1500 Consecutive Days of QRP - Keynote # 10, 1998
Nancy and I agreed that it may be a good idea to repeat some of my earlier columns for those who have joined FISTS recently. This is the first one of those 're-runs'. Actually this is an updated version of one of my earlier columns. In April 1997 my streak of days with at least one QRP QSO reached 1000 days. Recently that streak reached 1500 days so I have updated the report I did for the 1000 days.
On August 5, 1994 I worked KG9N/C6A. Nothing unusual about that, for sure. However, on September 12, 1998 I worked W2BJ. Still nothing unusual. What is perhaps a little unusual is that on each of the 1500 days between and including those two dates, I made at least one minimal QRP QSO. For those of you new to my writings, the term 'minimal' means that I use only simple wire antennas to keep my effective radiated power at 5 watts or less. I do not use multi-element antennas to boost my ERP.
All too often in magazine or newsletter writeups, on-air discussions, books, etc. about QRP we hear how someone worked this or that station with a power of 4 watts or some other one-time thing. That leaves the impression that these QRP contacts are an isolated thing possible only when conditions are right. I want to set the record straight. QRP is a viable force in ham radio. It is something that will work day in, day out. You can use it as your prime operating mode in ham radio.
The 1500 day period has spanned the minimum of a sunspot cycle when even QRO stations were supposed to be having difficulty making contacts. Now that conditions are improving it is easier to make the QSOs. However with the increased solar activity come the inevitable geomagnetic storms that can wipe out radio communications completely for short periods of time. So far during this upswing of the solar cycle, I have had a couple days when it was very hard to get that QSO, but I made it.
I didn't do anything special to ensure the continuation of the streak. By that I mean I didn't check into any nets along the way. I made no schedules with anyone to continue the streak. I didn't use packet spotting. I simply got on the air each day and called CQ, answered someone's CQ, or on contest weekends got into the contests. I never signed /QRP after my call.
All contacts, of course, were made on CW since that is the only mode I operate here. I don't know if it could have been done on any other mode - at least it wouldn't have been so easy.
Included in the streak are 17266 contacts with all 50 states, all 7 continents, 146 countries, 1249 prefixes, and 31 CQ Zones. Many many good solid rag chews. Countless 'you're doing great (FB, good, fantastic, etc.) with your QRP' and 'it's hard to believe you're running QRP'.
I spread my activity over all 9 HF bands and most times of the day. I worked all sections of the bands from the Extra Class segments up to the Novice part of the bands. For a good many of the QSO's I used less than 5 watts. In fact all the way down to 70 mW which is about as low as I can get my power output by reducing the screen voltage on my 6Y6 final to 0 volts. With that 70 mW I worked Aruba as my best QSO so far. With 500 mW, my best QSO was working the Balearic Islands. I haven't done much work with mW power levels lately. I will have to get back to it now that conditions have improved.
The most distant QSO overall was one with VK6HQ near Perth, Australia who suprised me on 30M by answering my CQ. I think it may have been a long path QSO also, which would make the distance more than halfway around the world, but even if it was normal path it is my most distant.
The state I worked the fewest times was Nevada which I worked 14 times. Most often worked was my home state of PA with 1612 QSO's. Most often worked DX country among my 2165 DX contacts was Germany with 113 QSO's. Puerto Rico 2nd with 94, and England 3rd with 81. Divided by continents NA - 15879, EU - 968, SA - 269, AF - 62, AS - 52, OC - 22, AN - 5.
Most QSO's on a band - 5492 on 40M; fewest 26 on 12M. 528 QSO's came with less than 5 watts, 56 with less than 1/2 watt, the rest with 5 watts.
It took 360 days to get to 100 countries when I worked RW0A on July 30, 1995. That QSO also completed WAC during the streak. WAS took 198 days and was completed by working KL7Y on Feb 18, 1995.
The purpose of my giving all this information about my streak is simply to show anyone who reads this that QRP does work, even with simple wire antennas. If you are in a situation where you can't use high power or put up huge antennas, maybe my results will encourage you to get on the air with a simple setup and give it a try. I guarantee you that you will succeed and be able to enjoy the finest of all hobbies. There are other benefits to operating with QRP also. You don't have to worry about the big fuss that is being made about RF radiation hazards. TVI, RFI, EMI, etc. will be either nonexistent or much easier to cure than with high power. Give it a try - you may never go QRO again.
Finally, many have asked me about the various QRP rigs available. My web site now has a page of info about most current QRP xcvrs and xmtrs. As always I can be reached via Email or http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ or 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. It's your input that keeps these columns coming. 73. -30-