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Answering Readers Questions & Comments VI - Keynote # 10, 2000

I hope the last 3 columns have helped you to work some good QRP DX. As I am writing this, it is just a couple days past the CQWW DX contest. While I didn't have time to put in a major effort this year, I was active for about 17 hours. During that time I made 450 QSO's with stations in 78 different countries including two overall new ones for me, A61AJ, and JX7DFA. That brought my QRP country total to 191 worked now. So you see, although many hams will say you can't work a lot of DX with a simple QRP setup, I say they're wrong. That is the overriding theme behind these columns and my web site. I want to show that if you're in a situation where you can't run high power and/or put up big antennas, that's no reason you still can't succeed on the HF bands.

I don't really have any theme for this column, so let me get caught up on a couple of things. First here's a letter I received from Richard, K0RDS a few months ago. As I mentioned, I hate the delay between receiving information and getting it into print. However after being a columnist for several years now, I understand it's a necessary part of doing a monthly column. Anyway to get back from that slight digression, here's the abridged content of Richard's letter.

"Hi John. First off I want to say I just love your QRP column in FISTS. (blush-js) Second is I have been doing QRP with wire antennas for eight years now from this QTH (San Antonio, TX-js)."

At the present time I am using a 20 meter delta loop. It is the first loop antenna I have used. What a great antenna. Bottom is only six feet off the ground. Top is 25 feet off the ground. I don't have the room to put up any antennas high or wide, but have had better luck than some of my amateur friends. I use 12 AWG stranded wire for all my antennas."

"My rigs are a Ten-Tec Argo 556, and Alinco DX-70T and the SGC SG-2020 which is a great QRP rig. I am still trying to learn all the bells and whistles on it. I would like to hear from others who own the SG-2020. Keep the great work up John."

Well Richard, with input like that from you, I'll find it easy to keep going. Thank you. Let me comment on a couple things in Richard's letter. First there is an SG-2020 user's group or club. I don't have the info on it handy, but you may be able to find it on the SGC web site via links on my web site. Or my friend KB3DRW who loaned me the SGC for a couple of days knows the info, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind giving it to you if you send him an SASE or contact him via Email.

Second, the delta loop must be a fine antenna indeed. I wish I could find the room to put one up here. I probably could squeeze one in, and may try to do it when the good weather returns next spring or summer. I'd love to try one for 40M. I don't know how many of you are familiar with W8MVN. While I haven't heard him on the bands lately, he used to have one of the strongest QRP signals I ever heard on 40M, and he used 4 watts and a delta loop.

Let's see what else I have here now. Oh, perhaps I should answer a couple general questions that I seemingly get all the time.

"What rig do you recommend for QRP?" My first hand experience with QRP rigs is very limited. I've only used home designed and built equipment (about 6 years), a Kenwood TS-570D (14 months), QRP Plus (a few days), and the SG-2020 (2 days). If your interest in QRP is similar to mine, that is operating contests, chasing DX, and rag chewing, and you are willing to spend quite a bit for a rig, I'd definitely say go with one of the mainstream rigs than can be throttled back to 5 watts or less for QRP operation. There will be a lot of waste there, especially if you only work CW as I do, but the bells and whistles will be a great reward for you and definitely improve your operating. I just love the 570D here, and don't regret getting it at all. I have no idea now where I stored the mike away when I got it, and I don't use those extra 95 watts available in the rig, but those operating features. Wow! I'd say that those features plus the ease of operation have increased my contesting success quite a bit.

If you don't want to go that route, but still like to work all 9 HF bands, then I'd recommend the K2 or the SG-2020. According to a poll on my web site, the K2 seems to be the rig of choice these days, and I must say that virtually all that I have heard and worked on the air sound quite good. Except for one that I heard recently that had a slight chirp, all others had a clean tone, good keying, and no drift.

If you're only interested in a QRP rig for one band, or perhaps a little rig to take camping, then there are a myriad to choose from. I won't go into details here, but you can find info on virtually all QRP rigs now available on my web site.

And that leads me to another question I get - "How do I get started in QRP?" That's pretty easy to answer. Visit my web site and explore it thoroughly. There you can find info on what rig you can get, operating procedures for QRP (normal, contests, and DXing), an idea of what to expect from examining my results, and too much more to list here.

A final question comes to mind. I often get asked if I have a diagram for my homebrew station that I used for several years before getting the 570D. Unfortunately no. It was designed and built from info from many different sources, including many things just dreamed up in my mind as I went along. I never put the design down on paper, just built it.

That bring to an end the 43rd column I have written. If you have any input, I can be reached via John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304, via Email or home.windstream.net/johnshan/. Until next month, 73. -30-