Category Archives: Portable

SP-2B2C: A video series on the design and construction of a Dual-Band 2 Channel QRP CW rig

My radio projects to this point have typically involved a build and test effort, often spanning 3, 4 or even 6 months, culminating in one long, detailed blog post which was assembled over many months and a video that serves the dual purposes of showing and explaining the rig followed by an outing to one or more SOTA summits.

One consequence of this is that my video and blog output is quite low. Another is the resulting content is long, detailed, and not necessarily accessible to all readers or viewers. The concept/plan/build/test/box up and, finally, demonstrate approach is akin to building a house over a few years and publishing your account upon completion. So much of the story goes untold — old school thinking in 2021.

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Something old, something new: A four-band 5W/50W SSB/CW transceiver (‘Summit Prowler 7’)

‘Summit Prowler 7’ is my name for this scratch-built multiband SSB and CW transceiver. This rig covers four of the most popular portable, Parks and SOTA bands — 80, 40, 30 and 20m, at a power level of 5 watts, but with an in-built switchable 50 watt power amplifier, so that you have the option to call up the extra power if the going gets rough. The rig weights in at around 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds, about the same as an FT-817, and is similarly sized. It’s a rig for a wide range of portable situations, and is equally at home on the shack bench.

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Pocket-sized homebrew 40m CW QRPp/QRP transceiver

In May 2019 I activated Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025 with my latest homebrew rig. It was a CW only activation, five QSOs completed, but while I was handing out 599s, the reports coming back to me from the chasers were well down. Over the next few days on OZSOTA (the VK SOTA discussion group) several chasers made comments to the effect that they could hear other VK3s but nothing much from me. When regulars Tony VK3CAT, Ron VK3AFW and Gerard VK2IO reported the same thing, the evidence for a problem at my end mounted.

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QRP By The Bay, Chelsea Beach, Melbourne, Saturday 8th February 2020

QRP By The Bay is a regular meet-up of amateur radio operators, makers and experimenters , Chelsea Beach, Melbourne. On Saturday 8th February the weather was summery, a warm 28 degrees C, but windy, 35km/h blow from the south-east. A strong turn out resulted in lots of conversation, show-and-tell, and general story telling. The video shows some of the faces and activity. If you want to know more about any of the people or projects drop a comment below.

I was expecting Peter VK3YE to take his wade-tenna into the shallows for some pedestrian mobile contacts, but the wind made that option risky. No matter, there was plenty to see and discuss at the tables.

Thanks to Peter VK3YE for continuing this series of ‘eyeball’ QSOs, a now regular and much appreciated date on the amateur radio calendar in Melbourne.

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Federation Range VK3/VN-029 Jan 2020, with VK3EAR and VK3KR

Federation Range at 1490m is the highest point in the Yarra Ranges, and a comfortable 4km walk from Lake Mountain resort, 90 minutes drive north east of Melbourne. The 24th January 2020 was planned a few weeks in advance and fortunately, the weather was favourable, the area was well clear of bushfires, and Owen VK3EAR and David VK3KR were both able to join in.

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Mt Hotham SOTA Weekend Feb 2-3 2019

A brief post to share a short video from last week’s Mt Hotham SOTA weekend. Once again, Brian VK3BCM hosted several dozen SOTA and mountaineering enthusiasts at Anton Huette Lodge, Mt Hotham, for two days of summit bagging and SOTA talk. On the way up I activated the two ‘easy’ summits on the Mt Buffalo plateau, The Hump and The Horn.

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Homebrew 50 watt amplifier for 80-17m (W6JL)

Don W6JL’s 50 watt FET amplifier is a popular afterburner for FT817s and other QRP rigs and exciters. Don won the QST Homebrew contest in 2009 with this design. The amp offers a useful order of magnitude (12dB) power lift over QRP levels, and apart from the power FETs can be built from an averagely stocked junk box. The FETs are commonplace and cheap — they can be bought for as little as 98c each!

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Mt Feathertop (VK3/VE-002), 19th Jan 2019

This year I tackled Feathertop as an overnight walk, leaving the car on the side of the Alpine Highway near Diamantina Hut at 1645 on Saturday 19th Jan 2019, after having driven up from Melbourne. It was about an hour later than I’d hoped for, but a daylight savings sunset time of 2032 gave me nearly 4 hours in the warm but cooling air to get to Federation Hut. The walk in along the Razorback Trail was in good conditions, but I was carrying my SOTA kit and camping gear, not well optimised, way too much weight, and it all started to hurt in the last hour. I met at least a dozen summiteers on their return leg, some looking like troops limping back from a battle, a few considerably worse for wear. More on this later.

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A compact Arduino, si5351 VFO with Keyer and OLED display

The remarkable compact transceivers of Peter DK7IH inspired me to dream up a compact transceiver of my own. This project would be an experiment on a shirt-pocket scale — not as dense as some of Peter’s rigs, but small on my scale. Starting with the PLL VFO/controller along the familiar lines of Raduino (Arduino Nano and si5351), I sketched out a physical design, and it became clear that the display choice would dictate the size of this module. Where small displays are concerned, there’s only one option … OLED.

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Shack of VK2KMI

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