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Author Topic: 5W to Nowhere?  (Read 15026 times)
KM4DYX
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Posts: 63




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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2017, 06:19:32 PM »

QRO is a gateway drug.

What could it hurt? You try it. You like it. But, sooner or later, it’s not enough, so you get an amplifier. And that works for a while, too, but then you find yourself putting up a 100-foot tower and a multi-band rotatable Yagi. And you need a bigger amp to get the most out of that Yagi, right? "Screw the kid’s college fund! They can work their way through school like I did!"

Just say NO to QRO.

73,
At least half in jest,

Al
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K0UA
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Posts: 1466




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« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2017, 06:35:56 PM »

QRO is a gateway drug.

What could it hurt? You try it. You like it. But, sooner or later, it’s not enough, so you get an amplifier. And that works for a while, too, but then you find yourself putting up a 100-foot tower and a multi-band rotatable Yagi. And you need a bigger amp to get the most out of that Yagi, right? "Screw the kid’s college fund! They can work their way through school like I did!"

Just say NO to QRO.

73,
At least half in jest,
Al

Oh, yeah.  It feels good to get the DX in the big pileup on the first call. To sit there asking the DX how is the wife and the kids?  To hear him say to you "yes you have a big signal just like yesterday" while the little guys are all squirming in their seats and thinking "why the heck don't you shut up and let us call him"  NOOOO, make em wait!.  let them eat cake!

But as you so eloquently pointed out, the "fix" is so fleeting,  and you need more and more to get that "thrill".

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AK4YH
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« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2017, 03:49:47 AM »

I don't know why some people still say that QRP doesn't work, or rarely. Maybe because they haven't approached it from the right angle. I never did a SOTA activation, but I certainly can make a contact almost every time I operate. The only exception was once from the Canary Islands. Anywhere in the United States or Europe, I can make random contacts most of the time, and often using much less than 5W (CW). Sure, you need patience, and you won't fill your logbook, but once you figured which band and time to use, it's easy.

Someone is going to say "yes, but that's CW, what about SSB?" Sure I'm using CW, so what? SSB, of course, is more difficult, but why would I use it then? If CW gives me a 17db advantage, I'll take it.

I also suspect that a lot of people trying to operate on low power do it with poor antenna installations. They usually output 100W out of their radios, but their antenna only radiates a few Watts, which is usually enough. Then they reduce power to 5W, but in reality, they only radiate a few hundred milliwatts.

An amp to me is and always has been useless and a waste of money. Don't get all worked up, I said "to me." I can spend much less money on antenna wire to get the results I want. I don't have a shack, I hike to where I operate, places that I know work well. Florida and the North of France are pretty flat, so no height advantage.

Another issue is that a lot of people want to make long distance contacts with a horizontal dipole mounted too low. Their radiated angle is much too high and of course it doesn't work well. They use long lengths of dubious coax, lots of connectors, tuner, SWR meter, etc. It's much easier using a half-wave vertical, at least on 30m and up. Others will use compromise antennas, and while they work well for CW, not so much on SSB...

I have published videos of successes and failures... I never have to wait long for successes, again, usually within minutes of setting-up, I get contacts. Failures are rare.

It's no rocket science. You need to radiate those 5W efficiently, that is the key. Using QRO methods with QRP does not work well. With 100W you can afford to lose 20db and still make plenty of contacts, not so with 5W...

Gil.
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W9IQ
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Posts: 1715




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« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2017, 04:20:53 AM »

Well said, Gil.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
W1JKA
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Posts: 2089




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« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2017, 05:01:59 AM »

 No DX problems here, with a K1, Homebrew 20M Hex beam @ 24 ft. and working the grey line.
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G4AON
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Posts: 1029




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« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2017, 05:13:23 AM »

As others have said, it's down to the antenna. I regularly operate from Spain using a KX3 and home made ground plane. The antenna is roof mounted with the feed point around 18 feet above ground, 2 radials per band. The KX3 is mostly set for 15W of CW (sorry QRP purists) and used on 30 and 20 metres (it's got 14 and 21 MHz traps, covers 30/20/15).

From Spain there are lots of EU countries within easy reach, so it's rare to not have at least a handful of "local" QSOs each day, plus the occasional DX one.

Many 100W stations are barely audible in the virtually zero background noise, yet they report my signals at 559 or stronger and don't ask for a repeat. In nearly every case they use a "long wire" or G5RV. I'm not sure of specific antenna details, but a little effort spent on a decent antenna setup makes a huge difference, it doesn't cost much to make a ground plane or dipole, sadly, even that seems beyond many hams these days.

73 Dave
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KC1BMD
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Posts: 612




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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2017, 05:24:27 AM »

FT-817ND into 20-10m cobweb antenna on push-up mast (up about 20-22 ft) outside on my deck and worked AK from MA on 5W CW on 20m. Sure, he did the heavy lifting with his tower and several hundred Watts but what a thrill anyway! Smiley Doubt I would have worked him on SSB but I have made other contacts on that rig using SSB (even to EU). It's possible but you have to work harder and use antennas that provide at least a fighting chance when portable.
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KC4ZGP
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Posts: 1637




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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2017, 05:28:15 AM »

Say Oliver,

You say portable. Ah ha! A ground plane antenna via helium balloon.

A twenty meter ground plane radiator 16 feet. Three radials like a tripod for guys.

And with the guys at a forty five degree angle, the feed point will exhibit about 50 ohms.

No tuner necessary. One less thing to go wrong or eat up power.

RG-58 is lighter than RG-8 or RG-213.

There's my idea.

Kraus
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K5LXP
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2017, 05:30:51 AM »

I'm a big fan of QRP, and most years I'm running battery class for Field Day.  But if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one radio, it would be a 100W one.  You can always turn a 100W radio down to 5W but with a QRP rig, you can't go QRO.  This year for Field Day I ran a K2 and between conditions and location even CW was a struggle to have a decent rate.  Every now and then I'd spin through the SSB bands and see if I could pick up a few Q's.  Making SSB contacts was very difficult and overall only accounted for less than 10% of my contacts.  So while there's no doubt QRP SSB will net you contacts, expect those contacts to be difficult to get, difficult to keep, and in my opinion not a lot of fun.  Yes, there's the satisfaction factor when you finally snag that one difficult contact but that's the only kind you're usually going to have.  It's not relaxing or fun when all you have to look forward to is a struggle to make contacts.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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KF5KCA
Member

Posts: 74




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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2017, 06:57:03 AM »

I don't know why some people still say that QRP doesn't work, or rarely. Maybe because they haven't approached it from the right angle. I never did a SOTA activation, but I certainly can make a contact almost every time I operate.
[...]
It's no rocket science. You need to radiate those 5W efficiently, that is the key. Using QRO methods with QRP does not work well. With 100W you can afford to lose 20db and still make plenty of contacts, not so with 5W...

Gil.

Gil, great insight and 100% in agreement with you on that. My philosophy is definitely to use an antenna analyzer before I use an antenna tuner. I would like for my setup be as efficient as possible before adding "equalizers" to just make things work together.

73,

Oliver
KF5KCA

As others have said, it's down to the antenna. [...]

73 Dave


Yes, and it is really not rocket science to produce a resonant and at least somewhat efficient antenna. Granted there are degrees of science and engineering that can be applied to make a "great" antenna, but a good and simple design should get you 90% of the way.

73,

Oliver
KF5KCA

Say Oliver,

[...]

A twenty meter ground plane radiator 16 feet.

[...]

There's my idea.

Kraus

Kraus,

Yes, especially if you run short of helium balloons.  Grin

73,

Oliver
KF5KCA

I'm a big fan of QRP, and most years I'm running battery class for Field Day.  But if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one radio, it would be a 100W one.  You can always turn a 100W radio down to 5W but with a QRP rig, you can't go QRO.

[...]

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Mark,

Yes, that is exactly the thinking that got me stranded between the Yaesu FT-891 and the Elecraft KX2. While the FT-891 does have relatively high receive power consumption (1A), it is a 100W rig and with new battery technology (LiFePo4) I believe I could enjoy QRP anywhere between 5W and 25W (5W probably being less efficient on the FT-891). In addition, I would have the headroom to dial up the output when needed.

Thanks for your input!

73,

Oliver
KF5KCA
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 06:59:07 AM by KF5KCA » Logged
W9IQ
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Posts: 1715




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« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2017, 07:45:51 AM »

Quote
Yes, and it is really not rocket science to produce a resonant and at least somewhat efficient antenna.

Actually, you just want an efficient antenna system, not necessarily a resonant one. For example, the highest gain dipole is a 10/8 wave dipole. It is not resonant but with a small matching network, you get nearly 3 dB gain over a 1/2 wave dipole. This of course presumes that the matching network efficiency is great than -3 dB which is easily accomplished.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
KF5KCA
Member

Posts: 74




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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2017, 08:17:10 AM »

Quote
Yes, and it is really not rocket science to produce a resonant and at least somewhat efficient antenna.

Actually, you just want an efficient antenna system, not necessarily a resonant one. For example, the highest gain dipole is a 10/8 wave dipole. It is not resonant but with a small matching network, you get nearly 3 dB gain over a 1/2 wave dipole. This of course presumes that the matching network efficiency is great than -3 dB which is easily accomplished.

- Glenn W9IQ

Glenn,

Right, but for portable/backpack operation it does come in handy if the if the antenna is resonant as this makes the impedance matching of an antenna to the transmission line and transceiver easier, especially, since I do not necessarily want to carry an antenna tuner with me.

Best,

Oliver
KF5KCA
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KB1GMX
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Posts: 1505




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« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2017, 08:27:31 AM »

Like so many have said its about the antenna.  A beam of any sort is a winner,
a dipole (or half wave end fed) sufficiently high is next best.  Everything else
is an increased compromise though some may be less so.  The key is radiate
rather than heat and that generally is a discussion about efficiency.  The other
is if the antenna has directionality (even a dipole does!) make sure its in a
preferred direction.

RE: power.  Its always about power you don't have even if the legal limit
amp is on the desk.  Power is not propagation its a hedge against it when
its poor.  You still have to hear the other guy.

I'd like to point out another aspect its about the band too.  You have a 160-6M
radio use it, all of it.  

Example, I have five watt radios (ARGONAUT 505 and ft817) and 100W radios
(TT Eagle, Triton and even a Tempo-one), there will be days that a contact on
40 isn't going to happen with any of them and more often days when the 5watters
do it every time.  Is there a trick?  Not really.  Its the band switch all of those work
on 80 through 10 (or more) and one of those bands will be active more so than
others depending time of day and the current propagation conditions.  

The last part is where fun is.  Using a PAR EF10/20/40 (the shortend 40 foot/QRP antenna)
back in the bottom of the last cycle I had fun working QRP on those bands with 10M during
the late afternoon providing fairly regular trans-equitorial contacts all over South America.
Earlier in the day 20M was good and during grey line in the morning VK SSB contacts
using a KNQ7A (5-8w) were not unusual some were even foundation stations there
running 10W max!  I tend to be nearly exclusively SSB with the rare CW excursion.
In the end not every contact is DX, but I view it as anytime someone replies its good.

For those really into doing it the hard way....  Kitsandparts 1-watter on 40.  A whole watt
CW and dx too!   Being a terrible CW op (total lack of proficiency) and making
contacts with that says its do able.

If there were any other suggestions I'd make beyond those said its that people have
been running low power for very long time.  the 100W radio was not always the rule.
People made contacts.  Its a skill to find stations who can hear you and make
yourself be heard.   Part of it is listening and developing operating skills regardless
of mode.  Understanding antennas, propagation, and proficient operating methods
make for greater success and more fun.

Last of all, have fun.  Experiement, try and fail, learn, do better.


Allison
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W9IQ
Member

Posts: 1715




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« Reply #28 on: August 31, 2017, 08:28:00 AM »

Quote
Right, but for portable/backpack operation it does come in handy if the if the antenna is resonant as this makes the impedance matching of an antenna to the transmission line and transceiver easier, especially, since I do not necessarily want to carry an antenna tuner with me.

I agree with not carrying a tuner. All you need is a simple fixed matching network. Much easier, lighter, and smaller than a tuner. Plus you can put the matching network at the antenna feed point so you don't suffer the additional feedline loss that you will with a tuner.

And of course resonant typically does not mean 50 ohms...

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
AA4PB
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Posts: 14360




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« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2017, 09:24:14 AM »

We've got to be careful about the term "resonant". "Resonant" simply means that the feed point contains only resistance (no reactance). Resonance does not mean that the feed impedance will be a good match to 50 Ohm coax or the 50 Ohm output of the transmitter. Take a half wave long wire for example. If fed in the middle (i.e. a dipole), the impedance will be somewhere between 50 and 70 Ohms, a fairly good match for 50 Ohm coax. Take the same 1/2 wave antenna and feed it one end and the impedance will be close to 2000 Ohms, a very bad match for 50 Ohm coax. In both cases the antenna is resonant (no reactance) but the feed impedance is quite different.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
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