QRP Communications

QRP on the AIR… from K-ONE Last Good Question

By Dennis Marandos – K1LGQ

What a difference 90 days can make! It wasn’t that long ago we were looking out our windows and pleading with the snow gods to give us a break, and finally, our cries were heard. The temperatures, the blue skies, the winds have all been recently favorable and we can’t even remember what it was like with four-foot levels of bleached, hard bursts, hoar frosts in our front yards and drifts even higher. Well, we would much prefer to forget last winter than try to remember forging paths to the house garage, the grocery stores, to work or simply just getting our mail in the front yard–but look at it now. The sun is higher in the sky, the temps are thirty to forty degrees warmer than before, and the winds have shifted, a bit, for us to say “We’re in pig (HAM) heaven!”  What does all this lead up to you say? It is nature calling us to get out of the stale-air shack and into our “get-off-our-fanny” modes…including hiking, camping, biking and just plan QRP along the mountain paths. Yes, it’s the call of the CONTINUOUS WAVE!

Dennis K1LGQ, Mr. QRP
Dennis K1LGQ

I have been waiting all winter for the warmer spring months so I could pack my QRP gear into my knapsack, charge up the ole gel-cell and retune my throw-up dipoles to GET ON THE AIR. I have a small 7-amp gel-cell which is pretty much all anyone needs and thin, copper wire to fling onto the nearest tree limb to get the RF into the ionosphere. A quick and grubby antenna tuner will certainly do the job plus its pocket size which means not a lot of space occupied in the QRP bag. Overall, it’s pretty easy and if you’re thinking you have to do a lot to visit Mother Nature’s playground in her best, you’re wrong. Outdoor operating is now easier than it has ever been, and I am going to tell you why.

First off, operating QRP means you take the least favorable weight, carry less with you, and enjoy what you have. Five watts, or less, is pretty slim-pickings and to throw an antenna into a tree is the least of your hardships, but getting outside into the woods, the parks, the BACK YARD is going to be your toughest struggle. Where can I go? Who can I go with? How much gear do I need? Do I need to bring food, coffee, or snacks where I am headed? OH COME ON! We’re talking simply getting outside and into the sun and on the air!

I have built over two dozen QRP transceivers and perhaps as many antennas as well for the trickiest trees around. What you need is simply a low power rig that can be easily driven by six or eight double-AA batteries, or even a Lithium alone will get you on the air and you’re in attendance. Have you checked the pages of CQ magazine or QST to see who is selling QRP transceivers? Or better and easier, ‘Goggle’ QRP kits on your computer and you’ll find a utopia in front of you. Come on, the longer, brighter, sunshine days are here and you need to get moving before that cool breeze from the north comes visiting again. Not to worry, it’ll be a while, so warm up the soldering iron and burn some rosin. Just target the “al fresco” rig and get moving. By the way, bring your key, paper, and chronographic meter as well.

What does it take to get you moving? Okay, let’s suppose someone offered you fifty dollars to join him on a hike. Now, you’re outdoors and you’re loving it. Well, tell yourself that simply taking your gear to the woods is worth more than fifty dollars and look how much you saved. Think of mind relaxing thoughts, soothing, refreshing sunshine and the thrill of working QSOs anywhere someone can hear you. Now—doesn’t this bring a little excitement to your hard pressed schedule? YES, IT DOES! Now get moving…!

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