ETH060 – QRP Operations

Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk about Operating QRP, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and hamfests over the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!

Facebook Question of the Week:

What is your favorite mode to operate?

 


Fan Letter

This week I received a letter in my mailbox that was addressed to me and my podcast. It doesn’t happen very often, at least an actual letter. The return address was from someone that I didn’t know and hadn’t ever exchanged email with and I had never talked to him on the radio either, so it wasn’t a QSL card or anything. Radiogram? Maybe. After I opened the letter I read that it was from a Larry Whitley, KD5CYI. I won’t go into specifics of the letter but to say that he found my podcast on IHeartRadio and it was the only way that he could listen to podcasts. He thanked me for putting it on the so he was able to listen and told me about himself. So Larry, thank you for listening and thank you for sharing with me, I hope that everything works out for you.

73s

 


Tech Corner – QRP Operations

What is QRP

QRP basically means “operating at a reduced power”. In amateur radio, it typically means operating less than five watts and typically about one watt. This gives a whole new challenge to the operator when trying to make contact with someone, because they have to deal with weak signals, band conditions, antenna matching and so much more.

When you are operating at full power on a typical HF radio, you are pushing out about 100 watts, and then you antenna is amplifying it because of it’s dB gain. When you are pushing out 100 watts, you don’t have to be so stickler when it comes to SWRs or line loss because you start with such a high power output. When you are working with only five of so watts to begin with, if you have high line loss or high SWR, that five watts can become one or two watts when it reaches the antenna.

When you start with low power, you have to make sure that you coax is good and has low line loss, or isn’t that long to begin with. You have to make sure your SWR is as good as it can be. You have to make sure your antenna is in good working order so that it works the best it can. All these things can affect how you get out.

On top of all that, you also have to take into account, what the band conditions are. Are you trying to operate on a band during the day that works better at night? Are you trying to operate on 10 meters when there isn’t a lot of sun spots? Are you getting a lot of QRM, or noise, on the band you are trying to operate on because of local interference?

QRP Radios

While most commercial HF radio nowadays have an option to operate at QRP power levels, not all of them are great for QRP. Some “regular” HF radios, might not have the best receiver, or might not have the best filters.

The next question that you need to ask yourself is do you want to build your own QRP radio or do you just want to buy a premade one? If you have a steady hand and plenty of patience, building one can be very rewarding. If not, look into either an Elecraft, TenTec or a Yaesu.

Probably one of the best and most popular is the Elecraft KX-2 or KX-3. Not only are these radio great QRP radios but they are also extremely portable! The KX3 only weights about 1.5 pounds and is totally self contained. The KX2 is even lighter than that at a whopping 13 ounces!!

Here is a list of a bunch of QRP radio reviews on Eham.net

If you are looking to build yourself a QRP radio or maybe you just don’t want to spend the money to buy a commercial one, there are plans on the internet to build one.

Antennas

While having a good antenna is a good idea, when operating QRP, it is not as important to have one that a good match. Now I know I said earlier that you have less power going out so it’s good to have a good antenna to keep your power up, however, the difference between losing half your transmit power on a 100 watt radio and a five watt radio is a major difference. Also, having high SWR’s isn’t as important either because if you have half you power reflecting back to your radio because of your antenna, it is better to have only 2-3 watts coming back than it is having 50 watts coming back right?

Working QRP you have more options as to what you can use for an antenna. You can use things like a fence wire, a gutter, a flag pole, almost anything that is conductive. This make it great to use in a portable operation.

If you are operating QRP portable though, it is great to be able to have a small compact antenna that you know will have a good match to your radio and be super easy to put up.

In comes the Packtenna Mini!

This is a great little antenna that even though it is the size of your hand when it is all wrapped up, it has a big “heart” when it is put up and you are using it.

There is another antenna that I have heard some great reviews on and I know that a lot of people use it, but for the life of me I can remember what it was now can I find it on the internet right now.


Do You Need Some QSL Cards? Check out KB3IHF QSL Cards. When you place your order make sure you mention that you heard about him on the Everything Ham Radio Podcast. If you do I will get a small commission on your purchase.

 


West Mountain Radio

West Mountain Radio - QRP

I would like to thank my sponsor, West Mountain Radio! For those of you that don’t know who they are, they make some awesome equipment that I have had the pleasure of using over the past 15 or so years. They make several pieces of equipment that are so well built and are so useful. Things like the RIGBlaster, RIGrunner and the DC-to-Go Boxes. I talked a little bit about the RIGblaster in my last episode and I’ve talked about the RIGrunner several times in previous episode but today I wanted to tell y’all about their DC-to-Go Boxes.

These are neat cases that you can put a battery in to protect your station’s floor from an unfortunate battery accident, however, they are so much more than that as well. These boxes have a Super PWRgate PG40 and a RIGrunner 4007U or 4008 built into them as well.

The PWRgate provides you an uninterruptible power supply in case you lose AC power it will automatically switch to the battery in the box. This is a perfect solution for a repeater backup and/or event like the upcoming Winter Field Day!

The RIGrunner 4008 provides you with 40 amps of D.C. Power plug over 8 slots while the 4007u gives you 40 amps across 7 slots but it has some extra feature like a digital load meter and USB charging port as well as a solid state push button on/off switch and an automatic shutoff for high or low voltages!

Both of these are mounted to the side of the battery box. All you have to do is drop a battery inside and hook up the leads and you are ready to roll!!

Here are the links for the premade versions of the DC-to-Go boxes. It you can also Custom make one to your own choices!

 


Ham Blog Spotlight

Hamradioqrp.com

This blog is by Richard, AA4OO. He has several articles on his site where he talks about different aspects of his ham radio experience but mainly he talk about operating QRP. His site and more specifically this post was a link from Wikipedia!


Upcoming Events

 

BARTG HF RTTY Contest 0200Z, Mar 18 to 0200Z, Mar 20
Russian DX Contest 1200Z, Mar 18 to 1200Z, Mar 19
Louisiana QSO Party 1400Z, Mar 18 to 0200Z, Mar 19
Virginia QSO Party 1400Z, Mar 18 to 0200Z, Mar 19 and 1200Z-2400Z, Mar 19
Feld Hell Sprint 2000Z-2159Z, Mar 18
Run for the Bacon QRP Contest 0100Z-0300Z, Mar 20
CLARA Chatter Party 1700Z, Mar 21 to 1700Z, Mar 22 and 1700Z, Mar 25 to 1700Z, Mar 26
SKCC Sprint 0000Z-0200Z, Mar 22
CQ WW WPX Contest, SSB 0000Z, Mar 25 to 2359Z, Mar 26

 

*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar

 


Hamfests

03/17/2017

03/18/2017

03/19/2017

03/24/2017

03/25/2017

03/26/2017

 

*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar


News

Teen Radio Amateur to Activate Iceland on his Inaugural DXpedition

03/10/2017

Fourteen-year-old Mason Matrazzo, KM4SII, of Clemmons, North Carolina, will be on the air from Iceland as TF/KM4SII, March 13-19. Activity will be on 40, 20, and 17 meters, SSB only. Mason, who will be operating with a portable setup, is calling it his “Buddistick™ DXpedition to Iceland.”

He said on his TF/KM4SII page on QRZ.com page that most operation will be from the village of Vík, at the southernmost tip of Iceland, although he anticipates possible operation from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, “if I am able to find a location to set up the vertical.” If he attracts a pileup, he may operate split.

“Even if I am very weak on your end, please try and give me a call anyway,” he said. “I will probably hear you better than you can hear me.”

Mason will operate under Icelandic rules, with local N-class restrictions, which offer access to HF, VHF, and UHF, but limit him to 100 W.

He will accept QSL cards to his home address and hopes to upload logs to Logbook of The World (LoTW) and ClubLog, and “maybe QRZ.” He expects to have Internet/e-mail access while in Iceland and will post any updates to his TF/KM4SII page on QRZ.com

 

Boy Scouts Announce 2017 JOTA-JOTI Theme

03/14/2017

Scouting’s World Jamboree on the Air/Jamboree on the Internet (JOTA-JOTI) Team has announced the theme for this fall’s JOTA-JOTI event: “60 Years Connecting Scouts.” The 2017 theme recognizes the event’s beginnings in 1957 and commemorates its growth in participation and in the expanding communication channels activated this coming October. In addition to Amateur Radio, those channels include Internet-based channels and other Internet-based options, including social media, ScoutLink, IRC chat services, Skype, and more.

“It also recognizes the goal of the event — connecting Scouts so that they can engage in conversations with other Scouts across town and around the world,” said JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND. “This allows them to discover geographic and cultural differences and similarities. Plus, they are exposed to the technology that makes all this happen.”

The JOTA-JOTI 2017 logo contest is about to start. Plans for 2017 include a simplified registration system.

According to the World JOTA-JOTI Report 2016, more than 1 one million Scouters in 156 countries and at 33,000+ locations took part in JOTA-JOTI last fall. The numbers for US participants were 10,700 for JOTA and 560 for JOTI. Wilson said there was a problem integrating those statistics into the final report.

ARRL Weighs In on New California ‘Driving While Wireless’ Statute

03/14/2017

ARRL is recommending that Amateur Radio be specifically excluded from a California statute prohibiting the use of “wireless communication devices” while driving. ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Marty Woll, N6VI, is taking point on the effort to revise the statute, known by its legislative bill number AB 1785. It was signed into law last September, and it took effect on January 1, amending §23123.5 of the state’s Vehicle Code.

“ARRL has received a huge volume of inquiries and complaints about this statute in particular, since its enactment,” ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, wrote in a letter to Woll to provide guidance in amending the California statute. “I would urge that you present this letter at any meetings you have with California State legislators on this topic, thus to bring the issues contained herein to their attention.”

Imlay pointed out that that the prior statute excluded Amateur Radio by definition. The new law, which completely replaced the earlier statute, never mentions Amateur Radio, but instead contains an open-ended definition of an “electronic wireless communications device,” the operation of which while driving is prohibited. According to the statute, this “includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, a pager, or a two-way messaging device.”

“Because of the ‘not limited to’ language, such a device is whatever a law enforcement officer thinks might be included, and an Amateur Radio operator is not at all protected,” Imlay wrote. Such a broad definition could stymie “even the most diligent law enforcement officers,” who might interpret the new Vehicle Code language “more broadly than was intended.”

Imlay noted that radio amateurs provide emergency and public service communications on a volunteer basis, and said the FCC encourages Amateur Radio licensees to assist during disasters and emergencies.

“Radio amateurs have regularly used mobile two-way radio systems for the past 70 years,” Imlay said. “The ARRL is aware of no evidence that such operation contributes to driver inattention,” he stressed. “Quite the contrary: Radio amateurs are public service-minded individuals who utilize their radio-equipped motor vehicles to assist others, and they are focused on driving in the execution of that function.”

Imlay also cited a 2009 letter to ARRL from the National Safety Council stating that there was no evidence using Amateur Radio while driving is a significant risk, and that there is “a reasonable basis for excluding Amateur Radio communications from the prohibitions on mobile telephone operation and mobile text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.”

Citing a 1994 Joint Resolution of Congress, Imlay pointed out that the policy of the United States is to encourage mobile Amateur Radio operation as a public benefit.

“Given the necessity of unrestricted mobile Amateur Radio communications in order for the benefits of Amateur Radio to the public to continue to be realized, ARRL urges California legislators to reconsider and amend AB 1785, either to more narrowly define the class of devices included in the prohibition…,” Imlay wrote. “Alternatively, a specific exemption for Amateur Radio operators would suffice…”

 


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73 de Curtis, K5CLM




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