Category Archives: Portable

SOTAbeams new line of radio stands

KX3-StandMany thanks to Graham (G3ZOD) for this tip:

SOTAbeams (UK) has a new range of perspex stands for popular QRP CW radios.

These include personalized ones with callsign for K1, KX3, FT817, and X1M, and a non-personalized one for KX1, HB-1B, and R4020.

Click here to view SOTAbeam’s range of radio stands.

A New Field Event — “Peanut Power Sprint”

peanut-power-pete

The North GA QRP Club gang have added a new annual field event to the amateur radio contest calendar–a field event with an unusual twist. The Peanut Power Sprint is this Sunday, September 29, 2013, from 2000Z to 2200Z.

What’s unusual about this event is that it is open to those operators running QRP, those running more than QRP power, those operating at home, and those operating in the field. Participants will be competing against only those who are in the same class. In addition, both CW and SSB operation are allowed and encouraged.

Here are the full rules, in PDF format: http://www.nogaqrp.org/Peanut%20Power%20QRP%20Sprint.pdf

A couple of items to note in the rules:

  1. Operations are allowed only on 15, 20, and 40m. The recommended 40m CW frequency is 7.060MHz, not the usual QRP calling frequency.
  2. Those operators with a “Peanut Power Number” can work anyone; those without a number may work only those with numbers. It’s not too late to request a “Peanut Power Number”.

Personally, I’m looking forward to be operating as Peanut Power #105, “Salted” (5w, portable).

73, WD8RIF

LNR Precision introduces the FX-4: a four band CW/SSB transceiver

I saw a prototype of the FX-4 at the Dayton Hamvention this year. Initial impressions are that it is well-built and easily back-packable.

I will see about reviewing the LNR FX-4 after they become available.

Many thanks to Chris (K4RCH) for the tip!

(Source: LNR Precision)
FX-4 NEW!

It is has been a few months since we announced the FX-4 Transceiver but it is getting very close to being available for purchase. For those of you that are friends of our Facebook page or visited our booth at Dayton Hamvention got an early peek at it. Here is an updated picture and it will be a very sharp black color. Other pics are on theFacebook page. We have been making some last minute tweaks that we think you will really like. We plan to offer it for purchase under $500 and you can add your name to the wait list which can be found at the bottom of our purchase page.

FX-4 Specs

Transceiver size in inches 4.10L X 2.8W X 1.5T
Transceiver Weight 12.8 oz.
Current Drain on receive 250-270 ma
Current Drain on transmit 1200 ma
Receive/Transmit Bands 7.000.00 to 7.300.00 MHz
14.000.00 to 14.350.00 MHz
9.999.00 to 10.150.00 MHz
18.068 to 18.168.00 MHz
Frequency control 75 MHz
Display type LCD-128×64
Transmitter Max output power 5 watts CW
5 Watts SSB
Spurious emissions -43dB at 5 Watts
Side tone pitch 550Hz to 1500Hz adjustable
Receiver sensitivity 0.3uV
Selectivity -3dB/ 2.6K -40db/ 4.5K
Audio Output 1 Watt with 8 ohm speaker
Keyer Iambic A & B adjustable speed from 5 to 40 wpm
Memory Storage 10 per each Band total of 40
DSP filtering 300KHz, 500KHz. 1.3KHz, 1.6KHz, 1.9KHz, 2.2KHz, and 2.5KHz.
VFO Drift <5Hz after 5 minute warm up at 30c (<10Hz after 30 minute operation @ 40c)

 

A review of the Elecraft KX3 on The SWLing Post

IMG_6686Many of you know that I’m not only into QRP, but I’m an avid shortwave radio listener, as well.

If you’re an SWLer, too, you might might consider venturing over to my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post, where I just published a review of the Elecraft KX3. Unlike other reviews of the KX3, this was originally written for the May 2013 issue of Monitoring Times Magazine and focuses on the KX3 as a shortwave radio receiver.

Click here to read the full review.

Hamvention: Tokyo Hy-Power’s XT-751 5W HF HT

I was very surprised to find this handy talkie, the Tokyo Hy-Power XT-751 HF handheld transceiver, at the Dayton Hamvention. This radio will cover from 40 meters to 6 meters in both SSB and CW. It will also have an internal ATU. It is only a concept radio at this point.

Tokyo Hy-Power hopes to have this radio in production mid 2014.

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SOTA at the Charlotte Hamfest, Saturday March 9th

SOTAIf you’re planning to attend the Charlotte, NC hamfest (March 8th and 9th), make a point to join the SOTA (Summits On The Air) forum.  Christian (KF4LXB), provided me with details:

The forum itself is from 11:45am-12:45pm [Saturday March 9th] in the Cabarrus Room B. There will be total of five of us “SOTAteers” KF4LXB, W4ZV, KI4SVM, WH6LE, and W4ZTM with our kits. We hope to be able to set up a table outside of the conference room so we can have some extra “show and tell” time with our rigs for those interested. We want to get the word out to as many people as possible so we can share about something we all love.

Forum page: http://www.w4bfb.org/hamfest2013/forum_sota_webpage.html

Hamfest site: http://www.w4bfb.org/hamfest2013/hamfest.html

SOTA is serious QRP fun. Thanks for sharing this, Christian!

If you have a QRP related event you would like to publicize, simply contact me with the details and I would be happy to post it on QRPer.com. 

Video: See a prototype Begali Adventurer in action aboard the USS Slater

This video features operations of the QRP DE-Xpedition aboard the USS Slater.  Among other innovations, they show a protoype Begali Adventurer in action.  The Adventurer is a miniature set of paddles which attaches to portable QRP rigs like the new Elecraft KX3.

Author interview: Dennis Blanchard’s (K1YPP) “Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail”

Dennis Blanchard (K1YPP) at Four Days In May 2012

This year, at the Four Days in May (FDiM) Dayton QRP gathering, I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis Blanchard (K1YPP) and his wife, Jane, as Blanchard signed copies of his book, Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail. I had previously heard about Blanchard’s book, and it was great meeting the author in person.  Both he and his wife were most friendly, and I instantly felt a connection–after all, he is a fellow QRPer!

As a result of this meeting, I recently decided to purchased a copy of Three Hundred Zeroes on my Kindle eBook reader. Though I’ve always been a fan of turning pages on a traditional book, the eReader does afford one instant gratification, as you can order it on-the-go and start reading immediately.  And that’s exactly what I did…

The result? I’m very glad I took the time to read Blanchard’s Three Hundred Zeros.  Though I don’t like to spend much time away from my young family at present, I’ve always thought it would be a wonderful challenge and adventure to through-hike the AT (Appalachian Trail); reading this book was a vicarious opportunity to do so. Indeed, my favorite trail, the BT–the Bartram Trail, which follows the path of early American naturalist and explorer William Bartram–which I hike when I can, and whose NC chapter I’ve served as a board member for nearly 10 years now, parallels the AT at different points.  So the temptation to hike (and QRP, of course) continues.

“This photo was taken in NJ. Shortly after I took these photos, and walked down the trail about a 100 feet, a bear came over to check the table to see if I had left anything.” (Photo: K1YPP)

Blanchard’s book gives me hope. Three Hundred Zeroes is a well-documented, informative, and–despite his truly serious heart condition–often humorous journal-style account of his successful thru-hike of this 2176 mile trail. His writing style is very informal and likeable, focusing on the many personal interactions that make the trail hiker’s experience unique, and interweaving his day-to-day accounts with trail lore and history.

In contrast with the arduous journey Bill Bryson describes his well-known (and hilarious) book, A Walk in the Woods, in Three Hundred Zeros Blanchard calmly and routinely deals with misadventures and hair-raising encounters with wildlife, rolling with the punches and somehow emerging unscathed. He describes the journey as “long stretches of boredom, punctuated by brief moments of excitement” in the lively and unpredictable form of bears, mice, snakes, and even other hikers, to some degree. Blanchard was obviously a great hiking companion, thus rarely hiked alone–no doubt, other hikers sought his company.

A closeup of Dennis’ AT Sprint 3A taked at Four Days in May (Click to enlarge)

With QRP in mind, I had a few questions for Blanchard after reading his book.  He has kindly taken the time to respond to QRPer‘s questions, as follows.

QRPer:  I always thought that the AT would be a lonely place, but your book certainly changed my mind. Were there many stretches of trail where you were completely alone while trekking or camping at night?

Blanchard: There were times when I was alone for extended periods. However, “alone” is a relative term. Throughout the day I would encounter other hikers going in the other direction, or people that were slower or faster than I. In 180 days on the trail, I think I had three nights when I camped alone.

“2007-Damascus, VA was where I operated Field Day in 2007. It was shortly after this that I left the trail for the heart surgery.” (Photo: K1YPP)

QRPer: What was your favorite stretch of trail?

Blanchard: That’s difficult to answer…The trail is so varied and weather can change one’s views of any section. For me, it was a coin toss between the New Hampshire White Mountains and the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. The remoteness of both areas was just so spectacular. Of course the high altitudes made for great antenna opportunities as well.

QRPer: Did you bring a radio to listen to local AM/FM or shortwave?

Blanchard: For most of the hike, I carried a Yaesu VX-1R 2/440 handi-talkie. I think I used it about three times on two-meters. In a few situations, such as up in the White Mountains, I used the VX-1R to tune in NOAA for weather news. It also has AM/FM and on a few very rare occasions, I tuned into local stations for news. Would I carry it again? I don’t know. It is wise to have something for emergencies, and the radio wasn’t too big or heavy, but it was extra weight.

QRPer:  Specifically, what ham gear did you take with you? Do you have a photo?

Blanchard:As noted in the book, I did carry a home-brewed 80/40 meter CW rig for the first 600 miles. For the rest of the hike I carried Steve Weber’s ATS-3A. The radio was powered by six Energizer disposable lithiums, in a home-brewed battery pack. The pack could also charge my cell phone and power the 2-meter VX-1R radio. I used a 51 foot random wire for the antenna and some counterpoise wire, usually about 15 feet. Altogether, the gear weighed around two pounds.

QRPer: If you were to do the hike again, would you take the same equipment?

Blanchard: I’m not certain I would carry the VX-1R again. I didn’t use it much and it is extra weight. However, the NOAA weather, and 2-meter capability could prove extremely useful in an emergency.

QRPer:What was it like coming back off the trail once you completed it? Any especially notable things about how you perceived the world around you? Did it change you? Any culture shock?

Blanchard: The only real “culture shock” was riding in automobiles. Everything seemed to move so quickly. I much more enjoy walking and biking now. I would be happy if I never had to drive again.

“KD2VX, Kathy, was the trail angel that helped out with my hike up in New Hampshire. She is a QRP fan.” (Photo: K1YPP)

QRPer: How many other hams did you meet on the AT who were either through-hiking the AT, or hiking sections?

Blanchard: Since we [hikers] don’t wear being a “ham” on our sleeve[s], I can’t really say how many hams I encountered. The few that I was aware of were mostly section hiking. One benefit of setting up my QRP station along the way was public visibility for ham radio. On a number of occasions I inspired my fellow hikers to look into ham radio when they returned home. I’ve even had a few readers of the book write me to tell me they went off and got a ham license based on inspiration from the book.

QRPer: If any other QRPers are inspired by your story, and are thinking about hiking the entire AT, how much money should they budget for such an adventure? Based on what I read, there are a number of budgetary considerations for shuttles, food, gear, and the like.

“Duncannon, PA was were I operated Field Day. The station table was a few rocks I moved around.” (Photo: K1YPP)

Blanchard: The answer to this question depends on how many “creature comforts” one wishes. Hiking as I did, with stops along the way about every 5-10 days, can cost about $1-$3 a mile. Those on a tight budget could do it for much less, and those that enjoy getting to hotels and eating in fancier places could spend more. Most of the shuttles were really not that expensive, at least those that cater specifically to hikers. The hostels are a real bargain, compared to standard hotels, but one may have to tolerate annoyances, such as snoring and people coming and going at unusual hours. If you’re a light sleeper, this could be an issue.

QRPer: On zero days [based on your descriptions] it seems like hikers simply stuff themselves with food. I’m really curious what you typically ate on the trail?

K1YPP’s 2008 Field Day “table” in Duncannon, PA (Click to enlarge, Photo: K1YPP)

Blanchard:The short answer is: I ate everything. I’m not fussy, and don’t have any diet limitations. If someone is diabetic, or vegetarian, it is still possible to undertake such a hike, it just might require more preparation. My typical day was a few Pop Tarts first thing in the morning, or hot oatmeal on cold days, followed by an on-trail mid-morning snack, such as a Snickers Bars or trail mix.

Lunch was usually something that didn’t need cooking. Roll-up tortillas, or bagels with peanut butter won out most of the time. In the colder weather, bagels and cream cheese was a favorite. Gatorade powder mix, or hot chocolate in cold weather, was my favorite drink for lunch.

The evening meal was usually a pasta-based affair, or couscous. I really preferred the couscous; it is very light to carry, needs very little energy to cook, and is loaded with nutrients. I would usually stir in some dried vegetables with it, or dried meat. As a side I would carry a dried sausage, such as pepperoni, which could also serve as a snack for lunch. I usually carried some desert items as well, such as cookies or dried fruit. Of course energy bars would supplement all of this along the way. Many hikers preferred candy bars, but I tried to avoid them in the warmer weather since they melt.

Overall, even though the diet sounds bland, it wasn’t bad. Of course, whenever we hit a town, I would stuff on everything in sight. I actually did eat well, but couldn’t find enough calories to maintain my weight. I ended up losing 35 pounds at the end of the hike and looked like a refugee.

Well, Dennis–all I can say is that I hope you’ve gained back some of those lost pounds, continue to be in good heart-health, and are able to enjoy a little QRP on your forthcoming hikes.  Thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions; we wish you the very best!

You can purchase Dennis’ book from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble and visit his website at threehundredzeroes.com.

A Grocery Store Find — a Portable QRP Station Bag!

QRP Bag -- click to enlarge

I found an almost perfect bag for carrying a small QRP transceiver, simple antenna, and accessories yesterday in our local Aldi grocery store. The bag (photo) is manufactured by “Adventure Essentials”, is described as an insulated lunch bag, is available in several color-schemes, and cost all of $3.99 plus sales tax. I purchased the grey-and-black version, product number 41991. The bag looks to be very rugged, is covered by a two-year warranty, and the tag even includes a toll-free telephone number for customer service.

QRP Bag -- click to enlarge

As can be seen in the photos, the bag is almost ideally sized for carrying any of the current crop of trail-friendly-radios such as the Elecraft KX1 or KX3, the Ten-Tec 40×0 two-band or 4040 four-band rigs, the Youkits HB-1A three-band or HB-1B four-band rigs, or the MFJ 92xx single-band rigs.

If I didn’t already have a Pelican Case for my KX1 Mini Travel Kit, I could probably be very happy carrying the station in this insulated lunch bag!

Standard disclaimer: I have no relationship with Aldi other than being a satisfied customer.