September 11, 2012
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Assembling a QRP Station for Field Operation
With the exciting
"QRP Afield" event coming this Saturday, what better time to bring
Overview Okay, time to 'fess up ... When was the last time you've
gone "to the field" with your QRP gear to work a contest? Or just to make
a contact on battery power in the back yard? Well, if you're like many, it's been quite a while ... and you don't realize the fun that's being
missed! We'll be discussing everything from the kinds of radios
best suited for portable/field use, of course ... to the batteries, ATUs,
cables, ground rods and even sunscreen lotion that you should bring along.
Have your pens ready and be ready to take some "Notes To Self" for getting out
of that comfy easy chair on Saturday for a few hours to do some classic radio
sport in the field! And BTW, we're practicing what we preach here ... We've
organized out monthly local NJQRP meeting to take place out "in the backyard" of
our regular meeting place! So we'll get a chance to set up a number of
antennas, try out a number of rigs on battery power, and make some good field
measurements too. Oh yeah ... we're also going to make some contacts in
the QRP Afield contest that starts at 11am ET.
all your ideas about getting a station together to use in the field?! We'll discuss some things that
maybe you hadn't yet considered ... or some important aspects that you should be aware of!
Okay, time to 'fess up ... When was the last time you've gone "to the field" with your QRP gear to work a contest? Or just to make a contact on battery power in the back yard? Well, if you're like many, it's been quite a while ... and you don't realize the fun that's being missed!
We'll be discussing everything from the kinds of radios best suited for portable/field use, of course ... to the batteries, ATUs, cables, ground rods and even sunscreen lotion that you should bring along. Have your pens ready and be ready to take some "Notes To Self" for getting out of that comfy easy chair on Saturday for a few hours to do some classic radio sport in the field!
And BTW, we're practicing what we preach here ... We've organized out monthly local NJQRP meeting to take place out "in the backyard" of our regular meeting place! So we'll get a chance to set up a number of antennas, try out a number of rigs on battery power, and make some good field measurements too. Oh yeah ... we're also going to make some contacts in the QRP Afield contest that starts at 11am ET.
Audio Recording ... (Listen to the MP3 podcast)
<20:17:08> "Joe N2CX":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIZVBKND_II "go-kit" video from Alan
<20:17:51> "Todd K7TFC": For SOTA activations, of course, all operation is in the field.
<20:19:06> "Todd K7TFC": http://www.sota.org.uk/
<20:25:45> "Todd K7TFC": I think that long black thing at his right hand is a gel-cell pack.
<20:27:19> "Al K8AXW": Lee.... CCW??
<20:27:50> "George - N2APB": Coherent CW? Haven't heard (or done) that more in a long time!
<20:28:18> "Al K8AXW": LOL.... no... conceiled carry
<20:28:48> "Al K8AXW": Private joke between Lee and me
<20:28:57> "Pete - WB2QLL": Good to take your license or a copy along
<20:29:07> "George - N2APB": GREAT idea on the license!
<20:29:08> "Al K8AXW": ALWAYS
<20:32:15> "LarryW2LJ": Turn off any LCD backlights, if you can.
<20:33:35> "Todd K7TFC": Good to design rigs for minimum quiescent current (the other 50%).
<20:38:36> "Todd K7TFC": Solar-cell panels for QRP??
<20:40:08> "Todd K7TFC": Sorry, you have that on your list.
<20:40:17> "LarryW2LJ": Jim W1PID's site is a good resource http://www.w1pid.com/
<20:41:18> "Joe N2CX": Look at current consumption lis at end of the whilteboard. Often receive draw is minimal in a good rig
<20:44:00> "LarryW2LJ": Or mine!
<20:45:51> "LarryW2LJ": Extra tie wraps are good to have along - also velcro tape is good to have at times.
<20:51:44> "Dan KB9JLO": Hobby King
<20:52:08> "Terry WB4JFI": Get the LiPo protection bag.
<20:52:12> "Dan KB9JLO": S
<20:52:21> "Dan KB9JLO": 2S, 3S
<20:53:56> "Dan KB9JLO": An old ammo box works really good too or small home safe, like for documents.
<20:54:04> "George - N2APB": Anyone have good recommendation for battery suppliers? Esp. LiPo?
<20:54:39> "Dan KB9JLO": Hobby King is about the best. I have a friend who flies RC & helis... He shops there exclusively.
<20:55:03> "George - N2APB": They must have good chargers for them too?
<20:55:19> "Dan KB9JLO": The cell voltage is very critical. you need an alarm or meter on them at all times.
<20:55:50> "Dan KB9JLO": And yes. My buddy has graphs and charts showing discharge, charge rates, etc.
<20:59:12> "Paul - wa0rse": If you want to know the characteristics of your battery before you hit the trail, you can buy/borrow a battery analyzer. I recomment the CBA from West Mountain Radio: http://www.westmountainradio.com/cba.php
<21:00:21> "Todd K7TFC": Marine batteries for trolling motors?
<21:00:26> "Paul - wa0rse": The nice about a cba is you can test what the voltage vs. watt-hour discharge characteristics, temperature characteristics, etc. of whatever batteries you have on hand.
<21:01:14> "Paul - wa0rse": We have a "Freeze your butt off" qrp event here in MN during the winter so temperature characteristics are important.
<21:03:05> "Pete - WB2QLL": How about comments on dealing with passersby/state troopers, etc.?
<21:04:35> "Todd K7TFC": Trail mix.
<21:05:16> "LarryW2LJ": It's nice to be able to bring along something that will allow you to spot yourself to QRPSPOTS.
<21:05:48> "Joe N2CX": George W3FPR is back on-line
<21:06:15> "Terry WB4JFI": Bring your Nue-PSK and appropriate cabling for them extra digital credits
<21:06:34> "Al K8AXW": Need audio check George
<21:11:37> "Todd K7TFC": Metal t-post pounder and lever-type post pullers work well for 8' ground rods.
<21:11:56> "Armand WA1UQO": http://www.elecraft.com/TechNotes/CareandFeedingofBatteries_aa4pb.pdf - Great article on keeping internal battery up to snuff!
<21:13:50> "Todd K7TFC": Google "post pounder" for pictures.
<21:13:51> "Paul - wa0rse": Steve WG0AT is my hero and inspiration regarding QRP hiking/packing. If you like YouTube, check out: http://www.youtube.com/user/goathiker?feature=results_main
<21:15:06> "Todd K7TFC": WG0AT is the SOTA king.
<21:15:09> "Paul - wa0rse": Here is a link to the Flight of the Bumblebees run annually by the Adventure Radio Society: http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/2012/07/adventure-radio-society-2012-flight-of.html
<21:15:17> "Mike WA8BXN": tenna dipper from qrpkits.com is small, works reasonably well for $75
<21:15:24> "Paul - wa0rse": Good for folks at home as well as "bees" that run to the field!
<21:15:38> "LarryW2LJ": Don't foregt the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt which kicked off this year.
<21:16:13> "Paul - wa0rse": Always try to to have shoulder straps on your go-pack. Handles are EVIL!
<21:16:16> "Paul - wa0rse": :)
<21:16:41> "Pete - WB2QLL": Second radio or short wave radio to make sure your other radio's transmitting.
<21:17:03> "LarryW2LJ": LowePro Traveler 150
<21:19:42> "Todd K7TFC": REI daypacks: http://www.rei.com/category/4500509
<21:21:09> "Todd K7TFC": Some have built-in rain fly that you can quickly pull over the pack.
<21:22:18> "Chris - W0ANM": I have a ft-817nd w/lots of extras for sale, contact me at chris"at"w0anm"dot"com (shameful plug, sorry)
<21:22:24> "LarryW2LJ": $50 at Walmart
<21:22:43> "Paul - wa0rse": $40 on amazon!
<21:22:51> "LarryW2LJ": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6elMOwmShto&feature=plcp video by TJ W0EA
<21:23:48> "Todd K7TFC": Last thought: How about a GPS unit?
<21:24:36> "Paul - wa0rse": Joe/George: Please look at the CBA by West Mountain Radio for the battery session!
<21:24:39> "Paul - wa0rse": 73
<21:24:44> "Paul - wa0rse": Thanks much!
<21:24:59> "Todd K7TFC": Thanks, Guys!!
<21:25:06> "Chris - W0ANM": Thanks Guys! 73 all
<21:26:32> "Todd K7TFC": Hey, I use linux and I'm not deft, I'm daft!
<21:26:35> "Chris - W0ANM": I have one -
<21:27:27> "Chris - W0ANM": contact me off line if you have questions.
<21:28:13> "Al K8AXW": Joe, N2CX, do you have time for a question about toroids?
<21:29:45> "Joe N2CX": Sure Al, query away
<21:30:01> "Al K8AXW": Was hoping to get in here with audio
<21:30:28> "Joe N2CX": Al, go over to the NJQRP site
<21:30:40> "Al K8AXW": I wound a bifilar toroid with the ends wired so that I have a toroid with a center tap
<21:30:49> "Ray K2ULR": Chat with the Programmers!
<21:31:28> "Al K8AXW": the total inducance was like 55uH. However if I measure the inductance from one end to the center tap the inductance is some low number - not half of the total inductance
<21:31:36> "Al K8AXW": both ends are identical
<21:31:38> "Joe N2CX": Al hop in!
SESSION NOTES .... Assembling a QRP Station for Field Operation
QRP Afield event this Saturday Sept 15, 2012 ... http://newenglandqrp.org/afield
Ron WB3AAL during QRP Afield 2000
Classes of portable operation
short term – several hours
small number of contacts expected.
Minimal antennas sufficient
No need for large power source
AA alkaline, NiMH or gel cell simple or no logging required
Sprint type QRP operating event
Single or multi-op single station
anticipate at most 10-20 contacts per hour over 4-6 hour period
Efficient multiband antennas a plus
Perhaps 4 A-H battery capacity sufficient
Paper logs good enough
Special Event Station
Might be multi-op, multi station
100+ contacts expected over day-long period
Efficient antennas suggested
More than QRP power level might be desired
At least 50-100 A-H battery capacity per station or small generator
Large (200+w or more) solar array if used computer logging likely and will impact power to be supplied
QRP Field Day
Single or multi-op, multi station
Peak 20+ contacts per band per hour
Assume 24 hours of operating
Efficient antennas suggested.
50 A-H power per rig - more if logging computers used
Need to consider lighting for overnight operation
Paper logs possible, computers require more power than rigs
QRO Field day
Similar to QRO Special Event Station with double operating period
Just Like the Boy Scouts - Be Prepared
Make a checklist and/or diagram of everything you will need
Rigs _ accessories - spares
keys and paddles
Speakers and headphones
Computer/modem/digital gear for data operation
Cabling and adaptors
Instructions or “cheat sheets” for equipment operation
Dipole, vertical, loop, beam
Launching equipment for wires in trees
Slingshot bow and arrow, throw bag
Feedlines and adaptors
Ground rod for electrical noise and static electric safety
WB3AAL holding a doublet antenna
Adequate to meet your needs
Solar panels and chargers
Generator if used
Gas and oil
Ground rod for electrical noise mitigation
Cables and accessories
Test for power & batteries ... beforehand!
Test equipment – don't go overboard
Spare batteries for above
Adaptors and cables
Large pliers, screwdrivers, needle nosed pliers, adjustable wrench. Wire cutter, wire stripper
Battery operated soldering iron for small repairs
Small Butane torch for antenna/cable work
Special tools for generator or antenna
You do have a toolbox in your car don't you?
Folders or envelopes to keep logs secure
Computer and logging software if used
Pens and pencils
QQ or “adult magazine” for down time
Operator comfort items
Appropriate operating position
Table or bench
Lighting and battery or fuel
Jacket or sweat shirt
Tarp to keep water off ham gear
Pack adequate food and hydration supplies
First Aid Kit
Copy of your FCC license!
Packing – make sure to have carry cases for gear, accessories and cables
Labeled zip lock bags are convenient for accessories, adapters and cables
A video of the Alan Wolke W2AEW "Go Pack ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIZVBKND_II
Be ready for “what-ifs” to be ready for the almost inevitable Murphy failures
Check EVERYTHING before going into the field
Practice installing antennas and taking them down
Use all cables and adaptors that will be needed in the field
Check antenna SWR, bandwidth, etc.
Connect a rig and make some contacts
Make any needed repairs now!
Use with antennas that will go with you
Make sure you know how to operate everything
Use with power source that you will be using
Make any needed repairs now!
Smaller is better <gasp!>... but it's got to be usable over long time!
Bring several - they're light and can get lost!
American QRP SomethingOrAnother (Gil Khost)
Generator in good working condition
Use with gear above
Set aside needed spares ahead of time
Make any needed repairs or do maintenance now!
Make sure all software is loaded and operational
Learn that you are familiar with its use
Be sure you have adequate power for the duration of your event
WB3AAL ... The QRP Ninja
LowePro Backpack ... $50 from Walmart, $40 from Amazon!
Typical rig current drain (approx.)
ATS3B rcv 35mA xmit 600m
KX1 40 rcv 700 xmit
KX3 rcv 150 xmot 1.5A
K2 rcv 200 xmit 2A (10W) 17A (100W)
FT-817 rcv 450 mA xmit 2A
1. Batteries to the Field: <www.wd3p.net/qrp/batteries/battery_index.htm>
2. AE5X Battery Comparisons: <http://www.ae5x.com/blog/qrp/qrp-batteries/battery-comparisons-in-qrp-applications/>
3. Batteries and charging systems for QRP: <www.wa0itp.com/batteriesandchargingsystemskk6mcwhitepaper.pdf>
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