Roaring Mice

W5TOM's QRP CW Rigs

 


Elecraft K1 on the air at night.

This is a "SEXY" shot of a fine piece of CW QRP pulchritude. I was tempted to include a shot with the covers off, but my obligation to keep this a "family rated" site prevented it.  The K1 station is the 4 band (40, 30, 20, and 17 mtrs) version, with tuner and backlit display showing 18.0700mHz my favorite place.  The paddle is the Palm Mini Paddle with the magnetic base that is holding on to a strip if thin steel glued to the K1.  The goose neck work lamp is plugged into a female chassis mount barrel connector with a military spring loaded lid.  It lights the table very well and uses only 30 milliamps  It also has an on/off switch.  The receiver and filters are the best I have seen, and the memory keyer encourages 7 roaring watts that are usually more than enough to garner a fine signal report.


 

     

The Mouse Pack.

Kinda, from left to right:  Home brew speaker with batteries and volume control for use instead earphones with some rigs;  K1 with a 40 and 20 mtr DSWII kits, by K1SWL, Dave Benson, on top;  KX1 with all 4 bands and auto tuner; Vibroplex Code Warrior with patented W5TOM orthopedic red paddles;  Yaesu FT-817 with Collins CW filter and Elecraft T1 tuner and battery pack on top;  RockMite40 with really cool case and paddles from Americanmorse.com;  OHR WM-2 QRP wattmeter, with a 1.3 Amp/hr 12v gel-cell power supply on top:  Pico memory keyer kit, by N0XAS, in a Zippo sized box..

 


RockMite ready for the air.

Shown is the RockMite, another wonderful Dave Benson kit, with the Emtech ZM-2 tuner kit ready for a QSO.  I have worked a number of stations using this setup and the 9v battery putting out about 150 milliwatts on 7.040 mHz.  An alkaline battery is good for about 2 QSOs if you are not longfingered  The amazing thing is that you can do it at all.  The rechargeable NMiH 9v battery works much better.  I have several QSL cards that mention that I was using the 9v battery.

 


The Small Wonder Lab DSWII 40

Ready for use, the DSWII is poised to blast out 4 giant Mouse Watts on 40 meters through an Elecraft T1 auto tuner using the Palm Paddles and a 1.3 AH 12v PS.  The rig is extremely well featured with Morse freq readout and whole CW band coverage using an excellent set of filters, RIT, memory keyer, and no excuse for not having fun.  A piece of wood painted black serves to elevate some of the rigs to a more comfortable level.  It is shown in the above pix under the FT-817.  The gain control is RF and is positioned to read out S meter levels at the number positions on an analog clock face.  It is shown reading between S 2 and 3.

 


 

Using these little Rigs

These rigs were built, by me, from kits (except for the FT-817) in the last couple of years.  They have never failed to communicate even with as low as 50 milliwatts when the band is open. Even though we are at the bottom of the current cycle, there are many times that just about any band is open at some time, even if only to someone local.   It is my understanding that the effectiveness of a CW signal, because of its very narrow bandwidth, is 9 dB stronger than a SSB signal of the same power.  If you are an audiophile and are running better than a 3 KC band width with lots of bass, there is probably a 15 dB difference.  This makes your 5 Watt CW signal about as useful as a 50 Watt SSB signal, which is 1/2 S unit below 100 Watts, which is only 1 1/2 S units below a full gallon.  So if you hear some S 9 SSB signals from Hams using 100 Watts on any given band, your 5 Watt CW is going to be heard at about an S 8 and your 1 Watt is going to be an S 7.  This makes a roaring mouse.  Amazing how I rationalize this, isn't it...if you think this was good, you should see me write about chocolate cream pie.

To be true to my  philosophy, when using QRP, I always use wire antennas.  The antenna should be QRP also.  It seems to me that using a tower and stacked beams with a radio you can put in your pocket is like using a sledge hammer to kill a mouse. Guess that would stop the roar even if the ionisphere couldn't.