October 2017 53
Going All the Way
After lots of playing around with cheap and simple
equipment, I have finally satisfied my QRP curiosity. It truly
is amazing what can be done with low power. However,
I wanted more. So, when I found a few extra bucks in
(see Figure 5).
It’s an expensive little thing, but has everything you
ever need to be a successful QRPer. It’s battery operated
for full portability, and has a built-in antenna tuner to match
whatever crappy antenna you can put up in the field. It
operates in all the basic ham bands from 80 to 10 meters.
It offers CW or SSB operation. Note that even the keyer is
built into the front panel.
The unit itself is a software-defined radio (SDR) with
full digital signal processing (DSP). The maximum output
power is 10 watts, but it is adjustable downward if you
want to test yourself.
I have had great success with this little unit. The
receiver performance is world class and the antenna tuner
loads standard dipoles and verticals. I recently tested it on
20 meters with a 25 foot wire and got excellent results.
Currently, I’m using a Buddipole portable antenna that I
can tune on 40, 30, and 20 meters.
When you get tired of experimenting and want to
focus on operation, a fancy rig like the KX2 is definitely the
way to go.
Making QRP Work for You
QRP is good because you can get into ham radio
at a low cost and experience that “eureka!” feeling of
communicating at a distance with something you made.
QRP gear gives you great portability for field day and
vacations, and off-the-grid operation in emergencies. You
can spend thousands of dollars on great commercial ham
gear but you don’t have to while enjoying this hobby. If you
want to try hamming, try QRP.
Here are a few tips to make the experience positive:
Be sure to have a good antenna. That makes all the
difference. A half wave dipole on the band of interest
works great; so does a good quarter wave vertical with
radials. A long wire works well too, but be sure you use
a tuner to get a good match. It’s almost best to spend as
much or more on the antenna as the equipment itself.
Select the right band. Propagation characteristics really
impact low power results, and that varies with frequency
and the time of day. Best results are usually had on 40, 30,
and 20 meters.
Operate on the best frequencies. The QRP community
has identified specific frequencies where QRP contacts can
be made. That means hams are out there looking for QRP
contacts on or around these frequencies. Here are some to
80 meters 3.560 or 3. 58 MHz ( 3.710 MHz for novice)
40 meters 7.030 or 7.040 MHz ( 7.110 MHz for novice)
30 meters 10.106 MHz
20 meters 14.060 MHz
15 meters 21.060 MHz
Answer CQs, don’t call CQ. From experience,
operators know that you get more contacts by answering a
call rather than initiating one yourself.
Be patient. You probably won’t get through every
time, but keep trying because eventually you will connect.
Ham radio offers a wide range of interesting
specialties. QRP is a great one for low-cost fun
experimentation, as well as the challenge of developing
your operating skills. Give it a try. NV
THE LATEST IN NETWORKING AND WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES
Figure 5. The Elecraft KX2 QRP transceiver does
Figure 4. Simple one transistor transmitter that is just a
crystal oscillator connected to an antenna.
Reference: A good source of QRP info is available in a book from the American Radio Relay League
(ARRL; www.arrl.org): Low Power Communications, by Rich Arland W3OSS.