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General Discussion / Re: GUERILLA QRP PORTABLE
« Last post by caulktel on Today at 09:42:54 AM »
Great write up, and very inspirational QRZ page, makes me want to leave right now for portable QRP ops. Welcome to the group.

General Discussion / Re: GUERILLA QRP PORTABLE
« Last post by gil 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.

General Discussion / GUERILLA QRP PORTABLE
« Last post by Guerilla QRP Portable on Today at 02:06:58 AM »
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.

General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by gil on April 17, 2018, 08:15:41 PM »
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
General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by RadioRay on April 17, 2018, 07:49:18 PM »
Most (all?) of these WSPR/JT modes require precise time base, which is usually synchronized by  internet or GPS. As long as we have one or the other, it's viable. A canned massage is used in some of the modes, and can be replaced with a message of choice, but limited to (13?) characters.  That is why I did not pursue it: need for external time base for everyone participating.  In fast, there is significant privacy if you could coordinate to use a time offset from the normal start sequence of 00 seconds each minute. I know the arguement that 'You can set it by hand, using WWV" and yes, BT&DT, but it's not as easy as it sounds, considering the lag on a laptop in setting time... there is usually a slight delay and ALL the other station would have to do it as well.  Please understand that I am VERY impressed with anything that operates at -28dB compared to noise, but with proper band/time choice, does that matter?

An asynchronous version of even a dozen letters could have it's use, though dependent on having a computer of some type.

For me, the first question is " what is the goal?".  If' it's Worked All Outhouses on 630 meters, then these modes are fine. If it's the ability for conversation - it's difficult.  If a simple SOS and Lat.Long, they are fine as long as the Size Weight And Power can be accommodated.

General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by gil on April 16, 2018, 07:43:00 PM »
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!

General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by RadioRay on April 16, 2018, 12:08:02 PM »
One milliWatt output ! This began by using modulation and Forward
Error Correction schemes, from hams who developed the methods to retrieve data from
deep space probes. Talk about QRP 


General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by gil on April 16, 2018, 02:38:07 AM »
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  ;)

General Discussion / Re: The Radio Emergency Challenge from Julian, OH8STN.
« Last post by RadioRay on April 15, 2018, 03:42:19 PM »
This discussion has the possibility of creating more LIGHT than heat.... This is good.

Perhaps not now, but discussing the prepper scenarios would be good. They can vary depending upon whether it's a camping trip or a total grid down, continental emergency. That being the case, I prefer Morse, for the reasons you've pointed-out: basically - Morse code is the last to die.

1. Power efficiency = TOTAL POWER CONSUMPTION for the entire system.

"I just talked to Gil using one Watt digital!"

Output         = 1 Watt
Radio weight = 2.5 pound (FT-817)

With power
supply           = 5 pounds (mine is heavier - it's a ToughBook)
Power           = 25 Watts

Spare batteries, chargeing system ...

This means that your system Size/Weight & Power is at least   26 Watts ( not one ) and at least 7 1/2 pounds.

When driving to a park and setting-up your CHARGED laptop and rig batteries, this is not a problem and a lot of fun. On the move, with little spare time for charging - it's tough.  I've done it. Having the transceiver, and computer ON and monitoring for calls eats a lot of precious battery power.

2. What is the purpose for communicating?  If it's as an 'emergency radio' i/e I am inured and need help, but not a grid down situation - use the cellphone.  If you are going to be out of cell range, do as Gil did; use a SPOT or other Personal Distress Beacon. However, there is no chit-chat with those.  You push the button and the orange helo appears overhead. [ Don't use this for ordering pizza. ;-)  Ont he other hand, if it's to send short messages, whether camping or GRID DOWN, then what is needed? plan and practice, based on needs and abilities.

2.1  Skeds/Roundtable Nets - I tell people: "If you're not talking to them now, you will probably not be talking with them THEN".  Friendships develop this way.

3. Expense - I know more than a few survivalist/preppers who have prepared so well for their families, that it caused a divorce and so they lost their families.  If you spend more time and money on preparing than on family life - you might sacrifice the main reason to be prepared.  Have a life worth surviving, and you'll get the family -vs- emergency preparedness ratio right.
3.1 QRP CW radios can be very inexpensive, compared to their tremendous capabilities. The 10 Watt uBITx CW/SSB transceiver is $109!

4. If it's a GRID DOWN emergency, most computer controlled, pan-adaptor wearing, HIGH POWERED hams will probably be off the air. ( No contests - Woo-Hoo!)  I regularly talk with CW stations on battery power, but the last SSB on battery power I talked with was using a uBITx at ten Watts ;-) Copy was 'weak readable', and would have been easy in Morse. (>13 dB system gain for CW compared to voice.)

5. General information gathering. A separate 'plastic' radio for listening to broadcasts and other monitoring.  A 'plastic radio' serves another purpose: it is great fo non-hams to tune around, listening and keeping their 'claws' off of the ham radio - haha  I have a reasonably effective, HF/MW/FM BC - (AM/FM modes only) radio that is smaller than a deck of cards and has a built-in clock/alarm clock (for skeds). Needless to say, it runs a very long time on 2x AA cells.  Few years ago, it cost about $29 and it's eas easy to operate as any radio can be.
5.1 The next 'plastic radio' up in capability is the CountyComm GP-5 SSB.  A true U/LSB receiver, with FM and AM . It's quite good for monitoring all broadcasts and even SSB/digital ham radio (computer not included ;-)  .  I have used the earphone, placed over the mic input on my laptop and/or cellphone to read PSK & etc.  Mine has MiMH rechargeables in it and is easily recharged (it runs a long time) via the USB port and USB voltage source of my choice.

So - I prefer small, highly portable, and very low power drain for my preparedness radios. I have the next level up - My KX2, but that adds more capability, with the cost of a bit more complexity, and the third level is the mini-camper van with solar panes on top, two deep cycle batteries and true sinewave inverter, incase I NEED to play video games - ha ha. There are plenty of steps in between, including the Pelican , solar rechargeable power station I have, but that's TRANSPORTABLE, not something I'd manpack.  A preppers' portable radio station should not be the size of an airport carry-on luggage, though I've seen worse - - -

73 de RadioRay  ..._  ._

Digital Modes / Re: FT8 digital comms mode
« Last post by vwflyer on April 15, 2018, 11:35:54 AM »
What's needed in a prepping digital mode is something that can be left unattended and save messages...
Here's my limited understanding of store and forward systems. If somebody wants to correct me or expound, I'm anxious to learn.
Every store and forward needs a running radio connected to a server. Most of them these days use servers on the internet so when the internet goes down so does the server. Some have local servers, like many Packet radio repeaters designed to work without the grid or internet. Winlink and APRS can use local servers as well but to my knowledge, most use internet servers. In any case a grid down situation is going to require a powered radio with a local server that can run without grid power. Having someone else do that for you can be convenient in that you don't have to leave your computer and radio running all the time. But then the success of you getting the message depends on someone else's setup working.
For keeping messages locally at my own QTH, using my own radio and computer, I would currently go with FSQ. It's designed for this. Messages can be sent directly to you and give you an alert when someone tries to contact you. The messages are stored so long as the software is running.
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