QRP… A reminder

Yesterday (December 27 2022) on a HF Net I heard an operator stating that he was operating QRP when he checked in with the NCS (and no it was not me)

The NCS asked what power level he was using and he proudly replied “10w”. The NCS commented that he thought QRP was 5W and a short gruff debate followed with the NCS saying it was not worth arguing over and he then continued the net.

You might remember that I covered this before in a blog post:


and I don’t believe things have changed since then.

If you feel like it check my previous post (above) and draw your own conclusions

Happy New Year to all



Over the years I have owned 3 QRP Rigs

FT817 (5w) Flex 1500 (5w) and XEIGU X5105 (5w)

Second impressions

Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon I took the Xiegu and the Toy Box out to a POTA site here in Kingston Ontario. The gear and I took Kingston Transit and ended up at the POTA site VE4877 (Murney Tower) which is paired up (as a 2 fer) with the site VE4872 (Kingston Fortifications).

As stated at the beginning the X5105 and the Comet Toy Box was the gear for my second test…. This time I brought a change of counterpoises. The random lenght wires of yesterday were replaced with the 1/4 wave lenght for 20/40/60/80m. I only used a single counterpoise for each band as recommended by the “Page of words” for the antenna.

As usual the bands were pure crap (at least for a QRP signal trying to test a new antenna) but I was hearing lots. In addition I did manage to get checked into the Nickel Belt Net on 7.252 with Rolly VA3CRE being the Net Control Station in Copper Cliff Ontario (about 270 miles from Kingston – outside of Sudbury in Northern Ontario). The 5 X 1 signal report was encouraging as I had set up the audio to match up with my voice and the “1” part of the report was expected as its QRP and a compromise antenna.

It was just as hard trying to break a pile up with the Xiegu as it was to try it with my old FT817 so many years ago.

But for the second time I proved that I can make a contact across Ontario using the “Toy” and the X5105

The third test will be coming up next week when I try using an elevated counterpoise as recommended by the page of words…. After the third test I will be doing a comparision between the EFHW and the Toy.

More on this next week after I get thru the weekend.


Getting my #POTA “Activator” station on the air

Its been a while since I had to get a portable station running…. Gone is the FT817/LDG Tuner combo and here is the Xiegu X5105 with the built in auto tuner.

Gone but not forgotten

Also gone is the Buddipole Deluxe, W3EDP antenna and the PAR Endz Fed QRP Tribander and…

Xiegu X5105 and the SOTABEAMS 10-60m

Here is my homebrewed 40m EFHW 49:1 and a Sotabeams 10-60m inverted VEE antenna (pic below)

SOTABEAMS 10-60m antenna (tuner required)

But with the new toys come new issues and its been a challenge getting them all fixed up…

So far the EFHW antenna is doing whats expected of it and more. The “more ” part being letting some stray RF get into the transmitter which is causing havoc with my audio…

The transmitter is getting good signal reports on 20m and 4om which are the two bands that use for the most part until the RF finds its way into the transmitter.

At first I thought that I just had the audio running hot…. and that was causing the audio to distort… I tuned things down and then hooked up to my home antenna and…. the results were fantastic…. using a remote SDR Receiver in PA (thanks K3FEF) I was able to listen to myself and proclaim the problem solved….

And it was solved till I went out to the park for my next test…

Back in the park I found that the noise had returned…. and my audio was a crappy as ever (using the EFHW). After talking to a local ham who swears by (not swears at) the EFHW for portable use it was suggested that I try adding a ground from the coax connector at the balun end…. It might be a bit of overkill as the only clamps I had were from a battery project so I have a pretty good ground connections now… Take a close look at the pic.

XIEGU X 5105 Homebrewed EFHW and one helluva ground clamp

Anyway it worked today… although the band conditions were not too good I did manage a 40ssb local contact. The report was not strong but he commented that the audio was fine with no distortion. I also was able to check into the 20m Salvation Army SATERN net and was heard by the NCS who commented that for 5w the signal was ok and the audio clear and chrisp…

Back to the pic for a minute and you might notice that I am using the 66 foot EFHW antenna in the sloper configuration with the end of wire up near the top of a 33 foot MFJ mast that I have leaning back into a tree. The set up works fairly well for me and the masting sways with the wind and requires no guying. The test worked fairly well for me… I fought the static and QSB and managed to get heard. So at this time I guess the extra ground is working… I want to go out a set up a few more times and make sure that the gremlins are gone before I attempt a POTA Activation. This weekend is a POTA Support your local parks weekend so I would like to Activate during the day…. come home and hunt in the evening… Lets see how that works for me…

In the meantime I am the “POTA Hunter”… but with any luck could be the “Hunted” soon.


An upgrade to the kit

Well recently I have been shuffling gear around to take into consideration my new interests in our Amateur Radio hobby along with the retirees budget….

Yesterday this rig made it into my shack:

The Yaesu FT2DR is a dual band (2m and 70cm) dual mode (FM and C4FM) 5 watt handheld radio.

I bought it used from a ham in Ottawa and so far I am more than pleased with my purchase. It also has a built in GPS and an AX25 modem so eventually I will figure out how to access the APRS Network.

For now I have been able to program the memories with the limited frequencies needed for Kingston and as I also have the programming software and cable (not needed yet) eventually I will have it working to its full potential.

I still have my FT70D handheld and my FTDM7250 and plan to keep them both doing duty in the shack. The “70D” is currently monitoring my NNMDM Hot spot and the “7250” is connected to my 1/4 wave dual band groundplane giving me local VHF/UHF coverage

So for now I will be using the FT2DR for my daily use rig when not in the shack. Walks around the block or out to some POTA Activations should make use of the APRS Features and the ability to send SMS and APRS Text messages from areas where the cell service is limited could be important. Hopefully the GPS stuff along with the APRS stuff will be just as easy to set up as the memories were.

If you want to track the progress of this check out APRS.FI on line and search for VA3QV. Once I get it functioning the SSID for the FT2DR will be VA3QV-7

There will be a few more changes coming… I am looking for another portable hf rig (FT817 or 818 or even a KX3)to keep the XIEGU X5105 company and I will be sending one of my 100W HF rigs (FT950 or the FT450) on to a new home (but not quite ready to say goodbye yet)

Other stuff— Still hunting lots of POTA with just over 1200 Parks confirmed so far. Only done 2 activations so far but once the bands get stable then the Xiegu will be getting lots of fresh air

#QRP ….Whats that?

Recently I have seen a “boatload” of operators trying to break pileups and make contacts by adding /QRP to their calls. After careful listening after the fact I hear them telling the other station…. QRP 10 watts , QRP 20 watts and yesterday I heard on operator calling then claiming he was QRP 40 watts.

In reality most of them were trying for POTA Contacts where the power levels don’t matter so…. It was just a ploy to try and break the pile up but….

It did get me thinking about what the common opinion of QRP is and so here is what my research found:

According to State QSO Party .com ( http://stateqsoparty.com/ ) and their list of QSO Parties :

47 Approved Contests

7th Call Area QSO Party
Alabama QSO Party
Arizona QSO Party
Arkansas QSO Party
British Columbia QSO Party
California QSO Party

Canadian Prairies QSO Party
Colorado QSO Party
Delaware QSO Party
Florida QSO Party
Georgia QSO Party
Hawaii QSO Party
Idaho QSO Party
Illinois QSO Party
Indiana QSO Party
Iowa QSO Party
Kansas QSO Party
Kentucky QSO Party
Louisiana QSO Party
Maryland/DC QSO Party
Michigan QSO Party
Minnesota QSO Party
Mississippi QSO Party
Missouri QSO Party
Nebraska QSO Party
Nevada QSO Party
New England QSO Party
New Hampshire QSO Party
New Jersey QSO Party
New Mexico QSO Party
New York QSO Party
North Carolina QSO Party
North Dakota QSO Party
Ohio QSO Party
Oklahoma QSO Party
Ontario QSO Party
Pennsylvania QSO Party

Quebec QSO Party
South Carolina QSO Party
South Dakota QSO Party
Tennessee QSO Party
Texas QSO Party
Vermont QSO Party
Virginia QSO Party
Washington State Salmon Run
West Virginia QSO Party
Wisconsin QSO Party

That all the States/Provinces/Territories/ contests listed above (with the exception of Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia) consider QRP to be 5watts or less in any mode.

Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia consider QRP as 5w CW and 10w ssb

The ARRL, RAC and CQWW contests also consider 5w or less QRP for their respective contests.

Now where does this come into play that might affect some operators?

If a new operator believes the hype of his new Xiegu 6100 rig and decides to contest with it and suddenly they are competing with 10w output instead of the 5w of the other

The Xiegu G90 at its booming 20w output would fall into that catagory as well. Kind of an unfair advantage even though some dealers are marketing Xiegu as a QRP Line of radios.

The same of course could be said of those operators using the KX3 or IC 705 but I will assume (correctly I hope) that anyone who shells out the amt of cash needed for the KX3 or the IC705 already understands what the contest they are entering requires and would adjust their power levels accordingly.

Now before the flames come in…. I am not saying anything bad about the Xiegu (or any other ) line of radios. I know quite a few operators who are saying really nice things about the G90 and the X5105 (which strangely is an actual QRP 5W output radio). As soon as I can liquidate a couple of rigs here I plan to get either the X5105 or the 6100 for portable use. They are both great radios especially at their price point.

After many years of operating with the Yaesu FT817 and the Flex 1500 both of which were QRP radios (5w) I do have a good idea of what 5w will do as compared to even 100w.

To be honest there is not much of a difference. Operating with both radios I was able to qualify for my ARRL Triple Play and QRP DXCC awards. The proof is in the logs…


The two I regret letting go

Over the years I have owned plenty of HF radios and sold/traded most of them away for something more “Shiny or newer”….

But out of all the ones that are no longer with me, there are two that I am now kicking myself for selling..

Mistake number 1

Flex 1500 QRP HF SDR Radio

This fantastic little radio was my first (and only so far) SDR Radio and my second QRP Radio. It took a while to get used to all that computer hook up stuff but once I finally got it right it was a dream to operate. Using it at home with my S9 43 foot vertical, 4:1 balun, along with a Elecraft T1 QRP autotuner brought a new spark to the hobby and I was a happy ham.

This was done with the help of my laptop for the computer control, CW decoding program, and a logging program.

Using the Flex and T1 combo I was able to:

Complete my QRP DXCC, add to my QRP DXCC totals, complete my WAS Triple Play and actually make a decent showing in the 2015 CQ WW CW contest:

VA3QV2015VE34SO QRP ALL11,47385284913.8
That ranked me as 4th in Canada, 25th in North America and 100th WW

With the excellent recieve filtering the Flex had it made hearing the weak ones out there much easier and allowed me to work into the areas of the world I had never even heard before.

FT 817

The other rig that I regret leaving my possession was the Yaesu FT817. Not an 818 or a 817 ND but the original 817

Mistake number 2

I bought mine from Radioworld shortly after they were available in Canada and added the orignal LDG QRP Auto Tuner a few months later.

My favorite setup involved using a few adapters connecting the rig to the tuner direct with no coax in the picture. Also using a double male adapter connected the end feds balun directly to the tuner so there was no coax in the picture at all. Normally the antennas of choice would be a Par Endz Fed or my old homebrewed W3EDP antenna.

I would like to think that having no line losses (no coax) made lots of contacts a reality but most likely it was also operator skill.

W3EDP antenna (Tnx to VE3FI for the graphic)

Contacts were made on all the amateur bands (70cm/2m/6m) along with (10m/12m/15m/17m/20m/30m/40m/80m) in SSB and Digital (PSK31) using a NUE Modem.

Back then I was not really a CW operator (and that remains true today) so all of my 30m contacts were PSK31 only and the original 817 did not have 60m so no contacts were made on that band.

Given the fact that the family budget could not really afford new toys at the time…. Old toys had to be sold so new toys could be acquired so…. both the Flex and then the 817 left me so newer and shinier toys could come into the shack to be sold later.

Now that I am fairly secure in the hobby…. and not wanting to get rid of the FT950 at home or the FT450at that will be going into the new (to us) VA3QV/m (once we decide on what to get).

I have the hope that a gently abused FT817 might find its way into my shack again if I can find one at a good price (or trade deal.)

I do have the portable station from the camper (FT450, 25amp power supply and LDG Auto Tuner) and its a great cottage/camper station and its currently surplus to my needs… that is gathering dust so you never know.

Image credit : NASA/SDO

This is also the weekend for the CQ WW SSB contest. For those of you who dare to brave the Solar Storm predicted….

Good luck in the contest


I was POTA before POTA was cool

Yes seriously,

The above picture was taken in Feb 2006 when I operated for the FYBO event as CF3RCS (Canadians Freezing 3 Real Cold Spot. The Canadian Regulating Authority had allowed VA stations to use the special Prefix CF and my call at the time was VA3RCS( I still hold it) I became CF3RCS which worked out quite well in a contest that for operating in the cold…

Over the years with VA3PCJ Jose and other operators we did play radio in the great outdoors quite a few times and weather did not matter.

VA3PCJ KX3 and Alexloop antenna at Brewer Park in Ottawa
Sometimes the weather not so good
Just another day in the park

Some others joined us as well

The above pic was taken at the end of the RAC Canada Winter Contest when we operated outdoors in late December for 24 hours

And we always had fun

There were a couple of SOTA events as well but its hard to find anyplace with altitude near Ottawa.

Now we have POTA and there so much activity that you can’t not have fun…. all bands …. mostly all modes and with the bulk of the operations happening in North America its not hard to stay pumped about making contacts…

So just remember when you make all your contacts…. There’s a large group of old hams out there that was doing it before we knew POTA… but we did know QRP, we did know Portable operating and we did (and still) know fun.

Remember that Amateur Radio can be an outdoor sport…