Beginner Home QRP Rig

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by KN4ICU, Jan 8, 2018.

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  1. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page


    I just passed my Technician exam in November. I've been learning Morse code and am really gaining a huge interest in it. In addition to my 2 Meter base station that I currently have, I want to put together a basic QRP rig for home use.

    I have limited room for antennas (I live in a town house), no attic. I have a budget of around $350-$400. Can anyone recommend what I might be able to put together with this kind of budget.Would you recommend 40 meter starting out?
  2. KD8ZM

    KD8ZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Considering the current solar situation, 40m is probably the best bet, as you wisely suspected. In better times a higher frequency might work and of course the higher the frequency, the shorter the antenna required.
    May I suggest that for your "QRP" rig, you consider a regular base station rig - one that you can turn down to QRP output levels, or up to QRO levels if you'd ever want to.
    My Yaesu FT-891 is a nice example, although a little outside your price range at $600. But there are many fine used radios in your range.
    If you plan to operate portable, forget everything I just wrote. In that case, you'll need a QRP - only rig. I like my Youkits HB-1b rig a lot ($270) and it has 4 bands (actually 5, if you include 17m).
    Keep up the cw work!
    Brady KD8ZM
  3. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't equate QRP simply with being inexpensive. If you have no experience on the HF bands you may be disappointed.
    Within your budget there are plenty of decent older rigs.
    N8AFT likes this.
  4. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the information, Brady. Yes, this is something I would like have something that I could operate portable as well. I plan on having my Technician license for about a year so I can get my "feet wet" in this hobby. Once I upgrade, I want buy a full HF base station radio. Until then, I just want to use my 2meter radio but also have something I can do CW on.
    KD8ZM likes this.
  5. KD8ZM

    KD8ZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Makes sense. Some of the Yaesu rigs make excellent portable rigs and can easily be run off of battery power. But not if you're going to scale Everest
    You should check out the Youkits HB-1b. Can't beat it for functionality, simplicity, value. Great beginning portable radio.
    KB2SMS likes this.
  6. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, 40m is the place to start since it is very well attended round the clock and has plenty of CW activity.
    There are good bargains to be had in second hand transceivers.
    My top pick to suggest is the FT-857 Yaesu.
    It is small enough to be portable but is a 100 watt rig on HF. You can adjust it down to QRP when you want to.
    It also is VHF 6 es 2m. I've seen them second hand for around 500. It's an FT817 style just a tad larger but not much.
    I have mine built into a tall Igloo lunch box/cooler with an auto tuner mounted on top of it. I run indoors mostly.
  7. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I must whole heartedly agree with Bill, KP4SX.
    QRP can get downright boring for a new op who needs to make QSO's for to gain proficiency.
    A QRO rig you can also turn down to 5 is what you need to make reliable contacts to start with.
    Sounds like you may have a handful with the antenna. No sense to complicate further.
    I have worked many guys with wire antennas thumb tacked to ceilings around the room or along baseboards.
    Welcome aboard.
  8. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to the community! You've came to the right forum on the zed for positive reinforcement, I can tell you that. No electrons here, we're all protons.

    The uBitx kit is something that you can build without needing to solder anything:

    The Mountain Topper is something you can buy:

    Brady already mentioned the Youkits.

    For an antenna I recommend a home brew dipole. All you really need to buy is a length of coax and some wire from the hardware store.

    Operating "back yard portable" is kind of fun when the weather cooperates. You can put up a dipole and play radio in minutes, then tear it down when you're ready to go in. I did that pretty much all last year.

    If you've got the room, playing with antennas can be as much fun as playing with your radio. It is for me, anyway. You're going to need something to measure SWR. I used this bridge before I got my analyzer:

    More ideas and advice, solicited or otherwise, available here. Oh, and great job on the CW! I just started operating CW last September. If I can do it anybody can, and I mean anybody.

    72/73, see you on the air,

    KD8ZM likes this.
  9. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with the others - you should invest in a decent 100 watt rig, and just turn the power down. You can have QRP fun all day long if you want, and also have the option of running higher power and other modes when the spirit moves you.

    Don't forget to budget for a decent power supply. Also, since you're in an antenna compromised situation, get a decent outboard antenna tuner. Manual or automatic. It will give you a lot more operating options. A number of rigs in your price range have internal antenna tuners, but their range is much more limited than an outboard tuner. Most internal tuners are limited to a 3:1 matching range. An outboard autotuner will give you about a 10:1 range, while a manual tuner will give you almost 30:1.
  10. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can assemble the radio by yourself up to 50$ as I did or buy a new one for 50$ or used up 150$ - MTR, PFR etc. The hidden antenna is best made from thin magnet wire. Let your neighbors think this is a spider web. I prefer 40, 30 and 20 meters bands for QRP. Today I made QSO with K1RX and K9PPY on 20. There were only 10w and delta loop on my side. I live in restricted for big antennas area and limited by home interferences and therefore often go on the air from parks. QRP is the best choice for me now. My IC-756pro3 and 1Kw amplifier still useless here...

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