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Answering Readers Questions & Comments IX

I promised that this issue of my column would be devoted to answering your questions. I still do have several left over from the time I asked for your questions at the end of last year, so here goes.

Bob, KX0T writes in with two questions: Can a QRP transceiver kit be made without the use or technicalities of test equipment and alignment procedures? (This has always been my downfall when a kit reaches completion)

I have never built a QRP transceiver from a kit and can't answer that question directly. I can speculate though. I would guess that to have optimum performance from a QRP transceiver kit, there will always be some tuning necessary since it is virtually impossible to produce exactly identical components and thus the tuning will vary from rig to rig. This is especially true of a kit since everyone who builds it will use slightly different techniques. One person will use a little more solder than another. Someone will bend the leads of a component a little differently, and so on. All of these minor little things will add up to slightly different amounts of capacitance, resistance, and inductance, which will affect the tuning. Having said that, I'll now say that more and more as fewer and fewer discrete parts are used in kits, we probably will reach the stage (if we haven't done so already) where all critical tuning components will be on one IC. That could possibly mean a kit could operate with no tweaking necessary.

Bob also asks: Are there quality companies out there that can sell a ready built kit for a little more money so that the amateur can choose to build or not to build, but enjoy the quality kits that are available?

Simple answer - yes. More detailed answer - check the QRP rigs page on my web site that has links to virtually all of the QRP rig manufacturers. There you'll find all you wanted to know about the various rigs that are used today for QRP.

Finally Bob says: Possibly a list in Key Note of reputable kit companies that sell QRP rigs that can help amateur builders that find themselves in trouble would be useful.

Well, the above-mentioned page on my web site would certainly take care of that, but not everyone has Internet access. Tell you what. If I get enough folks (say around 10 or more) who say they would like me to devote a column to just a list of QRP rig manufacturers, I'll do it. It's in your hands. Contact me via one of the means mentioned at the end of the column.

Everett, N8YJB writes: Please give me more details on "a hunk of wire-in your attic" you described on page 6 of the FISTS Issue 9, 2002 and how I might improve my activity on 20 meters.

Well, my hunk of wire is about 110 feet long. It starts in my second floor shack and is coupled to my TS-570D through a homebrew antenna tuner. Then it runs out a shack window up the wall and in through a window to the attic. There is then a straight run of about 50 feet or so. After that it goes out the back window of the attic and down at an angle to a 6-7 foot pole in my back yard. It's made of stranded wire - I believe part is around #18 and the rest is #14 if memory serves.

I don't use that on 20M though. The random wire is only for 160, 80, 40, and 30 meters although it will work on 20 through 10 as well. However I have dipoles for those bands. My 20M dipole is up in the attic with my random wire. It's fed with 72-75 ohm coax. The built in tuner in the TS-570D gives me an SWR of 1:1 on 20M. It's gotten me 153 countries on 20M so far. Try a dipole, Everett. I think you'll find that will improve your 20M activity. Just get it up as high as possible and as straight as possible in your particular situation there.

As with the QRP rigs, there is more info about my antennas and tuner on my web site.

The final question this month doesn't specifically deal with QRP, but it did come from Paul, AC7QG who gave me Idaho on 80M towards my QRP 80M WAS so I will answer it. And a QRP operator should always be trying to improve his CW skills, so I guess it is appropriate here anyway.

Paul asks: Could you tell me how you "trained yourself to copy 55-60 WPM"

I find the best way to improve one's copying speed is to search out some CW that is about 5 or so WPM faster than you can copy solidly. This can be on the air, tapes, computer practice programs, whatever. Then listen to and copy (on paper or in your head) until you can copy that speed solidly. Now go up another 5 WPM, and keep repeating the above steps until you reach the speed you are shooting for. There's no magic formula. It's just a matter of practice, practice, practice.

I'm out of space and maybe out of questions for now. Should I find any more, I'll cover them in a future column. I certainly appreciate questions from you since you come up with some excellent column topics for me.

My web site URL has changed slightly - it's now http://home.windstream.net/johnshan That's 'home' instead of 'www' and no tilde (~) before 'johnshan'. However the old address will continue to work as well, according to windstream. (UPDATE: windstream discontinued support of the old addresses on October 12, 2003) You can reach me via email or regular old-fashioned mail to John H. Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304 will work just as well. Till next month, 73. -30-