QRP and portable Operation

This page is about my QRP and portable operation experiments.


June 11th 2016 ARRL Field day

I went out portable for ARRL Field Day this year.   It was a nice warm morning on the Saturday, I had my gear loaded into my back pack the night before so all I had to do was grab my food and water, hoist the pack and head for the hills behind Cannon Beach.

I knew where I was going to operate from, its a site I’ve used a few times.  Except this time I was going to be there for a lot longer duration, so had more food, water and battery capacity than the previous times.  The site is a few hundred feet up into the hills to the East of town in a public owned reserve area.

The picture below is all the stuff I hauled up to the operating location.

Contents contained roughly: Food, Water, Elecraft K1, Yaesu Ft-817, Full sized Budipole kit with extras, including the 17 foot mast.  35 Ah gell AGM deep cycle battery, roll-up table, folding seat note book etc….


I set up and was ready for 11AM and got on the air.  By that time the temperature was starting to rise, the green sheet was used to provide a little shade, but it was still really hot.

All in all I didn’t make a huge number of contacts, but its a really nice way to spend a day sitting in the sun watching birds and other wildlife.  I done more listening than actually making contacts.  I didn’t both taking a mic with me, so I spent all the time on the radio at the CW end of the 20 meters band.

The picture below is the view.  Since its far away from everything there is no QRM either.  You have to double check the antenna is actually plugged in, its really that quite!


This one is my operating position and the area I set up in.


I know its way too much stuff to carry, but I wanted my table and chair because there are so many different bugs live up there I didn’t want to sit on the grass.  There was an unusually high number of large garter snakes out that day.

Over all, it was a great day out, and had some radio fun and watched some wildlife.  Cant really ask for more than that.  I didn’t really intend to make a lot of contacts, so I was pleased with what I done.

After about five hours I packed up and headed back to civilization.


January 21st 2017

I decided to have a go at putting together a really light weight radio and antenna which I can use portable without having to lug 120 pounds of stuff back and forth like I did for ARRL Field Day.

Dug out my Elecraft K1 and some other things and set about getting something on the air.

The picture below is what I ended up with.  The picture quality is pretty poor on my phone.  The over exposed white thing on my seat is a hard back notebook I use for notes from the contacts I make.


This one is closer in showing everything I used.


In the picture above is the K1, a 7Ah AGM deep cycle battery, a Palm Mini Keyer.  and the Elecraft T1 tuner.  The antenna I used was a random wire and a short counterpoise wire just set on the ground.  You can see the thin green wire going from the tuner to the top left corner, I rolled out 29 feet from a Budipole counterpoise winder and threw it into a tree, the first branch it stuck on was only about 12 feet up and I let the wire slope down to the ground and into the tuner.  The thicker green wire at the bottom left is an 8 foot counterpoise wire.  The 29 feet for the random wire was that length by design, as its not an exact half wave length or any multiples on 20 or 40 meters where I wanted to test out.  The 8 foot conterpoise was just a random figure I tried.  Lots of other people have experimented with different counterpoise lengths and found it only needs to be a few feet long.

On the first go, it tuned 40 meters ok, I tried from 7.030 -7.060 and it tuned there fine. So I put out a few CQ calls at 5 watts and then checked the Reverse Beacon Network to see if I had any spots, and to my surprise I had 2, one 600 miles away in Canada and another in Nevada, about 430 miles away.  Great, it works!  It should be even better when I go to the park and throw the random wire much higher up into a tree.

When I tried 20 meters it wouldn’t tune, so I folded back about 18 inches from the counterpoise and tried again, success!  Tried to tune 40 m again, still ok there too.  Seems like about 6’6″ works for these two bands.

Reverse Beacon Network spots from my call on 40 meters.


Made a few CQ calls on 20 meters, nothing picked up on the RBN, but that’s not unusual even when I run my main station with up to 100 watts into the dipole on the mast.  It was cold and the rain wasn’t far away so I packed up happy that my test worked out.  I’ll try this out again soon and see how well it works when I get the wire higher up.  I’m thinking a fiberglass pole that collapses down would be good for this too as it would be really easy to secure something like that to a park bench or seat with Velcro wraps.

This picture shows everything I used and how small it all is.


Equipment list:

Elecraft K1

Palm Mini Paddle

7 Ah AGM deep cycle battery

BNC to post connector

Elecraft T1 tuner with 18″ long BNC to BNC coax jumper.

Random wire on winder.  Marked off at 29 feet to make it easy to deploy.

Counterpoise wire made from 16AWG hookup wire

The Guinness beer mat isn’t part of this kit but some how ended up in the picture.

Future improvements: Include some light cord and a weight to throw into a tree.  Maybe a lighter battery, I’ve got AA battery holders and AA batteries which I’ll test out.  The K1 can run as low as 8 and a bit volts, so battery ops is flexible.  A light collapsible mast of some sort would be handy too.   Finally, I’ll put it in a case or bag for transporting in my back pack.