There seems to be a bit of a debate over what is “QRP” in ham radio circles. Me, I don’t really care about splitting hairs, but I guess technically, or maybe traditionally, QRP = 5 watts or less. However, with some modern radios we are seeing max watts in the 10, 15, 20 watt neighborhood. While these are still definitely lower power, and really its all about battery life and being light weight, I guess they are technically not QRP. But like I said, I dont really care and don’t think it matters. Phew… okay that is done. On to my post…
On a biz trip to Folsom California this week (Yes Johnny Cash Folsom), I had the opportunity to bring some radio gear and operate portable. I am glad too because I needed the break from being locked up in conference rooms all day in business meetings. The first night I went to a local park and took the Yaesu FT-817 along with the Sotabeams tactical mini mast and 20/40 linked dipole
On the first night I operated the 817 “as is” at 5 watts and was able to make a couple of SSB contacts, as well as 1 very memorable CW contact. I am pretty new to CW and also still a little key shy. But, my cell phone was dinging with notifications from Ham Alert that my friend Dave, AC7FF was operating CW and making contacts during the NAQCC contest. I guess the reason it was so memorable is that we typically operate radio side by side in the park in Queen Creek (our home town). And Dave has been mentoring me in CW over the past year. So this QSO was kind of like the student and the teacher being able to put the skills to the test on the air in a non scripted way. Anyway, it was cool for us and I guess that is what matters in the hobby.
The other time I was able to operate while on my biz trip in Folsom was in the afternoon on one of the days where I went over to Folsom Lake. I had to pay the $12 park entrance fee (not thrilled about that), but it was worth it. I had plenty of space to set up, and I wasn’t imposing on anyone’s space.
This time, I had all of the equipment I took with me on the trip. The FT-817, the minipa50 amp, and the Xiegu QRP transciever. I wanted to compare the receive between the two radios, as well as I wanted to play with the little 50watt amp on the 817. The bands were pretty bad, and I was not able to make any contacts while on the Xiegu 5 watts or the 817 at 5 watts. I called CQ for awhile and tried to come back and answer two operators but they couldn’t hear me. Once I turned on the amp, I was able to make a couple of contacts. According to the power meter I was getting me about 25-30 watts (but really hard to tell on SSB). SWR was nice and flat and the operators on the other end both gave me a 5/5 which I will take as probably accurate.
Back to the original comment about QRP… Sometimes, adding a little bit of power makes a difference, especially on SSB/voice.
All in all, I was fortunate to be able to get out of the office and biz meetings, to squeeze in two outings to do some portable radio. Good times!