QRP Gear: The Temptations

Can you ever have enough radios? I suppose that is the question. As technology advances, it is hard for me to resist upgrading the QRO rig every few years. Better filtering, more sensitive receivers and many other bells and whistles that come with today's new radios. One limiting factor for the big rigs however is that as functionality grows so does the price, which for most of us necessitates that we hold on to what we have for a while before trading. After all, you can't just to drop $3,000- -$5,000 casually to try out the new stuff. Usually the life cycle of my main QRO rig is 5 - 10 years and I know for many its 10 -20 years depending on  your interests and activity level. The same with the rest of my QRO station, it usually changes slowly over the years.

QRP rigs however are quite a different story. As a general rule they are more affordable and this introduces a dilemma to me. Currently I own a K1, KX1, FT-817, ATS-3, ATS-4 and a KX3. This begs the question of how many different ways do I need to cover 20m with a QRP radio? The answer to that question, at least for now, must be six!!

However, operating QRP portable is not limited to transceivers. Unlike a home station that usually has resonant antennas that are at least semi-permanent, QRP/P deals with temporary poles, various antenna configurations, tuners, batteries, backpacks, logging, raingear and on and on. Oh the combinations one can come up with to operate portable. As I have written, I am a backpacker and there is something in my genes that is attracted to the smallest, lightest and most efficient way to be functional when traveling, either with a suitcase in my hand or a pack on my back. So I am always on the lookout for lighter more efficient gear. As I process all the possiblities I find myself driven to eBay searching for any little gadget that I don't have, kit providers for a new piece of equipment and backpacking stores  for lighter ways to travel.  A good is example of my compulsive behavior was just the other day I was looking at the Ten-Tec QRP transceivers. To their credit, Ten-Tec had put together a nice package, to tempt people like me, that included either a 2- band or 4- band radio, with a portable mulit-band wire antenna and a very cool shoulder bag to carry it in. All of this for a reasonable price. It was almost more than I could take and just before I hit the buy button, I came to my senses and realized I didn't need a seventh radio to cover 20M with QRP. I was also looking at a cool portable tuner to add to the three portable tuners that I already have. I just received in the mail another version of the end fed dipole antenna with a 9 to 1 balun to compliment my Alex-Loop, Buddistick, center fed doublet and my End Fedz multiband antenna. Oh the shame of such excess. But, you never know what the situation will call for, right?

This QRP equipment thing is an addiction and I have to re-commit on a daily basis to be rational, the temptations are beyond calculation. But one small success is that I still don't own a Ten-Tec QRP radio, yet.
Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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