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Author Topic: To QRP or not to QRP  (Read 25528 times)
pmraiders

Posts: 47




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« on: May 01, 2013, 04:42:43 PM »

I am shopping for my first HF radio. Portable operation is very appealing but I am curious if I will regret buying a QRP rig like the KX3 when I don't have the power output of a similarly priced 100w rig. The KX3 caught my eye because of its feature-rich SDR functionality (digital/cw decoding/encoding waterfall functionality on PC). I know I can add their option amp, but its predicted price is $700! I can buy a FT-857 for $160 more!

Any input is appreciated, I really don't know what I want yet, which is part of the problem so personal experiences switching from high to low power or vice versa would be nice to hear.

Jordan
KG7DBM
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1611




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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2013, 05:59:10 PM »

Yours is a frequently asked question in this forum and advice,recommendations,pros/cons etc. are well covered in this forums previous topic pages and to some extent in the Elmers Forum.You may want to check these out while waiting for other direct responses here.
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pmraiders

Posts: 47




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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 06:10:15 PM »

I've been looking in the elmers forum and I looked around this forum before I posted. I will keep searching, thanks!

Edit: You were right. I think the last post of this thread really sums it up.
http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,84626.0.html

Off to searching for something that offers the KX3 SDR standalone capabilities in a 100w base unit.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 06:27:01 PM by pmraiders » Logged
G4AON
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 11:46:22 PM »

I am shopping for my first HF radio
Jordan
KG7DBM

While I am sure a KX3 will make an ideal first radio and it's receive performance is vastly superior to an FT857, you may find the 10 Watt power level a bit limiting.

For some time while I was re-evaluating what I wanted from ham radio, my only rig was a 10 Watt K2 with a 100 foot doublet antenna. Using only CW I worked 127 countries with that radio, not all of which were at the official QRP power level of 5 Watts, but nontheless it was probably the most fun I've ever had in amateur radio.

If you are confident at CW, 10W is plenty to have lots of good contacts with, however if you are going to run mostly SSB then 10 Watts can be a frustrating experience unless you have really good antennas.

My recommendation would be to buy a general purpose HF radio second hand, either from a trusted local or a dealer, then look at QRP radio once you have some operating experience. The "HF/VHF/UHF" radios such as the 857, Icom 7000, etc. are not all they might at first seem, I would opt for a clean Kenwood TS570 that can be sold for a similar price to what you paid for it should you decide to upgrade it.

73 Dave
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K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 06:19:18 AM »

To use a fishing analogy, deciding to go QRP as a first foray into ham radio is like deciding to go on your first ever fishing trip but you're only going to use a fly rod.  Even if you buy the best fly rod off the rack there's only so much you're going to be able to do with it.

Practically speaking a rig like an 857 or 706 will offer way more for general purpose operating.  The extra nuance of performance of a high end transceiver will not make that much difference in success even when such features matter.  Having all mode VHF and UHF also give you opportunity to do weak signal and satellite work as well as portable/mobile FM.  You can turn a 100W rig down to QRP but you can't turn a QRP rig up to 100W.  QRP is fun, don't get me wrong, but 100W often comes in handy especially running low efficiency portable/mobile antennas.

I have "nice" HF transceivers at home but I also have a 706 I take mobile and portable, and have operated all bands, all modes, from QRO to QRP with it.  These rigs are as close to "universal" as you're going to get and I would pick one of these over a specialty rig as a first purchase.

If you really get into SOTA, backpacking or other niche operating activity you can always get a dedicated rig for that.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3592




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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 08:31:45 AM »

Quote
I am shopping for my first HF radio


Quote
Yours is a frequently asked question in this forum and advice,recommendations,pros/cons etc. are well covered in this forums previous topic pages and to some extent in the Elmers Forum.You may want to check these out while waiting for other direct responses here.

As JKA points out this particular question has been cussed and discussed over and over in this particular forum.  You're not going to hear anything different by asking the same question again.

BUT, since you did..... let me simply say to make your first ever rig a QRP rig will be the biggest mistake you can make with ham radio. 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2013, 09:09:33 AM »

An Icom IC7200 would make a good first rig. 100W output, IF DSP, simple to operate, inexpensive.
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K5UNX
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 09:20:56 AM »

To use a fishing analogy, deciding to go QRP as a first foray into ham radio is like deciding to go on your first ever fishing trip but you're only going to use a fly rod.  Even if you buy the best fly rod off the rack there's only so much you're going to be able to do with it.

That's funny . . I am an avid fly fisher and it seems you suggest fly fishing is limiting? I fly fish for anything I can "normal" fish for. Carp, Trout, Bass, etc etc. I sure don't feel limited Smiley

But I think your radio advice is good  . . .

I have a FT-857D. Being new myself I thought it would be a good starting point. All bands, all modes etc etc. I can turn down the power and be a QRP station also. If I want to specialize later, I'll get something else.

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GILGSN
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Posts: 199




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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 09:29:15 AM »

I own a KX3. Let me tell you something: You don't need 100W. 12W might be low in some cases using SSB, but in CW, it is way more than anyone needs. If you can't get out with 12W, then you have other problems than low power output...

If you are going to operate portable, think of current draw and the weight of the battery you are going to carry to feed that 100W radio.. Not possible. By "portable," I don't mean getting out of your car to the nearby picnic table... The KX3 draws about 150mA on receive. Try to find another radio with the same capabilities that does that...

As to the fishing analogy, I have no problem contacting practically anyone I can hear. On the other hand, I don't catch that much fish... Not boasting here.. 12W works 95% of the time. With a good antenna, it just works.

The KX3 is probably the best portable radio out there, period. The filtering is awesome. The receiver is very quiet. The big screen is very nice too, everything is there. If I lost mine, I'd order another one the same day..

Gil.
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W1JKA
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2013, 10:28:40 AM »

Re: pmraiders

     While researching various new rigs either QRP or QRO is certainly interesting and necessary the fact remains that if you are SERIOUSLY thinking about QRP you will have to devote as much if not more time to proper antenna considerations as well as an intimate knowledge of basic band propagation,without the two you might as well save your money and hook up a pair of old rabbit ears to your cable LCD TV and watch the snow.
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WB0FDJ
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 01:59:50 PM »

Have to agree with JKA. First thing I do most days is check out the space weather to see what propagation is doing. Then look at the WSPR maps for various bands.

I'd also add, if you want to run QRP successfully you might need to adapt your operating practices. I've actually heard hams say they tried operating QRP a few times, called a bunch of CQ's and no one answered. Therefore it doesn't work! If thats all you ever do, no particular radio will make any difference.

Doc WB0FDJ
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 02:34:11 PM »

The KX-3 is an amazing piece of equipment but I wouldn't recommend it as a "first HF rig" for anyone.

The digital operation attributes aren't that handy for portable operation, where you still need a keyboard; and popular digital modes are 100% duty cycle modes that will drain the batteries quickly (compared with CW or SSB, which are low duty-cycle modes).  In bright sunlight, I can still work CW or SSB since I don't have to "look" at anything, whereas you may need a shaded area or one protected from direct sunlight to be able to read the screen.

I'd recommend cutting your teeth on something else, used at home; make a lot of contacts, figure out what you really like, and then go for something more appropriate for portable work -- which may indeed be a KX-3!

When you operate some from home, I think you'll find as all of us did that the operator, antenna system and propagation do all the work and the "rig" is pretty far down the list of important stuff.  With a $1000 budget, I'd normally spend $750 on antennas and what's left on station equipment, because that will generally result in the most contacts, the easiest. Wink  Learning operating practices and about HF propagation is important, too, and doesn't cost anything but time. Smiley
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pmraiders

Posts: 47




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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 03:30:18 PM »

Thanks for all the replies. The problem is I really like the SDR capabilities in the KX3 as digital is one of the modes that I look forward to operating either at home or on the go, but I don't think I will pack in a laptop Smiley

It looks like I can get similar SDR capabilities out of the ic-1200 with the waterfall display (which is what I really want xD) and the USB interface looks nice.

My budget is more fluid than I previously stated. I am seriously considering a kx3+amp or a base rig then considering a mobile unit later.

How does the kx3 perform as a transceiver when compared to a bigger, more basestation oriented rig like the ic-7200 or ft-450?

Jordan
KG7DBM
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W1JKA
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 04:08:13 PM »

Re: pmraiders
   An apple and orange answere to half your question.With well over 200 A/B on air test with the same antenna over a 3 year period I could continue CW QSOs with my K-1 at 4-5 watts just as well as with 90 watts on my IC-7200 about 73% of the time according to my notes and paper log.I only did these comparisons to prove to myself if there was much difference during on air contacts between 3-5 watts and 80 or 90 watts CW,as far as I'm concerned not a hell of a lot.
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pmraiders

Posts: 47




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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 04:21:43 PM »

I suppose what I meant to ask is how does the KX3 perform as a transceiver when compared to a bigger base station rig, assuming the KX3 is running 100 watts with an amplifier.

An ideal situation would be to run 5-10 watts on the go and have the ability to bump up to 100 watts when I get home and plug into the amp.

Edit:
But at that price point I could have a full featured HF at home, a nice VHF/UHF for home/mobile and a ft-817nd for portable...
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