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Author Topic: Getting started with QRP  (Read 7786 times)
NZ9C
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Posts: 25




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« on: March 08, 2014, 08:24:07 PM »

I've been lucky and been able to operate club stations since getting my ticket.  I'm ready to get my own station going, and want to start with a SSB QRP rig. Why SSB? I just started learning CW at lcwo.net. When I started the second lesson (three letters), I found I needed to slow the settings to 18 wpm. Why QRP? I like the idea of running low power, and being able to get portable.

What's a good rig to start with? I've been looking at the MFJ 9300 series.

73
Richard
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F8WBD
Member

Posts: 61




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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2014, 01:17:02 AM »

I won't try to convince you that it would be best to concentrate on perfecting your cw skills at home for now and take advantage of the club for your ssb activities.

A working 40-meter band MFJ Cub and good antenna would allow you to practice copying code and eventually make your first cw QSO.

I am aware of three QRP CW and SSB rigs currently on the market. The KX3, Ten-Tec Argonaut, and FT-817ND. There may be others.

The FT-817 is the least expensive, new, and has a very good reputation. Of the three, the one found most often on the used market.

I'm sure you will receive suggestions to purchase a used QRO rig and turn the power down to 5 watts.

Whatever you decide, don't be discouraged with your cw progress. Relax and stay with it.

73 es GL
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1618




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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2014, 05:15:35 AM »

Re: KB1ZVX

  First, we don't know if your the technically inclined type i.e. into learning about the innards of ham radio itself like homebrew, kit building, home brew antennas or the commercial plug, play and hang type of guy. If the former (as me) the CUB is an inexpensive easy first time build and excellent for future portable work, in fact I have two CUBS out on loan to some young folks 20m/30m who are learning on air cw now, you will have to decide on a preferred band.
   There is not a thing wrong with the before mentioned more expensive QRP rigs, I have a K-1 and old 817 but there is no way I would use these other than fair weather picnic table portable as portable to me is under much harsher conditions and I've plenty of experience with the dependability, ruggedness and easy repair of the MFJ Cubs and 90XX series. The trade off is band limitation, but most portable qrp ops settle on 1 or 2 bands anyway, for me it's 20/30 meters (ease of portable antenna and band activity).
    There are many things to consider with QRP so ask plenty of questions.


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WA2ONH
Member

Posts: 246




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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2014, 09:39:54 AM »

A few bits for your consideration....

Musings on an Experiment in QRP
CQ October 2002 article - PDF File 753kb size
LINK: http://www.ae5x.com/docs/QRP_Musings.pdf

Radio Kit Guide (QRP)
LINK: http://fofio.blogspot.com/2013/02/radio-kit-guide.html

QRP SSB/CW Transceiver/QRP Radio Kits
LINK: http://www.qrptransceiver.com/

QRP ARC International (Web Site)
LINK: http://www.qrparci.org/

Good Luck!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 09:44:49 AM by WA2ONH » Logged

73 de WA2ONH dit dit    ...Charlie
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"No time is ever wasted that is spent LEARNING something!"
NZ9C
Member

Posts: 25




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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2014, 05:14:53 PM »

Thanks for the input. F8WBD, I hadn't thought of just getting a CW kit for home and operating phone at the club. Embarrassed

W1JKA, I'm pretty good with a soldering iron. Through-hole soldering is easy for me. I'm putting together an Arduino-based APRS tracker (google Tracuino)- that's what started me trying to earn my ticket. I changed jobs in August, and just need to get into a lab with a SMT station to finish the board, especially now that I'm helping a high altitude balloon team with tracking.

WA2ONH, thanks for the links, I'm excited about a picking up a kit.

I was originally thinking a FT-817ND, but money's going to be a little tight for a few months, so a small kit will work well in the short term, and force me to learn CW.

73
Richard
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3644




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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2014, 08:54:40 PM »

Richard:  I'd like to point out a few things.  One: Learning and using QRP CW will provide the biggest bang for your buck. 

Two:  It isn't necessary to spend big bucks for a QRP CW transceiver.  I presently have a Small Wonders Lab CW transceiver that puts out 5w.  The thing is about twice the size of a deck of cards.  The receiver is fantastic.  The receive bandwidth is excellent and a person can have a ball with this very inexpensive rig. 

Now, this particular rig is no longer available except on eBay or someplace similar.  However, other 5w transceivers will no doubt work as well.  And this is point #3.

Find yourself a QRP transceiver; read the specs and consider what you can afford and buy one.  Don't look back.  Then one day if you find yourself with some extra money, you can upgrade.

This is the beauty of ham radio.
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WB6BYU
Member

Posts: 13015




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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2014, 03:52:24 PM »

A good place to start is to make a list of what features are most important for you
in the choice of a rig.  These are individual preferences, so don't blindly follow
someone else's choices.  Some examples:

Multi-band vs. single band.  Mono-band rigs are fine when you can reasonably
expect activity on that band during the hours you are mostly likely going to be
operating.  If you only get on in the evening, then 40m or 80m may work for
you.  If you go out for day hikes, then 20m, 17m or 15m may be a better
choice.  But if you are likely to get on the air throughout the day and evening,
then having more than one band available.  I have typically used 40m mostly
when backpacking because it is open much of the time to somewhere.

Power level: most higher power rigs will run at QRP by simply lowering the
output power.  That gives you the option to use higher power when bands
are not cooperative, or when your antenna is a compromise.  Of course, they
are often larger and heavier, and draw more power from the battery, so they
aren't as convenient for backpacking, but may be OK for fixed portable where
you can carry everything in the car.  It isn't unusual to find a used 100W rig
for less than a QRP rig with fewer features - that can be important if you are
on a budget.

SSB vs. CW:  I have an old Argonaut 505 SSB/CW rig that has traveled a lot
of miles in my backpack around Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska, and a
number of States.  Voice is fun when conditions are good, especially on 10m,
and when the bands aren't too crowded.  But CW often gets me through when
I'm too weak to copy on SSB, so it is my preferred mode.  Now my pocket backpack
rig is a 40-40 (forerunner of the SW-40, circuit boards available from FAR circuits)
monoband 40m CW, because that gives me more performance in a smaller space
than an SSB rig.


So if budget is the most important item at the moment, consider a used 100W
rig that will allow you to turn the power down.  I've seen a number for less than
$200 (and picked up a Ten-Tec Corsair last year for $125.)  Not a good choice
for backpacking, however.

If you are going to be out backpacking for a week then a small rig with low current
draw on receive becomes important, and multi-band capability may be useful if you
will be on the air both during the day and in the evenings as conditions change.
For shorter outings during the day, multi-band capability and low current draw aren't
as important.  If everything can be carried in the car and lugged from there to a picnic
table, then a higher power rig is much more practical because the battery weight isn't
as limiting.

But it comes down to what YOU want to do with it...
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NZ9C
Member

Posts: 25




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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 08:40:18 PM »

Thanks WB6BYU. I have to admit I was on YouTube prepping for my Extra exam, and ran across N2RRA's videos. The idea of running QRP with a FT817ND sounded like a great idea. Multi-band is something I'd like. Running QRP and QRO is something I want to be able to do as well. I probably won't be out on backpacking trips, but will be mobile at times.
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ZENKI
Member

Posts: 906




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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2014, 03:53:39 PM »

If you starting out you might as well buy something with a good receiver and especially good filtering.

KX3 or K2 would make good choices.   These two radios are really high performance portable radios that would outlast most hams patience for QRP.

The TenTec  Argonaut 6 and Eagle are also nice small radios that would work well portable. These 2 radios have very nice sounding receivers as well.

If you get tired of QRP you can always add a legal external amplifier and have  full station capability.
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