26th March 2017- QRP for the Tightwad

Back in 2006 I was invited to speak at the Four States QRP Convention "Ozarkcon" in Joplin Missouri. I tried to think of a snappy title to hang a talk on that reflected my slant on the hobby. For me, the ham radio buzz has always come from QRP and home construction - and these things often come at a far lower cost than the ways that other hams enjoy the hobby. It is a fantastic hobby because there are so many ways to enjoy it.

This is a talk that I've since given in various forms, last year for North Kent ARS, recently at "BRATS". The title remains the same but I tend to change the content as time passes.

I'm scheduled to deliver again on 5th May at the Thames Amateur Radio Group

Here is a brief description of the kind of things covered.

Projects eventually need cases to go in and I describe various inexpensive options including making them from PCB stock and covering them.

Above you can see a little portable antenna tuning unit. The battery gives you a clue to the size.

Here is an internal view.

Early on I had problems with pulleys holding up my wire antennas jamming after a year or two. I discovered that cheap "carpentry blocks" that DIY stores sell in bags of 100 make fabulous low friction pulleys.

Here you can see one used in pulley configuration.

I also use them as insulators at the end of wire antennas.

It's worth a visit to the blog of Paul M0XPD who uses these blocks to securely attach front panel to chassis on his projects.

I used to be "PCB etching phobic". The whole process was time consuming with variable results. Then Chuck Adams K7QO took the time to make some fabulous videos showing his method of making them using the Toner Transfer method. He also shunned traditional "through hole" mounting and simply soldered to the same side as the tracks. Somewhat like this:

The result isn't unattractive - but for me the big plus was that it got rid of the chore of drilling all those dratted holes! It is "surface mount for conventional components".

The point of the "Tightwad Talk" is not to claim QRP or home construction as the "one true religion" but just offer it as one way you can enjoy what has to be the best hobby in the world. It is endlessly fascinating and I hope I show that home construction does not have to impinge significantly on the family budget.



Articles (2017)

June 2017
Auto Cut-Off Timer by Bob AE4IC
Saves on batteries.

May 2017
SNA Jr. by DuWayne KV4QB
Unbelievably useful test instrument.

April 2017
Aerial Phasing Noise Canceller
For battling that S9 local noise.

March 2017
QRP for the Tightwad
A Club Talk.

January 2017
A Comb Generator
Handy Wide Band Noise Source.