoping the guy on the other end has only a S3 noise level on his end.

Bottom line, is it possible to work most station anywhere in the world with 5 or 10 watts SSB or 5 watts or less CW or digital reliably…. YES!

My personal favorite QRO power is 50 watts. Half the current needed and after asking literally hundreds of hams what the difference was between 100 watts and 50 watts and being told, none, I will go with 50 watts before draining my battery with 100 watts. That all said 5 and 10 watts and breaking a pile up is not very hard to do. I am NOT against QRO in the field. I just feel that it is not needed. I will put my KX2 with 10 watts or my new QRO rig (IC-7300 in Emergency mode) with the same antenna against any 100 watt QRO station any day and I am 100% sure I will have a sold QSO...

2 cents worth...
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by N5WMQ on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I have to agree QRO is the way to go. I got so tired last year last year of seeing a spot for a park station and tuning to his frequency and hearing nothing. QRP and a loop or buddypole don't make it all the time. A lot of the WWFF operators are the same this year. If you are going to operate from a park or wild life area use a 100 watts and a resonant vertical or dipole give more people a chance to hear you. David N5WMQ
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by WA7SGS on January 22, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Settimg up on FD 2016 using a Kenwood TS-50 with tuner at 50W feeding into an Alpha EZ Military with all accessory wires and doing so in a known "radio hole" showed this collection of gear would get the job done. Power was provided by Aspect Solar's 300 model with one being used while a trio of panels charged the second unit.

This is a heavier larger setup than your typical QRP station but it was assembled for use in emcomm as opposed to SOTA, National Parks On The Air and so on.

Rick
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by AK4YH on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Any kind of operating outside is awesome, but I would qualify this as operating "transportable," not portable.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by N8FVJ on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Better than refilling gasoline in a generator all day.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KB6QXM on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
What I want to see is people that have the means to have a large enough generator to the field day site to be running full legal limit for field day, if needed With how poorly the bands have been lately, I think this has become essential.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KG6LI on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
When I do my park activations they tend to be hike-in locations thus the use of a QRO rig is impossible. The activator selects the mode and power of his portable station, thus there are going to be times that their signal won't be received by all. The biggest problem with some QRP operators is they select a compromised antenna coupled with 5/10w.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
"What I want to see is people that have the means to have a large enough generator to the field day site........"

Yeh, why not go the full hog, something like this, as you can see you've even got field so you can call it field day .....

https://i2.wp.com/innovationtoronto.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/15946920435_19ed29b11f_o.jpg

.....mind you, maybe not big enough......
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by K7NSW on January 23, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM raises a very interesting question many Field Day ops wrestle with every year. It involves points per Q vs how much power to use. In my club we have two guys who run cw on 20 and 40 meters. Each one will log 300 to 400 Qs using 100 watts. At two points per Q that really helps the group score. And that is not hard to do on those two bands. Boost to QRO and you say good bye to those extra points. Reduce to QRP and you probably will not get so many Qs. BUT, the guys running 80 meters through the night could really use 500 watts. Even more power if the propagation gods bless us with an open 160 meters - not often the case the end of June. So it is the trade off you chose to make between the number of Qs vs the amount of power you chose to use to do what you want to get done. Now, for me, I say "damn the points and full speed ahead". Use 500 watts and enjoy lots of fun ssb Qs and possibly enough cw Qs to make up for the loss of the multiplier. This is an operating event, not a contest. But alas - many view it differently.

OOOPS! Did I just commit the sin of changing the topic of this discussion? Maybe my worthless soul can get redeemed since I am the guy who wrote this ARTICLE.
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by M5MDH on January 24, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
You forgot to mention that going portable can result in having little or no noise to contend with, which can make a nice change from the urban environment.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 24, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
"You forgot to mention that going portable can result in having little or no noise to contend with...."


Well, at least until the '6QXM (all knobs hard clockwise) headset gang arrive with a bunch of big QRO amps and their great big John Wayne generators......
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KM6CQ on January 24, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
So the idea of the article is. Don't bring a 5 watt radio to do the job of a 100 watt radio. That seems right, often you need that extra two S units on 75 meters to get there. Sometimes a 4 banger is just underpowered. A signal on 75 meters 6db above the noise floor is easily ignored.

73, Dan
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 24, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
"Sometimes a 4 banger is just underpowered."

.........and "sometimes" unearned confidence "just" outstrips talent - the actuaries figured this out when it came to the 6,8,10 and 12 bangers......
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by K5RT on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
As he pulls on his Captain Obvious Cape;

Its not avoiding your local urban noise that drives the need for a 100 transmitter.

Its about your signal being heard by everyone else who has to copy a 5 watt signal on 80 meters through it.

QRP is great on 10 - 30 meters. Is not awful on 40, but on 80 and 160 it becomes an exercise in futility

73
Paul
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KC2MMI on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Nice way to go, Richard. Are you aware that the number of life cycles you get from any type of lead acid battery is very much based on how deeply you cycle it?
Cycle it 100% down, which is actually about 11.6 volts, and you may kill a deep cycle battery in just 50 cycles. But if you only cycle it to 50% (~12.1 volts) you may get 500-1000 cycles out of the same battery.
So if anyone is using deep cycle batteries this way, unless you are conducting emergency or luxury operations where you really NEED all of the power? Set the low battery cut-off for around 12.1 volts, and you may get paid back with 10x more battery life in the long run.
The actual "best" discharge cycle is down to about 70% capacity, ~12.2~12.3 volts, at which point you'd typically get 2000 cycles, as opposed to 1000 at 50%. Each battery maker has their own specifics.
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by K9ZF on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds great!

I use a very similar setup :-) F150, 100 Watt rig, deep cycle battery, and XJK booster.

My favorite antenna at the moment is a home brew OCFD cut for 80 meters. Using my FT897D and an LDG897 tuner, it covers 80 thru 10 quite well. Antenna height depends on how high the trees are around me :-)

73
Dan K9ZF
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KM6CQ on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I think you miss understood his context. He is saying that he is a confident operator and enjoys QRO. A QRO station is lacking without a good operator, a QRP signal is lacking if it can not be heard. when you take the skills of a good QRP op and the technology of a good QRO station and combine them. You then end up with the whole that is greater then the sum of all parts.

73, Dan KM6CQ
 
Operating Portable QRO Reply
by W0AEW on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Combining the talent and cunning of the QRP operator with the muscle of QRO results in a greater quanity and/or quality of QSOs.

Got it.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 25, 2018 Mail this to a friend!

"Its about your signal being heard by everyone else who has to copy a 5 watt signal on 80 meters through it."


Strange that, keep getting told by the fanboy dedicated followers of fashion (c/w their obligatory "NASA Mission Control" headsets) that these common place cutting edge rigs incorporate the most wonderful receivers that can pluck signals out of nowhere.......
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by M5MDH on January 26, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
K5RT,
I was only mentioning the lack of noise versus the urban environment as an additional benefit.

On a side note, the author mentions that the batteries he uses are heavy. Having used similar in the past I agree they are a bit of a lump!
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 28, 2018 Mail this to a friend!

"I was only mentioning the lack of noise versus the urban environment as an additional benefit."


.....and yet Humpty Dumpty donning his "Mission Control" headset is seemingly intent on bringing an urban environment with him........
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by KG4RUL on January 30, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I knew an operator (now a SK) who had a mobile station in his step van. He operated with a 500W amp powered by a generator bolted to the back step. He was planning to go legal limit, eventually.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by AF6AU on January 30, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
There are several responders here mentioning the wonder of mathematics, watts radiated, and "S" units... Nice try guys, but when 100 watts is HEARD a couple "S" units over the QRM at the receiver, and you go to low power, you fall off the bands. I have often tried this when I have contact with 100 watts out, then cut to 12 watts, and then I hear "Where did you go OM, You blow a final?"

Sure the mathematics make sense, but the noise level rules being heard. If 100 watts gets me heard by 500 receivers, and 5 watts gets me only a handful, guess what power level I am going to pick...

FYI the HF transceivers on many military aircraft have about 300 watts output, and with an altitude of 31,000 feet, there are far and few ground stations you cannot hit with proper frequency selection. Many a "backseat driver" knows this.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on January 31, 2018 Mail this to a friend!

"Sure the mathematics make sense, but the noise level rules being heard. If 100 watts gets me heard by 500 receivers, and 5 watts gets me only a handful, guess what power level I am going to pick..."


hmmmmmm.....errrr.......well if that way inclined then s'pose extrapolation says 10kw so that gets you heard by 50000 receivers ? ........
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by AF6AU on January 31, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
To the prior post above..

Yep, and that's exactly what the commercial broadcasters do and why. Power and radiated pattern creates their market/listeners.
We cannot do 50KW like a clear channel, because of the FCC rules. Tailor your power to the conditions and audience.

An unheard QSO is not.

If you need 100W to establish and make the contact, use it.
If your contact says you are strong, sure, cut power. However of reducing power gets you QRN? then use what power you had used to initiate.
 
RE: Operating Portable QRO Reply
by GM1FLQ on February 1, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
An unheard QSO is not

Guaranteed DX so "whot"


100w is not excessive just your average rig - you may even want to cut that a bit if on batteries.

>KW QRO and multi el beams however is like going down the river with some sticks of dynamite and catching lots of big fish - wow you don't say. When it becomes repeatably guaranteed DX then by definition it is no longer anything special.

Bringing the national grid along with you to operate QRO can hardly be called portable.
 
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