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Topics - bkmoore

General Discussion / QRP-Labs QCX Mini For Sale
December 03, 2020, 11:54:19 PM
The QRP-Labs QCX Mini is now available here:

I wasn't originally planning on getting one, since I already have two QCXs (80m and 40m). But it is such a cute, useful and inexpensive little radio, I wound up ordering one on 20m.
Antennas / Easy to Make Doublet for QRP
April 11, 2020, 01:48:10 AM
While browsing the NorCal QRP web site, I stumbled upon this very nice design for a portable doublet antenna: Norcal Doublet

Since I operate portable QRP, I am always looking for new antenna ideas, and up to now have never found a center-fed dipole that I was happy with. I ordered 65 feet of 4-strand ribbon cable for $9.99, made end insulators from an old paint mixing stick, and used a few odds and ends from my junk box. I made the elements each 22 feet in length, per the Norcal design, but left the remainder of the cable to be a feed line, so that I could lengthen the elements later on if I want to. I attached one end to a tree, and used two collapsable poles for the center and other end. The antenna was perfectly horizontal at 20 feet. Setup took only a few minutes.

I used a QRP-Guys Multi-Z tuner, which can take balanced line. I was able to tune the doublet on 40, 30 and 20 meters. Using my 5 watt, 40m QCX transceiver, I made an initial QSO with someone in San Diego, distance 246 miles. He reported my signal at 599. I made a second QSO into Utah, distance 310 miles, reporting 559. This was mid afternoon, so the band hadn't completely opened up yet.

I really like this antenna. It is it is very light, easy to setup, the feed line loss is minimal, and so far has given me very good results. I may lengthen the elements to 33 feet each, which is close to the recommended length for a 40m doublet. I will also make a 4:1 balun, so I can connect it directly to my K2's auto tuner.

For me personally, my ideal field setup would be a combination of a vertical, such as the QRP guys trio-band vertical, and this antenna. This antenna would also work very well in a stealth installation.


Antennas / QRP Guys 80/60m Vertical Antenna
October 13, 2019, 02:07:28 AM

After some good success with the QRP-Guys vertical tri-band (20/30/40 m) antenna, I decided to give the 80/60m vertical antenna a try. I do not have much space and wanted to be able to use 80 meters. In short, it is a coil-loaded vertical with taps to select 80m, 75m and 60m bands. I built the antenna according to the instructions and found it had a high SWR on 80 meters. It could probably be tuned to a 1:1 SWR by taking some turns out of the coil, but that may sacrifice performance on 75m and 60m. I decided to leave the antenna as is, since my Elecraft K2's internal tuner can match the impedence without any difficulty. You do need to use the taps for 75m. The first time I tried the antenna on 75 meters, I forgot the set the tap and my tuner couldn't find a match.

I am in central CA and had no problem making several CW QSOs into Arizona and Washington with good signal reports at QRP power.  I could hear and see my signal clearly on the KFS WebSDR, located about 100 miles away. I didn't try SSB with the antenna yet, band conditions were bad and there was nobody I cared to talk to. (Lots of politics and ranting about former spouses, etc...)

Although not a product review, I think this is a good antenna for 80m regional communications. It's only $20, is extremely portable, has a very small foot print, and is very easy to set up. I look forward to trying this antenna in more situations and am curious if more radials will increase its performance.

I am curious to hear from others who have this antenna and their experiences. Especially if anyone gets this antenna to work on 80 meters without a tuner.


General Discussion / Lab599 Discovery TX-500
September 20, 2019, 01:57:43 PM

I just stumbled on this new radio from The case is machined from a solid block of aluminum, so it looks like it might be a much more durable field radio than the KX2. Has anyone here seen this radio before?


Morse Code / west coast, beginners CW practice group?
August 23, 2019, 06:17:35 PM
I am still learning the code and was wondering if any other beginners here would be interested in having a no-stress, beginner-friendly rag chew on 40 meters? I just want to talk about rigs, antennas, weather, mountains, airplanes, anything.... other than religion or politics. I run QRP portable, so my signals can be weak but I have had good success in most of the western states when conditions are right.

I have most of my QSOs at about 13 WPM and am comfortable at that speed. I can copy much faster if the quality of code is good. And I am happy to slow down too if the other person is also a beginner. We all started out struggling to get all the letters and I am new enough to remember how difficult that can be. Some of the old timers on the air seem to have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner and I have had one or two discouraging QSOs where I had to politely sign off and spin the dial. Also, I will never tell someone to send with a particular device, or use a particular setup. Radio is supposed to be a hobby and every one should use what they like and how they like. If you're on the air and we're communicating, then your setup works and is good!
General Discussion / Just passed the Exra-Class exam
August 19, 2019, 11:42:12 AM
Hi All,

After about six months of practice and studying, I passed the Extra exam this past weekend. I was well prepared, but still several of the questions stumped me. I didn't think I passed when I handed it in for grading and had to wait in suspense while all the VEs graded the exam. They had good poker faces. Anyway, went home, didn't get on 80m SSB or anything like that. But thought I'd mention it here. I don't really need the extra for what I do in amateur radio, but thought of it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more about amateur radio.

Maybe I'll get a 2x2 or 1x2 call sign, but I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble of changing.


General Discussion / New OP Checking in
April 15, 2019, 02:38:31 PM
I wanted to get a Novice license when I was a teenager, but didn't have the discipline at the time to sit down and actually learn the code. On a whim, I started learning morse code in January this year. I quickly got up to 5-10 wpm and started thinking I could probably pass a CW test, get my novice license and get on the air.  I quickly found out, that CW was no longer required and the Novice license is no longer issued, so I studied for the Technician-class license. When I found out I could take the General class exam on the same day, I spent the week before the exam date cramming for the General; since it would add 20 meters. I passed both exams.

So far I have been playing with a QCX- 5 Watt transceiver on 40 meters, using a QRP Guys tri-band vertical and a 20' squid pole. It's a great little transceiver. I managed to make a few local QSOs that were pre-arranged, but haven't made a QSO in the wild yet. I think either my signal is too weak, or people just don't want to bother with a 10 WPM straight-key "novice". Either way, I'm having fun and am improving my code abilities. It's especially rewarding to get on the air with a setup that I assembled myself from end to end.

I appreciate the videos from  Gil and the thoughts on the web site, especially since I have lived in Europe for almost half of my life, and can relate to a lot of Gil's perspectives that result from having one foot in two very different countries for so long. I like the idea of operating portable, especially since I'm on a tight budget. It would be nice to have a good base station some day, though... solar and battery powered of course.