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eHam Forums => QRP => Topic started by: N9LCD on April 07, 2019, 09:00:18 AM



Title: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N9LCD on April 07, 2019, 09:00:18 AM
It's Spring(?) in 9-land and the bug has bitten -- again or as usual.

After years on VHF/UHF with a HT, I'm interested in trying HF - QRP.  My HF experience to date is limited to two stints as a "guest op" at HV3SJ.

QRP solves several problems -- space for the rig & where to put the antenna.  Yeah, I know that indoor antennas pose all kinds of problems especially at HF but I've been told more than once that I've got an antenna challenged QTH.

And, NO, I'm not even dreaming of DXCC.

QUESTION:  Is it advisable to start out in HF by going QRP?

Tnk & 73!

N9LCD


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: AA4PB on April 07, 2019, 10:53:02 AM
QRP is definitely more of a challenge, especially if you've got a less than ideal antenna. QRP and an indoor antenna can be a real challenge - depending on the antenna. For QRP, using CW is a big plus (I assume that digital modes like FT8 would be as well). I've run 5W CW on 40M to a hamstick dipole on a 10 foot pole in the back yard and made some pretty good contacts. I also once had an apartment where the owner let me string a full sized 40M wire dipole in the attic (all wood building) and it worked much better.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KL7CW on April 07, 2019, 11:13:25 AM
With the propagation conditions for the next few years being what they are QRP operation even for experienced CW ops with a good antenna can often be quite challenging.  I like the challenge, but have been a CW op for 65 years and have good antennas at home.  When I travel I seldom operate from the homes or hotels we visit.  Antennas are usually a problem, and high levels of RFI on receive are the norm.  However I usually just take my one or perhaps five watt QRP rig to the nearest park, throw a 26 foot wire up in a tree, and have a blast for several hours usually on 20, 30, or 40 meters.  However my park expeditions have been much less successful in the last 5 years from the lower 48, the UK, and Europe.  So most folks would say get a 100 watt rig and get some experience, and you can dial the power back to 5 watts.  Most folks get easily discouraged if too many factors are negative.  Some of us just plow ahead and struggle for QSO's, perhaps with less than one watt and call it a fun day even if we have a success rate or perhaps one percent !!
    Some QRP folks (even backpackers) consider it worthwhile to run a full 5 watts, or even something like a KX 2 with 10 or so watts.  Phone operation with QRP is even more difficult, but some folks even are successful there.  Look at some of the VK3YE or KX 2 videos on U tube, but do not assume you will always be this successful.  I like to encourage QRP operation, but this is just not what everyone likes.  There are some very good QRP CW rigs for < about $300 new if cost is a factor and you are not sure if you want to jump into it with both feet with something like a KX 3 or whatever.
               Rick  KL7CW


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N9LCD on April 07, 2019, 11:42:55 AM
Rick:

I thought of trying QRP in the back yard / patio.
  • The concrete makes anchoring anything, even a portable antenna, a major operation.
    Anything short of a BuddyPole, if anchored in the available ground, would be in danger of contacting electric lines.
    The QTH is under 28 IN / 10 OUT of ORD!

As for CW, after countless attempts, different learning aids, and different learning methods, I finally concluded that I'm one of those 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 that doesn't have the aptitude for CW.

Rick, thank-you for your guidance.  It looks like indoor QRP isn't for me.

Tnx & 73!
N9LCD


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KX4QP on April 07, 2019, 04:12:55 PM
Except for the "years on VHF/UHF" I've got a lot of the same.  I'm working on putting together a 100W station, but it'll be a while before I can get all the pieces and put everything in order.  Meantime, I just today assembled a Cricket 80a -- runs on a 9V battery, puts out around a watt on 80m CW, and has a straight key built right onto the circuit board.  It cost $30 plus shipping, and assembly took around two hours, going step by step, cutting every set of leads before populating the next part.

Now I need to get a fresh battery and make up an antenna (and continue my code copy practice).  This is a park rig, more than a home station.  No, with current propagation, I don't expect to work the world, but I hope to make some semi-local QSOs.  If I like it, I might order another one, alter a few component values, and put in a 20m or 17m crystal (usually better in daytime than 80m/40m).

I don't know of any reason one couldn't make an AM modulated transceiver similar to this -- I've read about Pixies converted to AM transmitters (the receive audio stage was sacrificed for the modulator).  The same thing ought to work with the (much better) Cricket circuit, or it might be possible to connect a modulator to the external keying adapter (which is part of the kit).  Start with one on a higher band, and put the right crystal in it (to get out of the CW sub-band) and you might at least get scolded for using AM and "wasting bandwidth" as compared to SSB.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KL7CW on April 07, 2019, 04:18:16 PM
Sounds like something like a KX 2 from the park with an external battery pack might be an SSB option.  With built in antenna tuner something like a 26 ft wire thrown up in a tree branch should give you a reasonable chance of some QSO's, some possibly over or well over 1000 miles if conditions are exceptional.  Usually short or even medium length whips, etc. are expensive and usually are inferior to a longer wire antenna.  Operation outside can be a challenge (I know), like operating from AZ on a hot summer day, or from north of the arctic circle in Norway in the winter, however some of us who are a bit crazy do things like this and call it fun or a challenge....for sure not recommended for everyone.  I am reluctant to recommend something as expensive as an Elecraft KX 2 or KX 3 since it could be an expensive experiment if you do not enjoy QRP SSB.  On the positive side in 9 land you have large ham populations within less than 1000 miles, so QRP, even SSB may very well be somewhat productive.  In past years I made many very fine CW QSO's with my 1 watt QRP rig from parks and trails in the upper Midwest, even a very occasional Europe or South American, but conditions were better then.  From the upper Midwest QSO's with the gulf coast and much of the Eastern seaboard were common on 20, 30, and 40 meters, and at times all the way to the west coast.  If you buy one of the 10 W Elecraft rigs, you can always later buy the 100 W external amplifier if QRP is not your thing.  Welcome to HF, and enjoy your SSB activity.  We do not at all want to make it seem like you need to be a CW to be a real ham.              Cheers,  Rick  KL7CW  Palmer, Alaska


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: W4FID on April 08, 2019, 03:17:12 AM
QRP is fun but more so for experienced guys. If you already know how to cope with weak signals, DX piles, and thinking out of the box for what antenna can I get up where and how then you will do better at QRP. And you'll get a "kick" out of working someone special. 58+ years and about 30 Field Days and a dozen home QTHs with various antenna issues, and I can do CW about 12 or so WPM. So I have QRP in my RV. But an afternoon on the picnic table may still only get me a few QSOs. As a beginner you probably won't do as well.

BUT THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. Get a digital interface, a used inexpensive laptop, and do CW that way. You'll have the advantages CW gives you without knowing the code. Or FT8 is a very good weak signal mode. I ran a 10 watt rig on 40 - 30 - 20 - 17 into an end fed 30 foot wire that was up 12 feet and worked about 400 QSOs in a month from a cabin in rural WV.

Don't be discouraged. But set your expectations realistically. Learn as you go. Equip yourself for a fighting chance from the start so you don't get too frustrated and give up.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KL7CW on April 08, 2019, 09:45:40 AM
YES !!   Any day spent at a park with a picnic table, or even siting under a shade tree on the grass operating QRP is better than any day sitting inside in the easy chair watching "Days of Our Life" and munching on pork rinds.  For me this is true even if I only make one or two QSO's and receive replies like RST 339 tnx QSO sorry QRM, QRN, QSB, no copy, 73 (or 72).  PS.... not always this bad...really !!                KL7CW


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K5LXP on April 08, 2019, 11:37:54 AM
 
So do you want to work HF or not?

1. Figure out an antenna solution.  A single band dipole or end fed even as a temporary antenna is a great start.  Hint: avoid snake oil contraptions like buddy poles and loops on a stick.

2. Start with 100W.  If the idea of portable QRP really floats your boat then you can go down that road separately.  QRP is harder than QRO. 

3. At every step of the process consider is this improving or reducing my odds of success?  Picking harder modes, compromise antennas and low power are not just adding up, they're compounding the compromises.

I have QRP rigs and portable antennas.  But they weren't my first station and they're not my only station.  Start with stacking the deck in your favor, then scaling back as you gain knowledge and experience.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: VK3YE on April 08, 2019, 12:57:57 PM
Yes, it is advisable - and fun.

Don't have your expectations too high.

And don't do multiple things that reduce your chance of success - eg crystal control, a few hundred milliwatts only, poor antennas etc.

Operating technique is also really important. A lot of info including 10 steps for QRP success is at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/qrp.htm

Some SSB QRP tips in this recent video at: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z51toS16mbs


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: AK4YH on April 08, 2019, 11:54:47 PM
I'll second Peter here, yes, definitely.

Use a good antenna (half-wave end-fed comes to mind) and keep the losses down. 5W will get you anywhere using CW under the right condition, on the right band at the right time.

Gil.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N2RRA on April 09, 2019, 01:19:28 AM
Well come on in. The QRP wave is all good. Lot of guys touched on various issues and suggestions so I’ll keep it short, simple and sweet. I have a YouTube channel you’ll wanna check out just as an example that even with this cycle a lot can be done with much success. I’m not gonna say it’s not challenging. Although DXCC is very possible still. I worked all the recent DXpeditions and I’ve ranked high coming in number 1 in the QRP category for 2017 and even did well QRP VHF bands. Just got busy with 2018, but back in the game for 2019. Have to update my QRZ page but check both out N2RRA/QRP and N2RRA. Look at my log. That’s all QRP. Right now I’m limited from 20m-6m due to some rearranging of antennas, but in my videos it will show you can do a lot with QRP. Just have to know a little about your environment, choose the right antennas and work with the space you have. Out in the field portable you can do a whole lot cause you have all the room in the world.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and get into contesting. Many of the DX stations your looking for will be much easier to find and work to get that DXCC much sooner.

73,
Eric


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB1GMX on April 09, 2019, 09:06:26 AM
QRP is possible way to start.

However the logic....

"QRP solves several problems -- space for the rig & where to put the antenna. 
Yeah, I know that indoor antennas pose all kinds of problems especially at HF
but I've been told more than once that I've got an antenna challenged QTH."

has many issues to debate.

Most new HF radios even at 100W can be very compact, so size of radio is not generally an issue
unless you are at the level of living in a 150sqft home....  Most all can be turned down to QRP power
if you want the challenge.  But having 100W also means you do not need to use all of it.  Power
supplies for even the 100W level are compact.   Radio size is mostly a non issue unless it has
to fit in a back pack and be carried a distance. Hint get the best receiver you can!

What QRP does offer is you can build radios as ow power makes the transmitter part of
the build less demanding.  Building your own gear is easier at low power and some enjoy that
part of the hobby as well.  Plus it opens the door to battery power and portable.

Generally indoor antennas are poor due to local noise sources and many homes are well insulated
with foil backed material.

External antennas do not have to be large.  A simple base loaded vertical needs less than
a square foot of ground.  Radials for vertical can run hither as required and do not have to
radiate in all directions to make the antenna work well enough.  An end fed wire can be very
thin and run into the nearest tree.

Generally unless you have a large farm or other significant plot of land there are always
some challenge to antennas.  All that means is you do the best you can and then improve
if needed.  HOA presents a few annoyances, sometimes more than a little, but often less
than impossible.  It does mean be less obtrusive or reading the rules carefully and being
clever.  Bottom line is a crappy outdoor antenna generally beats most indoors ones.  A hint
is start out on one band like 40M or maybe 20M and then consider other bands once you
have a feel for HF.

As to the DXCC, if you want it then full speed ahead, people have done it at QRPp power
levels (1W!).  It means refining your skills, developing your ears maybe even learning
CW as a way to stretch.  And likely lots of antenna experimentation.

One last thing, endeavor to excel and more importantly have fun.

Allison


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB1GMX on April 09, 2019, 09:24:21 AM
I didn't see the power line thing.   Two hazards with them the antenna can never
fall on them (id expect they are more than 10-12Ft up.  The other is noise from
power lines can be troublesome.

That would have to be understood more but....

I've been successful with a 150ft wire laying (I am not kidding) on the ground!
look up K3MTs grasswire on the net...

Low dipoles (under 15ft above the ground) on 80m can work very well for
local to 400 miles contacts. That's called a NVIS antenna it may work
on 60M but 40M not so much.  However low antennas are still a
means to getting on the air!

A 8Ft tall mobile whip (or Buddistick) and 8 10 ft radials can work well too
as a potable or temporary situation in the back yard or park.  I've done
this on 40M and 20M a few times for fun at 5W SSB during the day
with contacts made. 

No matter what try something, as its better than nothing, then improve it.

Hint a good antenna matching unit is never wasted.  Build one or buy it.

Listen a lot as then you get to hear the way people work on HF and maybe
find the kind of operation that you find interesting.

OR... do VHF/UHF QRP!  Smaller antennas even yagis a 5W radio like the FT817
and a good hill and fun can be had SSB/CW.  Teh 6M Es season is coming
and 2 and 432 are active during sprints and contest and in some areas
there can be activity at night.

Allison


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K7RBW on April 13, 2019, 04:17:52 AM
If you live in a place that isn’t particularly ham friendly, QRP makes it easy to escape and find a better location, such as a park. The FT-818 is light and compact and you can connect an Android phone or tablet to work PSK-31 and RTTY.

I have an FT-857, which is like a 100w FT-818, and it’s also portable, but its portable setup weighs about 5x that of the 818. It works wellfrom the car, however. If you have a car, that might be an option.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K0UA on April 13, 2019, 07:01:24 AM
I have been enjoying HF mobile operation which is another form of QRP. I haven't made any CW contacts from the mobile but I am thinking about it when parked.  I did order another paddle to keep in the truck.  100 watts from a mobile is less than 5 watts from a home station with good antennas. Maybe about equal on the upper bands above 20 meters, but a mobile on 80 meters is way less Effective Radiated Power than a 5 watt station with even a low dipole. But all that said, I am having fun with my mobile, even on 80 meters.

Not bragging, but I did work the recent Togo expedition on 20 meters SSB from the mobile. Well...maybe bragging just a little. Buying a QRP rig as your first and main rig, I would not recommend.  QRP rigs can be a lot of fun, and they offer the advantage of low power consumption for portable use, but as your first rig and your ONLY rig.  no..not a good idea. You need more experience under you belt, and a 100 watt rig reduces the frustration level considerably.  You are going to have plenty of challenges as is with poor crappy antenna's. Turning down a 100 watt rig to the 5 watt level still consumes way more power from your battery than a 5 watt rig running flat out.

Now we come to the CW thing. You have to do it.  I know it hurts.  Believe me, I know. I am NO fan of CW. BUT look at it as a big challenge, A hurdle to overcome, something to conquer. I have been a ham for 48 years now, and CW has NEVER come easy for me or been lots of fun or relaxing or anything like that. CW has always been a chore, but something I have had to do. You have to do it too if you want real success especially in the QRP class. Many guys on this forum LOVE CW.  They think any other way of operating is just stupid, and not "real".  I disagree vehemently.

Lets talk about FT8.  A digital mode. You can do more with 5 watts on  FT8 and a modest antenna than you can do with 1000 watts and a modest beam on SSB.  Yeah, for real and for true. You can make more contacts.  Yep, if all you can do is 5 watts and a crappy antenna, yet you want to work on your DXCC, it is possible with FT8. AND the good news, is no stinking CW to learn or operate. BUT, no actual person to person ragchew's either. It is always exciting to "get a new one" with FT8 CW, SSB or any mode, but with CW and SSB at you do have that personal exchange of information at least at times. Sometimes CW and SSB operation can be just as impersonal as FT8, for example contest or DX pileup operation.

A signal report on CW and a signal report on FT8 are EXACTLY the same thing. Cold and impersonal, but on CW you MAY have the opportunity to ragchew with the guy and learn something about him. Another new mode, just starting out is JS8.  It offers the low signal level advantages of FT8 but offers the ability to exchange more information at a low speed, around 10 wpm or a little higher at times.

SO.. you have a lot to think about, and I do wish you well.  If you have any specific questions, I would be very glad to help you on a personal level.  Just shoot me an email, and we can exchange phone numbers if you like and I would be happy to chat with you on the phone and act as a long distance Elmer to you.  Good luck and welcome to the wonderful diverse world of HF operation.  73  James,  KØUA


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB1GMX on April 13, 2019, 11:51:00 AM
QRP mobile....  That's a different kettle of fish...

It is certainly an option.  Also portable in the park or at some high spot.
I view it as a great excuse to go somewhere and play radio.

I do that.  Both HF and VHF.  Its my idea of fun to do VHF/UHF (6/2/432)
weak signal work either mobile or from the mobile parked at a high spot.
At VHF and up efficient antennas are trivial thing and on 432 carrying
a 6 element beam is not a big deal (rather small actually).

The problems are that most HF mobile antennas are inefficient due to
size but 40 and 20M work has been both satisfying and gobs of fun.
With a bit of care applied to the antenna used its possible to do
some serious DX.  However antennas like the EF-40/20/10 resonant
end feds are easy to deploy in a park or maybe hill top.  Next best
and popular are the tuned loops and Buddipole or similar.

Generally if you go and deploy an antenna regardless of mode and
power its possible to have fun.  and if the bands are dead and people
are around there will be plenty of conversation.  That can be fun too.

Allison



Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N8AUC on April 13, 2019, 09:51:50 PM
I have an FT-857, which is like a 100w FT-818

Not really.

I've got an FT-817 and an FT-857D. The 857 has a much better receiver than an FT-817 or 818.
Mainly because the FT-857D also has audio DSP and the 817/818 doesn't. The audio DSP by itself
isn't that great. But using the DSP in conjunction with a 300Hz CW filter in the I.F. it really quite
nice, and really helps under crowded band conditions. And that's also why the current drain on receive
for an 857 is roughly double what an FT-817 or 818 uses. It takes extra power to run the DSP circuitry.

Now with that being said, operating QRP is loads of fun (especially on CW).
Mainly because it is much more of a challenge than 100 watts is.

If you're just starting out though, go for the 100 watt radio while developing your operating skills
to reduce your frustration level. That way, if you want to try out QRP, you can just turn the
output level down to 5 watts and give it a go.

73 de N8AUC
Eric


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K0UA on April 14, 2019, 10:07:08 AM
Also the current drain on transmit for an 100 watt class rig turned down to 5 watts is much greater than a 5 watt running 5 watts because of the bias current needed to bias the final transistors.  This is typically about 4 amps of current before the first dit or the first bit of speech is uttered.  Check it out. The bias current for a typical 5 watt QRP rig is way under an amp, usually just a couple hundred milliamps, as compared to 4 amps bias current for a typical 100 watt rig upon key up.

Don't get me wrong, there is great advantage to having a rig with a built in "amplifier" on tap with just turning up the power with a knob or menu setting. But you have to budget your battery accordingly. 100 watt rigs turned down to 5 watt QRP power are not battery efficient.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K4JPN on April 14, 2019, 05:48:41 PM
QRP CW is a lot of fun, but can be challenging and very frustrating at times.  Often lately I will start a QSO running QRP 4W and need to crank the power up to 50W to continue the QSO.  Start out with 50 or 100W and learn how to make easy good CW QSOs then start hanging out on the QRP frequencies.   One thing that is a lot of fun is the NAQCC Sprints, they are QRP and use a straight key.   Also the SKCC Sprints with categories for QRPp less then 1W, QRP 5W and QRO 100W.  When the sunspots come back you will be able to work the world with 5W, but lately conditions have been poor, and I have better luck is with 50W or 100W.   I have been a ham for over 50 years and never run more then 100W.  Now most of the time I run CW QRP, till I get frustrated and crank the power up to 50W or so.  73 Steve K4JPN


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K7RBW on April 14, 2019, 05:56:14 PM
I have an FT-857, which is like a 100w FT-818

Not really.

I've got an FT-817 and an FT-857D. The 857 has a much better receiver than an FT-817 or 818.

I agree. I added the 500 Hz filter, which helps, but I think I’d like the 300, better, esp w/o any DSP to help it out.

I agree with the advice to start with a 100w rig. Starting out, it’s much more enjoyable to not just hear folks, but to talk to them well. Once that novelty wears off, you can lighten your load with a QRP rig.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K0UA on April 17, 2019, 08:14:42 PM
This fella enjoys working QRP, and he has one of the finest QRP rigs on the market, but his advice is to start out with a 100 watt rig, especially if SSB is your prime focus.

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


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N8AUC on April 18, 2019, 03:38:10 AM
I have an FT-857, which is like a 100w FT-818

Not really.

I've got an FT-817 and an FT-857D. The 857 has a much better receiver than an FT-817 or 818.

I agree. I added the 500 Hz filter, which helps, but I think I’d like the 300, better, esp w/o any DSP to help it out.

I agree with the advice to start with a 100w rig. Starting out, it’s much more enjoyable to not just hear folks, but to talk to them well. Once that novelty wears off, you can lighten your load with a QRP rig.

I have the 300Hz filter in mine. Crank the DSP bandpass down to 60Hz, which is the narrowest setting, turn off the AGC and ride the RF gain control, and the receiver becomes almost uncrunchable. Works fantastic on Field Day, which are the most crowded band conditions I encounter. I also love the built in zero beat tuning indicator on CW, which is something the 817 doesn't have. The TX/RX LED which is green in receive, and red in transmit, flashes blue in time with the code when you're tuned properly. I really like that feature a lot.

With all that being said, I love my little 817. Mine has the TCXO and the 500Hz CW filter, and it works nicely. But there are some times when QRP just isn't enough, which could frustrate a new ham terribly. I wouldn't voluntarily part with either radio. To me, they're both keepers. 



Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K5LXP on April 18, 2019, 09:00:32 PM

I'm a big fan of QRP, and a big fan of HF mobile.  But QRP mobile is just asking too much.  Even in CW contests where the other op does the heavy lifting and will go through a lot to pull you out, it's just too weak to have much fun doing.  One year on a trip running CQWW CW in a rental car I was limited to about 15W and an ATAS antenna.  I made a fair number of contacts but many were after a long round of repeats.  I felt bad I put those ops through that.  QRP on a good antenna can be challenging enough, but on a 5 or 10% efficient antenna just doesn't cut it.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB9BVN on April 24, 2019, 12:20:38 PM
HF QRP is awesome if you are going to learn CW.  Not quite as awesome if you are going to run SSB phone....really cool if you are running QRP digital modes...like PSK31, FT8, FT4, JT65

How do you want to do your QRP operating?


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB2FCV on April 24, 2019, 02:02:14 PM
As much as I enjoy QRP.. I tend to agree with others to get a 100w rig to get your feet wet in HF for the reasons stated.

If you do decide to stick with just QRP if you don't know CW (yet), start out with digital modes and put up / use the best antenna possible. With modes such as FT8 or PSK31 you can pretty easily make QSO's with just a few watts around the world when the bands are open. You can do the same with CW if you learn it. SSB takes a bit more patience.

You may have already discovered.. there are some cool things you can do with your HT & 5 watts, such as using the Low Earth Orbit satellites!


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: W4KVW on April 28, 2019, 08:03:16 AM
Most everyone I know who has a QRP rig is looking for an amplifier for that rig. Why not just buy a full power rig & turn down the output power & if you need or want extra power turn the power up? Makes far more sense & the QRP rig will cost you almost the exact price as a high power rig?

Clayton
W4KVW


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K0UA on April 28, 2019, 11:50:23 AM
Most everyone I know who has a QRP rig is looking for an amplifier for that rig. Why not just buy a full power rig & turn down the output power & if you need or want extra power turn the power up? Makes far more sense & the QRP rig will cost you almost the exact price as a high power rig?

Clayton
W4KVW

Everything you said was correct as far as you went.  But there is more!.  The reason for the QRP rigs is because they consume so much less power at a 5 watt level vs. a 100 watt rig running at a 5 watt level. That may or may not be of consequence to your operation depending on what you are using for a power supply. If you have lots of power in your battery pack or solar/battery combination, then you are good to go.  Run 5 watts when you can, or turn it up to 100 or anywhere in between, no extra amp to pack or cables etc.  BUT the difference is in the final transistor biasing.  A typical 100 watt rig running on 13.8 volts will burn up 4 amps of bias current before a single watt is generated in output power.  typical  5 watt rig will have bias current in the milliamps.  Therefore a 5 watt rig will consume so much less current than a 100 watt rig turned down to 5 watts.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N2DTS on April 28, 2019, 04:05:22 PM
My idea of qrp is portable, where size and weight matter.
Yes, at home, you can run whatever power you want, into a good antenna.
If that is the idea, just get a good used rig and have at it.

A qrp rig is something you take to the park or to a camp site, or on the trail.
It does not need to be qrp, but anything over about 20 watts gets big and heavy...
Many qrp or just over qrp rigs will fit in your pocket.
Its not large and heavy by radio standards, but I would not want to run an Icom 7300 on some mountain top.
A KX2 seems a much better choice.

I made a 1000 mile contact last night using my mcHF rs-928 plus on 40 meters running AM with 4 watts carrier.
I have done it before, and made plenty of AM contacts on 80 meters with a KX2 and KX3, 2 watts carrier...

I once worked someone running a KX3 with my KX2, sota, SSB, on Moores knob down South from my home qth in New Jersey, solid copy both ways,
a nice qso on 40 meters.
That is what I think is cool, two hand held rigs making long range contacts at low power.

On CW, 10 or 15 watts is plenty to make loads of contacts all over the place.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N2DTS on April 30, 2019, 05:44:33 PM
I picked up a Yeasu FT991a as I thought an all band all mode 100 watt rig would be nice mobile.
A worse radio I have never had, the radio itself was not bad but the menu/control/memory operation stinks big time.
Sold the radio in under a week it was so bad.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K8AXW on May 06, 2019, 11:01:38 AM
If you're an old hand at HF CW...all of these suggestions are right on.  But, if you're STARTING out HF doing QRP CW I agree with the "getting out in a nice park" but just beat out CW on a rock with a piece of pipe.  Maybe someone will come through and answer you.

You'll have  more fun doing the same thing in a rattlesnake den.

Getting started in HF is great fun even though we're at a sunspot LOW but doing it handicapped is not a great idea. Just MHO.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N8AUC on May 06, 2019, 11:29:52 AM
Also the current drain on transmit for an 100 watt class rig turned down to 5 watts is much greater than a 5 watt running 5 watts because of the bias current needed to bias the final transistors.  This is typically about 4 amps of current before the first dit or the first bit of speech is uttered.  Check it out. The bias current for a typical 5 watt QRP rig is way under an amp, usually just a couple hundred milliamps, as compared to 4 amps bias current for a typical 100 watt rig upon key up.

Don't get me wrong, there is great advantage to having a rig with a built in "amplifier" on tap with just turning up the power with a knob or menu setting. But you have to budget your battery accordingly. 100 watt rigs turned down to 5 watt QRP power are not battery efficient.

On some rigs this may be true. But it isn't true on an FT-857D.
I've measured the current draw both on that radio and my FT-817 in order to determine battery requirements for field operations.
The FT-817 draws 2 amps on transmit when set to 5 watts output CW.
The FT-857D also draws 2 amps on transmit when set to 5 watts output CW. It draws about 4 amps at 20w output, and 5.5A at 30w output.

73 de N8AUC
Eric


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: AA4PB on May 06, 2019, 01:06:19 PM
As an example, an Elecraft K1 draws 700 to 900 mA at 5W CW output. It would get at least twice the battery life for a given battery type than the FT-817 set to 5W output.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: VK3YE on May 07, 2019, 07:23:52 PM

On some rigs this may be true. But it isn't true on an FT-857D.
I've measured the current draw both on that radio and my FT-817 in order to determine battery requirements for field operations.
The FT-817 draws 2 amps on transmit when set to 5 watts output CW.
The FT-857D also draws 2 amps on transmit when set to 5 watts output CW. It draws about 4 amps at 20w output, and 5.5A at 30w output.

We listen more than we transmit. So the critical thing for portable QRP is receive current consumption.

The FT857 uses 2 - 3 times the current on receive than the FT817. Some measurements here: https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?topic=67668.0

If you value truly portable QRP for hours on end you won't take anything that draws more than the FT817. And if your space/weight constraints were tighter you'd take something that draws even less. I've received amateurs on homebrew receivers that draw less than 10 mA - that shows how much current hogs commercial gear can be. 


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: W1VT on May 08, 2019, 12:21:58 PM
I had a lot of fun doing 6M QRP with an HF dipole from a 2nd floor apartment. 
During the summer E-skip season I found it easy to make 1000 mile contacts running SSB. 
I worked enough grid squares to get my  first VUCC award!

The E skip season is only a few months and propagation is really unpredictable, but 6M SSB can be a very fun
way to do voice with a very modest station.

Zak W1VT


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N2DTS on May 08, 2019, 05:24:29 PM
What was the size of the dipole?
I have one up and made some 6 meter contacts but the trees trashed it and I need to re do it.
It is/was a fan dipole but now its more of a ball of wire hanging above a giant cherry tree!


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: VK3YE on May 09, 2019, 06:58:22 PM
The E skip season is only a few months and propagation is really unpredictable, but 6M SSB can be a very fun
way to do voice with a very modest station.

10 & 6m SSB are great fun over summer. Video below shows some portable operating with 5w to a dipole. Contacts up to 2500km.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn0_xnTkgmg

These bands can however be quiet for much of the rest of the year. Whereas 40m (and 80m at night) has activity and contacts possible with QRP every day.
So I'd suggest getting equipped for these bands first then 10 & 6m.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: W1VT on May 09, 2019, 07:18:58 PM
It was 86 ft and fed with open wire.  Even better is a small Yagi or Moxon beam. 

Yes, it is a short season, but 6M SSB  is one of better options for doing voice with very modest station.

Zak W1VT


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N9LCD on May 12, 2019, 08:03:21 AM
I thank everybody for their advice and opinions.

Starting out with HF QRP & an indoor antenna was a last ditch option.  I wanted to try HF without necessitating major collateral work on the house.

Some years ago I had plans for a roof mounted VHF & UHF antenna farm that would be professionally (gasp!) installed.  The contractor needed the blueprints for our house.  That was $750 for the set of plans.

Well, the house wasn't built as drawn.  In Chicago, Mr. Franklin is a very persuasive negotiator.  So we had to open the cathedral ceiling to see what was used for the rafters and roof deck.  The rafters were manufactured lumber, glorified 2x4's, and the roof deck was plywood.

A royal waste of money!

A major job to repair and retape the ceiling.  And repaint the hall/library and stairway.  The shade of the "replacement" paint disn't match the shade of the original paint.

As for operating outside, I considered operating in the back yard with a portable antenna.  That one didn't go too far.  It would be kind of hard to operate when you're under the main runways in and out of O'Hare.  And on the main drag to the Canadian National container yards in Schiller Park.

As for operating in a park, I'd be reluctant to take $600+ worth of gear out to one of the without somebody with a Mossberg as cover.

Maybe.  One of these days...  In what looks like the far, distant future.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: EI3IBB on June 10, 2019, 02:25:56 PM
I'm a new ham and I use the Xiegu X5105 portable with the hyendcompany.nl portable 4 band mini 100 watt antenna and I've made contacts on it no problem with the 5 watts SSB.

The antenna seems pretty efficient, not using radials or even earth and furthest I got so far was 875 miles on 20 meters in the early afternoon. I haven't used it much yet.

I'll be bringing this setup to the Austrian Alps in July, easy deploy and it works. Very compact setup.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KB7FHK on June 24, 2019, 08:57:11 PM
I was a poor ham when I started. A Vectronics DC RX kit and a rock bound TX I built from scrap parts I got at ham fest. Antenna was split speaker wire. I was a qrp op out of necessity. Of course you can't get the stations you want right away but you learn how to get the stations you need. Listening, learning propagation, and technique come from qrp operations. Skills a lot of hams with big rigs from the start still learning after years of ops.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KX4QP on June 25, 2019, 04:52:39 PM
Well, I finally got my Cricket 80a on the air on Field Day.

After waiting all day for wind so I could launch the kite I'd planned to use to carry the half-wave dipole, I hooked up to a similar antenna in a tree that was temporarily out of use and sent a few CQ calls.  I had the original crystal that came with the Cricket kit, 3.579 MHz, as well as crystals I'd purchased on eBay at 3.535, 3.550, 3.560, and 3.910.  Of that lot, the only one that was covered up with either digital traffic (why are folks sending PSK31 in the CW-only part of 80m?) or lots of CW stations just a little bit off my frequency -- who almost certainly couldn't hear me because I was outside their filter width.  I found 3.560 was open, so I started sending CQ CQ FD NC4AR (the club sign for Field Day).  I'd send for 1-2 minutes, then listen for a while.  The radio is said to put out around 1W on a fresh 9V battery.

After an hour I gave up (and the guy with the 80m antenna wanted to use his rig again).

In hindsight, Field Day is probably the worst possible time for someone whose Morse is shaky and has only 1W transmit power to try to make CW QSOs -- but I was there, people were bugging me to operate (and I had no real interest in the contest-style "get the info and move on"), and I wanted to try out the little radio and my kit-built American Morse Equipment KK-1b straight key.

I belatedly thought to check the Reverse Beacon Network (Monday morning), but found that the club call wasn't to be found for any Field Day times; I presume that's because RBN is a manual operation of logging a spot, rather than automated equipment to pick up digital or CW calls.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: K5LXP on June 25, 2019, 07:48:10 PM

I think despite "failure" to make a contact you got some valuable experience.  You also tried, which is more than a lot of folks seem willing to do these days.  Field Day can be both a blessing and a curse, there's a ton of stations on to work but they're all not necessarily looking just to work you.  I find a lot of running stations (the ones calling CQ) seem to be using some fairly narrow filters and if you're off a little bit, they just don't hear you.  Other ops are just outstanding, they'll pull a QRP signal out of the mayhem and go above and beyond to make the QSO happen.  So *next time* maybe set yourself up with equipment that improves your odds a little bit.  Hopefully you got a chance to listen in or operate some of the other stations there.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: N8AUC on June 26, 2019, 08:07:44 AM
Congrats on participating in Field Day! Take what you learned from your experience, use that to start figuring out how to improve
your situation for next year. It's definitely a process, and by participating this year, you've taken the first steps. The more you do it,
the better you'll get. Be patient, don't give up, and you'll get there.

As for your question about PSK31, they start at 3.570, and under crowded band conditions, they spread upwards from there.
So what you observed, is kind of normal. The data modes usually run at the top part of the CW/DATA sub bands, in accordance with the
band plans. Note that on the HF bands, the CW allocations are not exclusive to CW. They are shared between CW and data modes.
The only place where there are exclusive CW allocations are on 6 and 2 meters.

I was talking with a friend of mine who ran QRP the whole time at another site using an FT-818ND. He was battery powered, using a wire vertical antenna.
Between SSB and CW, he managed to make a little over 100 contacts while running 5 watts. Which I thought was pretty darned good.

I used my FT-857D on CW, running 20 watts on 40 and 20 meters, solar powered, with a homebrew wire dipole. That setup worked pretty well this year.
I don't have enough transmitter power to call CQ and run a frequency, so what I do is "hunt and pounce". I start at the top of the band, and slowly tune
down in frequency, and try to work anyone I can hear. At 20 watts, sometime I get 'em, and sometimes I don't. When I get to the bottom of the band, I
go back to the top and repeat the process. Maybe I'll get 'em next time through the band.

I need to make some modifications to my homebrew battery box though, so I can increase my transmitter power a bit. The current measuring circuitry
in the battery box needs to be beefed up to enable that. So that's what I have to work on before we do this again next year.

73 de N8AUC
Eric


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: KX4QP on June 28, 2019, 04:39:41 PM
Mark, Eric, thanks for the encouragement.  I thought I'd be able to keep my kite (and hence antenna) up most of the night, since we'd been having pretty steady wind between 5-10 mph for the previous week.  If I'd known early in the day the wind wasn't going to rise, I could have gotten my antenna up in the trees next to the other 80m dipole and the 20m end fed.  Don't know if I'd have been able to hear anything with that setup, however (another transmitter on my band just feet away, albeit in the phone section instead of CW).

By next year, I ought to be able to have my SB-102 running.  That'll give me up to 100W on 80/40/20/15/10, SSB or CW.  I should also have another CW QRP battery rig going on 40m (it's a kit, with tubes, should be done in a few weeks, pending spare time).  I'll probably stick with CW, since I was the only one trying to operate CW at our club site, and seemed to be the only one who knew Morse even poorly.  Another year of practice ought to help there, too.  I also plan to investigate whether raising voltage a little is safe for the Cricket -- going from 9V up to 12V ought to nearly double the output power.


Title: RE: STARTING OUT QRP
Post by: W1VT on July 01, 2019, 10:46:23 AM
Many of my early contacts were  made using 8 watts to a 10 meter dipole.  But, the 10M band was open, I had a really good location, and folks needed my state to finish their Worked All States award.  I also had my 15 wpm code proficiency certificate.

Zak W1VT