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VE3ZAA's Story + QRP & Cycle 23 - Keynote # 11, 1997

This month I want to share with you a letter I received from John, VE6ZAA about his QRP operation. It was a long and fascinating letter, and I wish I could share it all with you, but I don't have the room here. Then as space permits, some thoughts about QRP and the start of the new sunspot cycle.

John writes: "I had planned my participation in the QRP to the Field contest, sponsored by the Northern California QRP Club, to be a one-man setup and had previously scouted around and dismissed one site in the foothills as too far away at 50 km.

After rejecting another potential site 5 km from home in Calgary as unsuitable, I ended up down a dirt road in a wet stubble field with no heavy trees, just barely inside the city.

I went out on the Friday, April 26, and set up a triple dipole, one end over a poplar tree and the other fixed to a 30-ft. mast with five guy wires.

I had used this antenna successfully before but I operated it on 40 metres only this time with an SWR of 1.1:1.

I had planned to sleep over but decided it was going to be too cold. I arrived on the site at 7:15 a.m. Saturday morning after hearing at 6 a.m. that it was -2 degrees C.

I connected the CW keyboard, antenna and battery for 4 watts to my ICOM 725. The wind started from the northwest and later shifted to the southeast, blowing right on me sitting on the rear bumper of my station wagon. This made for a cool morning, but typing was easier than using a keyer.

I got my first QSO at 8 a.m. with New Mexico, followed by others, until the band went quiet at 11:20 a.m. I made a total of 22 QRP contacts from the field. I clearly missed the boat by not having 20 metres working.

After arriving home, I set up the rig at 4 watts at 3 p.m. and made a further 15 contacts on 20 metres - not officially counted for the contest but at least it gave other QRP stations a contact. The contest ended at 6 p.m. local time.

I even worked a local, Rick, VE6GK, who was on with his QRP rig, probably at lower power than me, but he was booming in when I heard him a couple of other times in the morning and I finally worked him from home.

This was my first contest in many years, but it was great, even with the cool weather. I kept thinking how it would have been in California at 70 degrees F!

In my remarks to the organizers, I suggested that the next contest be held at the end of June!"

That's John's story of his QRP contest experience. He also writes, "I joined FISTS last February and enjoy of hearing others doing QRP. When I hear a CQ QRP I turn down the ICOM 725+ to 5 watts and reply - often getting a comeback. When they don't I imagine they are in a noisy location, which mine, though in the big city, is not due to power underground and a bare 20 acres south of me. I rarely say 73 first and even with QSB I manage to get enough to make a sentence up - In commercial work we were used to summer static, etc., and didn't give it much thought unless it was a close storm."

John continues, "Did you know of the QRP op in Hilo, HI? He is using an Argonaut at 2 watts with power from battery and solar - He has told me he has a 600 foot V antenna (or unterminated rhombic) and runs a 2 watt output. This fall I've been lucky and worked him 3 times on 14060, but he quits as soon as the pileup gets tough."

Thanks to John for the fascinating info. I hope that more of you will write my with your thoughts and QRP experiences. I'd especially like to hear of your most memorable QRP QSO. I'll tell you mine next month.

As the new sunspot cycle is starting up and the solar flux climbs into the 90's and low 100's, the higher bands are starting to open up again. This is a great time to sneak in there and pick up some choice DX. Many casual operators either haven't discovered that the bands are opening up again or simply are waiting till they get still better. My point is - get on 15, 12, and 10 meters NOW! The DX is there, and the pileups are not that big. We QRPers can work it easily now without the competition that will come as conditions get still better. I have been working a lot of good DX on 15M - my total there is now 81 countries. I've worked a few new countries on 12 and 10 also - nothing spectacular, but still new for me. I have found that 15M is best here around 1400Z to EU, and 12/10M have been good to Latin and South America around 2100Z. That will vary from place to place, and you can quickly learn the pattern for your QTH.

Also, propagation conditions are likely to continue to improve dramatically over the winter and spring months. Now, before the weather gets too bad would be a good time to check those antenna connections and do any other outside maintenance before the snow, ice, and cold comes. Of course those of you in Florida, California, etc. have no idea what I'm talking about. HI.

Well, I'm out of space again. What would you like to see in this column? Write me at 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. Did you know that 30 to signify the end of a column is didididahdit dat in American Morse? Sound familiar? -30-