Started by Guerilla QRP Portable, April 19, 2018, 02:06:58 am

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Guerilla QRP Portable

April 19, 2018, 02:06:58 am Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 03:43:16 am by Guerilla QRP Portable
Hi OMs

Here is the text version of my article published in CQ Amateur Radio, February 2017
Not strictly related to survival radio because my primary goal is to enjoy outdoor QRP portable.
Using QRP portable radio in survival and emergency situations is quite normal.


Ultra-light style for more agility and flexibility in portable activations

The QRP's well known "Do more with less power" naturally goes together with "Do more with less equipment size profile and weight". This is especially important for QRP portable activations.

QRP portable enthusiasts tend to minimalist approach in every aspect of their activity in the same time maximizing the enjoyment. Balancing between portability and efficiency is never ending process.

If someone like to make their own QRP portable outings an everyday routine, than assembling an ultra-light and small sized station is indispensable in order to achieve more agility and flexibility.

The portable station setup has to be fast and easy to prepare before the planed outing, or even better to be all time ready in a small backpack. It must to be light-weight and small sized to a level the operator don't hesitate to take it even on a casual outings just in case an opportunity appears for short activation. Setting up and dissembling in a field of such station has to be a matter of five to ten minutes.

The station setup has to be flexible for various types of portable activations and  different kind of transportations to the operating position including non-motorized access by foot, bicycle, boat, kayak, etc.

The ultra-light station needs a minimum time to prepare it for outing, it's small sized and lightweight on a level the operator will take it in a small backpack, allowing setting up in a few minutes with minimum efforts. This kind of set up the operator may use routinely on every opportunity.

The "Guerilla QRP Portable" ultra-light style aims to minimizing the weight of all radio equipment to 1 - 2 kg or less (radio, antenna, antenna support, antenna tuner, power supply, cables, key, mike, head phones, accessories for logging, ropes, etc) , allowing the operator to bring all equipment to the field by non-motorized means - 100% green activation, using autonomous power supply - but no fossil fuel, tend to use objects found on the field as antenna supports, an outdoor activation using natural shelters and minimizing the need for operator's comfort devices.

Are we ready to leave our comfort at home and have a lot of real QRP outdoor adventures?
The first step is to obtain a small sized and lightweight QRP transceiver with low battery consumption on receive and transmit (<150 mA on RX; <1 A on TX at 5W). Operators who operate only on CW have advantage over those who like to use phone or digital modes. The transceiver for one band is more likely to be more compact and lighter, but today on the market there are a wide range of multiband and multimode portable transceivers. The smallest and lightest multiband and multimode transceiver on the market is KX-2 (370 gr). There are more only CW multiband QRP transceivers suitable for ultra-light portable such as MTR-3B (125 gr) which covers tree bands at 2.5 W, MTR-5B (180 gr), KX-1 (255 gr), HB-1B (395 gr), or even "heavier" K1 (610 gr), KX-3 (700 gr) etc. The operator on other side of the QSO can't notice the signal strength difference of 5W going out from a "tuna can" home made transceiver or heavier commercial made portable transceiver with the power reduced to QRP level. A light-weight paddle or key and ear bugs instead of heavier earphones are also needed.   

The battery selection depends of consumption of the transceiver, the operating style and duration of intended on the air activity. The "Guerilla QRP Portable" usually is short activation which rarely lasts longer than one hour.  Go for the battery with the minimum weight and size which match the intended activation. The weight of the battery is recommended to be under 300 grams or even lighter.   

Whenever possible use resonant antennas which are simple and light-weight and easy to erect without complex assembling and tuning. If only one band is used the antenna selection is easier. Multiband activations need antennas resonant on more than one band or using of antenna tuner which adds to the weight and size of the equipment. If you need to use an antenna tuner the better option are those integrated in the same box with the transceiver. The antennas made of thin wire are lighter than those made of aluminum tubing and from those with implemented traps. The antennas made of small parts or those which need using  tools for assembling and tuning are not a good option. If you can't avoid use of coax than go for the shorter runs of thinner line. The weight of the antenna with feeder is recommended to be up to 300 grams.

Do we need to carry antenna support, or antenna supports are everywhere around us?
The best option for antenna support structures are those find on the activating area. If you are going on a location with a lot of trees or other type of high vegetation they can support a variety of wire antennas. The higher rocks, mounds, walls, vine yard poles, fences, old bridges or other infrastructure on the field  can be used too. Some whip antennas can be directly mounted on the transceiver's cabinet. In the areas without suitable antenna supports a light-weight fiberglass pole is a good option (5 m pole weights around 500 grams).

Can we leave a laptop at home and do the logging with a pencil on a piece of paper?
The old fashioned paper logging is recommended for ultra-light QRP activations. Computer or android cell phone logging adds on complexity, weight and size of the equipment. The number of contacts usually is not too high for writing all of them with a pencil on a piece of paper and after returning home to enter them in to the computer logging program.

Do we need a picnic chair and table for short activations in the wilderness?
Seating on a log or even on the ground is acceptable for brief portable activations especially on the remote locations we access on no motorized way. In a good weather conditions we don't need any kind of shelter too. 

Be practical! If you have an opportunity only for a short activation, than check the propagation right before the planed outing and chose only one band to operate on. This is especially advisable when the outing is not solely devoted to amateur radio activities and the activation will be implemented only if time and circumstances permit. 

While on a field we really don't need to bring all measurement instruments from our home radio shack. For sure we can "survive" without knowing the exact SWR ratio of the implemented resonant antenna. If our portable QRP station works good from the very start than enjoy making contacts and don't look back to adjust the SWR ratio from eg. 1:1,3 to 1:1 because the stations on the receiving end will not notice any difference on our signal strength. It is no sense if the assembling and setting up of the portable station takes much more time than on the air activity. 
More perfectionism results in less QSOs. 

Avoid heavy suitcases and consoles for your equipment or "grab and go stations" bigger and heavier than most of the poor man's base stations.

The number of contacts can be significantly increased if we announce in advance or while operating that operating location is in area valid for some operating award e.g. WWFF, NPOTA, SOTA, Lighthouses, Castles e.t.c. 

In the last nine years I have very successfully implemented this style in close to 500 QRP portable activations from almost anywhere and can assure you that this works . This approach is really very flexible and is a ticket for a lot of QRP outings.

So, make your QRP portable station to be a really portable and use it on every opportunity.


Thank you Vladimir. Nice QRZ page. I like what you did with the bicycle handlebar.

Surprisingly, a lot of people still doubt QRP really works, and really well, especially using CW. They believe the small QRP radios are toys. Some people, you can show them a hundred times, they will still not believe it. They have 500-1KW tube amps that cost thousands, and antennas so badly matched they can't make contact without them.

I also believe less is better, lighter, smaller, easy to carry and lasting a long time on small batteries.

Welcome aboard, you are in good company.



Great write up, and very inspirational QRZ page, makes me want to leave right now for portable QRP ops. Welcome to the group.


Guerilla QRP Portable

Thank you for the comments.
The concepts of Gil and Julian are two sides of the same coin.
From both concepts much can be learned.
Many new photos of portable activities have been added to my page.


QuoteThe concepts of Gil and Julian are two sides of the same coin.

I believe so as well. He uses mainly digital and I mainly use CW. The reason is probably that we both noticed that voice modes aren't that efficient. While you can certainly have lots of fun with QRP SSB and make amazing contacts, relying on it for emergency use isn't the greatest idea... Digital or CW (which could be considered a digital mode) give us a much better chance to establish contact. When you do go out and set up your station in the field, you can't help coming to similar conclusions...