Tag Archives: Operating

Small, Cheap 12v Li-ion Battery for QRP Radios

The 3000mAh TalentCell lithium-ion battery provides a 12v DC jack that can be used to power QRP radios in the field (or shack). It comes with a charger and a cable that can be used by most QRP radios. AND IT’S ONLY $25!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7Z9Z1N/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_xeo1Cb6JSMC0Y

Note: There is a general lack of truth about the true voltage of these three-cell battery packs. And the performance varies, based on the quality of the Li-ion cells used to build the pack. The Li-ion internal battery I purchased from Elecraft for my KX2 has 3 Li-ion cells, just like the battery shown in the video. It has a TENERGY-brand sticker and the label says, “Li-ion 10.8V 2600mAh”. These batteries all have an initial voltage that is close to 12v but they quickly (minutes) settle down to 11v. These cells are typically the Li-ion 18650 cells that are 3.7v each. So, it’s a stretch to market them as a three-cell 12v battery pack! But, it’s still good enough for my trail-friendly QRP radios. The 8AA NMH battery pack I’ve been using for my MTR-5B has lower voltage than this $25 Li-ion battery, was a PITA to charge, and weighs 60%+ more. So, this Li-ion battery pack isn’t perfect but I still think it’s a good solution for anyone who wants to power a trail-friendly QRP rig. – Cliff

How to Pick Up Chicks with Ham Radio

In this tongue-in-cheek video, I talk about how I’m swarmed with women when I work portable in a park.

The idea came about when a local realtor left a bag of marketing materials on my front doorknob.  The bag also contained a package of “Peeps”… those yellow marshmallow chickens that people buy at Easter.  I thought, “These are the only chicks that a ham could pick up.”

I probably took it too far.  If you can’t stand my stand-up comedy, skip to the last 30 seconds to see how to pick up chicks with ham radio.

SSB QRP during the CQ WW WPX Contest

This weekend I worked some SSB QRP on the hill at Bobcat Ridge. I don’t do a lot of voice-mode QRP since it’s less efficient than CW or one of the Digital modes. Still, I did make several 2,000 mile contacts while running only 5 watts from my Elecraft KX2. The antenna was a SOTABEAMS dipole. All contacts were made on the 20m band.

What you DON’T see in this video are the many, many times I answered someone’s CQ only to have them not hear me at all. This is just how it is when working QRP voice-mode – especially in a contest when the station calling CQ has other stations overlapping their calling frequency. The QRM from other operators makes it harder to pick out a weak signal.

SOTA Fail on Pike’s Peak

My son (Chris W4CBB) and I took our motorcycles to New Mexico and Colorado. It was an epic, father/son motorcycle adventure!

I took my KX2 with me in order to attempt a SOTA activation on Pikes Peak. Unfortunately, we had to abort due to weather. But, it’s just as well because my brain wasn’t working right in the thin atmosphere. I was sloppy and couldn’t think clearly. I’ve never been at that altitude before! Very interesting.

I worked Gary (W0MNA) but other signals were weak. The weak signals, coupled with my weak brain, and the sketchy weather made for a failed outing. We packed it up after Chris saw a lightning bolt.

What a fantastic vacation we had! I wish I had a better video for you but maybe this will be helpful to someone who anticipates activating Pikes Peak someday.

 

FT8 – Quick Start (from St. John USVI)

I made a couple of FT8 contacts from here in St. John. I captured them for a video and then realized I probably needed to make a video about how to get started with FT8!

So, this video shows you how simple it is to configure and use the WSJT-X software to do FT8. I follow that up with some screen captures of contacts with Greece and France from my temporary vacation QTH here on the island.

Portable with Tim & Doug

I went on a road trip with my friends Tim Kreth (AD4CJ) and Doug Miller (W4DML) last weekend to work portable from a beautiful scenic overlook.  We drove about 70 miles, full of anticipation, only to find that the scenic overlook had been closed due to a hunting event!

We needed to make lemonade out of lemons.

Running out of time, we decided to head toward home and stop along the interstate at the first exit that looked promising.  We found a field that was on an elevated exit of the interstate.  It was getting late in the afternoon and we only had a short time to set up, make some contacts, tear down, and begin the drive back home.

I had planned to shoot some video footage for the blog but I only worked a few stations before having to tear down.  I spent a lot of time trying to scare up some DX on 15m with no success.  I did work Cuba on 15m and a couple of other stations on 20m.  Tim concentrated on working 20m and had a lot of fun contacting stations participating in the Skywarn Appreciation Day event.  Doug used the time to deploy and trim up a homebrew fan dipole that he’d built.

You can see my setup in the photo, below.  You’ll see Tim’s setup in the distance.

Is there any better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than going somewhere with friends to play ham radio?

PortableByTim

Improving Your CW Speed with Morse Runner

A fun and effective way to improve your CW character recognition and gain speed is through the software program called Morse Runner.

Morse Runner is a contest simulator that lets you work a virtual “pile-up” (multiple people calling you at the same time).  You can control the parameters so that your session is as easy or as white-knuckled hectic as you wish.  This program really makes a game out of morse code.  Note: This program assumes that you already know your letters and numbers… it’s not for learning morse code but for helping you to improve your speed.

Download it from the author’s website: http://www.dxatlas.com/morserunner/

The Case for Morse Code

If you’re into QRP, I want to encourage you to consider learning morse code. While you can make plenty of contacts with voice or digital, it’s hard to beat the “cw” (continuous wave) mode for efficiency.

With voice, everything you say is stretched out and occupies about 3 kHz of bandwidth. With morse code, that energy is compressed/condensed into a sliver of the bandwidth, concentrating the energy like a laser pointer!