Have A Hankering To Build Another Kit Radio - Can't Make My Mind For What Band

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by AF9J, Dec 19, 2015.

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  1. AF9J

    AF9J Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had fun operating QRP since the 80s (both contesting and occasional casual operating). I've also had a blast operating QRP with kit radios I've built over the years. Well, I have a hankering to build another QRP kit radio, and if possible (it'll be tight at best shipping-wise, to receive the kit in time), build it, and use it in SKN in a couple of weeks. The only problem? I don't know what band to choose (I'd go multiband, but I din't have the cash for and Elecraft K1 at the present time, so, single band it is). Here are my band dilemmas:

    40m - seems to be the main QRP band, everybody (including me) has operated QRP on 40m at one time or another. The only problem? 40 is the worst band for me antenna performancewise (I live in an apartment building, and load up the 150 ft rain gutter [using a T-match and a counterpoise], that's 3 stories up, as a stealth antenna). I'll consider 40m, but mainly as an all else fails, the kit is so cheap, I can't resist it (excluding the Chinese Pixie kits that are on e-bay - 7023 kHz IMO, is not a good QRP freq.), or I get a convincing argument to concentrate on it (40m).

    30m - I would love to do 30m, since it's a nice combination propogation-wise of both 20 and 40m. The only problem? It seems that whenever I check out 30m, it's a ghost town/snoozefest activitywise. Am I incorrect about this?

    20m, 17m, & 15m - pretty decent QRP bands from my experience, but, with the solar cycle on the downslide, they're all becoming basically daytime bands, and I'd only be able to operate on them during the weekend, due to work commitments. Also, QRP activity on these bands is less than it is on 40m.

    80m - my antenna system works pretty well on 80, and it's been a solid performer for me out to about 1000, and in some cases 1500 miles on QRP. My concerns: not as much DX potential for me; and QRP activity on 80 seems to be lower than it is on 40 or 20m.

    All of the above have their strengths and weaknesses for QRP, but I can't seem to make up my mind. I don't need mega QRP activity on a band to be happy, but I don't care for situations, where I call, and call, until I'm blue in the face. QRP to QRO QSOs are fine, but I also want to do QRP to QRP. What do you think? Which band do you think I should choose?

    Ellen - AF9J
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  2. W7CJD

    W7CJD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps there will be suggestions for antennas.

    I think the antenna situation is keeping you out of foreign DX.

    Is the topography flat where you are?

    Milwaukee has tall buildings, no?

    Lake Michigan is reasonably nearby: a waterside antenna has improved performance.

    Perhaps you could operate portable over there to assess more about what you can get from DX.

    I operate portable from the mountain ridges, mountainsides and mountaintops nearby.

    We are on the downside of the solar cycle, but it is Winter.

    We get best propagation in Winter, here, in Montana, that may involve listening comfortably situated at the QTH.

    I choose the band, by what I hear.

    It doesn't sound like you are hearing much.

    I also choose by mode: for me, SSB.

    Tell us more.

    What kit? How many watts out?

    What receiver are you using?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  3. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Ellen, I agree with your observations and would vote for 40. And get on CW to keep it simple!
    K8AI and KI5WW like this.
  4. W7CJD

    W7CJD Ham Member QRZ Page

  5. AF9J

    AF9J Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the suggestions guys. :) Oh, yeah, and it will definitely be a CW transceiver.

    Ellen - AF9J
  6. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think you've got an excellent grasp of the tradeoffs involved in the various bands.

    I went through a similar decision making process last summer, and ended up building a KD1JV tri-bander from qrpkits.com. So I got to choose three bands. I chose 40, 30, and 20. Mostly 40 for nighttime, and 20 for daytime.

    If I had to choose one band, I think I'd go for 40. It's very popular, and almost always open to somewhere, so it's easy to find contacts there.

    But the choice also depends on what radios you already have, what antenna capability you have, and how you'll operate (day or night? at home or portable?) The higher bands are better during the day, and easier to rig portable antennas for, so I'd lean toward 20m or higher for daytime portable operation.

    Good luck in your decision. I'm sure you'll have fun with whatever you choose.
  7. G0NMY

    G0NMY Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. AI6KX

    AI6KX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also built the KD1JV Tribander and like it a lot. I got 20/17/15 and have worked some nice DX, but I'm kinda wishing I had gotten 40/20/15 because 17 is pretty quiet. 40 is challenging because of the noise but at least I always hear stations.

    Steve JS6TMW
    W8ZNX likes this.
  9. AF9J

    AF9J Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the comments people. The overwhelming consensus is for 40m (though as I mentioned, 40m is my Achilles Heel antenna performancewise, and I don't always have the time to go operate protable). I may end up just waiting until next month, and getting a KD1JV kit, or an Elecraft K1.

    Ellen - AF9J
    K0UO likes this.
  10. W7CJD

    W7CJD Ham Member QRZ Page

    That antenna might perform well 1-hour or even 2-hours before and after sunrise and sunset.

    Look at the QRPp thread:

    I have surprising results: I enjoy grey line listening.

    If I had a highly directional antenna, I would point it more or less along the sunrise-sunset line.

    I read that the gray line propagation is a combination of NVIS and low angle DX.

    In general, a compromise antenna can have the lobes for both.

    40-meter can perform very well on the grey line.

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