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DXing with minimal QRP, Part I - Keynote # 7, 1997

The last two columns have generated some comments. KE3FL, Phil pointed out that I used MW instead of mW in referring to my QRP. I didn't catch that in my proofreading and my spell checker in Word Perfect doesn't know the difference between Megawatts and milliwatts. HI

A couple of you want us to review other QRP rigs in the Keynote besides our own FISTS kit. I talked to Nancy about it, and we will do it. Nancy will include reviews as space permits in the Keynote. In fact, I have asked those of you who wanted to see other reviews to write up a review of your favorite rig and submit it to Nancy. Bob, W3CW has already said he would take a shot at it. If anyone else wants to try, just write about your favorite QRP rig in the form of a review, and send it to Nancy.

This month my topic is minimal QRP Dxing or Dxing with 5 watts ERP. Some of the things I say will be different for the QRPer in a superb location with a huge antenna farm. Also the info I am presenting is mainly from the USA side. I know we have many foreign members, who to us in the USA are the DX. HI

I never thought that QRP and DX could mix unless you had a big antenna farm in a great location. However, over the past 4 years I have proved myself wrong by making over 1000 DX contacts in 127 countries. I believe that anyone with a minimum of effort can get the basic DXCC award using minimal QRP. I hope the following tips help you achieve that goal.

The most important thing to remember about DXing, whether it be with minimal QRP or a KW into a stacked array on a 200 foot tower, is to LISTEN before you do anything. Of course, before you can work the DX, you have to be able to hear him.

Once you can hear the DX station, now you listen to see where the DX is listening for replies. If you hear him work a station right on his frequency, then you know he's listening there. Zero beat him and get ready to call, but again don't jump in too quickly.

Listen to find out the pattern of the DX station's exchange. Sometimes after the exchange of info, the DX station will just say TU, and then start listening for replies. Other times he will send QRZ?, or QRZ? de X2XXX, or just X2XXX. Some stations send dit dit. Whatever it is, learn when the DX station is done with a QSO and ready for the next call before you jump in.

Now you are ready to try the station. When that telltale signal comes from the DX station, send your call once, nothing else. If you are fortunate, the station will answer you by sending your call and a signal report then K. You say TU and give him a report, and K. He will acknowledge you and move on to the next QSO. Very quick, like lightning, but you now have a new DX country in your log.

Of course that is the ideal situation, and it is not going to work that way every time, even for the most powerful station in the world, and certainly not for the minimal QRPer. Not to say it doesn't happen, though. A few times I have beaten out a fair sized pileup to work a DX station. Why? Sometimes it is propagation favoring you, but there are also things you can do to help.

Be sure your signal is as clean and crisp as possible and your keying is as close to perfect as possible. DX stations often mention that it is not always the strongest signal that is easiest to hear in a pileup, but often a weaker clean signal with perfect keying is easier to copy. If you have a memory keyer, use that to send your call. It is possible to get nervous when trying for some rare DX, and be sloppy sending even our own call.

Another thing that helps at times is to delay for a second sending your call so that the last letter or two extends past the main buzz of the pileup. In my case, the DX station would then hear the WP and send WP? Then I send my call again, and make the QSO. That is assuming there is no other WP in the pileup, and everyone acts properly and does not transmit again if their call doesn't contain a WP. And we know the odds of that. Generally anyone who has a W in their call transmits, everyone with a P transmits, and others will transmit even though their call has nothing close to a WP in it. The best of the DX stations in this case will send WP? KN KN and keep doing this until everyone else shuts up except the WP station. If a DX station does this often enough, he can really take control of the pileup and make it manageable.

Pay attention to whom the DX station is working if you keep calling him without an answer. If he is working one W6 after another, and you are a W1, he may have his beam pointed to California at the moment, or propagation may favor the DX to California path right now. Note his frequency or store it in memory and look for someone else. Come back later and see if the DX station is working stations in your area. If so, jump in and try again.

Next month split frequency, DX rag chews, etc. I'm out of space. Visit my web site at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ for more QRP & CW info. -30-