RE: QRP mobile questions


From: Franco, Nicholas J (
Date: Mon Apr 02 2001 - 10:09:23 CDT

Rich and those interested,

I operated mobile QRP CW for several years and ejoyed every minute of it.
I know there have been some criticisms of this art due to traffic and other
safety considerations, and they are all valid. Safety is a very real
factor. With that said - and please be careful out there - this has been my
setup and results.

I start off with an HW-8 in the car. I only had a Hamstick for 40 meters
and these antennas do NOT tune well on other bands than what they are
designed for. So I wound up limited to one band at a time anyway. BTW: I
ran a piece of bare #8 ground wire (solid copper) from the shield side of
the bumper mount to a chassis bolt under the car for decent grounding. I
also put a BNC on the coax feed line rather than use lossy adapters. My
HW-8 put out about 2 watts on 40 and I made lots of contacts, but they are
difficult with a direct conversion receiver.

My next step in this process was building an NW-40. This great little rig
gave me speaker audio output (way better than an ear plug for sure), and 5
watts out. This became my favorite mobile QRP station. I even kept a wire
antenna in the trunk. I could pull up near a tree and run a sloper to the
NW-40 in the car for some stationary portable QRP operating. I must have
made hundreds of Q's with this setup.

Next in the saga was Chuck's first TMPS (Thirty Meter Propagation Study).
I bought and built an original SW-30 from Small Wonder Labs. I was back to
lower power and an ear plug, but 30 meters is alive with both local and DX
stations ready to take the time a patience with a weak mobile signal. I
also build up an external TiCK keyer package in an Altoids tin and a home
brew mini paddle (single lever). This setup yeilded me 130 contacts for the
TMPS summer fun event with over 30 being DX. I still operate the SW-30 in
my shack on occasion. I did put in an after-burner mod from Dave to boost
the power and run it at a comfortable 2 watts now (original: 1.5 watts full

I switched between the SW-30 and the NW-40 for a while as the seasons
changed and my mood. I then built a 38 Special with the 5 watt mod. Of
course I had to run this in the car for a while. Again, the ear plug
approach is a little rough so I didn't stay with this setup for too long.
My main car rig has been the NW-40. I stayed this way until 2000 when I
bought a new car and no longer have any HF gear in it. My XYL would kill
me; the bumpers are different; my XYL would kill me; the paint is new; my
XYL would kill me; etc. The list goes on :-)

Anyway, mobile QRP is close to my heart. Take whatever precautions you can
to be safe. Fuse your rig. Use a keyer and paddle for comfort. Mount
things as firmly as possible (you don't want everything flying onto the
floor (especially in the drivers compartment) when you step on the brakes).
Use discression: if the road conditions demand more attention and
concentration - turn off the radio and drive only. You will learn great
head copy as a result. Logging and QSLing became inconsistent for me. I
had fun; I learned a lot; I like driving places :-) I had more air time as
a result. I met some great ops.

Nick - kf2p . .
QRP-L # 13

Systems Administrator Collider-Accelerator Department
Tel: (631) 344-5467 UPTON, NY 11973-5000
Fax: (631) 344-2833 Ham Call: KF2P
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-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Clem []
Sent: Sunday, April 01, 2001 8:49 PM
To: Low Power Amateur Radio Discussion
Subject: QRP mobile questions

I've been planning on installing a mobile HF rig. When the antenna arrived
the other day, I went ahead and installed it on the trunk, even though I
have a rig yet. It's a 40-meter hamstick, and for good measure, I attached
about 33 feet of wire to the ground side, and just stuffed it in the trunk
figured it can't hurt, and it might help).

Since I was eager to try the thing out, and since the only 12-volt rig I
currently have is my MFJ-9040, I decided to give it a try. I borrowed a
couple of amplified speakers from my computer, and put the straight key on
seat next to me.

Having tried it for a couple of days now, it does seem to work, albeit just
barely. I have had a couple of contacts with decent reports, although not
many of them. I've had quite a few more of the "W0?? NEG CPY" variety. 40
hasn't been the greatest lately, with all of the solar activity, so my
question is whether this sounds like a viable arrangement. It still sounds
like a lot of hassle getting 12 volts through the firewall to a QRO rig,
although in my tests so far, it seems like the extra power would really come
in handy.

On the other hand, I realize I might have just been doing this on days with
lousy band conditions. It would save me a lot of work if I could just mount
the QRP rig permanently in the car. I've even been thinking about putting
on a slide mount, and getting another 15 meter rig on another slide mount,
then QSY just by swapping radios. (It seems to me that the 40-meter
ought to work just fine 15.)

Has anyone had much success with mobile QRP? I don't envision getting DXCC
any time soon with this kind of a setup, but it would be fun to work an
occasional QSO while driving to work. Do I need to go with QRO to pull that
off reliably? (I can guess what the answer will be on this list, but I
need a little convincing.)

Also, what do people do for keys while mobile? The straight key on the seat
next to me works adequately, but I think my arm would get tired after a
 I was thinking about a keyer and two pushbuttons on the steering wheel.
anyone have any experience with something like this?

Also, using the QRP rig at home, I sometimes sign /QRP for a little extra
sympathy, which sometimes helps. Which works better in that regard, signing
/M or signing /QRP. I've found that /M/QRP gets a little cumbersome.

Oh, and the QRO rig has a microphone, and seems to be capable of a mode
"phone". I suppose that might come in handy now and then, but I suspect
5 watts of CW will outperform 100 watts of SSB, since the goal is to
be able to work a few contacts.

Thanks in advance for any advice & 73,
Rick W0IS

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