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Messages - gil

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General Discussion / Re: GUERILLA QRP PORTABLE
« on: Today at 06:06:17 AM »
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.


Definitely, as they are, those modes are of little use for our purpose. The technology used though could be modified to allow chat, drop messaging and SOS emergency beacons, maybe. There are modes that do some of that... I still need to further investigate FSQ, but none were really engineered for survival radio.

The complexity problem remains... There just aren't enough tablet applications for radio. A laptop in my book is too much trouble and an extra failure node. It would be interesting if a Chinese manufacturer would combine an Android tablet and a 5W HF transceiver. The programmers would get to work then.

All that said of course, being able to reliably communicate with a simple $50 CW  radio is hard to beat, even with the new high performance modes. I'll investigate anything interesting, but if the SHTF, I know what I'll grab first...

BTW, the only other electronic device I might want aside from a radio is a solar pocket calculator...


Sent from my SM-G928F using Tapatalk

Yep. I wish there was a mode based on WSPR for SOS only (with a beacon test mode), which would send coordinates from a GPS chip. Success guaranteed!


Excellent points Ray. I think the future of portable digital will be tablets, then integrated systems... If only someone made a tablet with a built-in HF transceiver! I wish there were more programmers developing digital software for Android. You can get PSK, but not much else...

No doubt the new digital modes are very efficient. I just saw a guy on FB post an image of a series of WSPR spots with one milliwatt! With a few thousand-mile spots!

But of course, Morse is simpler and gets the job done in most cases  ;)




Batteries & Solar / Re: Salvaging old Notebook battery
« on: April 14, 2018, 04:44:00 AM »
Awesome. You save a lot of money by salvaging those cells.


Technical Corner / Re: New QRP Labs 5W CW Transceiver Kit.
« on: April 12, 2018, 10:17:06 AM »

Retrofitting was not fun. The next one will be much easier, nothing to de-solder!

Everything is bolted to the cover.

Note the power connector; not the best place but there was no space left anywhere else.
The 1590BB is a perfect case for the QCX.

Everything works! This will be a great field radio. 80m has won my approval these last couple years... I thought contacts on 80m CW at QRP levels would be difficult... Boy was I wrong!


Technical Corner / Re: New QRP Labs 5W CW Transceiver Kit.
« on: April 11, 2018, 04:22:16 PM »
I decided to go with Hammond 1590BB cases for my 80m QCX and upcoming 30m model:

Those cases are Chinese knock-offs... I should have been weary of the low price...
Not finished yet... I am waiting for the buttons to arrive.
The PCBs will be bolted to the lids via 20mm spacers.


Antennas / Re: Ultralight dipole for 10 mhz
« on: April 11, 2018, 03:59:20 PM »
Very nice. I did buy a spool of that yellow wire from SotaBeams, very light indeed. I wish they put a BNC connector on that PCB. SotaBeams has some cool stuff, like QRPGuys, very light for SOTA. I understood quite a bit of the Spanish; lots of words similar to French!


[ Forget the rumors, I never actually sent love notes to Gil. . . haha ]

You break my heart Ray, LOL.

Great post, thank you. I like it because it is not a statement of opinion, just facts, recounting field experiences.

I might just pack my QCX single-bander on 80m. It always seems to work any time and people listening on 80m are more willing to ragchew. The QCX is a great companion to my MTR. This way I have four bands and redundancy. I love the SW+, glad I have the 30m version. I am wondering if I should sell my KX2 to get an MTR4b... Making SSB contacts is always a chore, while CW goes through most of the time. I really don't want to bother with a computer or tablet in the field.

I will recount here the way I got into HAM radio... My motivation was to have an independent mean of communication while hiking/camping and at sea. I wanted something small and portable, which could go forever on batteries; something that could be a gear afterthought that would not remind me of its presence in my pack... I knew CB, my first radio encounter at age 14... I also knew about 2m handhelds and regular amateur transceivers... None of these fit my bill... Searching the Web I found the QRP movement. Those small CW rigs really got me thinking. Perfect size! Actually smaller than I was hoping for! Add eight AA cells and you're on the air, for days! It doesn't get any better. Only problem was, I didn't know Morse code, zilch, nada; didn't have an amateur licence either. Whatever... I bought a Rock-Mite 20 kit... As soon as I heard those dits and dahs (still no idea what they meant), I ordered a K1 kit. I knew this was what I needed, and that there was nothing better for that purpose. I didn't choose Morse code because it was cool, only because it is simple, efficient and gets the job done without fuss or complex systems.

I am a latecomer to 80m, because of the antenna length... Ray kept telling me about how great the band was for survival radio... I should have listened earlier... 135ft of wire is manageable when strung horizontally. 80m is like having a regional telephone that is practically always on.

My best advice to anyone who hasn't tried Morse code: Buy a cheap CW kit. You'll only be out $50 or so, no big risk. Ask a friend to help you if you're not comfortable with a soldering iron. Get a wire end-fed, a slingshot and fishing line... Buy battery holders on Ebay for AA cells and 18650s, look for a straight key or paddles while you're at it. Download "Ham Morse" for iOS or "KMT Pro" for Android. Learn the code at 15wpm minimum. Then it's easy:

GET OUT OF THE SHACK! Go hiking :)

The efficiency of these radios is amazing. All those who use them know that not making contact is very rare. Morse code has always been used for message forwarding, it's nothing new and has always worked.

As we inch our way towards WWIII, there is nothing I would rather have as far as communication gear is concerned, along with an AM broadcast receiver. IMHO, after an SHTF event, only simple systems will stay on the air. Very few complex stations will remain. I am not saying none... Julian will probably still be broadcasting ;) Most others though, I doubt it. We would also all have much more important things to do than calling CQ hoping to find other survivors, like trying not to die... If we have to evacuate on foot, every ounce will matter. If someone is chasing you, that cart you're towing will get thrown to the side in a hurry... A backpack, you might be able to keep...

The best solution, of course, would be to have both, a base-camp style radio with maybe a computer or tablet, and a tiny CW bugout rig... But when you're running for your life, that's another story... The small CW rig is enough for me. I know it will work.

So I know it will be no challenge at all, but I do need to get out. This winter has been depressing. I think I am not quite over losing my last dream, sailing away into the sunset... A bit of sunshine helps a great deal. At last we are getting a little here now. It will be a great opportunity to soak it up and spend some time in nature. Finding a good spot might be the challenge, as camping in France is pretty much restricted to RV type parks only, except in some rare wilderness areas when you can pitch a tent (restricted in height!) between 19:00 and 7:00. The ex USSR didn't disappear, it just moved West a bit... Maybe I should look East for more freedom, LOL.


So has the challenge been set yet or am I having an (early) senior moment?
See the link at the very top Andy...


Sent from my SM-G928F using Tapatalk

Digital Modes / Re: FT8 digital comms mode
« on: April 10, 2018, 06:22:01 AM »
Yep, when I lived in Florida I rarely got Western Europe... Often Russia and Eastern-block countries... It probably has to do with the length of the skips, refraction angle.


I agree guys, it's two different things... Viewers started this debate. I am quite happy in my little corner doing what I love. It surprises me though that many people doubt Morse code can deliver, since it always has... Because something is older doesn't mean it doesn't work. A 19th century Colt will shoot you as dead as a modern AR-15... So it will be interesting to show that you can send something else than a 599-73 message using Morse code. I do it all the time, so it's no surprise to me. I have conversations in Morse on 80m... Usually, I get a contact within minutes of setting up... But all this might not be apparent to people who haven't tried and do not use CW regularly as I do...

I remember a week-long primitive camping trip in Florida... Ray and I chatted daily, QRP, over 820 miles. I made a few contacts every day. My MTR was powered by eight AA cells. I did not have to recharge them, though I had a solar panel, didn't need it. The radio had two bands, 20 and 40m, CW only, that's it. It worked great. At the end of the trip I asked Ray to email a friend so she could come and pick me up at a certain time and place... There was no challenge... It was normal radio ops. I did not need a big radio or a computer. If I remember well Ray also had an experience calling for a seaplane for pickup, maybe he can recall it for us here...

Really, a small CW radio is not a handicap. It isn't lacking in any way. Ok, maybe I can't send a photo, but otherwise, to relay messages, it's hard to beat. There is a culture in telegraphy focused on traffic handling and message forwarding. It goes back to wired telegraphs, later ships at sea... There are plenty of people tuned on the bottom parts of the bands listening for dits and dahs. They always welcome the opportunity to do something useful and somehow recapture the magic of the old days. Then there is the technical side. CW is quite efficient. Not as efficient as the latest digital modes, but twenty times more efficient than SSB. Combined with the simplicity of the radios, you get a winning combination.

More isn't always better...


Digital Modes / Re: FT8 digital comms mode
« on: April 10, 2018, 05:48:18 AM »
APRS Messenger might be worth a try for unattended messaging. Julian has a video on it. I no longer have Window$ so not sure if it will run in Linux/Wine.



Thank you Julian for re-posting and suggesting that I make a video on the subject in the first place :)

I also would like to say to all my viewers on YouTube that Julian and I are not in competition. We experiment, we try different things. I also have learned plenty from his channel. I had no idea for instance that you could use APRS for messaging on HF! Sometimes I think "how is he going to make this work?" Then he goes freeze his butt off in the snow and does it. His observations from this article are right on many counts. A minimalistic approach is a compromise, trading features we think are most important for others we believe we can live without. Of course, we are going to disagree; it creates learning opportunities. I will clarify a few points here before getting to the challenge. Guys, keep the debate civil. My video is in no way a critique of Julian's work and I highly suggest everyone to subscribe to him on YouTube.

Gil uses a CW only radio. Benefits of this is portability and low current draw. Downsides, itís only one mode, and itís only 3 bands.
Like Julian who doesn't only use a 100W radio, I don't only use a 3-band radio. My Weber MTR is certainly my favorite rig, but it's missing 80m, which in my opinion is a very important band. I will probably at some point get the MTR4b.

Indeed, for myself, I believe CW is all I need in most cases. Why? Because it works and has for more than a century of radio. Telegraphy used to send everything from birthday wishes to market trends across the Atlantic. New digital modes are even more efficient, no doubt, but none of those setups fit in my shirt pocket, yet. I favor simple systems to limit failure points.

Gil shows us his very cheap Chinese solar panel Choetech
I would love a Power Film panel! I would buy a small one. I am not favoring cheap Chinese panels, though they have the merit to exist and work. That's all I have at this time. I have no doubt there are better solutions. I really should have more than one, not a good situation right now... Bottom line is, not everyone can afford high-priced gear. If all they can buy is a cheap solar panel and a $50 CW radio, it's good to know the option exists.

Finally, Gil keeps focusing on the large capacity battery Builds and QRO radio on the channel.
Actually, I was not focusing on it at all. I only used the 1A/5A number as a general example, the only one that came to mind at the time. The last thing I want is a CW/QRP VS Digital/QRO debate. It's comparing apples to oranges.

Gil's philosophy is one way, but I have never seen him fully test in the field.
I might say I have... We can't easily "fully test in the field." Everything we do is a simulation, simple tests. I have walked for two weeks with a 50lbs backpack in total autonomy in the Pyrenees, but more often than not I am much closer to home and only out for a few hours. I think it is true for both of us. Granted, Finland's climate is definitely harsher than the North of France, which is already as cold as I care to experience. The thing is, I do this mainly for fun, so putting myself in dangerous or very uncomfortable situations to test a radio isn't on my menu. If I want an adventure, I'll get on a small sailboat solo out of sight of land; there is nothing more humbling and exhilarating than that. That said, I don't mind challenges.

If I found myself isolated and injured, I would record an SOS message on my little MTR and send it on a loop. It would probably transmit for a couple days before my three 18650s run out, while I take care of myself the best I can. Like I have said before, I would bet my life on it.

I suggested to Gil that he do a training scenario to prove his philosophy actually works. A scenario where heís lost with a broken ankle. His goal, send out his exact position over CW, without having a pre-planned sked with any other operator. Do you think Gil would succeed? Letís see if Gil goes for it.

Challenge accepted!

I will pack a small CW-only radio, hike out to some isolated campsite, make contact and ask whomever to send my geographical coordinates to a friend's email address. That is a fairly complex message needing the utmost precision to succeed. Would that work or are there other requirements? Ok, let's make it more of a challenge because really, this is way too easy: I will not return home until I succeed, no matter how long it takes. I will have to set up some time for this, so I don't know when that will be yet, this year for sure.

Honestly, this should not take more than an hour... If it was a real SOS ... --- ... someone would jump on it like a fly on honey within minutes.

Maybe that would finally convince Julian to learn Morse code  ;)


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