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Comments, 10 Meters, etc. - Keynote # 3, 1999

This month I have no specific topic in mind, so let me get caught up on a mixture of things.

It looks like Nancy wants me to get a vanity call. At least my call showed up in issue 10 as KK3WP. HI. I couldn't figure out why I was getting mail addressed to KK3WP till K2RES pointed out the error to me.

I was very surprised how many of you wrote about the zero beat device I described a few months ago. Everyone who responded sent the requested SASE and extra stamp for the info. I appreciate that. I am curious now to know if anyone has built and tested the device. If so, let me know how it works.

I also got some response when I mentioned info about QRP rigs. A few of you wrote to ask me for more info. What I did in that case was to make a printed copy of the info I have on my web site and mailed it to those who wanted it. If anyone else doesn't have internet access and wants a copy, I'll be glad to provide one for an SASE. It is simply a listing of all of the QRP rigs that I am aware of with a capsule summary of each one including price, bands covered, address of the manufacturing company, etc.

Also I constantly get response telling me how much you enjoy reading the column each month. That comes via Email, regular mail, comments on my web site, on-the-air QSO's, etc. It has gotten to the point where I can't acknowledge each comment individually, so let me take this opportunity to say thanks to each and every one who has commented on the column. For the record, over 99 percent of the comments have been very favorable.

Here is just one of the many comments that I picked at random to put in this column.

Hello John. First of all I enjoy Your column in the Keynote. Keep up the good work. I built my first (and only) QRP rig last January. Have always operated QRO. Had lots of fun building it and made a local QSO to help get it tuned up. Made a dipole for it one cold night then put the whole thing away until one hot day this summer. I got it out on the back porch, removed a battery from our alarm system, and threw the dipole up into the trees behind the house (20 meter only). Tried to answer a couple CQs but got stepped on by bigger stations. The band was VERY busy. I finally found an empty spot and called CQ myself. Wonder of Wonders I got an immediate response. That QSO was followed by many others until my hand would not function any longer. QRP WORKS. My rig is an Oak Hills Research 100A for 20 meters. It was missing a few components but an e-mail to them brought the items in quick order. It went together easy and only needed another rig with digital VFO for tune up. My only comment on its operation is the side-tone sounds a little odd (I only have a big Yaesu to compare to so maybe this is normal.) 73 es hope to hear u on the bands Duane KT4XE nr 3494.

Yes Duane, and others - QRP does work. It's working even better now with increasing sunspots and improving propagation conditions. I have found 10M to be especially good for QRP operation. Someone once told me you could easily get DXCC on 10M using 1 watt and a coathanger for an antenna when the sunspot cycle is near its peak. I thought he was just kidding at the time since we were in the depths of the sunspot minimum when he told me that. After the past 6 months or so on 10M though, I believe that probably is true. 10M isn't open day in and day out, but when the solar flux gets up around 150 or more and the ionosphere stays quiet, it opens up very nicely. I have worked 70 countries there during the last half of 1998 or so. Many of the QSO's came very easily.

The band can be strange at times, though. I recall in the California QSO party, the CA stations were coming in S9 here on Saturday afternoon, but I could not work them. They just weren't hearing me. At the same time, VK4XA was calling CQ with about an S4 signal here. I decided to call him just for fun, and got him easily on the first call. He copied me very well during our short QSO. On Sunday afternoon, the CA signals were only S5 or S6. However I worked every one that I heard. I have also noted that same behavior at other times on 10M. Seems to be some sort of one-way skip.

Another time on 10M, I had been on 80M the night before with my drive turned down for that band. I didn't realize this when I heard A45XR calling CQ on 10, and hurried to call him. Well, I got him on the first try, and found out a little later, I was only running around 2 watts output because of the still reduced drive.

Remember all of this is just at the beginning stages of the sunspot cycle 23 peak. So conditions will continue to get better and better on 10M. If you're thinking of getting a QRP rig, and looking at a single band unit, perhaps a 10M unit would be a good choice if you are interested in QRP Dxing.

Have any questions about QRP or any ideas for a topic for a future column? I'd like to hear from you. As always you can contact me in any one of 3 ways - my web site at home.windstream.net/johnshan/ - via Email or through the regular mail system at John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. Till next month, 73 and good DX. -30-