QRPacificon 2008 – Oct 17, 18, and 19

If you are attending Pacificon, the largest ham radio convention on the west coast of the US, you should consider attending QRPacificon as well. It is a great way to hear some of the experts in the field of QRP and meet fellow QRPers.  Information can be found on NorCal’s website.

Below, I have pasted an informative message sent to QRP-l, from James, KA5DVS:

Folks,
We are only 2 days away from the start of Pacificon in San Ramon, CA and the start of our QRPacificon activities.

Brief Schedule:
Friday: No host dinner at 6PM followed by homebrew show and tell with prizes
Saturday: Speakers 9AM=11AM and 2PM-4PM, Indoor Flea Market and Vendor night 7PM-?

It all starts at 6PM Friday evening with a no host dinner organized by Jim Duffey.
The restaurant is the same as last year:

EL Balazo
250 Market Place
San Ramon
(925) 328-0510
Click here for map

We will meet in the lobby at 5:30 and head over to the restaurant.

After dinner, we are sponsoring a builder show and tell with prizes. Bring your homebrew creations to show off and be judged. We will have categories for tube gear, test gear, radios, etc. Prizes will be given for the best in class.

Saturday morning starts with coffee at 9AM and we have a great speaker lineup:

9AM
Douglas Quagliana, KA2UPW
Introduction to Amateur Radio Satellites
Douglas holds an Extra Class Amateur Radio license
and has been chasing amateur radio satellites since 1996.
His writings have appeared online
and in amateur publications including QRPp, QRP Quarterly,
and the Proceedings of the AMSAT-NA Space Symposiums. His
other amateur radio interests include digital signal
processing, APRS, QRP, and mobile HF. His current amateur
radio work includes a 38k4 baud DSP soundcard modem and a
matching telemetry program for the amateur radio satellite
AO-51 (Echo). Douglas holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer
Science from St. Bonaventure University and a Masters
Degree in Computer Science from Stevens Institute of
Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He has one patent.

10AM Dave Farden, AA0ZU
Homebrew mobile antennas amd operation.
Dave Farden, AA0ZU, was first licensed in 1963 (WA0HAU)
at the age of 14. He has been operating HF mobile, on and
off, since 1965 with a wide variety of vehicles, rigs, and antennas.
The hobby became a career: he is currently a Professor of Electrical
Engineering at North Dakota State University, with professional
interests in communications and signal processing.

Dave joins us from North Dakota and will be talking about his homebrew mobile
antennas and experiences operating mobile in North Dakota. If you have worked
a mobile station in North Dakota, especially on the low bands, it is very possible
it was Dave.

2PM: Jim Duffey KK6MC
Jim needs no introduction. He has been a previous speaker at Pacificon and always
delivers a great presentation.

3PM: Dan Tayloe:
Dan Tayloe has been in ham radio for over 35 years. From day one, Dan
has always been a builder. Dan likes to build more than he likes to
operate. For the last few years, he has been heavily involved in
designing very high performance, very low power direct conversion
receivers. In his spare time he works for Motorola as a cellular>telephony
systems engineer. Dan is married to a very understanding XYL, Vicki, who can
usually be found negotiating for him at hamfests.

My presentation is called “Receiver Audio Filter Design – Approaches for
Improved Receiver Audio Performance” I will be mainly taking about R/C
active filter design, but will also touch on other topics like filter Q
and ringing, the need for hearing protection, effects of op-amp
distortion on high performance filters, and impacts of dual overlapping
filters.

After the speakers wrap up at 4, we will break for dinner.

We will regroup at the hotel at 7PM. This year, we will not have the Auction but will provide table space
for you to sell any QRP related equipment you would like at our indoor flea market. We will also
have a number of QRP equipment vendors present.

On behalf of the entire Norcal QRP Club staff, we hope to see you there All QRP activities are provided courtesy of the Norcal QRP club and are free of charge.
You only need to pay your admission to the Pacificon event to attend.
Pacificon tickets and information are on their website www.pacificon.org

72/73
James
KA5DVS

NorCal offering limited run of 2N2/XX transceivers

The NorCal QRP club is offering a limited run of their PN2222 based analog transceivers. These transceivers are based on 10 years of prior K8IQY 2N2 designs–an evolution originating from a design contest, Wayne Burdick N6KR, one of the co-founders of Elecraft, proposed for the 1998 Dayton convention.

A total of 500 kits are available – 200 on 20-meters, 100 on 30-meters, and 200 on 40-meters. They are available at $125 each (or $225/two, and $300/three). Only 5 kits per order are available.

These kits will be available for order on October 14th.

–UPDATE 10-13-08 —

Doug Hendricks posted a 2N2/XX update on QRP-l–this includes significant changes to availability. Here’s his message:

Guys, in our excitement at getting the NorCal 2N2xx CW transceiver kits
out we didn’t think things through very well. Here is the problem. This
coming weekend is Pacificon, and all of us will be totally tied up on
Thursday, Friday and Saturday and part of Sunday. The number of kits
available is only 200 on 40 Meters, 200 on 20 Meters, and 100 on 30 Meters
and we will have to monitor sales very closely or there could be a huge
problem. We don’t want to accept orders and not have kits to ship because
they are sold out. We just don’t have anyone available to monitor the
orders.

So this is what we are going to do. We will take one half of the kits to
Pacificon to sell in our booth. We will save one half of the kits for
“Internet” sales, so there will be kits for guys who can’t get to
Pacificon. I really doubt if we will sell 250 kits at Pacificon, but I
might be wrong. Even if we do, there will still be kits for those of you
who can’t make it.

The window for orders will now be open at 7 AM on Weds. Oct. 21st. I
apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused, but it is the best
solution that we can come up with.

Hope to see you at Pacificon. We have a great lineup of speakers and lots
of fun planned. 72, Doug

Links of interest:

How to learn morse code (CW) for free!

QRPers know that the best mode to get the biggest bang out of the lowest amount of power is with morse code, (a.k.a. CW).

If you haven’t learned CW yet or are looking to improve your speed, you’re in for a treat. A new website by Fabian Kurz (DJ1YFK) called LCWO (Learn CW Online) has been launched. Features of this site include:

  • The ability to learn via web browser (no software to download)
  • The proven Koch method CW course
  • The site remembers who you are and your stats
  • Hey, it’s free!

Some thoughts and advice on CW

I had been intimidated by CW for a long time and only started learning it a year ago. I had forgotten almost all of the CW I had learned to pass the 5 WPM Novice Exam in 1997.

With the use of some old CW training tapes and a little time set aside each morning in my living room, I was able to re-learn the alphaphet and numbers in a couple of weeks. In fact, the moment I had learned all of the characters and numbers, I picked up the phone and called my friend, Mike Hansgen (AA8EB), and told him to meet me on the air in 5 minutes. It was tough–and I was way outside of my comfort zone–but I made it through the QSO and felt great.  Mike was probably working me at 3 words per minute–a speed that was, ironically, taking him outside of his comfort zone!

I found out that, once you know the characters, you can begin having QSOs immediately. Speed comes naturally with on-air practice. To help me along, Mike and my good friend Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), began having a daily CW sched with me. The results? In only a couple of months I was comfortable listening to CW at 15 WPM! And trust me, I’m not a quick learner.

The thing that held me back all of those years was the fear of getting on the air and not understanding the operator’s code on the other end. Do you feel that way too?  Keep reading…

I was lucky to have friends (or Elmers) that were willing to help me gain ground with code. Indeed, not only were they willing to work with me, but they were actually excited to be given the opportunity. Think this is rare? Think again!

FISTS – “When You’ve Worked a FIST, You’ve Worked a Friend”

The International Morse Preservation Society (FISTS) sponsers the amazing “code buddy” program.  FISTS will put you in touch with a ham radio operator, a “code buddy”, that will meet you on the air and work with you to learn/improve morse code.  You don’t even need to be a member of FISTS and it’s a totally free service driven by hams with a passion for teaching others CW. This will give you a venue not only to learn CW in a comfortable, on air, environment, but you’re also sure to make a friend in the process.

So what are you waiting for?

Take these three steps to learn morse code:

  1. Go to the LCWO website, create an account, and start learning CW online.
  2. The moment you know all of the characters, either call a friend and get on the air, or sign up for FISTS’ Code Buddy program.
  3. Practice and have fun–speed and comprehension wil come naturally

The NUE-PSK Digital Modem

QRPers have long been fans of PSK. And why wouldn’t they? The mode is efficient and uses DSP technology to help discover low bandwidth digital signals.  What that means for the QRPer is: 1 watt + PSK = DX   Very effective use of the juice!

Thing is, PSK has traditionally required the QRPer to bring along some sort of computer and a handful of wires and cables to take PSK to the field.

The American QRP Club has made this easier with the introduction of their portable digital modem–the NUE-PSK. This modem, like other AmQRP products is a kit and requires some experience with surface mount kits.

Here’s the AmQRP description of their modem:

The NUE-PSK is a small 7″ x 4″ x 1″ standalone, battery-operated digital modem using a graphic display for transmit and receive text data, as well as for showing band spectrum and tuning. Just plug in a standard PS2 keyboard and connect to an SSB-capable transceiver like the FT-817 or the PSK-xx transceivers from Small Wonder Labs, and you’ll have an effective digital mode station that goes absolutely anywhere.

The NUE-PSK is a small 7″ x 4″ x 1″ standalone, battery-operated digital modem using a graphic display for transmit and receive text data, as well as for showing band spectrum and tuning. Just plug in a standard PS2 keyboard and connect to an SSB-capable transceiver like the FT-817 or the PSK-xx transceivers from Small Wonder Labs, and you’ll have an effective digital mode station that goes absolutely anywhere.

Why wait? Go check out the specs on their website and also check eHam as reviews come in.

Impressions of the Hendricks PFR3

Photo courtesy of Hendricks QRP Kits

Dr. Bob Armstrong, N7XJ, did a nice mini review of the Hendricks PFR3–a truly portable field QRP radio. This is an impressive radio for at least 3 reasons:

  1. The kit costs a whopping total of $240 US. I don’t know where else you could find such a complete radio package (with built-in tuner and paddles) for that price.
  2. This radio (much like the Elecraft KX1) was designed specifically for QRP and specifically for field use–hence the major controls are mounted on top of the radio. No need to worry about a place to set your radio, just hold it in your hand (if using the built-in paddles).
  3. Looks like fun!

I got to play with a PFR3 and speak with a couple of people who had built them at the Dayton Hamvention this year. I was impressed with the radio’s ergonomics and tank-like feel as I held it. Though not a beginner’s kit, by and large people were very please with the ease of build. The instructions are pretty complete now that many people have built the PFR3 and given feedback to the Hendricks team. Check their site for updates and notices before you start construction.

I’ve heard of two people who have actually built this kit in one dedicated day of sniffing solder smoke. Not a task for the faint of heart, though–and I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home.  

I am in love with my Elecraft KX1 and this radio looks like it could be its (bright yellow) cousin. Way to go, Hendricks!
Some PFR3 Links:
If you have used the PFR3 and would like to share your thoughts, register on QRPer (see top tab) and leave a comment!

Yes, we’re new and we’re QRP.

Welcome to QRPer.com. This site has been designed to help people connect with and learn about fellow QRPers. It will contain information about QRP radios, QRPers, and their portable set ups.  If you would like to contribute a story to this site, please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment on this message.

QRPer.com is set to be live in September 2008.  In the meantime, check back.  The site will be updated with basic information as we iron out the design.

Cheers & 72,

Tom Witherspoon

KF4TZK