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QRP Potpourri - Keynote # 10, 1997

This month's column will be kind of a potpourri of things that were left over because of space limitations in previous columns.

First a couple more thoughts on QRP Dxing. Keep in mind that a DX station with a 0 in his call is often at an exotic location and not the country commonly associated with that prefix. For example PY0 is not Brazil, but one of several island groups belonging to Brazil that count as separate countries. The same with OH0, not Finland, but the Aland Islands, etc. Many casual Dxers may not be aware of this and pass over these stations affording the QRPer a chance to pick up a rare one from a somewhat smaller pileup.

Judge conditions by a DX stations strength. If he is very strong to you, you may have a good path between each other and be able to work him easily. However, don't ignore a station because he is weak. The DX may be QRP also. I generally try weak stations a few times, and if I don't get them, I move on. Surprisingly, I have worked many weak DX stations on the first call, and even had trouble copying them while they copied me just fine.

Get a feel for what parts of the world you can work easier than others. Figure out what paths at what times are successful. Keep at least mental notes on everything concerning your Dxing. This will eventually show you when to try for a station with a good chance of success, or ignore a station because you know the circumstances are not right to work him. This way you can use your time more efficiently.

Now some of your correspondence. AA2YK, Ernie wrote: Hi John, I regularly check your web site since it is a very good all around ham radio resource. I noticed one of your latest entries: (8-26-97 1455Z) I just received in the mail the 2 way QRP Century Award from FISTS. It is serial # 001. Congrats John! Great work. I read your FISTS QRP column in the Keynote and get a lot out of it. You and I QSO'd earlier this year. Thank you for clearly articulating the latest issues in our hobby, especially the CW debate. The comments from WX5DX were very interesting indeed.

Thank you, Ernie for those kind words. And thanks to all of you who worked me with your QRP rigs so that I could earn the award. That's the first time I have ever been the first to earn a particular award. While I am thanking folks, thanks to WA2BQI, Bud for his kind comments in the last Keynote. Thanks to all who have written or made comments in Keynote. If you have written me something that required a response, and I haven't written back, let me know. The volume of mail here does get overwhelming at times, and I may have overlooked someone. I hate to do that, but it happens.

K8UCL, Corb Emailed me: Hey John: Just thought I'd drop you a note. In the mail today I received my first ever contest award. First Place, Ohio for the 1997 Hootowl Sprint awarded by QRP-ARCI. I continue to be delighted at the fun and sense of acomplishment afforded by QRP operations.

That sums up QRP very well. Congrats, Corb.

Let me hear about what YOU have accomplished with QRP, and I'll mention it in the column.

KB2SUE, John writes: Hi John, Just a short note to say how much I enjoy your column in Keynotes. Keep up the good work. Question for you, what do you think of the Mfj. QRP rigs? How about a column on getting started on building kits,like which ones are the easiest to build, what basic tools are needed, building tips and hints. All the things a new builder would need to know.

Well, John I have not built any of the QRP kits here. I've mentioned this before. The kits are great if you are interested in a single band or perhaps a couple bands, but I operate all 9 bands regularly, and there is no kit that I know of that operates all 9 bands, so I design and build my own gear.

I have built many kits in the past, mostly Heath and Knight Kits. I even built a TV Kit once. The last kit I built was a keyer a couple years ago.

I can give some generic tips about kit building. Make sure you have all the parts. Before you do anything, check the parts against the parts list or schematic. It's no fun finding you have a missing part in the middle of building a kit. If the kit has a large number of parts, it helps to separate them into small piles by type, value, etc. Once you start building, be careful to not apply too much heat when you solder, especially to semiconductors. If you are working with a densely packed printed circuit, check after each solder joint is made to be sure you don't have a solder bridge between traces. If you do, get rid of it before continuing.

As far as basic tools go, I use a SMALL soldering iron (I find one with dual heat settings to be very handy), a small and medium size flat and/or Phillips screwdriver, needle nose pliers, and wire cutters. If your kit does not include solder, use the finest solder you can find at Radio Shack, etc.

Let me have your kit-building tips for my next column. This was cut short because of space limitations.

One last note. I now have pictures of me and my station on my web site if you are curious. Visit http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/. Thanks. 73 -30-