Operating while traveling to other countries

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Operating while traveling to other countries

Postby ys1rs » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:34 am

Guys.
Newbie here (Active Ham since 2010).

I have the opportunity, sometimes, to travel to different countries and stay in one country for 2 weeks to 3 months working under emergencies or giving support to that country office.
Was in Colombia for 2 weeks last month and I was wondering that I could have a transceiver with me so I could make some QSO's from that particular country.
Yes. The local permit must be requested and procured in advance.

You may say... just go out and have fun, forget about the radio!.... well nope. Not always possible.
Last country that I visited for a long stay period was Haiti, during the Emergency. You don't want to go out to have fun under those harsh and dangerous conditions. Not even during the day!!!. Armed escorts were required.

I had my Kenwood TS-690 (bought it on eBay and received it there, in Haiti, while on duty). Made a pair of dipoles and was fun and helped me to release a lot of tensions and stress.
Sleeping in a tent. Working with generators 24/7 and transmitting from inside an International Shipping container that was converted to be my server (I work as ICT) and satellite room was fun. No CW. Phone only. :(

My very first QSO's, in my whole life were made from that island. Fantastic!!! Call sign assigned by the local Telecom authorities was HH2/YS1RS. Big pile ups!

At present, I am learning CW and that is the reason I joined this Club.

Now, here is my question...
Could you please be so kind and suggest a set of equipment that I could use to transmit from locations like that?
Here you have the requirements:
- Small CW transmitter/receiver
- portable of course
- light weight to take in my backpack
- low profile (no shiny lights or sparkly things that will make customs in those countries think they can make big bucks with it) Modern Yaesus/Icom/kenwood are out.
- A wire antenna that could be dropped out from a hotel window and provide acceptable results (in Haiti I was lucky that during the first days, was able to put my dipole in inverted V using the center pole of a big meeting tent. No single trees in the place as you can imagine. Later we got a telescopic mast)
- no need for antenna tuner.
- 110 VAC/12 VDC
- total cost that will not break my small bank account.

Is that possible?
Could a QRP transceiver like the MFJ or Ten-Tec (kit to build) be OK?
The Ten-Tec Kit could be in my range of price but I don't know about QRP and how acceptable it is. I have no idea how capable that equipment is. No problems assembling kits for me.
Which band could be acceptable (to work at night time while off duty)? 30 meters maybe?

Sorry for the long story but I felt it was necessary, in order for the requirements to be understood.
You are the best in this field. Have no one else on CW. :(

Thanks in advance.

Rob.
YS1RS
SKCC #8404
ys1rs
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Postby W5ALT » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:20 pm

I lived in Venezuela and operated as YV1/W5ALT and also traveled around and operated as XE1, LU, CP5, and also travel around the US and operate portable. It's lots of fun.

I use an FT-817 QRP rig and carry a roll up wire for an antenna. I also recently acquired a Blue Star P1 vertical that works great. Besides those, I carry a small power supply from Radio Shack, a pair of small headphones, a set of Palm paddles and a Soviet mini straight key, along with a few pieces of various sized coax with connectors and some small tools and a mini-soldering iron. It all fits into a computer laptop case and I've taken it all over South America.

See http://www.comportco.com/~w5alt/antennas/index.php?pg=4 for my travel antenna.

The Blue Star vertical is at http://bluestarantennas.com/sales//cata ... cts_id=391

QRP works fine for CW if you have patience. I sometimes carry either my TS-50S or FT-100D, rather than the FT-817. They are also both small, but run 100 watts.

As for band, that will depend on propagation. 30 is good in the evenings, 40 and 80 are good at night, but 80 needs a long antenna and has higher noise. Once the sunspot cycle picks up a little more, 20 m may also be open almost all night, so don't count it out. I just carry a multiband antenna and rig and work whatever is open.

73,
Walt, W5ALT
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Postby kb4qqj » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:36 am

Hola Rob,
Glad to see you found SKCC and glad to see you again Walt. Walt has some good info Rob and has traveled around enough to know. If at all possible get your hands on an FT-817ND. It's worth the extra money and you have CW/Digital and SSB. You get all bands and all modes. It's easily bagged so as not to make you look to wealthy. That is option #1 (my favorite)
Option #2
If you can't work that out and considering all you have posted, and planning on one band for long term I would suggest 40 meters. It is good during the day and night. It remains pretty good during low sun activity and is hopping during high sun activity. It's got good emergency uses as well. To me the he classic rig for such would be the NC40A (WIlderness Radio as a kit: $145). http://www.fix.net/~jparker/wilderness/nc40a.htm Not much more than the Ten-Tec and a better performer. It is relatively small, easy to build, and quite
sensitive. Low current drain on receive (~20mA or less for all 3) It's an efficient and light weight backpacking/traveling rig. In my opinion the most reliable band for backcountry/emergency contacts is 40m. Plan on that. For an antenna, I would suggest an endfed tuner and a 66 foot (20 meter) wire. That will give you 40 -15 meters. http://www.qrpkits.com/sota.html

Option #3 (my second favorite)
By the time you pay for the radio/tuner/key/keyer for the monoband set up you will have spent close to the price of this radio. http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html The PFR-3A. It is three bands and a full 5 watts output. It has a built in keyer and tuner. (balanced line tuner) Runs on 9 to 12volts and can tune a speaker wire doublet to work on all three bands. If you aren't familier with the speaker wire doublet, let me know via email and I'll explain.

Now have we given you enough to totally confuse you? :-)

I was amazed at your work with the steam powered cw rig and your restorations (Jensen #10-1951)!!
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Postby ys1rs » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:18 am

kb4qqj wrote:Now have we given you enough to totally confuse you? :-)


Thank you Walt and Randy.

Walt, it is an exciting experience to be on the DX side of the traffic isn't it?
From the Caribbean wow! Venezuela 8) ... it is like paradise, well it was even more 10 or 15 years ago.

I think I have the best options available from your input now guys.
Confused? not at all. The FT-817 is really out of my range by now.
This goes down to the kit options of which I am inclined for the PFR-3, because it gives me 3 of the most popular bands for CW and includes a tuner. It seems like the paddle option is no longer available but I don't care as it accepts the normal straight key too (have read the instructions already).

The Blue Star Antenna is perfect for the job too.
You have provided valuable information as I was looking at my options with my narrow filter switched on ;) (only MFJ and Ten-Tec single band and lower wattage)

One thing I like from the PFR-3 is that it is tuned by switches. Contrary to that, you may say that it is its biggest disadvantage because it is difficult to find weak signals.... yes you may be right but on the other hand, this could be an advantage when working on dusty environment (like Haiti as example). A tuning knob may get dust inside faster. The amount of dust my laptop collected every 15 days was incredible.

Will take a look tomorrow and check if this guys have international shipping available.

Thank you again for your help.

Randy, regarding the speaker wire... I think I could have a vague idea of what it does.... for QRP work you do not need thick wire. A doublet can be easily calculated and can be un-joined by pulling them apart so you only calculate once. There most be more to it so I sent you an email already.

Rob.
YS1RS SKCC#8404
ys1rs
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Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:03 pm
Location: El Salvador, Central America

Postby sp9hzx » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:52 pm

w5alt wrote:I lived in Venezuela and operated as YV1/W5ALT and also traveled around and operated as XE1, LU, CP5, and also travel around the US and operate portable. It's lots of fun.

I use an FT-817 QRP rig and carry a roll up wire for an antenna. I also recently acquired a Blue Star P1 vertical that works great. Besides those, I carry a small power supply from Radio Shack, a pair of small headphones, a set of Palm paddles and a Soviet mini straight key, along with a few pieces of various sized coax with connectors and some small tools and a mini-soldering iron. It all fits into a computer laptop case and I've taken it all over South America.

See http://www.comportco.com/~w5alt/antennas/index.php?pg=4 for my travel antenna.

The Blue Star vertical is at http://bluestarantennas.com/sales//cata ... cts_id=391

QRP works fine for CW if you have patience. I sometimes carry either my TS-50S or FT-100D, rather than the FT-817. They are also both small, but run 100 watts.

As for band, that will depend on propagation. 30 is good in the evenings, 40 and 80 are good at night, but 80 needs a long antenna and has higher noise. Once the sunspot cycle picks up a little more, 20 m may also be open almost all night, so don't count it out. I just carry a multiband antenna and rig and work whatever is open.

73,
Walt, W5ALT


Hi Walt,

I like especially your indoor antenna. Great idea!
Hope to chat one day on the air!

73
Andy sp9hzx
------------------------------
www.qsl.net/sp9hzx
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