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Author Topic: Why not an FT-891 for portable QRP??  (Read 24832 times)
AE5X
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Posts: 1010




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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2017, 12:25:49 PM »

The price difference is not all that great after all. We are talking about ~$170 here.

Comparing radio to radio the price difference isn't all that great. But compare the cost per watt:
$90 for the KX2
$7.30 for the Yaesu

I too had a KX2 for a while and loved it during NPOTA. SSB at 10 watts during these solar conditions is definitely a challenge as I found out. I eventually sold the KX2 and bought an FDM-Duo and almost immediately regretted doing both. I sold the FDM and now you have me considering the FT-891 as well.

In truth, the rig I want doesn't currently exist. If it did, it would be a weather/dust-resistant KX2/KX3 with a bit more power and would interface at the digital level with a computer like the Flex DAX functionality. The knob protrusions would also be protected, perhaps being covered with a membrane like the old Bobcat rigs:
http://ae5x.blogspot.com/2016/08/a-weather-resistant-qrp-rig-from-last.html

I know I'm asking too much and, besides, my backpacking days are over - I now have a travel trailer and the FT-891 looks like it might be a good fit both there and in the pick-up while towing. You don't work for Yaesu, do you Oliver?  Grin
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 12:28:05 PM by AE5X » Logged

KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2017, 12:52:32 PM »


[...] You don't work for Yaesu, do you Oliver?  Grin

Ha, I wish, because then I would hopefully not have to pay $630 for the FT.  Grin

But to your earlier point on cost/watt- while a bit crude, I believe it highlights what you want to do with the transceiver. And this is also where I get stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to like the KX2 for all the advantages of portability. Ideally, put the internal batteries in it and the internal tuner. Now all I have to carry is the radio, mic and some wire antenna. On the Yaesu, the same config is radio plus mic plus external battery plus external tuner plus antenna.

My fear is just what you stated. Bad propagation and my desire to do SSB voice may lead to a frustrating experience with the KX2.

Thanks,

Oliver
KF5KCA
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 01:08:11 PM by KF5KCA » Logged
KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2017, 01:03:15 PM »

First like many I have to point out there are different flavors of portable.

Over the years portable was a almost a dirty word as it meant at most it has a handle. [...]

Alison,

Thank you for the interesting history lesson- it certainly puts a perspective on "portable"!

I like your lineup and the KX2 would probably fit into the same category as your FT-817. Everything above that line is too old or too heavy for me  Grin Everything below that line becomes a little too limiting for me personally. Pure CW or single band SSB (i.e. the radio in an Altoids can) seems like it would be paving my way to take up another hobby  Cheesy

The FT-817 is a nice rig, but it is still expensive and the technology a bit behind the KX2. I actually wonder how they would compare from an SSB voice perspective. I hear that the FT-817 is extremely sensitive, which is its advantage in the field, but possibly a disadvantage when using in a more crowded environment like a contest (as compared to the KX2). I am also a bit hesitant in buying decade+ old technology in a new radio. If there were any available at reasonable used prices the choice would be easy, but much like the Elecraft gear the FT-817s are either not available used at all, or at very questionable condition and still high prices.

Again, Thank you for your extensive overview!

Best,

Oliver
KF5KCA
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 01:05:38 PM by KF5KCA » Logged
KB1GMX
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Posts: 1496




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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2017, 01:12:24 PM »

Glad you enjoyed that.  What you have ifs often what you use.

My $0.02...

THe KX2 represents the latest in HF tech (80 through 10).  Does well on batteries.

The FT817 is the do all shop tool, old tech but sound design.  Cover more bands
(160 though 432) at the cost of some power.

IF I were HF only, KX2... But I also do VHF 6/2/432 so the KX2 is a not match there.

Neither are better in general as I use radios, both are excellent in different ways and
uses.  The possible uses define the pick as both are good radios.  Each has trades
for the dollar.

FYI my 817(not an ND) is on its third owner (me) and over 10 years old and still working
well.  For some things I have monoband SSB radios that can out perform it, for others its
the bomb.  Having frequency agility is a way to make a field outings fun when the bands\
have gone flat.

Allison
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KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2017, 09:59:53 AM »

Glad you enjoyed that.  What you have ifs often what you use.

My $0.02...

The KX2 represents the latest in HF tech (80 through 10).  Does well on batteries.

The FT817 is the do all shop tool, old tech but sound design.  Cover more bands
(160 though 432) at the cost of some power.

IF I were HF only, KX2... But I also do VHF 6/2/432 so the KX2 is a not match there. [...]


Allison,

Thank you for the input. Your summary captures exactly where I have arrived as well.

I am ditching the idea of the FT-891 in favor of a true QRP rig. The KX2 seems to be the winner. While I can be a bit rough on my equipment, I think it will survive. I am not buying this for a "prepper" situation. KX2 seems to be a better solution for years to come with fresh FW updates (sometimes even adding major features like AM).

I do dislike the nickel and dime strategy of Elecraft (like charging $60 for a hand mic and not including the internal battery pack, a pouch, RTC, etc.). However, having the ability to add a $180 internal ATU is pretty sweet. In addition, I am not interested in VHF/UHF outside of my car or HT and the KX2 seems to provide a pretty decent update in RX technology.

Again, everyone thank you for your help in my decision making process!

Oliver
KF5KCA
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 10:01:55 AM by KF5KCA » Logged
K0UA
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Posts: 1342




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« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2017, 04:11:19 PM »

Oliver, if you think of it, came back after you have had your new rig for a while, and let us know what you think about it.
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N9AOP
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Posts: 641




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« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2017, 08:05:14 PM »

The current consumption figures I gave were measured and not taken from some list.  As some of the posters said, it is what you want to do and what compromises you will accept.  If I really want to backpack then I take a 4 band you-kits radio sold by Vibroplex and forgo SSB.  Even with the KX3 I did not like SSB at 5 watts and that rig overheats when using digital at over 5 watts and sometimes at 5 watts without a 3rd party heat sink.  My choices when camping now is usually trailer camping so powering the 891 is no issue.  Hope you like whatever you choose and hope you come back here in 6 months to tell us about it.
Art
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KF7DS
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Posts: 285




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« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2017, 10:48:39 PM »

The current consumption figures I gave were measured and not taken from some list.  As some of the posters said, it is what you want to do and what compromises you will accept.  If I really want to backpack then I take a 4 band you-kits radio sold by Vibroplex and forgo SSB.  Even with the KX3 I did not like SSB at 5 watts and that rig overheats when using digital at over 5 watts and sometimes at 5 watts without a 3rd party heat sink.  My choices when camping now is usually trailer camping so powering the 891 is no issue.  Hope you like whatever you choose and hope you come back here in 6 months to tell us about it.
Art

+1 on the 891. It can qrp or go to 100w, depending on your situation. If power is no problem then you can run any amount you want. Given current condx , I have used my kx3 infrequently. Rather been mostly using my 891 portable. If I have no 120v power source, I use a Bioneno 6ah Life4 battery and run the 891 at 35-40 watts. Get a good 3 hours of use. And, the added power has come in handy recently. I am a cw only op.

Don

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KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2017, 04:29:33 AM »

Oliver, if you think of it, came back after you have had your new rig for a while, and let us know what you think about it.
[…]   Hope you like whatever you choose and hope you come back here in 6 months to tell us about it.
Art

I sure will! Thank you very much for your input and guidance, Gentlemen!

Oliver
KF5KCA
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KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2017, 04:38:35 AM »

+1 on the 891. It can qrp or go to 100w, depending on your situation. If power is no problem then you can run any amount you want. Given current condx , I have used my kx3 infrequently. Rather been mostly using my 891 portable. If I have no 120v power source, I use a Bioneno 6ah Life4 battery and run the 891 at 35-40 watts. Get a good 3 hours of use. And, the added power has come in handy recently. I am a cw only op.

Don

Don,

Thank you. You had to throw in this last minute wrinkle, didn't you  Grin

This was my thinking originally, but due to the TX inefficiency at QRP levels I kind of came to the conclusion that it may not be a good idea. Now you have me second-guessing. The form factor (especially with antenna tuner and internal batteries is still very appealing and speaks in favor of the KX2.

Well, either way, I will update you Gents when I pull the trigger!

Best,

Oliver
KF5KCA
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N9AOP
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« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2017, 07:40:15 AM »

Don,
I have their 20AH battery and at 7# it is much lighter than a 20AH gel at 30+ #.  This allows me an extended operating period at 50W at boy scout events where power is usually not readily available. 
Art
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K0UA
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Posts: 1342




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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2017, 07:58:42 AM »

To put it in a nutshell.  100 watt radio's really really suck as QRP 5 watt level radio's.  They draw way too much current.  But they make fair 25 watt radios as their efficiency is up some, and pretty good 50 watt radios and really good 100 watt radios.  Smiley

 So if you have the power on hand to run them at 25 or 50 or even 100 watt levels, then yeah, they are a heck of alot better than lugging around a qrp radio and a tuner and an amplifier.  cheaper too. and all in one package.

 I still think there would be a niche for a 25 watt max output portable radio with a wide range matching tuner, optimized for low current draw. I know it can be done, as there are military examples.  At 25 watts you are 6db down from 100 or 1 S unit on a calibrated S meter.
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KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2017, 08:35:01 AM »

Don,
I have their 20AH battery and at 7# it is much lighter than a 20AH gel at 30+ #.  This allows me an extended operating period at 50W at boy scout events where power is usually not readily available. 
Art

Art and Don,

In my earlier calculations in the pros and cons I used the Bioenno 8Ah LFP battery that weighs only 2.5 LBS and is "only" $99. They have really good discharge characteristics as well, running for 45 min on a 10A load and 7.5 hours before dropping below 12.5V on a 1A load. There is a great YouTube video by KF7IJZ providing test data on this.

So let me ask a more general question to the forum then:

I can watch videos on folks having fun with 5W QRP and an end-fed wire antenna and I can also watch videos about folks shooting hoops across an entire basketball field with their back facing the hoop. Needless to say that the Youtube video documenting the success in shooting that hoop is probably take number 3096. Do I need to expect the same "success rate" with a 5W QRP radio and end-fed wire antenna unless I live in the Cascades or Rocky's above 8k feet of elevation?

Oliver
KF5KCA
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KF5KCA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2017, 08:52:07 AM »

To put it in a nutshell.  100 watt radio's really really suck as QRP 5 watt level radio's.  They draw way too much current.  But they make fair 25 watt radios as their efficiency is up some, and pretty good 50 watt radios and really good 100 watt radios.  Smiley

 So if you have the power on hand to run them at 25 or 50 or even 100 watt levels, then yeah, they are a heck of alot better than lugging around a qrp radio and a tuner and an amplifier.  cheaper too. and all in one package.

 I still think there would be a niche for a 25 watt max output portable radio with a wide range matching tuner, optimized for low current draw. I know it can be done, as there are military examples.  At 25 watts you are 6db down from 100 or 1 S unit on a calibrated S meter.

James,

I guess that is exactly where the conundrum lies. You can get 100W (i.e. radio and amp) in one package, but then you are looking at carrying an external battery and external tuner. With the KX2 QRP rig you have radio, battery and tuner in one package (essentially just carrying the radio and a wire antenna). So, if QRP is not a total crapshoot (unless conditions are stellar once every 5 years) then that looks tempting.

However, if I am looking at 1 contact every 10 times I take out the QRP rig, then I would rather use a 100W rig, carry the extra external battery and either use resonant antennas, or carry a 3rd item (the tuner) and actually talk to folks. Keep in mind, my primary goals are SSB voice and some PSK31 (which I would like to leave out of the discussion as it requires additional HW).

So your idea of a 25W "QRP'ish" rig with built in tuner and battery would probably fill that gap and cater to guys with my problem  Cheesy

Thanks,

Oliver
KF5KCA
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W3TTT
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Posts: 264




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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2017, 09:23:36 AM »

... I agree that if price were the determining factor, then I should take up bowling....
Oliver  KF5KCA

Or maybe not bowling.  Day to day - it should be obvious that Ham Radio is much cheaper than bowling.  Not convinced? 
Ham radio - Rig $800, Accessories $200 total = $1000, but taken over 10 years (perhaps) $100 per year and 30 cents per day.
Bowling - Shoes $89, Ball $50 but each game $2.50, plus beer, sodas, pizza, etc.  Cost per day - $10 to $20   Grin
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