More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

YouTube 3.1kw NZ radio amateur fined

When will people learn? Bragging about doing daft things that also happen to be illegal is going to get you in trouble. Alan Potter (no relation to Harry), ZL3II has just been fined $1750 ($1164 USD) and $130 ($86 USD) and had his equipment confiscated for costs for running 3.1 kilowatts, which is slightly more than the 500 watts his New Zealand licence allowed. The problem was Alan posted a video on YouTube. Bad move Alan. The YouTube video has been removed so I cannot post it here and as a result I cannot really comment on what he did. What I will say is there are an awful lot of amateurs that I know that have similar homebrew valve amplifiers capable of those sorts of power (for short periods before they overheat and self destruct) who use them well within the legal limits where the amps are just ticking over and unlikely to cause problems. It may be that he was running the amp in to a dummy load in the video but I suspect not. I also suspect that maybe the New Zealand’s Radio Spectrum Management had been aware of what he was doing and just needed the video to nail him.

One thing I do object to is the RSM’s statement “Operating at such high transmitting power is likely to cause interference to, and disruption of, a range of other licensed radio services in the local area.”, which is not entirely true. If that were the case then broadcast stations, navigation beacons and military communications systems running ten times as much power would make life impossible for any other licensed radio services for hundreds of miles not just “in the local area”.

Jeff Davis, KE9V recently wrote a funny but controversial article on his Signal and Noise Blog (now also no longer on the web) saying how nuts some QRPers appear to be from their posts on various forums. It seems Jeff missed the chance to have a poke at QROers, they to appear to have their share of nutters too, but at least the QRP guys are unlikely to have a visit from the authorities saying they are wiping out the local Police repeater or setting off all the car alarms in a five mile radius.

My issue with the QRO boys is not so much the interference they cause but the hundreds of stations that call them without a hope in hell of being heard because they are only running 100w or less, while the DXhead is running 2 kilowatts, sometimes legally but more often than not. If you cannot back it up with the antennas and preamps needed to hear those replying then don’t do QRO and if you have the antennas you don’t need the QRO in the first place.

Not to let QRPers off; Run QRP but for goodness sake put up a decent antenna. Running QRP with a “modest antenna” causes as much interference to other users as the QRO guys do. Often the little guy comes on with his magic antenna and we can hear his 500 milliwatts but cannot he hear us on 100 watts and he calls CQ all over a QSO that has been going for a hour. It is as prevalent on two metres FM as it is in the CW section of 40 and 80 metres as the handheld and a rubber duck brigade complain that the band it quiet while ruining a nice chat I am having with a station 90 miles away. Even when I switch to the beam and wind the power up to 50 watts they are still deaf as well as dumb.
QROers say like to too short for QRP. I say gear is too expensive to have it confiscated.


  1. I don't get your criticism of QRPers here, Steve. If you run QRP to a "modest antenna" the only adverse effect will be that not many people will hear you. You will still hear them running 100W because although that "modest antenna" receives less signal it also receives less noise. In fact one of the few times I have heard VK on 80m was using a Miracle Whip on the back of an FT-817.

  2. Hi Julian, I went fishing and caught one ;0) Tongue slightly in cheek when I wrote that. I could not have a go at one side with out having a go at the other crowd, but what I say is true. I was deep in conversation on 2m with a station 90 miles away using 10 watts into a 3 X 5/8ths collinear when up pops two stations on hand held radios with rubber ducks talking to each other a couple of streets away. They were completely deaf to me even when I switched first to 50w and then to the 10 element vertical beam. When I mentioned this incident at the radio club the comment from the CW guys is that it is much worse on HF. How often do you hear a massive pile up for a SOTA station on 40m and then someone comes on calling CQ? The reason the CQing station cannot hear the SOTA station is he too is running QRP but the stations calling the SOTA are running up to 100w. The station calling CQ can be heard because the chasers have reasonably good antennas but how come he cannot hear anyone?
    I have worked Paul G0HNW on 60m and he has been readable down to a couple of microwatts on SSB but we both have reasonable antennas.
    The whole idea of QRP was to say to everyone "Look how good my antenna is, I can work the world on one watt!" that seems to be lost on some people who now want to say "Look how crap my antenna is and I can still work HF". The QRPers I used to know could break a pile up on 40m with 1 watt from a rig in a sweet tin and show you a log with 100 plus contacts in a night. They knew how to string a bit of wire so it radiated their 1 watt efficiently.

  3. I just discoverd your site through the QRZ post on DX Code of Conduct and find it very funny same sense of humor im a QRP boy 2 hams chattering with squelch high on HTs is more accidental bad luck of the draw, QRP to me means lakes mountains hills bicycles and although i have a backpacker Perth for the bike i like wire longer the better so i would think nothing of packing a 100 ft of the stuff thin enamal covered small swg and you would be shocked what you work on 5 to 10 (703) watts while charging the battery of a solar panel, or a very long TAPE Measure one click and it dissappears to nothing you ought to try it,Thank God the summer has arrived, on the QRO side well 50 watts icom 7000 and 170 feet of wire, WAIT TILL I GET MY M0 All the best. Damian de 2E0SFX

  4. Hi Damian, Nice to have you as a reader. I hope you find plenty to keep you amused and interested. Be warned that I quite often play Devils advocate to get people talking but I will usually allow comments contary to my opinion as long as they don't get abusive. I also tend to be somewhat cynical in my opinions that way when I am proved wrong it is a nice surprise for me. I know the joys of working QRP from the hill tops and I often use my FT-817 and a linked di-pole on SOTA activations. If I feel I may not get enough contacts due to the conditions or remote location of the hill I used an FT-857 usually with 25-30w and wind up the power to 50w when I am struggling. Good look with your advanced test.

    73 Steve GW7AAV