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 together
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.

73, George N2APB  & Joe N2CX

Audio Recording ... (Listen to the MP3 podcast)

Discussion Notes:

<20:17:08> "Joe N2CX":  "go-kit" video from Alan Wolke
<20:17:51> "Todd K7TFC": For SOTA activations, of course, all operation is in the field.
<20:19:06> "Todd K7TFC":
<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
<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:
<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":  - 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:
<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:
<21:15:17> "Mike WA8BXN": tenna dipper from 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:
<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":  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 ...

                           Ron WB3AAL during QRP Afield 2000


Classes of portable operation

QRP Casual

Sprint type QRP operating event

Special Event Station

 QRP Field Day

QRO Field day 


Just Like the Boy Scouts - Be Prepared

 Make a checklist and/or diagram of everything you will need






                            WB3AAL holding a doublet antenna

 Power source(s)


                   Gas and oil

                   Fire extinguisher

                   Ground rod for electrical noise mitigation

Test for power & batteries ... beforehand!


 Test equipment – don't go overboard

                                  Rich K7SZ



 Operator comfort items

 Packing – make sure to have carry cases for gear, accessories and cables



A video of the Alan Wolke W2AEW "Go Pack ...


Be ready for “what-ifs” to be ready for the almost inevitable Murphy failures

 Check EVERYTHING before going into the field




    American QRP SomethingOrAnother  (Gil Khost)


Power sources

 Logging  computer


              WB3AAL ... The QRP Ninja

  LowePro Backpack ... $50 from Walmart, $40 from Amazon!

Typical rig current drain (approx.)




1. Batteries to the Field: <>

2. AE5X Battery Comparisons: <>

3. Batteries and charging systems for QRP: <>


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