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First QRP setup. What do you recommend?

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by K7NNR, Apr 15, 2021.

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  1. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yup, a worthwhile purchase. I had one of those on mine. I also created a third connection with a ring terminal, a short bit of wire, and a powerpole to give me an easy ground connection for counterpoise radials when I used the MFJ-18xxT whips. Worked like a charm...

    Chris
     
    K7WFM likes this.
  2. W4ZNG

    W4ZNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The 818 and the tuner are a solid start. Swiss army knife of radios, etc., and currently at a screaming-good price.

    VK3YE is right, go with an external battery. The Bioenno 4.5 AH LiFePO4 is a good choice, but there are many others.

    I do have the AA battery tray for my 817, and have used it several times but only with rechargeable NiMH's. The manual is all full of "DO NOT USE WITH RECHARGEABLE AA BATTERIES!!!" but the chief concern seems to be that they shouldn't be charged in the radio. BTW, my 817 crushes the regular white Eneloop AA's in about 15 minutes, but the black high-output Eneloop AA's will run things for about 2 hours. Still, given the choice I'll run an external LiFePO4 every time. Wouldn't even bother with the tray unless it comes as part of sale package.

    For programming, RT is probably fine but I've had good luck using chirp. The price is certainly right. Here's my write-up: https://coyoteswamp.blogspot.com/2017/07/radio-programming-notes.html

    This speech compressor does a good job: https://www.sotabeams.co.uk/speech-compressor-for-ft-817-818/ With my voice, it upped my SSB success rate about 10x.

    Lots of people have weighed in on antennas already, but one more worth checking out is the Par end-fed tri-bander: http://www.vibroplex.com/contents/en-us/p3410.html
    With the LDG tuner, it'll work on 17m as well, maybe 15m too. It's light and very portable. It's 41' long. That's work to hang vertically, but it goes up easily as an inverted V and will even work strung out along some bushes.

    Also, consider upgrading the included 3-piece whip to a roll-up slim jim for VHF & UHF. Depending on what you're doing on 2m & 70cm, these can make a vast difference.

    Finally, if you're stuffing it into a pack or otherwise abusing the thing, get a roll cage for it. Portable Zero makes a nice one: https://portablezero.com

    OK, good luck! Keep us posted on how the QRP project works out.
     
  3. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have both FT818 and KX2.

    FT818 really is all mode all band. The included NiMH battery is good for a few hours of operation. The 818 has a very sturdy polycarbonate case, maybe not IP67 waterproof but excellent for outdoors.

    KX2 covers 80m to 10m, has vastly superior receiver, filtering, and battery life, and a built in tuner. But it's not a rugged outdoors package.

    Many excellent suggestions about antennas here. Short answer, try all of them! Depends on your operating situation: with trees nearby, no trees, mountain top, by the ocean...
     
    US7IGN likes this.
  4. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    add to 818 filter and tuner and the price difference will not be that big
     
    KU3X likes this.
  5. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    And DSP and speech compression...
    I built mine up over time so I didn't feel the hit to my wallet in the same way as buying a KX2 with all the features.

    Chris
     
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  6. KE8OKM

    KE8OKM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am echoing what some others have said!

    One of my QRP rigs and the one I’d keep if I could only have one!
    8B553EF2-3E7C-4821-8EDC-59FF1F84210D.jpeg
    FT818 on “968” SOTA Bay Area California

    ***FT818***
    +
    Portable Zero rails (you will eventually drop it and save much grief with the rails installed) plus it looks cool
    +
    Power Pole DC connection mod (SOTAbeams is great) in-line 4a fuse also.
    +
    Bioenno 3ah or 4.5ah battery
    +
    SOTAbeams external speech compressor.
    +
    N9TAX Rollup 70/2m jpole.
    +
    ParEndfedz 20/30/40 trail friendly.

    Of course the antennas you can build yourself. I do not have the time now but have plans to build this summer.

    This is IMO a fantastic 1st setup for portable operations. If the QRP bug bites you like it did with me you will have many more rigs in the future...But...IMO the FT818 is a baseline which all other radios used in “the wild” past, present and future are/will be judged against. It is not the best at any ONE thing but IMO the best at being one of everything!

    Erik
    KE8OKM
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
    WD4ELG, W4ZNG and K7WFM like this.
  7. N3PM

    N3PM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find having to take the battery out of a KX2 to charge it is annoying.
    Mike N3PM
     
    W4KYR likes this.
  8. K1GC

    K1GC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use internal power from time to time in my KX2 and I have several sets of battery packs that I charge up and have at the ready. Swapping them into the KX2 takes 30 seconds or less. I agree that being able to charge in the radio like with my KX3 would be nice, but I prefer the ability to quickly swap batteries along with keeping the radio as small and light as possible. I like that I can easily double or triple my power capacity for internal use with such a quick swap. Obviosuly what works for me probably does not work for everyone, but I thought I would offer a different view on that part of the KX2 design.
     
    US7IGN and KU3X like this.
  9. KU3X

    KU3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree. But I like my KX2 that much that it is worth the little issue. It's not like it's a big job to change the battery. It is no harder than changing the internal batteries in the FT818.
    On the KX2 you just loosen two thumb screws, easily remove the back cover of the radio and unplug the battery. Super simple.
    Also, if the internal battery goes low, that does not mean you can't plug in an external battery and keep operating. Just change the battery when you get home.

    Barry, KU3X/QRP
     
  10. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recommend a small 100w all mode all band rig (FT-857) you'll not outgrow when your mode and pwr facination changes.
    You can adjust it to QRP. QRPp using an attenuator. The QRO capability gives you more options in QSB/QRN/QRM.
     

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