Russian QRP with a Handcrafted Magnetic Loop

Not so long ago, I discovered a group of people here in Russia, who likes so called “green” radio, i.e. Q-mac, Codan, Barrett, Soviet R-143 and other professional and military transceivers. They prefer work on air outdoors, fleeing from big city’s (and even small village’s) QRM. They are experimenting with extremely short antennas such as 3-meter-whip even at low bands. They have their own frequencies that they call “channels”. For example, channel “5” is 7175 kHz and channel “7” is 14342.5 kHz. They work low power, usually less than 30 Watts, SSB. They shoot video and exchange it via Youtube. They never feel boring of talking to each other repeatedly. They call themselves “manpackers” and call their activities “A man-pack day.”

You can have a look at one of these QSOs, between me and R1BBG/P located about 700 km away in suburbs of Saint-Petersburg, made at “channel five” by means of a handcrafted magnetic loop antenna and QRP rig Yaesu FT-817. 10 Watts and Icom was from his side. The weather was fine, minus 10C only.

These days I contacted these man-pack people several times. I used power of less than 30 Watts and small antennas. I really liked it! Not bad part of hobby somewhere between QRP and QRO. Yes, not truly QRP, but truly fun of the radio!

Peter Dabizha, R2ABT, is a special contributor to and writes from Moscow, Russia. Contact him [email protected].

20 Responses to “Russian QRP with a Handcrafted Magnetic Loop”

  • Mike Parkes AB7RU:

    What a great article about these inspiring Russian hams! That is the true spirit of the service there in operation! I look forward to having my own “man packs” every day. Thanks for sharing a great read.

  • Angelo DePalma, KD2HPQ:

    any info on the antenna?

  • Joseph Meaux K2JDM:

    Great little article about our Russian Hams doing it on the QSO.

  • Joe Cro N3IBX:

    Hello Peter,
    I really enjoyed your article and hearing about some of the Amateur “Radiosport” activities of our fellow Russian Hams. Here in the US we have an equivalent of your “manpackers” that we call HFpack”. You can find out more about their group at “”. I hope you find them interesting and join them if you like.

    I am particularly interested in your “channel 7” frequency of 14.342.5, which is the main portable and backpack frequency in North America on 20M. There is also another popular frequency of 18.157.5 in the 17M band, as well as others.
    I’ll be looking for you on your “Channel 7” and hope to be able to work you someday. I think that QRP and QRP+ operation is a lot of fun. I have a portable type antenna called a “Buddipole” I enjoy using.

    Very best regards, and the best of luck having fun on the radio.
    73, Joe Cro N3IBX

  • Bob KK5R:

    I also enjoyed thoroughly the information about the almost-QRP operation from Russia. I would like for hams to list the frequencies that such operators frequent. If a list of “channel” frequencies were given out, they’d probably be “check first” frequencies when QRPers go on the air. Hearing someone on such a channel, knowing he/she is using minimal power levels is beyond intriguing, it is opening the challenge door for those who COULD use higher power but would like to see if they also can be heard with similar power levels. It would also be interesting to some hams to see if a “poor” or simple antenna design can be used to accomplish this feat.

    Thanks Peter for this very nice article. I hope to hear more from you about your “sport” in such a cold area of the world. Seeking out areas for operation relatively free from man-made noise and using very low transmitting power levels is asking radios and radio operators to perform at their best.

    Bob — KK5R

  • Boots VK3DZ:

    Those first three brands are Australian. They cater for the robust domestic market in HF mobile, portable & compact base-station transceivers in remote parts of Australia. Australians are the largest civilian (non-mil, non-amateur) users of HF in the world.

    A land mobile or marine mobile licence is about half the cost of an amateur licence. The usual names also feature too, like the Icom IC-78 (commercial version of IC-718).

    There’s a bit of a riot going on here over the closure of three domestic HF services decided by the myopic “Sydney” Broadcasting Corporation. Those channels were programmed into an awful lot of mobile transceivers.

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Angelo!

    Making my magnetic loop antenna, I was inspired by constructions of AlexLoop Walkham, made of a piece of coax. Here is schematic and dimensions of such antenna As I use extremely low power of 5 W, I never need vaccuum condencer, so I used one from the old tube radio.
    My antenna works 40 through 20 meters only, it depends on the condencer you could find.

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Mike!

    Hope to see you on the air. Manpacking is very beautiful part of hobby.

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Joseph!

    Thank you for your comment!

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Joe!

    Thank you for the link to HFPACK community. I suppose the idea is very similar. But I never heard them on air – much too far and very weak signals. But I heard from Russian HAM with big directional antenna that he likes to work with American /PM stations sometimes.

    Hope to see you on the air.

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Bob!

    You are absolutely right, channels should be advertised thoroughly. If 7175 kHz is well known here in Russia and almost always heard by someone even with 1 kW home station, for example 18157.5 kHz is not so popular. In my following article I will give the full range of Russian manpack frequencies, if Matt, the editor, approves it.

    All the best!

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Boots!

    Yes, bureaucracy is an international evil, as Mr. Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote in his “Laws of Parkinson”. They often make something before thinking, if they think at all, hi!

    In 1990s here in Russia, there was a boom of radio enthusiasts on short wave, right before cellphones became affordable. But still, there a lot of people who are of interest to tactics things in wild nature, NATO and Russian military equipment, history of wars, idea of surviving during catastrophe and so on. Many of them are of interest to radio too. And these Australian brands are very popular among them!

    73! de R2ABT

  • Richard Fricker m3uln:

    Hi Peter,very interesting article,and video looks great fun.
    Will you be giving the details of this antenna,looks great build.

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Richard!

    Thank you for your interest! I have already gave the detailes in comment above, so just copying it here. If nevertheles you have got questions, please, feel free to ask!

    “Making my magnetic loop antenna, I was inspired by constructions of AlexLoop Walkham, made of a piece of coax. Here is schematic and dimensions of such antenna As I use extremely low power of 5 W, I never need vaccuum condencer, so I used one from the old tube radio.
    My antenna works 40 through 20 meters only, it depends on the condencer you could find.”

    73! de R2ABT

  • Hüsnü Ekinci TA4IHE:

    yukarıda göstermiş olduğunuz antenin ölçülerini verirmisiniz

    TA4IHE 73s

  • ZS6RN:

    Greetings from sunny South Africa 🙂 Enjoyable read (article and comments) and although I do not understand any Russian, the video clearly shows a FUN activity! Everything of the best to you all and remember to KEEPSMILING 😉 73 Nigel ZS6RN ex G8DEV

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Hüsnü!

    As far as I could translate your message, indeed, there is dimensions of this antenna in the comments above, I gave the link.

    73! de R2ABT

  • Peter R2ABT:

    Hi Nigel!

    Thanks a lot, I am glad that you find my discovery interesting! 🙂 Hobby should be a fun; no place for anger, I suppose. That is a main goal! 🙂

    Take care! 73! de R2ABT

  • Gilbert on4gi:

    Nice Peter, enjoy , we look fwds to hear you soon on 1 of yr activities. Gilbert

  • Peter R2ABT:

    What a nice surprise to see your comment here, dear Gilbert! It’s a long time we haven’t had QSO via HF! Hope to hear from you soon!

    73! Peter

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