Many thanks to John (VA3KOT) who shares the following guest post which was originally published on his Ham Radio Outside the Box blog:
Why I Quit QRP (and maybe shouldn’t have)
by John (VA3KOT)
For many years I was a dedicated QRP operator. I even took my “Portable QRP Operation” show-and-tell out on the road for presentation at ham clubs in my area. Then along came the dark, gloomy depths of the solar cycle minimum. My forays out into the Big Blue Sky Shack became a series of disappointments. Maybe the odd QSO here and there, but most often I came home with nothing but a few RBN spots after multiple CQ calls. Something had to change.
I began to ask myself “why QRP?”. It’s a valid enough question. Just what is so magical about an output power of 5 watts? Why not 1 watt, 3 watts, or 20 watts? It has often been said that 5 watts of CW is equivalent to 100 watts of SSB. There is a mathematical proof but I won’t repeat it here. So shouldn’t 100 watts of SSB be considered QRP?
QRP has a cult-like following. There are several online organizations dedicated to it. I am a member of some of them. QRP certainly has an appeal for those of us who like to operate in the great outdoors. Perhaps the greatest advantage is that an entire station can be stuffed into a couple of pockets – antenna and all. And a QRP rig sips battery power so slowly that some can be powered all day on a 9-volt alkaline battery.
I laid the blame for my lack of portable QRP QSOs on poor propagation. Maybe my signal just wasn’t making the trip. The propagation demons in the sky were swallowing my signals, burping and grinning down at me with a smug, malicious gleam in their eyes. QRP-’til-I-die operators shrug that off as “the fun of QRP”. Not getting any QSOs is fun?
In hindsight, there could have been another explanation. The Reverse Beacon Network was constantly reaffirming that my puny emissions were making it up to the ionosphere and being refracted back down to the Earth. So why were so very few people responding to my CQs? I have a theory about that. Maybe, back then, random CQs only appealed to a small number of people. I asked myself how often I responded to random CQs. Hmmm, not too often!
Anyway, images of QRO rigs were dancing around my head whispering sweet messages of temptation in my ear. “Yes” I said to myself; “that’s the answer. Maybe I just need to blow more watts into the air and I will fill up my logbook!” But first a roadblock. I had to persuade “senior management” that I should invest in a new radio. Continue reading Guest Post: “Why I Quit QRP (and maybe shouldn’t have)”→
Since my early days in the world of radio, there have been radios I found very intriguing, but have never owned. I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard.
These radios have enticed me, but not enough to pull the trigger…you know…to actually buy one.
Not yet, at least.
Here’s a small sampling of radios I currently window shop:
The Elecraft K3/K3s
There’s a reason this particular radio series has been on so many DXpeditions: it packs a lot of performance and is efficient for its size.
I’ve owned all of Elecraft’s QRP radios and I love them. I know I’d like the K3 or K3s as well.
There are a couple reasons why I haven’t purchased a K3 or K3s. First of all, I already own a KX3 with a CW roofing filter and a KXPA100 amplifier. In a sense, I feel like this is a rough equivalent of the K3. The KX3 doesn’t have all of the features or options of the K3 series, but it has everything I need as a primarily portable op. Secondly, the price of the K3 or K3s–depending on the installed options–range anywhere from $1,100 – 2,900 used. The lower priced ones tend to be QRP and lack some of the performance options.
That said, if I ever landed a super deal on a K3, there’s a decent likelihood I’d buy it.
The Yaesu FT-897D
I know what it is about the FT-897: it looks like it means business. I’ve always found the rugged design of the ‘897 appealing even though a friend jokes that it’s the ugliest radio Yaesu’s ever made. Of course, folks who buy an 897 aren’t looking at the form, they’re going for the function.
Wow, Mark! I do love the size of this case and the fact that it fits the FT-891 so perfectly.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about building out a case to hold one of my smaller QRP transceivers (the KX1, KX2, or MTR3B) in the field to be used when it’s raining. Perhaps this has been on my mind because I’ve been enjoying nearly 5 straight days of rain and fog! A case like this would be an affordable solution and I wouldn’t feel terribly bad about drilling through the case to mount antenna, key, mic, and headphone ports.
Thank you again for the tip!
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