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Answering Readers Questions and Comments I - Keynote # 5, 1997

This month's column will be devoted to your letters and comments. I have gotten a lot of response lately, and want to acknowledge as much of it as I can.

Before that, however, another matter. It looks like Murphy struck my column in Issue 4 1997 of the Keynote. There is a large chunk of the column missing on page 11 as follows: TX has 254 counties, many of which do not have any (missing section) antenna connected to a kite. While I am sure there are counties in TX without kite antennas, that was not the way the article was written. The missing section had info on QRP WAC, QRP DXCC, and the first part of the info on The Grand Strand QRP Society who do use antennas connected to kites. The full article is available on my web site. Or perhaps if there is room, Nancy can print the missing section at the end of this article. Sorry about the glitch which occured somewhere between my computer and the printed version of the Keynote.

Roy, W3ZIF writes regarding batteries for QRP work: I am using my MFJ-9020 QRP rig on 20 meters on a battery from time to time. I visited a hobby shop one time and spoted this 12 volt, 7 ampere-hour battery that was on sale. It is a maintenance free, rechargeable, sealed lead calcium battery that I bought in January of 1995. I paid around $28 for it. I have had this battery now over 2 years and to date, I have only charged it up 3 times. Once when I bought it, then in October of 1995 and again in October of 1996. I am using a small wattmeter with this rig and my output is approximately 4 watts with it but when the battery starts losing power, my output drops down to around 3.5 watts. The battery is rather heavy, approximately 8 pounds but it works fine for me. I have taken it on vacation with me on 2 occasions. Personally, I never liked using lead acid batteries not only because of their large size but I never liked to mess around with that acid within them. I feel much safer with this lead calcium one.

Dick, N5JWL writes another letter concerning batteries. Dick says he uses a 12V, 7.0Ah Gel Cell to power his QRP+ rig. He says he can use the cell all weekend long before it needs recharging. Dick says he uses his QRP+ as a mobile rig. Dick, maybe you can get together with Greg, W8XP and answer some of his questions about QRP mobile operation. Dick also sent along some nice QRP stickers which I now have on display in the shack.

Greg, W8XP writes with a question: Do u hve any experience with mobile QRP and HF sticks for ant, especially the lower bands? No, Greg, I don't. I have never done any mobile work of any kind. About all I can say is that in contests, most mobiles that I work seem to have quite weak signals even though they are running 100W or so. However they seem to copy my QRP very easily most of the time. Maybe N5JWL and others can provide some better info for you.

Phil, AD5X sent me an interesting review of a QRP rig that he wrote, but because FISTS is developing our own QRP kit rig, Nancy and I agreed that I shouldn't plug other such rigs in my column. Nevertheless, many thanks, Phil.

Mike, LA0HA and I have been exchanging Email mainly concerning operating QRP on his sailboat. Mike wants to encourage others to use CW on their sailing vessels, and he is going to have some info published here in Keynote so I won't say much more about it here except to say that I really enjoyed our communications and hope to work Mike /MM QRP someday. Also I have learned something about sailboats from our discussions. That's something for a landlubber like me.

Henry, K4QIL took the time to write just to say how much he enjoys the column. It's always nice to get letters like that. Thanks, Henry.

John, KQ6ES writes: John, I just got the March Keynote and remembered that I'd forgot (Hi!) to ask a question last month. Perhaps you've discussed this, but I can't find my stack of Keynotes, so I'll just ask. I should say first that I do not operate QRP except once in a while I turn my power all the way down and join in with the QRP contesters. I don't know what antennas you use for your QRP work (simple wire antennas - js) but how do you feel about using 7-beam yagis up 150ft or stacked 4 x 4's, etc. Is this really QRP? The ERP must be more than mine from my vertical and 100 watts. If QRP'ers are really in it for the challenge wouldn't it be more rewarding to work with simple zero or low gain antennas? There also seems to be a trend towards very fancy, and not cheap, QRP rigs with some bells and whistles built in. Am I mistaken when I equate QRP with a simpler (but not necessarily less state of the art) approach to hamming? To each his or her own, but I am interested in your thoughts. I'm also trying to find out how many (if any) 5-band WAS have been done QRP. Thank you for the informative column.

John, it's very rewarding to know that others feel the way I do about QRP and huge antenna arrays. Yes, technically it is still QRP if you use an antenna system rather than your transmitter to boost your power to 100 watts or so. Why, I don't really know - it doesn't make sense to me. I see no difference between running a 100 watt transmitter into a dipole and a 5 watt transmitter into a 13DB gain antenna. Both give about 100W ERP. That is why I like to call my QRP operation minimal QRP, since my radiated signal remains at 5 watts or less. As far as bells and whistles go, I am all for them. If using a receiver with dual VFO's helps me out in a contest, that's fine. I use computer logging for many of the contests that I enter. I use the CMOS Super Keyer II with it's memories to call CQ for me, etc. Of course, you must realize that QRP is my ham life. I don't use anything else but QRP in my hamming. I think that many hams use QRP just as a side activity, and that is where the idea of simple equipment, etc. comes from.

Concerning 5 band QRP WAS, I don't know how many have been done. I am sure there are at least several. I am working on it - in fact I am going for 9 band WAS. My current 5 band minimal QRP totals on 80-40-20-15-10 are 45/45 50/50 50/49 47/45 32/32. On 160-30-17-12, my totals are 39/38 49/49 36/34 11/11. All of that was done in the past 3-4 years which is why the 10 and 12M totals are so low. The most difficult band-states will be AK and HI on 160 and 80. All the rest will come easily when conditions pick up.

I'm trying to figure out how to keep these columns as close to one full Keynote page as possible. I think if I stop here, that will do it. Next month - 1000 days of QRP. Email me or visit http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ or write to John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. It's your ideas that make this column. Till next month, 73. -30-