Author Topic: QRP revisited  (Read 1456 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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QRP revisited
« on: July 24, 2017, 05:20:15 AM »
No I don't want to re-open the QRP-vs-QRO holy wars (QRO won), I just want to steer some thoughts toward Survival Tech Nord's recent post: http://oh8stn.org/blog/2017/07/23/top-5-reasons-to-try-qrp-portable/
Summary from the article:
Quote
1. Operating QRP portable, you’ll quickly learn to carry the comms equipment you need, versus the equipment you thought you needed!
2. Operating QRP portable can help expose weaknesses in your comms gear, routinely hidden by operating QRO.
3. Reducing your output power, increases your operating time in the field.
4. QRP stations are lighter and more portable than their QRO counterparts.
5. Skills learned operating QRP from the field, can help us become better QRO operators.
I dunno.  I see it as a ".22 vs .308" thing.  A .22 is handy, you can get a lot of practice in with one, and proper practice with it will make you a better rifleman when it comes .308 time.  After some contacts I've had with guys running QRP, I've tried dialing back the power on occasion to sharpen my skills.  It's Sunday-afternoon fun, the way plinking with a .22 can be.

Time's probably better spent trying to find ways to lighten up the 100w field radio.  Anyway and as always, STN provides an interesting read and food for thought.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2017, 05:57:38 AM »
  YES. QRP is an excellent way to develop operating skills and antennas for emergency work.
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Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2017, 10:04:58 AM »
I've attended a few SOTA presentations and there's a lot going on in the QRP space.

While it may not be mainstream, a lot of innovation that's developed for QRP works back into the full power realm.  Similar to bike racing and other pursuits that push the limits. 

Think about efficient power usage, reducing signal loss, light weight batteries... even without QRP that stuff trickles back to us long term.

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2017, 10:18:53 AM »
  The Pedestrian Portable Handbook is a great start for ideas,Link to download from the internet:

http://w3bqc.homestead.com/WA3WSJ_s_PM_Handbook.pdf
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2017, 06:14:08 PM »
Thanks for that pdf Carl.  Another book that covers the subject is "Minimum QRP: Doing more with under five watt amateur radio."  ($5 for kindle or $24 :o in paperback)  Read it last spring.  It points out all the stuff can be done with amazingly little power.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2017, 06:34:46 PM »
Thanks for that pdf Carl.  Another book that covers the subject is "Minimum QRP: Doing more with under five watt amateur radio."  ($5 for kindle or $24 :o in paperback)  Read it last spring.  It points out all the stuff can be done with amazingly little power.

You might like this one also...It is on my Google drive,soon SmurfHunter will have it reorganized.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ZIZLZV4AwITjZsbkVfTUlMbTQ/view?usp=sharing
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2017, 07:26:03 PM »
Woo yeah Carl, thanks!  It'll be a while before I can get to serious homebrew gear, but it'll be waiting.  Pfft, I can't even get started on my BITX40 these day.

Also there's that guy with the underground antenna on page 177.  Sounds familiar.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2017, 07:02:51 AM »
Some more thoughts on the matter, from Off-Grid Ham: http://offgridham.com/2017/07/qrp-vs-qro/
Not so much of "here is the One True Answer," but more of things to consider.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 03:21:05 PM »
I have decided that in no form or fashion is QRP for me-right now

I've had my hands on a KX2 (amazing rig BTW) since March and I've made 0 contacts.  The Chameleon P-Loop 2.0 that showed up one day didn't help either (that is a SLICK product too!). 

In all fairness, the one thing it has proved (having a $1200 loaner radio plus a $500 portable antenna in my possession) is that NO Matter what you have access to, if you can't find the time to use it-it's use-less...

Sadly, it seems, I don't have the spare time to set up a rig and make contacts-at all.  My TS850 is still in the box from Winter-Field Day-that should say something.  With all that I'm tied to now, it seems my operating continues to take a further seat on the bus...I'm not mad or complaining-but doing what Julian and others do is so far removed from my mind it's literally incomprehensible :)

Sounds Cool and Fun but = UnPossible (in my current state)
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Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2017, 03:32:39 PM »
I have decided that in no form or fashion is QRP for me-right now

I've had my hands on a KX2 (amazing rig BTW) since March and I've made 0 contacts.  The Chameleon P-Loop 2.0 that showed up one day didn't help either (that is a SLICK product too!). 

In all fairness, the one thing it has proved (having a $1200 loaner radio plus a $500 portable antenna in my possession) is that NO Matter what you have access to, if you can't find the time to use it-it's use-less...

Sadly, it seems, I don't have the spare time to set up a rig and make contacts-at all.  My TS850 is still in the box from Winter-Field Day-that should say something.  With all that I'm tied to now, it seems my operating continues to take a further seat on the bus...I'm not mad or complaining-but doing what Julian and others do is so far removed from my mind it's literally incomprehensible :)

Sounds Cool and Fun but = UnPossible (in my current state)

Funny.  I often think that a rural QTH would be a big improvement over my location.   I've so much residential noise from modern civilization, receiving is a real challenge.
On the flip side, there's loads of radio activity.  Not just ham, but I'm within 10 miles of 4 airports, including SEA. 2 train lines, marine radio (marine water is 8 miles to my west).  Possibly ideal for SDR enthusiasts.

The few times I've done field setups (summer and winter field day being big ones), we deliberately moved to the edge of population centers and the receive quality was vastly improved.  I realize more folks are on air during a contest, but I don't think 15 miles from home really affects HF propagation to any real amount.

Back to your problems with the KX2 - are you hearing them, but they cannot copy you?  Propagation is lousy for all of us.  Just wondering if we might dial in a solution for you.

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2017, 03:53:57 PM »
  It's not often that one can hear a flea fart.....
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2017, 06:28:14 PM »
SCW, I am sorry to hear this, not so much about the QRP part but mostly about the KX2.

Alright, I'm going to say that I've been experimenting with dial-back-the-100w-rig QRP since this spring.  (It started out as a social thing, but after a while I was needing a QRP fix after a hard day at work, then whole weekends started disappearing... ;))  So far I've racked up exactly one voice contact where I jumped in on a net, and talked back to two other QRP stations who were doing the calling.  In an emergency, I would not want to rely on QRP SSB in any way, shape, or form.

But that's not where it's at.  A way to make QRP practical is with some digital mode, and I have been getting the 5 watt contacts there.  Take a look at Fig. 3 in this article:
http://www.qsl.net/k4fk/presentations/Mode-sensitivity-2013-Dec-QST-Siwiak-Pontius-1.pdf
Now let's look at CW at 5 watts, and compare to SSB voice.  Fig. 3 shows CW as having a 17 dB advantage over SSB.  Doing the math, CW at 5 watts has as much punch as SSB at 250 watts.  Because I'm lazy and haven't yet picked up CW, let's look at PSK31 with its 24 dB advantage over SSB.  Relative to a 100 watt SSB rig, operating at 5 watts PSK31 is like having 1,256 watts of SSB.  Now, it is good practice to back off the power to about 1/4 when running a high duty cycle mode like PSK so as not to burn out the finals, but even then we're talking the equivalent of 314 watts SSB.

I think that's why OH8STN is getting the hits, while the guy in this video out operating his FT-817 on SSB during the recent RaDAR challenge made only one QSO in four hours.  So SCW, don't feel bad about not getting the QSOs in with that KX2.  The bands have stunk on ice all this year, and QRP SSB isn't all that great to begin with.

I think for emergency use, unless you're just reeeealy squeezing down to lessen backpack weight or such, QRO is the way to go.  QRP is fun and works OK with digital, but in a pinch it's nice to have the option of voice comms too.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2017, 06:44:13 PM »
  I admit it ,I like QRP also ...as it improves my skill. Alan,remember all the times we worked NVIS on 40 meters and most of the time I used only 20 watts? I rarely run more that 20 watts unless I have a real need.Also note that most HF radios should not run much over their AM or FM (100% duty cycle) level when running most digital modes and most newer rigs will only SAFELY run 25 to 30 watts PSK.
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2017, 07:16:06 PM »
  I admit it ,I like QRP also ...as it improves my skill.
I like my .22 also, and for exactly the same reasons Carl.  Backing off on the power is a good way to build skill, and sometimes it's just downright fun.

Quote
Alan,remember all the times we worked NVIS on 40 meters and most of the time I used only 20 watts? I rarely run more that 20 watts unless I have a real need.Also note that most HF radios should not run much over their AM or FM (100% duty cycle) level when running most digital modes and most newer rigs will only SAFELY run 25 to 30 watts PSK.
You know, I was over at the Slidell hamfest earlier this month and was talking to a guy who among other things was selling a little RM Italy 40 watt amplifier.  It was only about the size and weight of a Baofeng HT, looked super-handy to bump up a QRP rig to something more practical.  Unfortunately it only did stuff in the 12-to-10 meter range – I expect they're sold mostly as bootleg CB amps.

Looking around at RMI's line, closest they have that will work across all HF bands is this $300, 300 watt beast:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA53X1JT1905
Nice, but a $100, 40 watt unit is really what hams need.

Carl, any time you want to talk on 40 (or 80 at night), give me a ping.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2017, 06:59:16 PM »
Nice, but a $100, 40 watt unit is really what hams need.
If somebody can imagine it, it's available on the internet somewhere – frequently on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amplifier-FT-817-IC-703-Enhancing-Transmission/dp/B00SMH5P8U
Well, almost.   3.4 dB off on the price, in the wrong direction.  It does open up some options however.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2017, 07:06:38 PM »
  And while digital modes help...few QRP radios will work at the near 100% duty factor for long due to excessive heat.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2017, 03:53:12 PM »
Some poor fool on a ham FB group wanted a compact HF antenna for emergency use.  He said his criteria was it needed to tune on all the HF bands. We wanted this to be ultra-portable.
Maybe I should sell him a dummy load?

The irony was lost on him, that a potentially high loss, but convenient antenna may not be appropriate in an emergency. If I had the means, I'd string up a dipole as high as possible.


Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2017, 04:09:05 PM »
  They just don't understand. All we can do is try to learn them in the 'Way of the Wire' and how to be heard.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

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Offline armymars

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2017, 09:16:43 AM »
Smurf Hunter,
  I'm always surprised at how well some of the screw driver antennas work when they check into a Mars net.  I'm not impressed with the Buddy Pole type antennas. A good dipole is hard to beat. The trick is making them easy to carry when traveling. I have one I made up using two chalk line reels loaded with 16ga stranded ground wire made for chandeliers. It costs about  $15.00 for the wire and $5.00 for each chalk line reel. I can get enough wire on the reels for 80M. Add a center insulator that will clip on to the wires to finish the dipole. Most commercial compact antennas are in bags that are three to four feet long. So I might add a fishing pole to get the string over branches or to use as a center support.
  Reel the wire in or out for the best SWR and you could save the weight of a tuner. As always the weight of the coax is the only real problem. I sometimes think that's one reason that End Fed Antennas and a light weight antenna tuner are popular.
  As always try the equipment out before you need it.

Offline Carl

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Re: QRP revisited
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2017, 10:06:23 AM »
  The smaller antennas do work,though they depend more on propagation (luck) than efficiency. 
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?