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Kit Info from KE3FL - Keynote # 12, 1997

This month my column consists of information from Phil, KE3FL. Thanks, Phil. I appreciate it.

Phil got his Novice in 6/1992 and upgraded to Extra that December. He says: I never got to work Novice round-up as a Novice. Still, I had fun doing so as an Extra. Then they dropped the contest altogether. Anyway, good column, keep it up.

John, I am not strictly a QRP'er, but I find that more & more I'm operating QRP. (I love to hear that, Phil. It seems more and more FISTS, and hams in general are discovering the joys of QRP. - js) I've even adjusted my TS-50 to run 4/20/100W so I have about 6 dB intervals and a QRP level. My present rig of choice, for QRP, is an OHR-400. There are two operations with this rig I'm thrilled about.

The first took place on field day 1997. I took the rig and a solar panel/battery and helped my local club earn 100 natural power points. I worked both 20 and 80 meters (I had not yet made QSO's on those bands with the OHR so it served double duty.) The thrill came when I couldn't raise anyone via calling CQ on 20 meters. I heard OK1FFU calling CQ and went back to him. I received a 559 running about 5 W to a ladder-line fed dipole up about 40' to his 599 using 100W (?) and an FT 440. (I had a rag chew with OK1FFU recently. He was using a KW on 15M to a 4 element beam up 45 meters. Copied me fine. - js)

The second took place during the QRP ARCI contest on October 18 of this year. I started the contest at 4 W, and made three QSO's, too easy so I went to 700 mW and made another three, again too easy, so I went to 125 mW and made one QSO after about 30 min. That was more difficult, but I received a 559 from WZ2T. He's located in up-state NY and was about 400 miles away. At a rate of about 3000 mi/W I earned my 1000mi/W award. Using an un-tuned 40-meter dipole at 25' tuned with an ATU in the shack.

Last, I'll write more about this, but whenever I go camping or on vacation I take my little MFJ 9040 along. It's running about 3 W and even in the doldrums of 1996/97 I have managed an average of one QSO a day during the vacations. I use a tuned 40-meter dipole and tree sky-hooks and get the antenna up about 20 to 25'.

Phil adds a review of his equipment: I have had my 9040 since 1993 and I have used it at home, but mostly on the road. I like this rig because of its size and low power consumption. For a week camping trip I use a 7.5 AHr GelCell and have more than enough power left over when I get home to do more operating.

I do not like the side tone. It does funny things and sounds strange on my rig. It is a nice sine wave, but it changes depending on the SWR too. Now, there's an idea! If I could just teach myself what an SWR of 1:1 sounds like!

I was thinking of buying a kit to replace the MFJ but decided against it since I could not find a 5 watt kit in as nice a package. I like to listen to a speaker, not to headphones and I find that the MFJ has enough power to supply the speaker.

My travel kit fits in an old briefcase, I take the rig, antenna, coax, key + cable, battery + cable, extra fuses, small SWR meter, and the log book along with labels that have the basic QSO information printed on them. I then buy postcards, stick my label on & fill-out the needed information. Then I only have to look someone up to mail him/her a traveling KE3FL QSL card.

Phil continues in another Email about kit building: I've built four QRP radios in the last 12 months- two NE4040's (40 meters & 30 meters), an OHR-400 (80/40/30/20 meters), and an 80 meter kit from a fellow ham in California, K6LMN. His was a two board project.

All kits went together with ease. The 80 meter kit had no cores to wind since he did the "difficult" parts himself. All kits worked the first time. I had two minor questions about the instructions on the OHR-400, but received quick answers via e-mail.

The OHR-400, as can be expected, was the most complex to align. It took me a number of tries before I was convinced I was doing it correctly. I found the use of my MFJ antenna analyzer to be of great help. I transmitted into a dummy load at very low power and took some of the output to the MFJ's counter input. What a breeze to align!

For the OHR, I found that not unboxing/unbagging all the parts at the same time to be a great benefit. I worked on one board at a time and unboxed/unbagged the parts I was going to use. First I did resistors, then capacitors, etc. I did all of one type per board until I was done with that type of part. I think this kit took me almost a month to complete, working a bit almost every day.

With the NE4040's, there were so few parts that unboxing and verifying them all at the same time was no problem. In fact, these kits took me less than 4 hours each. They tuned up easily and I was on the air and had QSO's the same day, minutes after completing the kits. These did not come with pots and connectors or a case. I built a case from scrap aluminum and bought the other parts from Radio Shack. I put both NE4040's in the same case and I modified the 40 meter kit with a switchable capacitor. With this arrangement, I can now operate around 7.04, 7.12, and 10.12 MHz. The 40-meter mod added the ability to operate in the Novice section of the band. I use the same key input, the same antenna, and the same power connector, though I do have to switch between 40 and 30 meters using a power switch that supplies power to either the 40 or 30 meter boards.

There was one schematic error on my version of the 80-meter kit but I figured that out before I committed the part. This rig took me about four hours total, but over a few months since I received the receiver board months before the the transmitter board arrived.

Any questions or comments, contact Phil, KE3FL at ke3fl@juno.com. I'm over my usual space, so 73 - visit my web site at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ Thanks. -30-