QRP operating approaches

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by WD4ELG, Mar 22, 2021.

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  1. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am mapping out some QRP strategies as the weather gets nicer, taking inventory of my gear and defining some approaches so that I can make effective decisions based upon objectives and parameters. I have defined the following using my existing equipment inventory:

    Category 1: Naked and afraid
    Objectives: Minimalist approach modeled after the TV show....easy setup, quick implementation, absolute lowest weight, limited operating parameters
    Probability of a contact: moderate
    Use cases: Operating during a break in a bike ride, or quick POTA
    Equipment: MTR3B rig, pico-paddle, 9V battery, Par end-fedz 20M end-fed half wave antenna
    Setup time: 5 minutes
    Modes: CW, 2 watts
    Operating time at 25% duty cycle = 2 hours
    Category usage: low (when I go bike riding, I want to get the damn thing finished so I can go back home for a beer!)

    Category 2: Parks and recreation
    Objectives: some flexibility in modes and bands per propagation conditions
    Probability of a contact: high
    Use cases: Hiking for SOTA/POTA without weight concerns, drive to POTA, general outdoor excursions
    Equipment: FT-817ND rig, pico-paddle plus microphone, 12V 6AH battery, ZM-2 antenna tuner and 58 foot aerial + 17 foot counterpoise
    Setup time: 10 minutes
    Modes: CW/SSB/FM, 5 watts
    Operating time at 25% duty cycle = 3 hours
    Category usage: medium, this is a quick and efficient way to operate in the field

    Category 3: Rock me Amadeus, aka The Full Monty
    Objectives: maximized capability in modes and bands
    Probability of a contact: very high
    Use cases: DXpedition, Field Day, portable ops, work trips
    Equipment: same as Category 2 plus 17 foot whip with jaw-mount and radial, Elecraft T1 ATU, Elk LP, OCF dipole, SignaLink USB plus small laptop plus AC wall-warts, computer tablet
    Setup time: Variable
    Modes: CW/SSB/digital/satellite, 5 watts
    Operating time at 25% duty cycle = 3 hours on battery, unlimited if AC power available
    Category usage: medium, when I travel for work I will probably take all the gear with me since it gives maximum flexibility and I will already have PC and power

    Category 4: Eastbound and down
    Objectives: weather-proof operating conditions in a vehicle
    Probability of a contact: very high
    Use cases: Road trip
    Equipment: TS-480SAT or FT-817ND, ham sticks, Bencher paddle and microphone
    Setup time: 5 minutes
    Modes: CW/SSB
    Operating time at 25% duty cycle = unlimited
    Category usage: medium, when I need to drive anywhere that is more than an hour away

    Category 5: Forest Gump's box of chocolates
    Mix and match from the four categories above

    The reason I mapped out these use cases is because I am trying to decide on getting an IC-705.

    The scenarios with the 705 would be anything but Category 1. With the 705 I would always have digital capability, I could bring along a small tablet for all categories for multiple use cases. I would also have messaging capability like APRS and WinMor. My probability of a contact would be higher with 10 watts with a 12V supply. I am on the fence, leaning towards a buy. But I would need to sell some of the other gear to fund it.

    Maybe I will try this scenario for awhile and see how I like it.
    KD9NDP, KF9VV, N9EET and 3 others like this.
  2. W7UUU

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

    LOVE IT! What a clever and creative approach :)

    100% vote for the 705.... I have mine ready to roll once nice weather sets into the PNW.

    I say "GO FOR IT'!!


    My only change? Category #1: NAKED AND PROUD OF IT!!! CW for the WIN!!! :D

  3. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    LOL. Thanks for the encouragement, Dave. Life is short, and this past year has been a reminder of that. We never know how long we have.

    PS My XYL said to me: "Honey, if you were on that show....you would be naked, and EVERYONE ELSE would be VERY AFRAID!"
  4. VK3YE

    VK3YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like your approach. Although all your gear is pretty high-tech. Even the MTR3B and pico paddle.

    When you're done with all those how about a Category 0: Stone Age and Barefoot?

    Objectives: Super minimalist with low tech equipment (nothing more modern than 1970s), single band, crystal control, all discrete transistor
    Probability of a contact: low-moderate
    Use cases: Drag it out when you want to get out of the house
    Equipment: 1 to 3 transistor crystal control or VXO transmitter, transistor radio with shortwave band & no BFO, end-fed wire with coupler, hand key (preferably homebrew)
    Setup time: 10 minutes
    Modes: CW, 1-5 watts
    Operating time: = until your arm falls off due to repeated calling without replies
    Category usage: occasional

    A real example

    AD0RX, N5HXR, W5ESE and 5 others like this.
  5. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, the reason for its creation wasn't 1970's retro, but a "replica" of a WWII radio -


    If you want the full visual effect, you need to build it in the wooden box, and use a J-38 key and a R-14 headset.

    This has to qualify as "minimalist", though not perhaps at the level of the radios that fit in Altoids tins.
  6. W4ZNG

    W4ZNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    All good options, I'll take Door #2 please!
  7. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Spend 4-5 weeks each year camping. While it's true that QRP operating is associated with portable operating it's not always the case. I can choose from any number of 100-watt rigs and also QRP rigs.

    The main factor for me is the availability of AC power. When it is available mostly go with my Kenwood TS-480S and there are others in that power class I have available.

    If camping where no AC power is available will go with the KX3, K1, KX1, there are other mostly mono-band QRP rigs available.

    Understand the popularity of POTA or SOTA but have no interest in doing the "paperwork". Maybe one day.
    K7WFM likes this.
  8. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dan, what do you do for digital modes when camping?
  9. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good question. Camp mostly in state parks here in Pa. Most have electricity but no phone service or internet. Use a small USB plug-in GPS receiver (looks like a little hockey puck) with an older small laptop for accurate time on the digital modes. There are a few programs available that will keep your computer and GPS receiver in sync. For CW prefer the Palm Mini Paddle. I'm not sure if the Palm is still available. The camper is a 2018 R-Pod model R-180 trailer.
  10. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    What do you use for digital interface with the Elecraft rigs? How do you prevent overheating?

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