I’m a big fan of home construction and simple QRP transceivers. During the Covid lockdown at the end of 2020, I made my first attempts at drawing PCBs on the computer. I used the traditional RockMite circuit for one of my boards, the firmware and schematic are freely available on the Internet and on the ARRL Handbook CD.
I have built three of my tribute RockMites so far but I hadn’t actually tried them on air. I don’t operate from home, so I’d only tested the rigs into a dummy load in the shack.
The WX was great today and the SFI was up quite a bit so I decided to do a quick activation of White Hill G/SP-006 with my QRPp rigs.
I did the school runs and then did a few domestic chores before heading out of the house at just after 10am local. I reached the parking place at ‘Cross of Greet’ at 1030am. I reckoned that 45 minutes plus 15 minutes of setting up would see me on air at around 1130am local (1030utc).
The route is usually a non stop bog and I wasn’t prepared to risk wearing anything else but wellies. The ground was very soft in places but with care, hiking boots would have been fine.
I reached the summit by about 1110am local and it took only 10 minutes to put up the Bandhopper 3 dipole. The sun was beating down and there was very little, if any, breeze.
I first fired up my LA1KHA challenge 9v RockMite and although I’d packed the wrong earphones (doh!), I was elated when Bruno HB9CBR/P called me for an S2S with HV/VD-037. F4WBN was his usual very strong signal and I received a 599 in return. I’m not sure whether I really was 599 or whether it was just a contest style report! Lars SA4BLM called me with a good signal and then I worked OH3GZ, who was slightly weaker. These chasers must have super duper receivers to receive my 150mW!
My little PP3 battery now has over 100 QSOs to it’s credit and it’s still going strong. I believe I first started using the battery in 2012!
My home brew rig will turn 10 at the end of this year and I’m quite proud of it. The only problem I’ve had is the BNC connector working loose.
I next fired up my new home brew 20m rig. The rig put out about 300 - 350mW during testing in the shack.
I called CQ for quite a while but then LB6GG responded with a really good signal. I have to say that I was very happy at that point- the first QSO on a home made radio is always special to me. I was relieved that the TX/RX shift was working well, I find it difficult to measure it precisely in the shack and using a frequency counter tends to upset the rig and the readings are them meaningless anyway.
Unfortunately after my first QSO, another station starting calling CQ on my frequency (or at least very near). I continued calling CQ as my rig is rock bound. I heard SP9AMH calling me but unfortunately due to the weak signal and little bit of QRM I wasn’t able to complete the QSO . Sorry Mariusz, I did try for a few minutes.
Thankfully the QRM disappeared and I was able to work SP6BOW and EA2DT. With three in the log, I was then driven to try to get a 4th QSO which would’ve counted as a qualification.
After a few more CQs, I was delighted to be called by Ignacio @EA2BD. I wanted to express my apologies for my weak signal, so I sent “PWR PWR 300mW 300mW”, to which Ignacio responded “wow”. This was another one of those special QSOs that I’ll remember for a long time.
I know that I say it far too often but this radio hobby really fires me up and I’m a true believer in ‘the magic of radio’. I’m only following in other people’s footsteps but I created a device from scratch and then used it to contact a friend in Spain. It doesn’t get much better, does it?