New General looking into QRP

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by W8MJL, Mar 21, 2019.

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  1. W8MJL

    W8MJL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well i just passed the exam for my General license Saturday and due to my living situation, concrete and steel apartment on the lower floor and not allowed ANY type of outdoors antenna set-up, I've been looking in to portable QRP. I have an Icom IC-718 but this thing is a bit too chunky to be portable, add a big enough SLA Battery to run the thing and your doing a workout just trying to be portable.
    My question to the forum is this;
    What, IYO, is the best QRP rig for the money to get? and why?
    There are so many options out there and i figured HEY why not ask those that already run QRP. I'm looking for one with a built in ATU and if possible DSP, and of course a good light weight for my go-box.

    Thanks
    Michael
    73 de W8MJL/AG
     
    K5VZD likes this.
  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    CONGRATS Michael on your General! Very cool....

    100% of my QRP operations over the years have been on CW - Elecraft KX1, Elecraft K1, Heathkit HW-7, HW-8, HW-9, MFJ-9200, "Frog Sounds", "Rock Mite" and a host of other rigs all in the 1-5 watt range. I've worked the world - it's amazing what a few watts can do when your antenna is decent and conditions are right. VERY rewarding when "it all works" :)

    But alas, the rigs I am used to are ALL used for CW... hopefully you'll hear from folks with advice on other modes - you didn't mention CW so I am assuming that you're wanting SSB or digital

    QRP has been a TON of fun for me over many years - I hope you find a path that works for you and all the best of luck!!

    Again, congrats on the upgrade :)


    Dave
    W7UUU
     
    WW2PT likes this.
  3. W8MJL

    W8MJL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am looking into CW training for the near future, but yes for the time being I'm wanting to work SSB, PSK31 and FT8.
     
    W7UUU likes this.
  4. KC7JNJ

    KC7JNJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I run a FT817nd with a SOTABeams mic compressor and BHI built in DSP. I have been on a SSB experiment for the passed year and a half. It has done well, but it is not for the faint of heart. No one ever hears my CQ. So I must hunt and pounch to make contacts. It is a bit like fishing, not something you can hurry along. I find the guys who just got their ticket and who are ready to get going find SSB QRP a little slow paced. (in low sun spot numbers) I had been saving money for a Elecraft KX2 but that fell through. You get a bunch with that radio you dont get with the 817. But the 817 is a tough radio. The thing that is killing me right now is the need for a better receiver with variable receave band width with DSP built in. So for a radio I would push you toward the KX2 or KX3. They are not as tough as a 817 but you get many things I have had to add to my 817, and a few things I cant add to my 817. If you can get going with CW you will be able to do more. IMHO For batteries Bioenno are the only batteries to buy.
     
    KU3X likes this.
  5. N8AFT

    N8AFT Subscriber QRZ Page

    Since when did QRP become a portable only activity??
    Since when did running a QRP station require a peanut sized rig??
    I wholeheartedly suggest you start to enjoy QRP right now using the rig you have at hand.
    Yer 718 will dip down even below 5 watts so yes, there's QRPp you can experiment with too!
    You will find early on it's all about yer antenna system and yer op style. Slow sending with repeats as needed will go far.
    So, get with it and don't put off using what you have at hand in the shack right now!

    Learn Morse.
    Do CW.
    73
     
  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Before you invest in a special-purpose QRP rig like an Elecraft KX3 or KX2, you could get a deep-cycle battery, a couple of dipole antennas (SOTABeams 40m and 20m suggested), a 20 ft fiberglass pole, and some RG-58 coax and set up on a picnic table with the IC-718's power set to 5 or 10 watts.

    If you have fun doing this, then you could consider what could be gained by having lighter and smaller equipment.
    In order to participate in POTA, all you have to do is set up inside the park boundaries and you can do this with your IC-718. SOTA, on the other hand, involves summits and those folks are the target for the LNR Precision Mountaintoppers and the KX2/KX3 sales pitches.

    If you have relatives who live "in the country", ham radio is an excellent excuse to visit them. Especially if they have tall trees near their house, and a sliding glass door with a nearby kitchen table. You can rig a wooden spacer in the sliding glass door and tape it up to seal out drafts while you're operating. (This works better at night, when "normal" people are asleep and won't disturb you by trying to use the door...)

    As others have suggested, learn Morse and take advantage of its efficiency. You can do a lot more with 5 or 10 watts with CW mode than SSB.
     
    N8AFT likes this.
  7. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Elecraft rigs are great, but come with a significant price tag. One often overlooked rig is the Kenwood TS-50. These are relatively small compared to the 718. It can provide a full 100 watts, or can be dialed down to 10 watts. There's also an internal adjustment that will allow you to change the 10 watt setting down to 5 watts. The transmit audio is very good (typical of most Kenwoods), which can give you more "talk power" when running QRP. The best part is that they are inexpensive on the used market (under $400, usually closer to $300). Add a small outboard ATU and you're ready to go. Better yet, use resonant antennas and ditch the ATU altogether.
     
  8. N2DTS

    N2DTS Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you have a car, you can park and operate from some nice places, parks, waterfront, etc.

    I think a good antenna is harder to come up with then a good rig.
    But I like the Elecraft KX2 asnd KX3 for portable, their stuff works very well for portable.

    At a lower cost but more interesting, some new radio's from China are fun and work quite well.
    A copy of the MCHF:
    https://www.ebay.com/i/163592662072?chn=ps

    Does 10 watts, nice sdr audio, built in battery, there are other versions that have an even bigger battery.
    Pocket sized, great color screen/display. Half the price of the Elecraft, not quite the same quality maybe.
    I love mine.

    An Icom 7300 in the car seems like a good way to go and it is not that big or heavy.
    A lot of bang for the buck and 100 watts when you need it.

    If you are going to hike to the top of a mountain, the KX2 gets my vote, small, light, CW and voice modes, wide range built in tuner,
    its all in one package, even has a built in microphone.
     
  9. N9UO

    N9UO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congrats on your General ticket! I see you're getting some fine advice already. There are different aspects of portable QRP, just to the degree of portability you require. I like hiking, so light is paramount. Since I worked mobile, first, I had a mobile rig (FT-857D) so I experimented with it in portable QRP ops. It works great, added some protection with Portable zero products and added battery and I can take it anywhere and have 100 watts available.

    I'd say, experiment with what you have before laying out the dough. QRP is fun and challenging but I've seen people burn out and dump their equipment. Mainly because more often than not, they don't hear you, unless they're calling for QRP stations.

    Happy Hunting!
     
  10. N6MST

    N6MST Ham Member QRZ Page

    FT-891 with a DX Commander and you're cooking with gas! Plus you've got up to 100 watts if/when you want it.
     

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