A week or so ago I noticed a message on the QRP-L mailing list from Terry KQ5U. He had a number of Belkin BU3DC001-12V UPS units to offer to hams. They have been in service, are pulls, and he checks them out before passing them on in order to minimize the chances that anyone gets a duff one. These little power supplies retail for around $130, and he was offering these ones for $25 each including shipping via USPS Priority Mail. Each of them contains a 12V 7AH sealed lead acid battery and battery charger/conditioner. It sounded too good to pass up, so I e-mailed Terry and asked if he would hold one for me while I mailed him a money order.
A few days later, it arrived in a medium flat-rate Priority Mail box, and what a beaut. Terry very thoughtfully gave the battery a full charge and then internally disconnected it before shipping, for the sake of safety. The unit does beep in operation if the mute switch is not engaged and as Terry pointed out, a beeping package may never make it to my house! Terry included a sheet of instructions detailing how to reconnect the battery:
Another view, showing a little of the internals:
The 12V DC power cable is fitted with a popular size of coaxial power plug. It plugs into my K2 and other QRP rigs too. Not much else to say really. I plugged it into the AC, the other end into the K2, and it has been happily powering it all weekend. If AC power goes out, my K2 will keep happily chugging along for many hours with no interruption in service. Fitted with a handle, or placed in a carry pouch, this would be a great grab and go unit for emergency ops or QRP outings. My friend Antoinette lives a mile away, and we use MURS HT’s between our homes to keep in touch. This will make the perfect uninterruptible power supply for her radio.
Terry hopes to have more of these units available, but he doesn’t know how many, if, and when. Keep an eye on the QRP-L mailing list if this looks interesting to you. The main purpose of this blog was to give you a heads-up as to what to expect if you do order one of these. They are well worth the money. Thank you Terry!
Boy oh boy, was the NAQCC Sprint this evening a whole lot of fun. I hadn’t been hearing much activity for the last few days on 20, but saw a comment somewhere (on Twitter I think) that the band was looking good for the Sprint this evening, and was it ever 🙂 I did check 40 a few times but didn’t hear any NAQCC activity, so ended up making all my contacts on 20. Band noise was low and propagation good – even weak signals were easy to copy, and as this is a QRP event, there were plenty of those.
I know that 16 QSO’s and 744 points doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but for a 2 hour QRP sprint with me at the key, it’s quite a bit. It was so great to hear a lot of stations on – and especially exciting to have XE2IF as my very last QSO of the contest.
Another thing that makes these Sprints gratifying is the way that the results go up on the NAQCC site very quickly. Just a little over 2 hours after it had ended, I saw the first of the results posted. The logs haven’t yet been cross-checked, so the first postings include claimed scores only – these will be amended if necessary as the cross-checking proceeds, and final results posted after the log submission deadline of this Sunday at 2400z. I like how things move swiftly along. Currently I am the leading CA station, but there are still a few days to go. This immediacy of posting the results makes it fun to follow along.
I have taken part in a few NAQCC Sprints where conditions weren’t so great and QSO’s – especially for a west-coaster like me – were thin on the ground, so the combination of good conditions and the ever-increasing popularity of this monthly event leading to greater and greater participation, made this a good ‘un. You don’t have to use a straight key, but the use of one will allow you to double your points, and seeing as the majority of stations are sending at around 14 – 18wpm, there’s no advantage to using a paddle or bug.
Nearly all the stations in this contest use simple wire antennas. When band noise is low and propagation good, there is something magical about sharing a few KHz of spectrum with a whole bunch of other stations all using similar power and antenna set-ups. It is eye-opening to hear a bunch of moderate-strength and weak signals that are all easily copyable and readily workable. QRP paradise – and the K2 with it’s excellent filtering just shone.
Thanks to all at NAQCC who voluntarily put the work in to make the Sprints so enjoyable.