I’ve been watching your videos for awhile now and I love the idea of QRP. However I live in Southeast Alaska and I was wondering if I will have to purchase at least a 100watt radio.
What do you think?
I currently only have my tech license, but with college finally ending I want to focus on finishing the remaining licenses. VHF/UHF is not used much here, so naturally I want to move towards HF.
I also wanted your opinion on a radio to start with, that will last awhile. I move around a bit, so I know I want something portable. But I will still want to sit at the table or desk as well. The two I look at the most are the FT857 and the KX2. I know they are two different animals, but I want something that will last me and fit my minimalist ways.
I am sure this could become a long conversation with any ham. But, since you have both radios, if you could only have one which would it be?
If I could only have one radio, it would be the KX2. The KX2, with the internal tuner option and the internal battery option, makes for a very small, self-contained station. I like to take my radio into the great outdoors and the KX2 is perfect for that – even though it works great in the shack. It’s the current state-of-the-art in QRP radios. GET IT.
Now, it’s true that it sometimes makes a difference to transmit 100 watts vs. 5 watts. Your signal at 5 watts will be reduced at the receiving station by about 2 S-units. Most of the time, the loss of 2 S-Units doesn’t make much of a difference so you’ll have very little trouble making contacts. However, if the receiving station has a fairly high noise floor or there’s QSB (fading signals), the extra 2 S-Units might mean the difference between getting that contact in the log book or not. It’s just something to be aware of. You will make plenty of contacts with QRP but you’ll make a few more with 100 watts. In comparison, by running a QRP radio, you’re driving a Dune Buggy – which can be a lot of fun – but there are some trips where you might prefer an SUV.
If you get a 100 watt radio, you’ll need a separate power supply. And you’ll need an antenna tuner. The 857 is okay but it’s got a clunky user interface. It’s fine but there is another compact, low-cost option you might consider… the Yaesu FT-450. https://www.gigaparts.com/yaesu-ft-450d.html
Something I should mention… your first HF radio will not be your last. As you go through your ham journey, your tastes may change and you’ll want a different radio… maybe even after a year. In other words, whatever you get now will probably not be a radio you keep for Life (unless it’s the KX2 or something outstanding like that). If you buy a used radio, you can use it for a while and then sell it for about what you paid for it. Hey, that’s like a free radio! I’ve had no trouble buying used gear from the classifieds found on QRZ.com, eHam.net, and QTH.net. Buying something from a friend is always great if you know any local hams but I’d stay away from eBay.
Good luck with your decision. Don’t stress about it too much, though. – Cliff
Thank you for the quick response!
I just wanted you to know that until I happened upon your videos I thought ham radio was far out of my reach because of the cost generated by not only the radio, but also additional power supplies, amps, and so on.
After my tech license and observing how few people here in Juneau, AK use VHF/UHF I really became disillusioned with ham radio. Once I saw your videos I decided that once I completed my college courses I would get back into it. I still need to learn code, but once I get the remaining licenses I’m going to see just how far I can push QRP with SSB.
I really appreciate your time making these videos and inspiring QRP!
Also, I have family in Palmyra, TN. Not sure if you’ve been up that way, but I hope someday when I’m there I’ll hear you on the radio.
P.S. Now I have to decide KX2 or KX3…lol… What do you think about that choice? I’m leaning KX2 still.
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