New to Operating QRP: NPOTA Activating and Gear

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by KD8EDC, Feb 2, 2016.

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  1. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    If the park is close to you, my main advice is just to get out there and give it a try. I've done several activations so far, although only 3 of them "count," since the other ones didn't get the required 10 QSO's. But I did get at least a couple on each attempt, despite an extremely minimal station.

    RV04 has been activated by AC8XI, so if he's local to you, he's probably a good source of information. I've noticed that all of the activators and chasers I've been in contact with have been very eager to help each other.

    My own operations have been with just my FT-817 plugged into the cigarette lighter, going to a hamstick antenna. Even though the antenna happens to be at an extremely bad spot on my car, it does get out. On some of my attempts, I've only made a couple of contacts. On others, I've made as many as 50 in less than an hour. The big difference is getting spotted on the DX cluster. You're encouraged to self-spot or have someone do it for you. On my first trip out, I called CQ for 15 minutes before finally making a contact, but that was followed by a pileup. I checked later, and that first station had spotted me. On the activation with 50 QSO's, I arranged to have someone spot me. That time, I was running SSB, and I think that was more QRP SSB contacts than I had ever made before then!

    When the weather gets better, I'll do some portable operations. My normal portable antenna is a temporary dipole made out of cheap wire. I have a piece of coax with alligator clips on one end, and I just make an antenna based upon the circumstances.

    I don't see any reason to do anything special with the radio running to an external antenna, so there's no reason to remove it from the car unless you want to. In my case, I just had the radio sitting on the seat, running to a trunk mount I hastily added to the car. I certainly didn't bond any parts of the car together!

    I have writeups of some of my activations so far at my blog:

    http://onetuberadio.com/category/npota/

    Again, I plan to do it "right" later in the year, but it's been fun even with a very minimal setup. Also, there is a facebook group where you can get a lot of good advice:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/NPOTA/
     
  2. KB7GL

    KB7GL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Mark --

    I saw that you mentioned a Begali key in your OP...I have the Begali Adventure Mono mounted on my KX3. it's probably one of the best keys I've ever used, and some of the best engineering. Well worth the price.
     
  3. KD8EDC

    KD8EDC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am saving up for a Begali Adventure as we speak.......
     
  4. K4YND

    K4YND Ham Member QRZ Page

    KX3.jpg I put the KX3 together yesterday. I am a big fan of Elecraft, but this one has blown me away. If your a cw op who likes QRP and taking a radio to the field this is in a class by itself. I know you can do it cheaper but I doubt better. Other radios will have the edge when operating in poor weather. I'm more of a picnic table type of OP so this is ideal. I am really looking forward to trying out the dual watch feature.
     
    KB7GL and KD8EDC like this.
  5. KD8EDC

    KD8EDC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Niiiiiceee
     
  6. K4YND

    K4YND Ham Member QRZ Page

    I activated Wolftrap DZ11 in Virginia. I made 20 Q's in about a hour with 5 watts and the SOTA beams linked dipole. The Antenna is really easy to setup and breakdown. It fits nicely into a little green bag.
    gear.jpg


    The next pic is the ant setup. The mast is held to the spare tie with a bungee cord. Wolftrap is marked as sensitive (don't know why). No one came around the entire time we were there.

    Antenna.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
    W9AFB likes this.
  7. KB1HQS

    KB1HQS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mark,
    I have been using an Anker Pro2 https://www.anker.com/products/79AN20L-SA for power. I also have 12VDC hardwired in the car thru the firewall. If your going to activate a lot of NPOTA sites, buy the NPS annual pass. You will save yourself a ton $$ in the process.
    If you want more info, tips, etc. about NPOTA, check out this podcast: http://amateurradio15.com/46/
    Also, for huge pile ups, be sure to self-spot yourself.
     
  8. KD8EDC

    KD8EDC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting, that sounds very convenient. What sort of connecting cable do you use to get power from the Anker to the radio?? I've got a KX3 as you know.

    Also, have you seen this one?

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M3073L4

    I'l have a listen to your podcast. Thanks!!!
     
  9. KB1HQS

    KB1HQS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use the DC cable that comes with the unit. Plug and play.

    The one you link to is only for 5V USB devices. My unit has both 12VDC and 5V USB (and 16V/19VDC as well, if you need it for laptop, etc). There are other battery options from Bioenno and the RC batteries as well. I like the Anker product because it is self contained, very well built and can be charged via solar.

    To give credit, where credit is due: I got the idea from this blog
    http://qrper.com/2015/11/scotts-elecraft-kx3-go-box/

     
  10. KU3X

    KU3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looks like you received a lot of good suggestions. Since you are looking into the Begalie paddles, I'd suggest the Traveler Light. If Begalie is out of the question, I'd use the Palm Pico Paddles with the Palm mounting bracket for the KX3. I have both and love both. If the radio is in your lap, the pico paddles are the best. If it's table top, use the Begalie Traveler's.

    Maybe looking at my web site may offer you some ideas?

    http://www.ku3x.net/portable-qrp/elecraft-kx3

    The following site shows the Ten Ten / You Kits in my lap with the pico paddles.

    http://www.ku3x.net/portable-qrp/ten-tec-r4020

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see the battery I use with the KX3. They make a 6000 mha if needed. For the KX3, I'd stay away from the Gel Cell type batteries.

    My antenna of choice is the Off Center Fed 40 meter antenna. It's resonant on 2, 6, 10, 20 and 40 meters. I use the OCF40QM. I don't need a tuner, although your KX3 probably has
    a tuner in it if needed.

    Good luck setting up in a national park. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    Barry, KU3X
     

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