Tag Archives: QRP

nanoBeacon: a simple personal CW beacon

There are times when you wonder if your receiver and antenna are really working as they should. The band is dead, or empty, it’s the middle of the day, the D-Layer is sponging up every radio frequency excitation. Perhaps you can hear a few signals, but they are fleeting — and you need a steady and predictable signal source for a proper test. An RF signal generator will give you a steady carrier, but there are times when you’d prefer to have a true CW beacon to tune onto. This simple, general purpose multiband CW beacon can be run up on the frequency (or frequencies) of your choice, is powered on a 9V transistor radio battery, and can moved to attenuate to the desired signal level, for radio receiver system testing purposes.

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20 meters, 200mW & 12,000 miles: WSPR magic!

Weak Signal Propagation Reporter is a global radio propagation monitoring and reporting network comprised of thousands of low power beacons operating on the amateur radio bands. WSPR beacons can be detected from the lowest of Medium Wave frequencies (137kHz) all the way through the HF spectrum (all the bands from 160m to 10m are popular) to the VHF bands, 50 and 144MHz. WSPR receivers decode the tiny beacon packets and upload them to a central database, at WSPRNet.org, where anyone can literally ‘see’ the propagation paths that are currently open.

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AGC for a Termination Insensitive Amplifier

For AGC controlled IF stages in receivers I have often chosen a 2 or 3 stage dual gate MOSFET strip, or a cascode arrangement with a bipolar and JFET pair.  These work well, have more than enough overall gain, and provide good AGC-controlled gain range.    I’ve also built a BiTX style transceiver (Andy G6LBQ’s design) with two Termination Insensitive Amplifier blocks. TIAs exhibit stable input and output impedance regardless of load, and work symmetrically (for receive and transmit) but are fixed gain. My BiTx receiver worked acceptably on 40m but was underpowered on 20m. Increasing the gain to make it more lively on 20m would have made it over-powered on 40m. You don’t have this problem when you have an AGC controlled IF.

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

My radio projects have 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.

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SP-X, a pocket rig for the CW activator in a hurry!

I’ve long been interested in compact and fairly minimal SSB and CW rigs with good performance. I’m not into bells, whistles or menus. Menus are for restaurants! When hiking, walking or bouncing around summits I want to minimise things that are not absolutely necessary, things that can go wrong. Less is more when it comes to a transceiver for portable work.

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SP-9: A Compact Five band SSB/CW QRP Transceiver

‘Summit Prowler 9’ is a homebrew five band SSB/CW 5 watt transceiver designed for and tested on the summits near Melbourne Australia. This project further developed my interest and ideas on the right mix of features and design choices in a moderately compact case that any keen radio builder could reproduce in the home workshop with modest equipment. The transceiver project was completed over an 18 month period to April 2021.

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SP-8: a homebrew 28MHz SSB transceiver for a UR3LMZ 144MHz transverter

Ten meters or the 28MHz band is showing glimmers of life from sunspot cycle 25. Even so, its not an obvious choice if you want to build a portable SSB monobander and have lots of contacts. But 28MHz is the IF of choice for VHF and UHF transverters. After noticing the 6, 2 and 70cm transverters available on eBay from the workshop of UR3LMZ and the good reports from buyers, I cooked up the idea to build a 28MHz ‘transverter IF’ transceiver, to be paired with one or more VHF or UHF transverters.

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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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Social distancing project #1: Lightweight Linked Dipole

The coronavirus has stopped just about everything, and is undoubtedly changing our lives forever. With almost every group or event cancelled, there are predictions of mass boredom and social isolation. Many people apparently have no idea what they’ll find to do with their time. How odd. That’s never been a problem for makers like me. So in the interests of the bored and isolated, I offer this story of something useful that can be made in an afternoon — a linked dipole.

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