QRP by the Bay is a regular homebrew, experimenter’s and portable ops show-and-tell hosted by Peter VK3YE at Chelsea Beach. This was my second event, which followed in the now established tradition. This year it attracted about two dozen people and a variety of projects appeared on the tables. The weather was not ideal, it was very windy and cool, but the squid poles went up nonetheless. Peter’s video of the event is here, and another one of the 160 meter bayside portable QSO here.
Peter VK3YE demonstrated his VHF beacon project, the subject of recent videos. Tony VK3CAB demonstrated his loop antenna and KN-Q7A transceiver with an external DDS VFO. Joe VK3YSP operated his HF transceiver in his car remotely from his VHF hand-held.
Chris VK3AML set up 160 meters AM in the shelter of the bushes, while his end fed 160 meter inverted-L at 10 meters above the sand strung between two squid poles looped wildly in the wind. At the same time, Dave VK3ASE operated 160 AM mobile and drove further down the bay, while other stations called in including Clint VK3CSJ (Narre Warren) and VK3HB at Macrae which is about 50 kilometers further down the bay. The signals held up well, and I was impressed at how well 160 AM works over shorter distances and a good path.
I’ve wondered in the recent past about a workable skyhook for 160 meters portable, and Chris’ antenna demonstrated a good option. It is a 1/4 wave inverted L. 40 meters of wire in total, with 10 meters running up to the top of the first squid pole and 30 meters strung between the two poles, placed about 25 meters apart. The wire in the 30 meter horizontal section is very thin to avoid the squid poles sagging uncontrollably. For a counterpoise (or ground substitute) Chris was using a couple of G-clamps to electrically attach to the stainless steel hand rail that runs from the picnic area down to the beach. No electrical connection into the brine, but a good substitute that kept the operating position near the main group.
A 1/4 wave inverted L is effectively a 1/4 wave ground plane with the top portion of the driven element folded over at right angles. So it should exhibit a 50 ohm impedance at the feed point. Sounds like a good option.
Wayne VK3ALK had his impressive 80 meter Class E AM transmitter on the tables. This build was fully scratch-built with hand drawn and etched PCBs, some mean looking FETs, toroidal power transformer and supplies, and an inline SWR bridge and control circuitry to reduce power if the SWR should unexpectedly spike. Wayne has similar AM transmitters on 40 meters. He discussed with me the virtues of a Rigol spectrum analyer. I think he was talking about this one. Nice…
Steve VK3SL’s recently arrived BITX module, built into a box. This must be one of the first BITX modules to arrive in VK.
Another of Steve VK3SL’s recent finds, an AR8 receiver in amazing condition.
QRP by the Bay got me thinking about the traditions of QRP conventions. The Rishworth QRP convention (outside of Manchester) has recently run, with speakers Roy Llewellyn W7EL (antenna Q&A session), Rex Harper W1REX (the Tuna Tin guy) and the Father of UK QRP the Rev George Dobbs, G3RJV. Rex ran one of his famour buildathons where attendees are given a small solderless kit to build (this year it was SM7UCZ’s solar powered transmitter).
The big one is Four Days In May (FDIM), run in association with Dayton, which proclaims itself as ‘the biggest and best QRP event in the World’. Recent speakers have included Eric Swartz WA6HHQ (Elecraft), George Dobbs G3RJV, Rick Campbell KK7B, Roy Lewallen W7EL, Paul Darlington M0XPD and Jason Milldrum NT7S, to name a few. FDIM and Dayton are regularly discussed on Soldersmoke.
In VK, thanks to Peter VK3PF and others, we have Gippstech which has run each year in July since 1998 (a remarkable effort) and showcases the higher-tech end of the hobby, with both theoretical and practical talks on recurring topics such as microwaves, EME, propagation, SDR and software, from presenters including Ron VK3AFW, Steve VK3OT, Drew VK3XU, Rex VK7MO, Doug VK3UM (sadly SK earlier this year), Roger VK2ZRH, Andrew VK3OE and so many more. Joe Taylor K1JT was a special guest in 2003. Wayne VK3WAM introduced SOTA in 2012.
Could we ever do a QRP event in the southern states of VK? The populations of the UK and US are around 3 times and 14 times that of Australia respectively, and the amateur population in Western nations is roughly a (very small) percentage of the general population. So I suspect we don’t have the numbers to support a sustainable full-scale QRP event of the nature of Rishworth. And while Gippstech is not a QRP gathering, it is entirely open to QRP themes.
In the mean time, QRP by the Bay is a great opportunity for the Melbourne QRP/ homebrew/ experimenter crowd to eye-ball each other and our projects in a pleasant portable operating spot. Peter has announced the date for next year — Saturday February 4th 2017. I’m looking forward to it already. The chalenge is — what can I get built by then?