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Author Topic: Sunspot Concerns by some - Turn on the righ anyway  (Read 3743 times)
AK0B
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Posts: 269




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« on: November 05, 2017, 01:17:18 PM »

A lot of worry about sunspot cycle and ham radio the next 3 to 5 years.  I received my license in 1954 so have been through both good and bad cycles.

However, our receivers are now at least 40 db better more since I started in this hobby.  Also we now have digital communications that seem to be able to received signals even though they may be reflecting off of spit.
 
If you make your station first class, both in equipment, antenna and improve your operating skills you will be able to obtain DXCC, WAS and WAZ.  It’s always a challenge.  Enjoy.  

As the higher frequency HF bands get weaker, move down in frequency.  Still a lot of room on 160 and 80 meters  and really 40 is never that bad even in a sunspot minimum.

I still make contacts running QRP, any time I fire up the rig.  Been operating 63 years the only year I didn't make a contact was my senior year in college.  I didn't have time to even try.  

73 de Stan AK0B  
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K8AXW
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Posts: 6378




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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 05:41:55 PM »

A perfect example of what he says is to listen to the bands on Sat. & Sun. during contest times!  The bands are dead all week and then on the weekend, all hell breaks loose.  Go figure!
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KG6LI
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2017, 07:57:17 AM »

Stan,

So true.....! Many hams have fallen into the trap of thinking the numbers indicate conditions. While generally true I have gone out on days where the flux is crap, the K and A are elevated and still made some great contacts. But really this time in the solar cycle is a great time to get to know some of your local hams. With the lower bands less affected (80-60-40) I've had a really good time rag chewing with hams in a 400-mile circle of my QTH.

So turn on those rigs and get talking...

73
KG6LI - Mark

« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 08:00:34 AM by KG6LI » Logged
KM1H
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Posts: 2633




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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2017, 05:19:28 PM »

Quote
A lot of worry about sunspot cycle and ham radio the next 3 to 5 years.  I received my license in 1954 so have been through both good and bad cycles.

I got mine in 55

Quote
However, our receivers are now at least 40 db better more since I started in this hobby.  Also we now have digital communications that seem to be able to received signals even though they may be reflecting off of spit.

Huh? Do you really understand what 40 dB means? Granted that a lot of entry level junk wasnt worth owning and caused many to never get past the Novice. OTOH a lot of mid priced gear even worked respectably when the band was open and with simple antennas as the advent of affordable mono and tribanders didnt really arrive until the late 50's....unless you "invested" in a Gotham Roll Eyes

Quote
If you make your station first class, both in equipment, antenna and improve your operating skills you will be able to obtain DXCC, WAS and WAZ.  It’s always a challenge.  Enjoy. 

I really disagree there. I earned all 3 awards with homemade wires and verticals in the mid 60's with mostly 100W and then 600W, and it is far easier today.

Quote
As the higher frequency HF bands get weaker, move down in frequency.  Still a lot of room on 160 and 80 meters  and really 40 is never that bad even in a sunspot minimum.

Unless you live under the auroral zone 20M is still an excellent daytime band as is 17M and then there is always 30M which is a fabulous band for CW. Life exists on 15, 12, and 10 if you look hard enough.


Quote
I still make contacts running QRP, any time I fire up the rig.  Been operating 63 years the only year I didn't make a contact was my senior year in college.  I didn't have time to even try. 


I made 9BDXCCC with 5W or less mostly using 1930's era gear but my location and antennas have improved. Roll Eyes

Quote
Also we now have digital communications that seem to be able to received signals even though they may be reflecting off of spit.

I havent reached that point yet but it is excellent for those without a decent location and antennas. I will be on 630M with CW and a few digi modes but there is little or nothing I need on 160-10 that isnt available on CW or SSB.

Carl
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KG4NEL
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Posts: 508




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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2017, 07:37:26 PM »

Meh, it'll be what it'll be. I'm 100% portable, 100% <10W, don't own a home yet so better antennas aren't in the cards.

I don't really care about chasing bits of paper, though.
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KB1GMX
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Posts: 1505




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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2017, 10:32:47 AM »

I don't date back to dirt but I've seen a cycle or two.
I'm a VHF op so 6 and 2m listening to hiss is my life,
singals are there I have to wait for them.

Here' my cut.  Back in 2009 i"d kept hearing 10 is dead.
So starting jan 1, 2010 I got active on 10 using a EF40/20/10
end fed half wave about 30ft up.  Radio was HB 10M SSB
running 4W.

Results, daytime TEP netted 85 countries in 5 months before I
had to apply my time to higher priority things.  the coverage
included Antarctica, Falklands and all of South America and
Central America and many of the islands.  "ten is dead".

Now that not the same as solar peak when F2 coverage is
the world and any wet noodle works and the band is so active
a open spot is scarce.

the higher bands close for most common propagation but
never for local and often have openings.  How do we know,
we don't,  that is until we call CQ.   I believe what is all that
quiet is those other people listening for something and
not calling.

Allison
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ZENKI
Member

Posts: 1439




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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2017, 07:54:31 PM »

Dont forget the massive increase in noise pollution that has raised the noise to make even short skip QSO's for city stations very difficult. 25 watts Should be the QRP power level, which I would not call QRP but minimum necessary communications power (MCP)

When you think back to WW2 and later the start of popular ham radio when everybody homebrewing to get on the air a starting radio would be a small CW 30 watt radio. The spy suitcase radios like the B2 also typically ran 20 to 25 watts of CW and this was considered t be a good reliable power. The HF manpacks of today  have also adopted this 25 limit as minimum  power for effective communications.

Considering the RF pollution that is around today, we need to also adapt and change to meet the minimum signal to noise requirements of todays bands.
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KB1GMX
Member

Posts: 1505




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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2017, 08:24:51 PM »

With efficient antennas power is a variable that manpacks are working without.

The average antenna for an manpack is well under 25% efficient for lower HF
and a few [less than 10%] are not uncommon.  Lets face it a AT271 at 10ft with
an internal tuner is portable but not efficient.  This is especially true close to
the ground without an effective counterpoise.  25W to get a EIRP of maybe a few
watts in the below 10mhz range.  Manpacks are not a good example only a
field necessity.    They are portable, but we are not always talking about that
kind of portable.

The WWII hams frequently used inefficient antennas as well.  It took a while for
people to appreciate the resonant dipole rather than random wires.  It does
matter if the band is 75M or 10M as well, galactic and terrestrial noise is still far
greater on the low bands especially below 20mhz.

The magic power is not 25W.   If anything a better way is an EIRP of more
than 5W.   IN other words radiate what you make rather than heat up things.
And efficient antenna is the key, power helps when you forgo that....


Allison



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ZENKI
Member

Posts: 1439




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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2017, 08:37:59 PM »

You make fair points. My point is not so much about the manpack package or antenna design but the power level. Throughout history spy HF radios radios right upto the 1970s were typically 20 to 30 watts of output. These radios did not use verticals but random length end fed bits of wire.

Nobody is suggesting that any ham should use such inefficient antenna designs. A magnetic loop would be better in most cases.

The point is that 25 watts  is  good power level when trading off the band noise, antenna efficient and battery life  etc etc.

The excuses by manufacturers today that most hams want 5 to 10 watts is a nonsense and that the best compromise for battery availability and life   is 5 to 10 watts and also a nonsense. Eveyone carries on like these modern QRP radios that small and practical is product of modern design and parts. These kinds of sets with high power output were designed in 70's already. Hams were just slow to adopt advanced design trend. These radios used tubes. A good example is the British MK123 spy set used by the British SAS and foreign service. These sets were never meant to use a short vertical but a random length longwire with 20 to 30 watts of output for world wide communications

http://cryptomuseum.com/spy/mk123/index.htm

The KX2 and KX3 could easily be such a radio with 25 watts of output  and these radios would have been a more practical radio for general portable or emergency communications. Nothing would prevent you from using these radios at 5 or 10 watts of output if they were 25 watt capable. When you compare the KX3 or most QRP radios to this very old Mk123 design todays QRP radios are just playing catch up and exhibit very poor design choice by the designers considering the technology of today.


quote author=KB1GMX link=topic=117559.msg1035816#msg1035816 date=1511583891]
With efficient antennas power is a variable that manpacks are working without.

The average antenna for an manpack is well under 25% efficient for lower HF
and a few [less than 10%] are not uncommon.  Lets face it a AT271 at 10ft with
an internal tuner is portable but not efficient.  This is especially true close to
the ground without an effective counterpoise.  25W to get a EIRP of maybe a few
watts in the below 10mhz range.  Manpacks are not a good example only a
field necessity.    They are portable, but we are not always talking about that
kind of portable.

The WWII hams frequently used inefficient antennas as well.  It took a while for
people to appreciate the resonant dipole rather than random wires.  It does
matter if the band is 75M or 10M as well, galactic and terrestrial noise is still far
greater on the low bands especially below 20mhz.

The magic power is not 25W.   If anything a better way is an EIRP of more
than 5W.   IN other words radiate what you make rather than heat up things.
And efficient antenna is the key, power helps when you forgo that....


Allison




[/quote]
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KB1GMX
Member

Posts: 1505




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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 07:30:05 AM »

Zenki>>
The KX2 and KX3 could easily be such a radio with 25 watts of output  and these radios would have been a more practical radio for general portable or emergency communications. Nothing would prevent you from using these radios at 5 or 10 watts of output if they were 25 watt capable. When you compare the KX3 or most QRP radios to this very old Mk123 design todays QRP radios are just playing catch up and exhibit very poor design choice by the designers considering the technology of today.
<<

Of face its true but for a SSB capable radio all the linear stages are a factor, first they eat power, second
the are inefficient, and third they generate heat.  So a 25W output radio can easily consume 50W.  Thats
enough to be a pain to carry.  An example PRC1099 at 20W out eats 4A peak at 12V(nominal) or about
48W.  That 48W also means a metal case or a big heatsink to dissipate that waste power.  This holds
true for most SSB radios.  CW however running higher power with CLass C,D or even E stages has
a lower power/efficiency cost so 25W is not a big problem and since the carrier is keyed the total
power cost is still lower.  In the end its about how many watt-hours of batter your willing to carry.
So for a modern hams running FM8, PSK32, and SSB the power cost for 25W is very high.  CW
is lower but carries a signal to noise advantage as well as low power cost. 

FYI the PRC1099 is 33lbs with the standard gell cell and 30 pounds using lithium tech.  Other more
modern HF radios are equally heavy and many of the VHF radios especially the encrypted and SATcom
have high power costs but 20-25 W is still the working limit even with lithium power.  It has more to do
with the absolute need to communicate rather than other constraints.

As to the old WWI spy sets.  First reliable contact was more important than power needs as most ran off
available local power,  and they were CW.  For most of them the real power cost was heating the tubes.
Tactically they had a short time on the air life as messages were kept short and to avoid DF or
intercept.  That required short existence on the air made batteries possible even if the overall
battery life was poor.   Most were phased out in the 60s save for Embassy radios where AC
power was available and then 100 watts or more was the rule.

in short I maintain hams do not require the military or spy requirements or constraints.  We do
not call HQ or have a mandate to do so.   Those that work in the more specialized area of
emergency support and humanitarian aid have a different needs and 100W radios at HF are
common and portable less so.  The EMCOM people when not sing VHF tend to treat HF
differently and Digital modes are often used.

For practical portable radios power that nears capable max is the efficient way to go as it maximizes
battery life for time on the air is the desired capability or light weight.  It works out that 5-10W is magic
number for weight, operating time, and battery size with a compact radio.  That number takes into
account modern batteries as well.

In the end a good antenna is worth more than power.   Also no amount of power can make up for poor
band choice. 


Allison




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W1VT
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Posts: 2529




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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2017, 10:10:53 AM »

The KX-3 uses two RD15HVF1 transistors in the Power Amplifier.  This 15W transistor uses an inexpensive "TO-220 style" plastic case with a metal tab.  Going higher requires a device package that is a lot more expensive.  The MRF-477 packaging would be ideal, except that it used BeO, which presently drives the liability costs right through the roof!
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 10:14:03 AM by W1VT » Logged
N9AOP
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Posts: 676




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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2017, 10:28:30 AM »

Don't forget about the 50W rig TenTec sold with the separate channel elements.  That radio was one of their best sellers as far as total units sold.  If a majority of hams wanted a 25W radio, one would be on the market, or perhaps they do and no manufacturer knows about it yet.
Art
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KB1GMX
Member

Posts: 1505




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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2017, 12:54:35 PM »

What people often want is:

5-10W radio cost $$$
100W radio cost $$$$.

The expectation is a 25W radio will cost $$$ + 1/4$ (maybe 1/3$) more.
That doesn't happen.  Turns out that to go the additional power you end
up with a 100W radio costs and construction. 

Current 100W radios like a 7300 and other are about the same price
range (1100-1400$) and a 5-10W radio like KX3 is not so cheap
(bare bones 999$ holiday price) compare them.

With such a narrow price split to have something in between is
not likely a big seller unless it had a set of features hard to match.
One of which is it must run on batteries with their voltage range that
rarely matches common 12V (nominal) radios.  Most common 100W
radios do not like much below 11.5V.

The power source is the most common issue for most 100W radios.  Fancy
screens and DSP eats power.  Most finals tend to create more distortion
when run at 10V not minding their reduced efficiency.

A 100W radio could work if...  Low receive power drain and moderate
current draw for low power settings.  The usual problem is many of
the 100W radios use more power on receive than a FT817 on full 
power TX.  That makes them awkward for battery use.

A good example of my Tentec eagle, RX is about 1.3A so to run a
8 hour day in the park I need a 17 w/h battery that can keep more
than 11.2V(radio degrades fast starting at 11).  Seems moderately
that 12Ah gell cell can do that.  Then we push the TX button and
the standing no modulation current is now 3.5A and at 25W it peaks
about 8.5A.  FOr my voice the average current is about 6A.  Its
obvious to do a park visit we need a bigger battery if we are to
talk any.  We will assume 1:5 TX/RX ratio or about1.6hr TX time or
about 125 W/H of power in addition to the 17 W/H or so for RX.
We then need about 144 (rounded) W/H of power as described.
we also need a batter that can assure the TX voltage never drops
on power peaks below 11.6V (for safety).  So a larger battery of
any type is a must to insure the need.   Using a A123 Lithium type
of 4 series cells which gives a working voltage range of 14.8(charged)
to about 12 (near discharged) with enough parallel cells to supply about
about 15Ah (6 26650 cells in parallel)  This would net a portable 15ah 13V
nominal pack of about 4.5 pounds (2kg)...  Note at 24 cells and around 9$
each its not a cheap battery plus charger and battery management board.

That setup would weigh in at 8 pounds for radio and mic, 4.4 for the battery,
3 pounds for and antenna and support bits (rope).  We are at about 17 pounds
and a full pack.  Its portable.  Also if you need more power you can turn it up
at the expense of operating time as the described battery can support the
20A peaks (100W transmit).  Most other radios are heavier and use more
power on RX.  I picked that radio as its the most power frugal of recent design
with DSP.   I can do better with the Tentec Triton (model 540) from the late 70s
that runs on far less power on RX and can be happy at 11V on TX that radio
despite it size is quite light but I give up a, TX audio compressor, auto-notch,
noise blanker, variable bandwidth from DSP, auto tuner and stable digital tuning
to name a few features common to newer radios.

Of course a new manpack can be had such as the PRC1099A at about 6000$
others are a bit more.  Most barely match the capability of the SGC2020.

Or I can just grab my FT817 and a 5AH (3s2P) Lipo in my pocket, a EF40/20/10
in another pocket and go.

Random ruminations on why we are unlikely to see many 20-25W radios.

Allison
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VK5EEE
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Posts: 1176




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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2017, 06:23:26 PM »

Only now a 5W radio costs $$ not $$$, $49 to be precise, the QCX, and has most of the used features of a $$$ radio albeit single band.
Agree noise is the often big killer more than antenna, and antennas more than power.

CW to SSB has an advantage of 10 to 20dB but local noise is already often 40dB or more worse than back in the day.

During no-sunspot periods 30m has been open regularly from VK to the opposite side of the world EU via both LP and SP.

I think a reason that the bands are often so empty is because people tune around hear nothing and almost always judging from comments of fellow hams via other media here, blame propagation even when the numbers are good and the conditions are great on the band.

Indeed when numbers are bad it doesn't mean world wide on every band, as mentioned in ARRL Propagation Bulletin 36.

I've experienced many times when the path is open to DX populous areas such as Europe (weekday morning time in Europe) and not one signal to be heard on the band. Noise and inactivity are perhaps the greatest problems.

I also believe a nice power to have would be around 20W or so for SSB or CW PA option, but for reasons stated in in above posts perhaps this is why we don't have it.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 06:38:58 PM by VK5EEE » Logged

Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
WD4IGX
Member

Posts: 1




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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2017, 09:33:42 AM »

Don't forget about the 50W rig TenTec sold with the separate channel elements.  That radio was one of their best sellers as far as total units sold.  If a majority of hams wanted a 25W radio, one would be on the market, or perhaps they do and no manufacturer knows about it yet.
Art

They also made the Argonaut V at 20W max transmit power, IMHO the best of the entire Argonaut series. The VI had some advantages but giving up 12m was dumb as it's a great band for QRP. The V does have fairly substantial current drain on receive though (about .5A I believe) making it not the best for portable work, but the power level was right.

They also made the Argosy and Argosy II and digital variants at 50W, which were really good radios.

I don't think it's about price. When we move up to 100W rigs we are mostly buying other capabilities of which the added RF power is a pretty minor part of the cost. Look for example at the FT-817nd which costs over $100 MORE than the 100W FT-891. Granted it also has 2m and 440, but cost just isn't a big factor in 5W versus 100W, at least at the transmitter/transceiver point. When you start talking about adding a battery for portable or even a DC supply for fixed station use then of course it adds more.
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