DXing With Minimal QRP: Part 3 - Keynote # 3, 2001
This month the final of a 3 part series dealing with DX. What about the 'minimal' QRPer calling CQ DX. Now and then a DX station will answer my regular CQ in these days of high sunspots. In fact, my most distant QSO with VK6HQ came when he answered my regular CQ on 30M one evening. I was so shocked and excited I could hardly send. Even after the QSO, I was wondering if it was really true that I worked a VK6. It was, because I received his QSL card in a couple of weeks. A couple of years later John answered my 30M CQ once again. So it does work at times, but it's an exception rather than the rule. You're better off looking for DX stations calling CQ, and answering them.
The easiest time to work DX is in contests, because the best operators in the world often go to exotic locations for contests to make themselves more desirable or just to activate some rare country. Plus you have the super contest stations in various countries operating with their huge antennas and state of the art receiving equipment. They are the ones who can dig out the weakest of signals, and are glad to do so for those few extra points they will get in the contest. Those points may just help them beat out another top notch contester. You may have a tough time beating the pileups at the beginning of a contest, but often these super contest stations almost go begging for QSO's near the end of a contest period. Then is the time you may easily work them.
Also for the week or so just before contests, many of the stations setting up for the contest will check out their equipment by working as many folks as possible. At these times they may also operate on the WARC bands (30, 17, 12) which are not available for operation in the contest itself. They often stay at their locations for a few days after contests also.
Always let the DX station dictate the type of QSO. If you answer a DX station outside a pileup, and he still sends just a report, you do the same. If he sends RST, QTH, and Name (OP), then you may be fortunate enough to find yourself with a DX rag chew. Send your QTH (maybe just the state), and name, and maybe mention you are running QRP. It doesn't happen too often, but I have had some very nice rag chews with DX stations. I recall a few I especially enjoyed. I chatted for a half hour with a German who was on vacation in the Canary Islands. A PJ2 wanted to know all about my QTH. I had a nice chat with an Italian talking about my Italian heritage (my mother is Italian). A German asked me all about my QRP rig. And several others as well. These are the DX QSO's I find really rewarding, although I appreciate the RST only ones also. You CAN rag chew with DX using QRP when conditions are good.
Getting the first 100 countries for DXCC with minimal QRP is quite easy. For my millennium DXCC award I got my 100 countries in 2000 in about 10 weeks and could have done it even quicker. I've worked as many as 85 countries in a single weekend during the big DX tests. However when you get to around 150 countries, the going starts to get rough. Getting the new ones then becomes a lot of work and can become frustrating. I'm at 193 now, and it is really rough. Most of the ones I need come with huge attendant pileups if I can find them at all. For those QRPers blessed with a good location on top of a hill and a lot of room for big antennas, it is probably easy to move on to 250 or so countries, and at least one QRPer that I know of is on the DXCC Honor Roll. But for those of us with minimal setups, it is a good idea to try other things while waiting for conditions, luck, etc. to be just right to get a new overall one.
For example, I am trying to get 100 countries on as many different bands as possible. I recently passed 100 on 40M and need about 10 on 12M and then I'll have that goal on 40-10M. Working prefixes is also a good way to keep up interest in DX. Try to get as many overall as possible or perhaps get all the main prefixes from as many different countries as possible, for example OK1 through OK0 for the Czech Republic.
Finally one thing I mentioned last month is working islands. IOTA (Islands On The Air) is a program set up similarly to DXCC with the entities being islands instead of countries. The islands are identified like NA-062 which means North American Island # 062. That particular number refers to the Florida Keys Islands. Obviously there are many more islands than countries available to work so getting new ones is easier than getting new countries. Many islands are activated by expeditions just like DXpeditions activate countries. There are also IOTA contests to aid in working new ones. I'm out of space now, but if IOTA intrigues you check out my friend VA3RJ's web site at www.qsl.net/va3rj/.
73 for now till next month. Visit me at home.windstream.net/johnshan/. Write me at 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304 or Email me. -30-