Heard in Hawaii – 4,732 miles per watt

Great ops and good band conditions make it happen. Just a week after a 1,200 miles per watt QSO, there is now a 4,732 miles per watt QRP QSO with Massimo KH6ZM in beautiful Hawaii (Grid: BK29ik).

2016-03-08 03:57 KH6ZM 40m 7.054 CW BK29ik Hawaii MASSIMO A ZENOBI

Massimo used a kW into a 2-el Yagi but received me on a beverage antenna with cascaded preamps. He was coming 599 into Florida on my 7′ long mobile 40m hamstick. My 1 watt across 4,732 miles landed a 559 report and encouraging comments.

Thank you Massimo for a QSO!

Very 73’s!


1,200 miles per watt

What else to do on a leap day? Try to do something you never had time for, of course! For instance – QRP!

The conditions were outstanding on 20m today. Worked a good friend of mine in Toronto 1,200 miles away on SSB using just 1 watt of power both ways just before sunset.

The reports were 519 or rather 509 but still fairly decent copy on both sides. He used a low-hanging dipole and I had a 7′ tall hamstick on the roof of my car.

The following calculator courtesy of N9SSA can be used for quickly estimating distance between two stations: http://www.hoffswell.com/n9ssa/mpwcalc.html


CQ 20 DE VA3PAW / W4 / QRP

Had a few minutes after lunch to test how well the hamstick whip antenna is working. Well, it’s working!

5W QRP into hamstick


My position is shown incorrectly as I should’ve added /W4 instead of /4 during the call.

The farthest station seems to be VE2WU near Montreal, QC! Not too bad for 5W QRP into a mobile whip.

Paul VA3PAW / QRP / W4 mobile

Mobile shack

Happened to be in W4 (Florida) this winter so I took my FT817 with me. Thanks to reciprocity between Canada and the US, I can operate using my Canadian callsign while in the US.

Being in a car country, it looked sensible to me to set up a mobile shack. My VE3 elmer has had a great success with MFJ miniature hamsticks mounted on the trunk of his car so I started looking in that direction too.

After quick research on what’s available at HRO online, I ordered two versions of MFJ hamsticks: miniature 3′ and longer 7′ hamsticks for the most popular bands. For the base, I ordered a mighty MFJ-336T mag mount with 3/8″ mount.

The first one to arrive and to install was MFJ-1620 – 7 feet tall antenna for 20m. The fiberglass base is about 4 feet long and is hollow inside. A stainless steel whip that screws on top is adjustable.


When fully extended, it resonated nicely on 13.540 MHz (perfect 1:1 match!) which was way too low… After shortening the whip by about 4″ the center of resonance shifted towards 14.060 QRP CW frequency (with the lowest SWR about 1:1.2). Could not get it match 1:1 anymore.

The whip is very hard to cut. After some trial and errors, the best tool happened to be a triangular file. Cut through the steel half-way then snapped it easily.

While busy with all this hard work, I did not notice it got really dark outside and the 20m band faded away. After scanning back and forth, a weak but workable signal of ZL3GA emerged and my tiny 5W signal just barely made it across the Pacific (7,220 nautical miles!) . Not bad for QRP with a mobile whip!

The 40m was alive and kicking so the next one to install is a 7 MHz hamstick.

The length of the whip makes driving a bit difficult – have to watch out for clearance, low hanging tree branches, etc. Also, at speeds of more than 45 mph, the whip starts buzzing in the wind.

Photo of my new mobile shack:

Mobile QRP

Hope to see you on the air!


CQ WW contest – QRP

Made a few quick contacts during CQ Worldwide contest today using 5 watts only (FT817ND).

The stations coming S9 and stronger had no problems picking up my signal. The stations coming S7/S8 or lower couldn’t hear me.

QRN was high on all bands. Few contacts on 20m, not luck on 15m. Caribbean and Europe came strong on 10 meters. The farthest distance worked – 7,147 km (Bosnia & Herzegovina) on 28.400 USB at 1400Z (E7DX).

E7DX antenna farm in Bosnia Herzegovina

New Year’s eve building marathon: Rockmite QRPp 30m transceiver

I was always curios about WARC bands and in particular the 30m band my trusty Kenwood TS-520 lacks. I have it thanks to my FT-817ND but still, in part due to my love of experimentation with radio kits, last spring I ordered a Rockmite 30m kit from Rex W1REX (qrpme.com) and one more 40m version of it. This used to be a very inexpensive kit costing $27 only. These days it’s $45 and comes with a spare pair of crystals. Any mods (AF gain, TX efficiency, etc) are extra. The kit has successfully arrived to Toronto after 5 weeks. During BoM inspection of the 30m kit, I noticed one band capacitor supplied was wrong value and that I got two SA612 mixers and no amplifier IC. Luckily I had enough capacitors of various values ordered from eBay before so finding a replacement was not a problem. The amplifier chip I borrowed from the 40m kit and immediately ordered a pack of 20 on eBay from China for a mere $4 in case I ever need a spare handy… Rex W1REX (from QRPME.com) admitted the kit sorting and handling issues he endured while training a new helper and shortly sent me missing audio amp chip at no charge along with my next order. After finishing sorting components according to the BoM I started building the kit.

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Unattended (somewhat) JT9 / JT65 on 40m and JT-Alert

Once I had my digital interface in place, I used my new FT817ND with great success for ragchewing using PSK31, several contest-style contacts with W1AW on RTTY, and then some WSPR propagation tests, before I stumbled upon the WSJT-X app by K1JT following some questions from a ham on a local amateur radio club forum.

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Portable 25W of solar power for ham radio

There is a nice add-on for a field day set for next year: Canadian Tire has a Coleman 40W solar panel (with charge controller) on sale for $124+tax (regular: $250+HST).

Tested it quickly in full sun – it was reliably giving 2 Amps charge at 13.8 Volts out. This is actually closer to 25W but still more than enough for a 5W QRP set!

The downside that it’s not really foldable (the leg is) and it’s quite bulky to carry around. But the upside is up to 25W of constant (re)charging power (in full sun).

Just need to plug-in a 60-65Ah car battery (or marine/RV one) and it’s good to go. May even be enough to run a small netbook for logging and digital modes from the same charge/battery.

They first came on sale on the last week of June – just before the Field day for $99, and now it was the second time but for $124. Possibly, will come again on sale closer to September.

UPDATE: This panel is on sale again for $99+tax starting this Friday until 9/18/2014.

New addition to the shack

I just adopted a new pet – a fairly priced piece of QRP Japanese engineering to my shack. My hopes is that it will keep me outside (in the fields) more!



Thanks to UPS for prompt delivery and to Ham Radio Outlet store in NH for (as usual) outstanding customer service.