Recommendations wanted on where to start


James Vroman AC0BN
 

I have been interested in QRP for a long time and have decided that this is the year.
I will be relearning my Morse and am looking for recommendations on a QRP transceiver kit as well as any other recommendations to build a complete portable station.
I am wanting something small and light to carry backpacking.
All ideas are appreciated!!!

James "Chewy" Vroman
AC0BN



Todd K7TFC
 

On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM, James "Chewy" Vroman <james@...> wrote:
I have been interested in QRP for a long time and have decided that this is the year. I will be relearning my Morse and am looking for recommendations on a QRP transceiver kit as well as any other recommendations to build a complete portable station. I am wanting something small and light to carry backpacking.

James,

Ask 100 QRPers that question and you'll get at least 200 answers! Everyone has his favorite, or has not had good luck with one or more. Rather than offer a specific recommendation, here's a few general things to consider.

1. First of all, go to the DXZone site and browse through their listing of QRP "manufactures" (in quotes because often the "factory" is the garage or chicken coop out back). http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Manufacturers/QRP_Kits/. A large proportion of these kits are offered by hams as a side business (to save up for their new tower or for that $200 iambic key they're been wanting, etc.). This is no comment on the quality of the kits. Mostly, they are excellent designs, with high-quality PCBs and parts. Actually, I think the parts are typically of a higher quality than kits offered by established companies (Ten-Tec/You-Kits, MFJ, etc.) because ham kit makers tend to buy from an engineering and serious-hobbyist supply chain (Mouser, Digikey, etc) rather than the chain for mass-produced electronics. In many cases, those offering the kits are also the designers, and they are either professional engineers or they are talented and well-grounded amateurs. Either way, there's not much between you and the designer, and most try hard to reply to questions (though it's a side-business and they do have lives--some patience is sometimes called for).

2. Most of the kits have been reviewed by homebrewing hams. These can be found in a number different places, including personal blogs and the discussion groups. The eHam site usually comes up near the top of a Google search for the kit in question and the word "review." You can also go directly to their review page: http://www.eham.net/reviews/ and search from there.

3. Avoid the lower-powered kits for now. Build one as close to the maximum 5-Watt QRP definition as you can. I imagine they'll be many who disagree, but higher power will make it more likely you'll have enough QSOs to keep the excitement up and to let the QRP bug bite hard. This is especially true if you're using a low-gain "compromise" antenna. Later, you can get into QRPp--very low power--if you want.  

4. Most QRP kits are CW only, but there are a few with SSB as well. They are necessarily more complex than for CW only, but they do offer the code-challenged ham someone to talk to while they learn and/or improve their code. Personally, I'd stick with CW only because, 1) they are easier rigs to build at first so you don't get bogged down in the construction, and 2) a code-only rig is a good spur to learning and practicing the code. 

5. Which band? I'll leave that mostly for others to answer, but generally I'd start with whatever is active wherever you spend most of your time. Okay, here's one suggestion: 20 meters. It's good for daytime QSOs, sometimes of a 1000 miles or more. Here's a video by John W5CYF of a 20m QSO from the gulf-coast of Mississippi to W1AW in Connecticut: http://youtu.be/IGg92YR-pTA. By the way, W5CYF has over 175 videos on YouTube, and I'd say at least half of them are on QRP and/or kit building. Lots of other kit-building videos on YouTube as well.   

6. If you haven't already, take a look at SOTA--Summits on the Air. It's an association of hiker-hams that started in England but has now spread nearly everywhere. Each country or region has its own SOTA association and, in the United States at least, subdivided down further (by state, etc.). The idea is that you win points for "activating" (making QSOs from) a registered summit, lower points for low, short, and/or easy hikes, and more pointsr for challenging summits. One can also earn points as a "spotter" of a summit activation. This would be someone who answered a CQ from a summit, at home and in his pajamas, maybe. This is a way those not able (or willing) to climb summits can participate, and anyway it's how activation QSOs are documented. Like most "radio sport," there's certificates, pins, rolls of honor, etc. Here's a few SOTA sites: http://www.sota.org.uk/ (the central site), and for you in Missouri: http://www.sota.org.uk/Associations/viewAssociation/prefix/W0M. It was started just 6 weeks ago. So far, MO has 49 qualifying summits. Of course, you can activate a summit anywhere in the world that's listed as a SOTA summit.

I'm sure you'll get lots of other input from the group. Welcome to the wacky world of QRP. 

73,

Todd
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K7TFC / Medford, Oregon, USA / CN82ni / UTC-8
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
QRP (CW & SSB) / EmComm / SOTA / Homebrew / Design



James Vroman AC0BN
 

Thanks for the info
I went digging this afternoon after work and found my box of QRP kits that I had bought when I first got back into Amateur Radio.
I found the following:

Tenna dipper
Rock Mite 40
PSK-80 Warbler
NoGawaTT SWR Wattmeter
Marker generator kit
Pixie2 QRP transceiver
8044ABM Iambic Keyer Kit

How would you rate them?

--- In 4sqrp@yahoogroups.com, "Todd F. Carney / K7TFC" <k7tfc@...> wrote:


On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM, James "Chewy" Vroman <james@...>
wrote:

**
I have been interested in QRP for a long time and have decided that this
is the year. I will be relearning my Morse and am looking for
recommendations on a QRP transceiver kit as well as any other
recommendations to build a complete portable station. I am wanting
something small and light to carry backpacking.
James,

Ask 100 QRPers that question and you'll get at least 200 answers! Everyone
has his favorite, or has not had good luck with one or more. Rather than
offer a specific recommendation, here's a few general things to consider.

1. First of all, go to the DXZone site and browse through their listing of
QRP "manufactures" (in quotes because often the "factory" is the garage or
chicken coop out back).
http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Manufacturers/QRP_Kits/. A large proportion
of these kits are offered by hams as a side business (to save up for their
new tower or for that $200 iambic key they're been wanting, etc.). This is
no comment on the quality of the kits. Mostly, they are excellent designs,
with high-quality PCBs and parts. Actually, I think the parts are typically
of a higher quality than kits offered by established companies
(Ten-Tec/You-Kits, MFJ, etc.) because ham kit makers tend to buy from an
engineering and serious-hobbyist supply chain (Mouser, Digikey, etc) rather
than the chain for mass-produced electronics. In many cases, those offering
the kits are also the designers, and they are either professional engineers
or they are talented and well-grounded amateurs. Either way, there's not
much between you and the designer, and most try hard to reply to questions
(though it's a side-business and they do have lives--some patience is
sometimes called for).

2. Most of the kits have been reviewed by homebrewing hams. These can be
found in a number different places, including personal blogs and the
discussion groups. The eHam site usually comes up near the top of a Google
search for the kit in question and the word "review." You can also go
directly to their review page: http://www.eham.net/reviews/ and search from
there.

3. Avoid the lower-powered kits for now. Build one as close to the maximum
5-Watt QRP definition as you can. I imagine they'll be many who disagree,
but higher power will make it more likely you'll have enough QSOs to keep
the excitement up and to let the QRP bug bite hard. This is especially true
if you're using a low-gain "compromise" antenna. Later, you can get into
QRPp--very low power--if you want.

4. Most QRP kits are CW only, but there are a few with SSB as well. They
are necessarily more complex than for CW only, but they do offer the
code-challenged ham someone to talk to while they learn and/or improve
their code. Personally, I'd stick with CW only because, 1) they are easier
rigs to build at first so you don't get bogged down in the construction,
and 2) a code-only rig is a good spur to learning and practicing the code.

5. Which band? I'll leave that mostly for others to answer, but generally
I'd start with whatever is active wherever you spend most of your time.
Okay, here's one suggestion: 20 meters. It's good for daytime QSOs,
sometimes of a 1000 miles or more. Here's a video by John W5CYF of a 20m
QSO from the gulf-coast of Mississippi to W1AW in Connecticut:
http://youtu.be/IGg92YR-pTA. By the way, W5CYF has over 175 videos on
YouTube, and I'd say at least half of them are on QRP and/or kit building.
Lots of other kit-building videos on YouTube as well.

6. If you haven't already, take a look at SOTA--Summits on the Air. It's an
association of hiker-hams that started in England but has now spread nearly
everywhere. Each country or region has its own SOTA association and, in the
United States at least, subdivided down further (by state, etc.). The idea
is that you win points for "activating" (making QSOs from) a registered
summit, lower points for low, short, and/or easy hikes, and more pointsr
for challenging summits. One can also earn points as a "spotter" of a
summit activation. This would be someone who answered a CQ from a summit,
at home and in his pajamas, maybe. This is a way those not able (or
willing) to climb summits can participate, and anyway it's how activation
QSOs are documented. Like most "radio sport," there's certificates, pins,
rolls of honor, etc. Here's a few SOTA sites: http://www.sota.org.uk/ (the
central site), and for you in Missouri:
http://www.sota.org.uk/Associations/viewAssociation/prefix/W0M. It was
started just 6 weeks ago. So far, MO has 49 qualifying summits. Of course,
you can activate a summit anywhere in the world that's listed as a SOTA
summit.

I'm sure you'll get lots of other input from the group. Welcome to the
wacky world of QRP.

73,

Todd
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K7TFC / Medford, Oregon, USA / CN82ni / UTC-8
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
QRP (CW & SSB) / EmComm / SOTA / Homebrew / Design


Tim N9PUZ
 

On 4/8/2013 2:33 PM, James "Chewy" Vroman wrote:
I have been interested in QRP for a long time and have decided that this
is the year.
I will be relearning my Morse and am looking for recommendations on a
QRP transceiver kit as well as any other recommendations to build a
complete portable station.
I am wanting something small and light to carry backpacking.
All ideas are appreciated!!!
Hi James!

You might tell us a little about your building skills and experience. There are a couple of small, multi-band kits available but they are more challenging to build that some of the single band offerings.

Do you have an HF radio now that can be throttled back to 5W? If so that's certainly the cheapest, quickest way to jump into QRP operation.

73,

Tim N9PUZ


Charlie Vest
 

Many of these are in every good QRP'ers box of goodies . Many people still using them regularly . The Pixie2 is not for the beginner or feint of heart to start off operating with , in my humble opinion . Any of the other transceivers would be great to get on the air with and have some fun playing and making a few contacts and you have two nice pieces of QRP gear to get your antenna setup with .

Charlie , W5COV

 

Thanks for the info
I went digging this afternoon after work and found my box of QRP kits that I had bought when I first got back into Amateur Radio.
I found the following:

Tenna dipper
Rock Mite 40
PSK-80 Warbler
NoGawaTT SWR Wattmeter
Marker generator kit
Pixie2 QRP transceiver
8044ABM Iambic Keyer Kit

How would you rate them?

--- In 4sqrp@..., "Todd F. Carney / K7TFC" wrote:
>
>
> On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM, James "Chewy" Vroman
> wrote:
>
> > **
> > I have been interested in QRP for a long time and have decided that this
> > is the year. I will be relearning my Morse and am looking for
> > recommendations on a QRP transceiver kit as well as any other
> > recommendations to build a complete portable station. I am wanting
> > something small and light to carry backpacking.
> >
>
> James,
>
> Ask 100 QRPers that question and you'll get at least 200 answers! Everyone
> has his favorite, or has not had good luck with one or more. Rather than
> offer a specific recommendation, here's a few general things to consider.
>
> 1. First of all, go to the DXZone site and browse through their listing of
> QRP "manufactures" (in quotes because often the "factory" is the garage or
> chicken coop out back).
> http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Manufacturers/QRP_Kits/. A large proportion
> of these kits are offered by hams as a side business (to save up for their
> new tower or for that $200 iambic key they're been wanting, etc.). This is
> no comment on the quality of the kits. Mostly, they are excellent designs,
> with high-quality PCBs and parts. Actually, I think the parts are typically
> of a higher quality than kits offered by established companies
> (Ten-Tec/You-Kits, MFJ, etc.) because ham kit makers tend to buy from an
> engineering and serious-hobbyist supply chain (Mouser, Digikey, etc) rather
> than the chain for mass-produced electronics. In many cases, those offering
> the kits are also the designers, and they are either professional engineers
> or they are talented and well-grounded amateurs. Either way, there's not
> much between you and the designer, and most try hard to reply to questions
> (though it's a side-business and they do have lives--some patience is
> sometimes called for).
>
> 2. Most of the kits have been reviewed by homebrewing hams. These can be
> found in a number different places, including personal blogs and the
> discussion groups. The eHam site usually comes up near the top of a Google
> search for the kit in question and the word "review." You can also go
> directly to their review page: http://www.eham.net/reviews/ and search from
> there.
>
> 3. Avoid the lower-powered kits for now. Build one as close to the maximum
> 5-Watt QRP definition as you can. I imagine they'll be many who disagree,
> but higher power will make it more likely you'll have enough QSOs to keep
> the excitement up and to let the QRP bug bite hard. This is especially true
> if you're using a low-gain "compromise" antenna. Later, you can get into
> QRPp--very low power--if you want.
>
> 4. Most QRP kits are CW only, but there are a few with SSB as well. They
> are necessarily more complex than for CW only, but they do offer the
> code-challenged ham someone to talk to while they learn and/or improve
> their code. Personally, I'd stick with CW only because, 1) they are easier
> rigs to build at first so you don't get bogged down in the construction,
> and 2) a code-only rig is a good spur to learning and practicing the code.
>
> 5. Which band? I'll leave that mostly for others to answer, but generally
> I'd start with whatever is active wherever you spend most of your time.
> Okay, here's one suggestion: 20 meters. It's good for daytime QSOs,
> sometimes of a 1000 miles or more. Here's a video by John W5CYF of a 20m
> QSO from the gulf-coast of Mississippi to W1AW in Connecticut:
> http://youtu.be/IGg92YR-pTA. By the way, W5CYF has over 175 videos on
> YouTube, and I'd say at least half of them are on QRP and/or kit building.
> Lots of other kit-building videos on YouTube as well.
>
> 6. If you haven't already, take a look at SOTA--Summits on the Air. It's an
> association of hiker-hams that started in England but has now spread nearly
> everywhere. Each country or region has its own SOTA association and, in the
> United States at least, subdivided down further (by state, etc.). The idea
> is that you win points for "activating" (making QSOs from) a registered
> summit, lower points for low, short, and/or easy hikes, and more pointsr
> for challenging summits. One can also earn points as a "spotter" of a
> summit activation. This would be someone who answered a CQ from a summit,
> at home and in his pajamas, maybe. This is a way those not able (or
> willing) to climb summits can participate, and anyway it's how activation
> QSOs are documented. Like most "radio sport," there's certificates, pins,
> rolls of honor, etc. Here's a few SOTA sites: http://www.sota.org.uk/ (the
> central site), and for you in Missouri:
> http://www.sota.org.uk/Associations/viewAssociation/prefix/W0M. It was
> started just 6 weeks ago. So far, MO has 49 qualifying summits. Of course,
> you can activate a summit anywhere in the world that's listed as a SOTA
> summit.
>
> I'm sure you'll get lots of other input from the group. Welcome to the
> wacky world of QRP.
>
> 73,
>
> Todd
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> K7TFC / Medford, Oregon, USA / CN82ni / UTC-8
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> QRP (CW & SSB) / EmComm / SOTA / Homebrew / Design
>



James Vroman AC0BN
 

My HF rig (ICOM 751a) developed an intermittent problem last field day.
of course it decides to work beautifully whenever I decide to troubleshoot on it. It is much bigger than I am wanting to carry in a pack and I had thought about an FT-817 but decided I wanted something I could build.
I have been an electronics hobbiest since the early 80s. I got my first license back then (Novice KA0PHN). I moved to Dallas and worked for Rockwell/Collins Defence Communications before I got into computers. Been primarily playing with microcontrollers and robots since then. I got back into Amateur Radio in 2004 when I moved back to Missouri. I started looking into QRP then but got sidetracked into storm spotting and ARES. Last month I went to an Advanced Wilderness Survival Class with some other Hams. We packed in gear but it was way too heavy and bulky. This got me fired up on QRP again so I decided this was the year. I love soldering and building things. I need to get a new scope - my old Tek has about had it. I have access to a 100mhz one at work though.

Hi James!

You might tell us a little about your building skills and experience.
There are a couple of small, multi-band kits available but they are more
challenging to build that some of the single band offerings.

Do you have an HF radio now that can be throttled back to 5W? If so
that's certainly the cheapest, quickest way to jump into QRP operation.

73,

Tim N9PUZ


jimford80041
 

James,

I am impressed by the well thought out responses from the group to your question. These 4S-QRP members are smart!

Here is my 2 cents worth:

I have 80 or so QRP transceivers, and have owned just about every one ever made. To make it easy, simply getting an Elecraft KX3 would give you one of the most feature laden, versatile QRP rigs a person could own.

I also like the Ten Tec R4020 and 4030, the Ten Tec HB1B, which has an internal Li-Ion battery that works extremely well, and gives extended receive coverage. Ten Tec is clearing out the R4020/4030 and has priced them very low right now. The K1 actually works extremely well, consumes much less battery power that a KX3, puts out a full 5 watts, gives good band coverage, is small and light, inexpensive, and is easy to build.

Stay away from the numerous rigs that only put out 2 watts or less. Some only put out 300 mw, and you will get frustrated trying to make contacts.

Good Luck Jim - KG0PP ( peanut power )


James Vroman AC0BN
 

I am very impressed and thankful for the responses.
I am going to a Hamfest Saturday and depending on if I find some goodies there will
look toward ordering and building. I was eyeing the K1 - it seems to get some great reviews.



Apr 9, 2013 08:17:15 AM, 4sqrp@... wrote:

>James,
>
>I am impressed by the well thought out responses from the group to your question. These 4S-QRP members are smart!
>
>Here is my 2 cents worth:
>
>I have 80 or so QRP transceivers, and have owned just about every one ever made. To make it easy, simply getting an Elecraft KX3 would give you one of the most feature laden, versatile QRP rigs a person could own.
>
>I also like the Ten Tec R4020 and 4030, the Ten Tec HB1B, which has an internal Li-Ion battery that works extremely well, and gives extended receive coverage. Ten Tec is clearing out the R4020/4030 and has priced them very low right now. The K1 actually works extremely well, consumes much less battery power that a KX3, puts out a full 5 watts, gives good band coverage, is small and light, inexpensive, and is easy to build.
>
>Stay away from the numerous rigs that only put out 2 watts or less. Some only put out 300 mw, and you will get frustrated trying to make contacts.
>
>Good Luck Jim - KG0PP ( peanut power )
>
>
>
>------------------------------------
>
>4SQRP Website: http://4sqrp.com
>OzarkCon is coming April 5-6 in Branson, MO
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Tim N9PUZ
 

Since you are not a newcomer to building, etc. I would primarily add that if the QRP rig is to be your primary or only radio that you look at something that has a VFO. Even if you choose a single band radio you I believe you will be missing a lot if you are stuck on a single crystal controlled frequency. That's not to say that those rock bound radios aren't a lot of fun, I just don't think they are a good choice for your "only" radio.

The K1 you mentioned would be a good choice as would a KX-1 in an even smaller package. There is also a PFR-1 from Hendricks but I do not know much about that one. Perhaps others can comment.

73,

Tim N9PUZ