Monday, October 7, 2013

Joe's QRP Station Build

This is the first member post of many I hope. Joe wrote this piece about a recent project. If you would like to post something here about your projects, experience or thoughts, let me know and we will see if we can post it up!

Joe's QRP Station Build
by Joe Porter WØMQY

I'm a big fan of portable qrp operations and enjoy the PSK31 mode.  There are always lots of cables and boxes to carry around with you, and I decided there must be a better way.  The following photos show my solution to keeping it all together.

I removed the printer stand from my computer lab because it was too large and took up too much desk space.   I can’t claim originality for the idea but after stumbling over the stand for several months, I assembled it into a portable QRP_PSK31 unit.  Under the stand on the left is the Icom 703®, in the center is the Signal One® PSK31 interface, and on the right is the external speaker.  Handles were placed on the top of the stand for ease of carrying.  The top of the stand makes a nice resting place for the laptop.  The two heavy steel legs make it a great support for the computer but raises the keyboard above the level I like to type.  This problem was solved by using a small collapsible table that has a height adjustment.  This table is set to about 24” high bringing the laptop to a comfortable typing position.

While this particular setup would not satisfy the biker, pedestrian, or back pack mobile enthusiast, it does simplify my setup and teardown time in the local park.  This package was used the past weekend with great success during the Brutus Bash in my camping trailer.   For a quick stint in the local park, it is a keeper.

This photo gives a better view close up of the operation position.  The stand seemed to slide around on slick surfaces so a couple of heavy chair grommets were added to the bottom of the legs to provide stability.

This photo shows the arrangement of the equipment underneath the stand.  The Icom 703® is on the left, the Signal One interface® with associated cabling in the center, and the Icom 703® external speaker is on the right. Directly behind the above equipment are two 7 amp hour SLA batteries.  One battery is used for operation while the other is on the charging system.

A 15 watt solar panel provides the charging power for the second battery while the radio is operated from the first battery.  The panel is probably marginal in keeping up with the radio but it does a nice job of charging the second battery in the pack.  So far, the batteries have outlasted me on my trips to the field.  That put my fears to rest on whether I had enough battery power for a weekend or a 4 hour sprint.

The Icom 703® would not be the radio of choice if I were going for a long haul because it draws 350 ma. on receive and the transmitter will pull about 1.5 amps on transmit.  Although these two batteries with the solar charging system make it completely portable it does have limitations with its size and weight.  For me, that is offset by the quick setup and tear down time.  Coupled with some South Bend® SD20 collapsible fishing poles and a dipole for each band, it makes the ideal portable companion for me.  The beautiful part of all this is that the Icom 703 gives me CW, PKS31, SSB, RTTY, and NDB chasing.   The complete portability of this system provides many an opportunity to go to the park, woods, Brutus Bashes, or any other event I might want to operate.  It also has the neat feature of being a quick setup in time of disaster for a small command station to assist in public service.

Last but not least, it was decided to keep things as simple as possible to minimize breakdowns, broken cables, and solder joints in the field.  As is shown in the photo, all of the equipment including the batteries are equipped with Anderson Power Pole® connectors.  This makes for easy switching batteries, removing equipment for other projects, and just plain versatility.

This project has given me pleasure both assembling and using it.  I love QRP radio and portability. This package gives me both.  If you haven’t tried portable operation, I suggest you give it a try.  It is great fun and you get to enjoy the great outdoors.

72/73’s   Joe  WØMQY


  1. Excellent set-up ! Thanks for sharing. ka0ren

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