G/NP-008 RockMite activation.

At the end of last year I had a thought that I would like to try activating with QRPp again. I’d had a lot of fun with the LA1KHA Challenge in the past. I fell down a bit of a RockMite rabbit hole after trying a 15m version for the Transatlantic S2S party in November. I’d worked quite a number of US stations during the QSO party with my RockMite and amplifier combination, which produced a few watts of output. Feeling nostalgic about the old days, I wondered whether I could cross the Atlantic once again with 9V battery powered QRPp.

I didn’t want to modify my existing 15m RockMite, so I set about building a 9v specific version of a RockMite using one of the PCBs I had had made a couple of years ago. I aimed for a power output of about 100mW and got reasonably close. I included my usual current consumption mods, so the RX current is <10mA. I wanted to include a volume control, so I made a case from aluminium sheet instead of trying to squeeze everything in to an Altoids tin.

(Used a different RockMite PCB to aid fabrication of the case)

I tested the 9V RockMite on the bench and then put it on the pile, waiting for an opportunity to try it on air. I’d just finished the RockMite 15-9V when SOTA MT announced 10m challenge - so I built a 10m RockMite- but thats another tale!

I’ve been itching to get out to earn some winter bonus, unfortunately an opportunity to get out before Christmas did not present itself. I’m driven to achieve double MG and I’m a couple of hundred points away from the target. I had the crazy idea to try and activate for the entire 2024 first winter bonus period using only one 9V battery! (Cost of living, etc! LOL)

My son was keen to join me for a another mountain trip and we really fancied something spectacular but I’ve put weight on recently and haven’t felt 100%. I decided to attempt an easier hill. For some unknown reason, I picked Great Whernside G/NP-008 for our first trip of 2024, we’d recently done the Yorkshire Three Peaks and I like to keep Ingleborough in reserve for my birthday in spring anyway. I was trying to think of a hill that my son hadn’t done before. We’d been in the car for quite some time when I came across a Road Closed sign. Grrr! Why does that seem to happen to me so often these days? I had to turn around and divert via Gargrave and Cracoe instead. Great Whernside and Buckden Pike seem so close to me on a map, but they’re a nightmare to get to from where I live. Eventually we got parked up, about an hour late.

The ground was just melting after a frost so we negotiated the boggy section reasonably OK and without getting wet feet. I managed to get set up and QRV within a few minutes of my revised Alert time. I wasn’t sure if my new rig would work - it had never been connected to an antenna before. I’d been warming a brand new 9V battery in my trouser pocket during the ascent. I was pleased to hear a bit of band activity on 15m when I fired my rig up.

After a few rounds of CQ, EA7GV answered, phew, the rig worked! In short time I was able to add 5 more call signs to my log, including EC8ADS to give me a 1900 mile QSO to Gran Canaria! I’d qualified the summit within about 10 minutes of operating.

Roman @DL3TU had recently helped me to obtain some new crystals for my venerable 30m LA1KHA Challenge rig and I was keen to give it a try. Unfortunately the new crystals landed me right on a busy frequency, so I plugged in my usual crystals and called CQ. The band was busy but I managed to get another 7 QSOs in to my log. It was super to work Esther @GI0AZA and Victor @GI4ONL across the Irish sea. There’s something special (well, that’s how I feel anyway) about communicating with people you’ve met in person using equipment you’ve built yourself, especially when powering it with totally unsuitable power source! I didn’t linger calling CQ as QRM was building and I was aware that my son had been quite patient amusing himself whilst I operated.

The sun was shining and the views were great, but unfortunately that meant that the bogs were defrosting!

My son accidentally stepped in a very boggy bit during our descent and he actually became stuck and quite upset. Calmly I managed to pull my son out of the bog, but not until my right leg had been plunged in to the gooey brown stuff up to my knee. It wasn’t the best end to our day!

73 and HNY!


Battery: #3 Philips Ultra Alkaline
Activation #1
Date: 06/1/24
Summit: G/NP-008 Great Whernside
Bands: 15m, 30m
Finish 9.3V
Rig: Home brew RockMites
Ant: Inv. Vee dipole at 6m above ground
QSOs: 13
Cumulative QSOs: 13
Cumulative DXCC: DL,EA,EA8,GI,HA,OK,ON,S5


Another excellent achievement Colin. 19,000 miles per watt is brilliant. Your outings with these mini rigs make me feel that I do SOTA heavy-handed. A big like wearing a dress suit and bow tie to go down the pub for a pint. :grinning:


You mean, you don’t. How slovenly :rofl:


Hi Colin - and a HNY (and to all).

My Rockmite & Mountain Topper in camera hard shell cases. Used in many Activations.




I’ve just measured the output from the rig. I’m seeing 140mW output when powered from the 9V battery. It was a brand new battery and they usually start off at around 9.6 volts, falling rapidly. After my activation, my battery was measuring 9.3v.

Therefore my MPW number was probably nearer to a measly 13,500 MPW.

I do have a small tinge of guilt about putting out such a weak signal, but I also hope that chasers can find fun in trying to copy me. The summits that I do are all popular ones that see many activations, so there’s nearly always a chance of chasing another activator.

HNY, 73


Hi Jack,

Great to hear from you! I haven’t seen you for ages and not really noticed any SOTA adventures from you, I hope that you’re doing ok.

I did see you pop up in some photos online. I wasn’t aware that you were acquainted with Gavin MM1BXF. I’d only seen Gavin a couple of months before his loss, I didn’t know him that well but I got the impression that he was a talented guy and he was far too young to go.

Ooh, be careful telling RockMite enthusiasts that that rig is a RockMite! :wink:
I also use camera cases for my precious rigs.

73, Colin

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Well Colin, we do what we do. I can only admire what you achieve with such small rigs. With QRP the risk of non-qualification of the summit increases and that is mainly what puts me off going that far. My outings are few and far between, so I need to guarantee making sufficient contacts to get a return for my efforts. Of course other factors can prevent that… I am still somewhat twitchy about my failure to get to the summit of Meall Corranaich GM/CS-010 last April due to the conditions underfoot. :disappointed:

Having thought about it, I really need to stop carrying the HF linear amp around with me and trust that the 5 watts the 817 puts out will get me the contacts. I do know that the linear has made the difference between making a particular contact or not on some occasions. However, several times I’ve easily done HF on 2.5 watts, the drive level for the 2m linear, after forgetting to reset the power output on the 817 at the end of my 2m session.

73, Gerald

P.S. My Rockmite kit remains intact… purchased in 2013. :joy:


I’ve only used an amp when I’ve been out in EA8. I wasn’t sure 5W SSB would do the business. 5W CW was less of a worry. As it was I was able to work EU and USA on 5W SSB but having about 25-30W added comfort.

In the UK and as you are a more than competent basher of the brass, I ditch the amp and the extra batteries. You’ll be able to qualify on 5W CW even if you can’t work as many as you would have liked on SSB.


I was a card-carrying strictly QRP op for a couple of decades after getting my ‘A’ licence and never [rarely?] had a problem with 5W CW. I still like the low power/small rig/small battery philosophy. I was surprised how effective 10W of SSB (from a KX2) could be on 80m and 60m with a decent antenna (inverted V linked dipole) when first used for activations a few years ago, except for a couple of times following a solar flare [where I guess no amount of power would work].

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I don’t worry about qualifying with 5 watts, it’s never failed me yet. In fact I can’t think of an instance where I’ve failed using QRPp.

There’s often a question in the QRP Labs forums about the QCX 50watt and how much benefit it provides. Often a smarty pants comes back and tries to educate as to how decibels work and that the benefits of an amp are pretty negligible and investing in a better antenna is the answer. Well, I do know how decibels work and I also know from my real world experience that running the QCX amplifier does give a very real difference in terms of numbers of stations worked and strength of hits on the RBN.

So yes, an amp giving 25 watts is a useful improvement over 5 watts, but 5 watts does work very well. It’s rare for me to run over 5 watts and I don’t worry about it at all.

RockMite kit - oh how I’d love to have an original unbuilt kit! If you want to change the kit to another band it is possible without too much of a headache. I have parts for some bands. If you swap the RF chokes for toroidal cores, it makes it easier and you get better efficiency and more power output, it does require cutting a PCB track though.

73, Colin


Indeed Colin, tragic loss in Dec 22.

Moving back up to Scotland, he joined my Club WoSARS (Glasgow). I knew Gavin when he was ‘nipper’ (Dumbarton) and obtained his MM1BXF call. When he headed off to OK-Land I kept in contact, then when he relocated to the Cambridge area, before heading back up to GM.

And HERE is a wee write-up.

Sadly missed :frowning_face:



Colin, excuse a dumb question, where do you buy your Rockmite kits? I assume they are not Chinese pieces, the PCBs look too good.

www.qrpme.com (USA based) has per band ones for sale…look further down left hand links on his web site


In his first post in this thread he says he had some made a few years ago - presumably from somewhere like JLCPCB

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I had a batch of 10 PCBs made by JLCPCB during Covid lockdown, it was a lockdown project. The cost of the boards including shipping to my door was $8.83 US. I hadn’t really intended to order 10 but they were so cheap! All 10 PCBs have been built now, I’ve given a few away to friends and kept several.

I acquired a stock of QRPme RockMite][ PCBs and keyer chips, but I’m down to my last few now. I do know that Rex W1REX is hoping to create a new version of the RockMite, but we’ll have to wait and see if that comes down the pike.

I have several RockMites in my collection, covering most HF bands, some home made, some built from kits.

73, Colin


A long time ago, Dave Benson’s RockMites also inspired me to experiment with it and the QSOs with these tiny ones were really a lot of fun.


Heinz, What is the LED next to the button and the daughter board on the lower left in the photos for?

I’ve done some work on RockMites too, including designing and building a SMD version, the “QuartzMite”. The Quartzmite SMT QRPp CW transceiver project

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The LED was not used, as one might think, to display the transmitter keying as usual, but rather as a status display for OFFSET OFF/ON (see manual excerpt below).
This worked as desired, only the “lighting” of the LED was also audible in the headphones, hi.
So today I would no longer pick up the MCU offset signal to the LO for the LED directly, but galvanically isolated.

Rock-Mite-20 Transceiver kit instructions - D. Benson, K1SWL
A brief (<250 ms) closure to ground on the ‘switch’ input reverses the offset to provide a second operating frequency. Frequency selection: When you wish to work another station, use this function to select the higher of the two pitches on a received signal. Note that the pitch at the other setting is a measure of how close to zero-beat you are; ideally it would be just a low-frequency ‘thump’. If the two selections yield ‘high’ and ‘higher’ you probably won’t be able to work the other station.


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