Saturday, August 8, 2015

First Portable QRP OP

Not exactly roughing it in the wild...

N4PBQ remote station.
So a trip to family in the Western part of the state provided my first opportunity for a portable operation with the Elecraft KX3.  Calling this a "portable operation" is a bit contrived but I was outdoors, battery powered and sitting comfy under an oak tree for a few hours.

 A rope with an lead weight allowed me to get the rope up into an old oak tree.  The weight goes up over a branch and back down.  I untie the weight and attach the antenna and then pull it up to the apex. 

The bottom of the end-fed random wire antenna is connected an 9:1 UnUn to lower the impedance to something the radio's ATU can match.


No it's not a torture device
More mosquitoes and ticks were biting than contacts but I had a very nice long rag chew with N8NSN.  Turns out he has an incredible station of classic equipment that he's painstakingly restored.  We had a great conversation about options for portable straight keys,  He suggested looking at an Army Leg Mount...

I'm digging it. It has kind of a steam punk vibe.

The radio was powered by a 3ah 12v old battery for a good part of the day.  About an hour of that time was transmitting at 5watts power.  The receive drain of the KX3 is very low with the display turned off (right from a button, no menu required) so a relatively small battery lasts a long time.

It's difficult to see but I'm holding a Palm Radio Single Key Paddle in my left hand while sending with my right.  I simply laid the key down between transmissions.  I'm very happy so far with the Palm Radio Single Key paddle.

Arm chair copy ?
Here's the KX3 in all it's portable glory...
Plugged into the left is power from a small external 12v 3ah battery.  It has more capacity and higher voltage than the internal AA nmih rechargeable batteries.  If I run the external down I can fall back to the internals.  
Connected to the middle plug is the CW key from Palm Radio which is wonderfully portable (AA4XX recommended the key) although I'm getting used to holding it during operation rather than having it attached to a base.
The noise canceling ear-buds are plugged into the bottom jack on the left.
The coax to the antenna is plugged into the BNC on the right of the radio.  The radio has built-in feet to prop it up during operation.  I'm not sure how I'd feel about sitting it directly on the ground.  It has plenty of gaps for insects and debris to get inside.  I think if I operate sitting on the ground I'd set it on my backpack.

Elecraft KX3 portable with Palm Radio Single CW Paddle
So all-in-all the my first portable HF OP was a qualified success.

  • I didn't get the antenna stuck in the tree
  • I didn't accidentally brain myself with the lead weight on the throwing rope
  • I didn't get attacked by killer bees or caught in a sharknado while operating outdoors
  • The battery performed beyond my expectations
  • My CW key worked very well hand-held
  • I made contacts

So lower your power, and raise your expectations.

73 and 72s

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