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Author Topic: STARTING OUT QRP  (Read 5348 times)
K0UA
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Posts: 4799




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« Reply #15 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
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KB1GMX
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Posts: 1824




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« Reply #16 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

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N8AUC
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Posts: 643




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« Reply #17 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
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 09:56:33 PM by N8AUC » Logged
K0UA
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Posts: 4799




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« Reply #18 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.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
K4JPN
Member

Posts: 52




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« Reply #19 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
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K7RBW
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Posts: 525




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« Reply #20 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.
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K0UA
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Posts: 4799




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« Reply #21 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
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
N8AUC
Member

Posts: 643




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« Reply #22 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. 

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K5LXP
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« Reply #23 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
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KB9BVN
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Posts: 154




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« Reply #24 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?
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #25 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!
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W4KVW
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« Reply #26 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
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K0UA
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Posts: 4799




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« Reply #27 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.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
N2DTS
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Posts: 967




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« Reply #28 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.
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N2DTS
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Posts: 967




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« Reply #29 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.
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