Category Archives: Portable

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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Summit Prowler 6: A pocket-sized SSB/CW transceiver for 80, 40, 30 and 20m

Peter DK7IH is a master of compact homebrew transceivers. I’ve been reading his excellent blog where he chronicles more than half a dozen homebrew HF transceivers and related projects. Most are compact SSB superhet transceivers with digital VFOs, AGC, metering and PAs in the range 5 to 50 watts. A few of these rigs are just so remarkably tiny I wonder how he has the persistence and patience, not to mention how he gets them stable. With Peter’s fine examples in my head, I started daydreaming about a compact SSB/CW transceiver, hoping to go a fair bit smaller than my slightly chunky attempt at a hand-held from last year.

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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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Getting Owen KJ6AKQ/VK3EAR on air

September 2018: I ‘met’ Owen KJ6AKQ on Twitter, I cant recall exactly how or when, maybe 6 months ago. He was a KJ6 who had landed (with family) for work in Melbourne, with a KX3, a real ‘ham sensibility ‘, and an obvious desire to get back into the hobby. But living in an inner city townhouse was going to cramp his style somewhat. After finding how to take out a VK3 callsign he registered VK3EAR. Callsign, rig, but no antenna. I knew he was itching to get on air when he started calling CQ on Twitter.

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