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Author Topic: PSK ES QRP question  (Read 5741 times)

Posts: 11

« on: November 11, 2010, 03:28:53 AM »

I am stuck on the road for a 6 month project in an apartment for work (do not get me wrong; I am very happy to have a job!) and only get home on weekends; the lack of ham radio is making this even more boring!  I am an old CW op, but I have worked QRP on and off over my many years.  I am flirting with the Small wonder qrp 20 metre kit for the PSK mode.  How realistic will it be that I make any contacts?  My antennas would be base loaded whips at best or maybe an indoor dipole, but the apartment location would nix any outside wires at all.  Would it just be a frustrating waste of time? How about TVI OR RFI?  I have only been here a week or so, but the neighbors are all over the place, active and nose around everything. I know nothing about PSK, but hear that for a QRP signal it is an amazing mode.  Any help or input will be warmly received.

Posts: 1421


« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 03:57:49 AM »

I've worked all continents except Antartica while operating a portable 20 m PSK31 rig consisting of an FT-817, an Outbacker Outreach antenna on an Alpha Delta stand, and a laptop.

My experience with QRP PSK is that if I can hear 'em, I can work 'em.

Posts: 990


« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 07:28:28 AM »

"I know nothing about PSK, but hear that for a QRP signal it is an amazing mode."

PSK is fun and if you haven't tried it, you should. It is efficient. But it's no more efficient than CW. Have fun, I hope you get it all set up and don't have any problems.

Posts: 2243

« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 10:53:41 PM »

20m QRP PSK-31 is a BLAST, especially
with a great radio like the SWL PSK-20.

The PSK-20 is a terrific rig
Small Wonder Labs kits are very high quality, the instructions
easy to follow, and Dave Benson is eager to help with a tip
or a no charge replacement part
(even if it's your fault).
No fancy equipment needed for alignment, and the
interface is already built in. (VOX), the earlier
models were RS-232. My very first QSO
with my PSK-20 was with VK2CA in Australia,
I was in Los Angeles, running 3-4 watts into a vertical.
(The newer design runs with more power I've read)

FORGET RFI with QRP PSK! Your neighbors will
never hear anything. If you can string
a dipole up around the edges of your apartment's
outdoor patio, you'll have great luck. PSK is a great mode for
compromised antennas, too. And 20m wire antennas
are short and easy to build.

PSK-31 is an amazing mode. You will work signals you
won't even HEAR
. The signals appear on
a "waterfall" or other displayon your computer's PSK software.
You just click on that line, and bingo! Text
starts appearing and you're reading that QSO.
Click another area or hit an "F-Key" (depending
on which software yu are using, and you start transmitting,
just start typing out your message or CQ.
(Or you can type out canned CQ's and messages about
yourself and your gear in advance, then click an icon
and send those. They're called Macros).

 I've built the PSK-10, (discontinued),
the PSK-20 when it first came out
in 1997-8 I believe. It was on the cover of QST.
I've also built the PSK-40 for 40m and the Warbler, a mini PSK rig
for 80m.

Just DO IT! You'll love it.
Heck, if you get the kit but dont want to build it,
I'll build it for you for free,
My email is good at,
or here it is: kenp AT

73 and good luck
Ken  AD6KA / 5R8GQ

Posts: 143

« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 05:24:44 PM »

PSK is a great mode for QRP operation. A lot will depend on your particular environment. I us a Yaesu FT-817 for PSK portable, and I've used several antennas with it. A typical setup is to use the 817 with an MFJ 'Tiny Travel Tuner' and either a 1/4 wave piece of wire out the window or an MFJ 1899 5' loaded whip.
The 1899 is a mechanical kludge, it breaks too easily due to the weight of the antenna, and it's really too heavy to put on the BNC connector of the 817. But, used with a 1/4 wave piece of wire run around the baseboards of the room as a counterpoise, the little tuner works fine to get the SWR on 30 meters and higher down to a usable level.

Thus armed, I've made contacts all over the place form inside motel rooms. But, some apartments/motels/etc. have metal in the walls. Bricks don't seem to matter, but marble facades do.
The electrical noise in the apartment may be the biggest issue.

Don't overlook 30 meters' PSK potential, either. There isn't as much activity there, but what's there is pretty terrific - lots of good DX. And, 30 is usually open at night.

Posts: 31

« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2010, 09:29:21 AM »

Ditto all the above...PSK QRP is a lot of fun.  I made many contacts with Daves little rig, and then graduated to a FT817 so I can work 40 or 30 when 20 closes.  Might be worth the extra $$ for the 817 just for the additional bands

Posts: 107


« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2010, 06:34:06 PM »

I run QRP PSK with an 817 like several other posters here. 

I made a portable doublet with speaker wire instead of the 4 conductor ribbon cable, and it tunes up nicely with a z-match balanced tuner.  You can build your own or buy the BLT+ kit from Hendricks.  For portable operation, I use a 20' collapsible flagpole from Harbor Freight, and a 12V 9aH sealed lead acid battery.  That battery will power me all day for PSK at 2.5W. 

As for results, like many others here say...if you can hear them, you can work them.  Get the antenna up where you can, tune it, and play.  20M is best, but I've had good luck on 17, 30 and 40 too.

Great idea to take it with you - and good luck.

Jason N6EY

Posts: 11

« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2010, 02:00:27 AM »

TNX to everyone for the suggestions and input! I have been convinced to give it a shot. I think I can sneak a wire cut for 30 or 40 metres in the top floor of this apartment.

I am sure I will enjoy building the kit anyway, and any contacts will be a bonus.


Posts: 155

« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2010, 09:12:30 PM »

For my trips I take along an MFJ-936B loop tuner.  Using the loop tuner and a 3ft x 3ft wire loop I'vw worked into Europe on 20M PSK running 5 - 10W QRP in hotel rooms.  I use it on 40M with a 7ft x 7ft wire loop for CW and 5 - 20 Watts.

Beats watching TV the entire evening.


Posts: 875

« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 11:19:30 PM »

I worked a guy TWICE, who was using an FT817 with a random length of wire out the window into the bushes outside his motel window.
The wire was at about six feet height.
This was on 20m, PSK31 and in the middle of this poor sunspot cycle.
Oh , and this was over a 13000 Km path !
Another Japanese station I worked and hear regularly uses a fishing pole out his apartment window at night.
Again PSK31, about 30watts.

I could keep going on with all the qrp stations I work, many using FT817's, from Ukraine, Italy and maritime mobile.
In most cases I would not even know they are qrp until they tell me. Thats PSK31, most guys only use 30 to 50 W anyway,
So a 10db difference is not that great.

Try it, you will be surprised.
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