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Author Topic: Portable/QRP Setup  (Read 2522 times)
WB4YDY
Member

Posts: 26




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« on: September 03, 2017, 03:31:09 PM »

I've been a ham for a few years, since 1971, but never really worked portable/QRP on HF. I have been thinking that it would be fun to try, but don't want to spend a huge amount of money on it. I'm not even sure how much time I would devote to it, at least for the foreseeable future.

This would be CW only, 5 watts or so, battery operated. I am thinking 40 and 30 meters, any additional bands would be a plus. I would like something that I could operate from the balcony or deck of a hotel room or cabin, and of course the back yard. Not concerned about working DX at this point. But nothing against it, either.

After reading through many of the topics in this forum and many of the product reviews, I am considering the YouKits HB-1B MK3 rig, the Emtech ZM-2 tuner, and the Vibroplex Warrior Jr. paddles.

If I decide to do this, and go with this rig or similar, I would like an antenna I can use from a balcony or deck, assuming no other available support. It would be great if I could use it on at least 40/30/20 meters. I know it wouldn't be a good idea to hang a 32 foot long wire off a hotel balcony that would hang in front of other balconies below. Although, that might work from a high deck on a cabin in the mountains. But, then I assume I would also need a similar length counterpoise.

Setting up in my back yard would be no problem to throw up a dipole or wire between trees. But the situations mentioned above have me puzzled. I would appreciate thoughts and ideas from those who do this with good results.

Thanks and 73,
Pete, WB4YDY
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K0UA
Member

Posts: 1464




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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 03:52:04 PM »

I've been a ham for a few years, since 1971, but never really worked portable/QRP on HF. I have been thinking that it would be fun to try, but don't want to spend a huge amount of money on it. I'm not even sure how much time I would devote to it, at least for the foreseeable future.

This would be CW only, 5 watts or so, battery operated. I am thinking 40 and 30 meters, any additional bands would be a plus. I would like something that I could operate from the balcony or deck of a hotel room or cabin, and of course the back yard. Not concerned about working DX at this point. But nothing against it, either.

After reading through many of the topics in this forum and many of the product reviews, I am considering the YouKits HB-1B MK3 rig, the Emtech ZM-2 tuner, and the Vibroplex Warrior Jr. paddles.

If I decide to do this, and go with this rig or similar, I would like an antenna I can use from a balcony or deck, assuming no other available support. It would be great if I could use it on at least 40/30/20 meters. I know it wouldn't be a good idea to hang a 32 foot long wire off a hotel balcony that would hang in front of other balconies below. Although, that might work from a high deck on a cabin in the mountains. But, then I assume I would also need a similar length counterpoise.

Setting up in my back yard would be no problem to throw up a dipole or wire between trees. But the situations mentioned above have me puzzled. I would appreciate thoughts and ideas from those who do this with good results.

Thanks and 73,
Pete, WB4YDY


I have had fair luck with my endfed that I made.  Do you want to build or buy? 
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WB4YDY
Member

Posts: 26




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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2017, 04:37:16 PM »

I prefer to build my own. And certainly a wire antenna should be no problem.

73,
Pete, WB4YDY
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WB6BYU
Member

Posts: 17192




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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 05:55:17 PM »

If you currently have an HF rig, just haul it out to the back yard, set it on a picnic table,
and run an extension cord.  Turn the power down as low as you want.  Have fun.

(I used to take my tube radio up onto the roof, including the #40 pound power
supply using mercury vapor rectifiers, back in the days before antenna analyzers.)

For casual portable operation I use dipoles, and don't bother with a tuner.  True, I mostly
hang it from trees, but if you build it using RG-174 or similar coax you can support the
center from a 20' telescoping fishing rod (well, all but the top section, which is too small.)
That may still require some width to tie off the ends of a dipole that might be inconvenient
on a hotel balcony, but generally it works well.  I tuned up my dipole kit in 1979 or so,
and the only time I had problems with a high SWR was when I ran it down a barbed wire
fence in Nova Scotia.

If you expect to need to operate from a limited area, then using the same pole to support
a quarter wave wire fed against ground would be a reasonable approach.  Yes, it will be short
for 40m, and you'll need a loading coil (or other creative solution).  Or consider the MFJ
17' telescoping whip as a free-standing alternative.

I carry a piece of coax with a center insulator on the end, and separate dipole wires for
each band that I can add as desired.  That also gives me the flexibility to use the wires
in different ways: for example, I could use the 20m wire as a vertical, and the other half
of the dipole and the two 10m wires combined as radials.  It would be very easy to build
an adaptor with a short wire and an alligator clip to allow the same coax and wires to be
used as quarter waves against whatever ground system is available (such as metal trim
or railings on the balcony.)  When the situation permits, you could hang a dipole as a
sloper or inverted vee from the same mast.

Or you could carry a 40m doublet and a balanced tuner and use it on multiple bands.
(A simple L network tuner with a good 1 : 1 current balun worked well on Field Day.)
I'd encourage the same principle of flexibility:  don't limit yourself to a single
configuration or way to install the antenna.  Homemade antennas are cheap, so give
yourself lots of options.
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KD8ZM
Member

Posts: 28




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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2017, 06:16:23 PM »

I have the Youkits HB1-B four bander and it works great. Have worked stations coast to coast using a dipole or a portable 20m vertical even considering the awful band conditions.  I do 20, 30, 40, and 17 cw.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 06:25:37 PM by KD8ZM » Logged
KD8ZM
Member

Posts: 28




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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2017, 06:24:59 PM »

PS: on the Youkits feed the dipole with ladder line into an mfj971 tuner (which accepts balanced line inputs). Minimal line losses this way and works very well. The Youkits HB1-B shows reflected power when you transmit which adds an extra layer of assurance.
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W1JKA
Member

Posts: 2088




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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2017, 11:43:48 PM »

Portable CW QRP ops is my thing, as per call search picture I only use single band 40/20/30 m MFJ Cubs either with dipole or cut to freq. end fed. Band pick for a particular outing depends on season or mostly day or night use. Everything goes in my backpack and I carry in my jump start battery/solar panel if not more than 1/2 mi. or so. I've have a K1, Weber tri band and other QRP rigs that wouldn't survive my hard scrabble ops but the Cubs are the most rugged/dependable and can be dried out by the  campfire when wet or gone overboard from my canoe and keep on ticking.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 11:46:14 PM by W1JKA » Logged
KU3X
Member

Posts: 435




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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2017, 04:38:06 AM »

I have the four (5) band youkits and I love it. You won't go wrong with that little rig.
Since you need 30 meters as well as 20 meters, I have to agree with the idea of a doublet fed with parallel feeders. If 30 meters wasn't in
the mix, either an OCF 40 or a 40 meter end fed would work great. But remember, if you'd decide to get an end fed, the coax is part of the
radiating antenna. A good line isolator should be placed about 25 feet away from the feed point. RG 174 is perfect for portable operations.
I use it all of the time.
Barry


http://www.ku3x.net/portable-qrp/ten-tec-r4020
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K0UA
Member

Posts: 1464




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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 07:48:40 AM »

I prefer to build my own. And certainly a wire antenna should be no problem.

73,
Pete, WB4YDY


This is what I built.  It didn't take a lot of time, and I think I have about $20 in it for everything. I just followed these instructions.  They sell a complete antenna too, or they will sell you the parts.  But I just sourced the parts myself.

http://www.earchi.org/92011endfedfiles/Endfed6_40.pdf
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WB4YDY
Member

Posts: 26




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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2017, 08:05:26 AM »

Thanks very much for some really good ideas. It always helps to hear from someone who has been there done that before.
Barry, I had already run across your website. That is where I got some of my early info!

If I decide to do this, I can play with antennas from the back yard deck to see what works for me. But I like to at least have a game plan going in to something new.

Thanks to all and 73,
Pete, WB4YDY
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KL7KN
Member

Posts: 117


WWW

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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2017, 10:46:50 AM »

A new-in-the-box MFJ-9296 is a 5 watt CW rig with a very stable DDS based VFO  @ $229 for the rig, I think you'll find the 6 band rig is the least cost to be had today on the new market.  Runs fine from AA batteries. 

An end fed tuner - QRP Guys EFHA tuner is only $25 and a breeze to assemble.

As for hotels, just use 24 ga black wire and play it out on the side of the balcony - assuming yo are more than 48 feet in the air.   Otherwise, string it around the room then out the balcony door.  Or see if you can't get an end unit....

Best of luck, having a travel radio is not only fun, but can provide information as well. 
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KC4ZGP
Member

Posts: 1637




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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2017, 11:03:48 AM »


I've not operated portable but a vertically oriented magnetic loop might be just
the ticket to portable.

My loop is of 1/2 inch copper tubing. It's five feet by five feet. I tune twenty and
thirty meters.

At the top split, I fashioned a trombone capaciltor of 3/4 inch tubing. The two pieces turn 90 degrees
downward. A U-tube of 1/2 inch slides in and out of the 3/4 inch tubing to change capacitance.

At the bottom edge connects the SO-239. Ground to the tubing. Center conductor gamma matched.

Give 'er a try.

Kraus



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K0UA
Member

Posts: 1464




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« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2017, 11:09:23 AM »


I've not operated portable but a vertically oriented magnetic loop might be just
the ticket to portable.

My loop is of 1/2 inch copper tubing. It's five feet by five feet. I tune twenty and
thirty meters.

At the top split, I fashioned a trombone capaciltor of 3/4 inch tubing. The two pieces turn 90 degrees
downward. A U-tube of 1/2 inch slides in and out of the 3/4 inch tubing to change capacitance.

At the bottom edge connects the SO-239. Ground to the tubing. Center conductor gamma matched.

Give 'er a try.

Kraus





An annotated photo would be helpful... Smiley Smiley
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KD8ZM
Member

Posts: 28




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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2017, 12:47:30 PM »


An end fed tuner - QRP Guys EFHA tuner is only $25 and a breeze to assemble.


I went to buy one of these a few days ago and found that they are not shipping anything at all until October or November. FYI.
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N1GMV
Member

Posts: 171




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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2017, 11:10:42 AM »

This here has got to be the coolest rig I have seen for QRP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF05reG32FY
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