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QRO Stations helping the QRPer - Keynote # 5/6, 2002

This month I'm going to write about something I've not discussed before in this column. What the QRO operator can do to help out the QRPer. Please continue on even if you are a QRPer as the things I say apply in a way to you as well.

Some operators run 100 watts, 250 watts, or even 1,000 watts simply because they like to push everyone else around on the bands with their powerful signals. Fortunately these operators are only a very tiny minority, and most of them never operate CW. So I'm not going to say anything more about them.

I am going to talk about those who run more than the QRP level of 5 watts in their everyday operating. Perhaps something I say in this column may ring a bell with them making them realize what they are doing to hinder the QRPer in his efforts. Hopefully if that happens, they will then correct the bad habit.

While I personally operate all portions of the CW segments of all 9 HF bands (or 8 HF and 1 MF band if you want to be technically correct and list 160M as a MF band), many QRPers hang out around certain frequencies on the bands. If space permits, perhaps I'll list these QRP frequencies at the end of the column.

What I'm leading up to is that if you run QRO and operate near these QRP frequencies, please listen a little more carefully before and after you check the frequency with your QRL? There may be a very weak QRP QSO going on that certainly won't cause you any problems, but your QRO signal will probably hinder the QRP stations very much. If you do hear a very weak signal, please QSY to another frequency.

Should you be engaged in a QRO QSO and hear a very weak QRL? on frequency, please do respond to it. It's probably a QRPer who can't hear the station you're working, and if you don't let him know the frequency is in use, he will likely go ahead and call CQ. That won't bother you at all, but should he get a QSO started, you may wipe out that QSO when it's your turn to transmit in your QSO. This is especially true on bands where there is a distinct skip zone that prevents certain pairs of stations from hearing each other.

If you call CQ and a very weak station answers, please make the effort to complete the QSO. It's probably a QRPer, and working you may be important to him. Now there are times when you may know a station is there, but you just can't copy him. That has happened to me many times over the years, especially since I have a bad local noise situation here. If that's the case, don't just ignore the answer, but say something about the difficulty you are having copying him, perhaps explaining your local noise level is very high at the time. I generally try for at least a few minutes to make a go of the QSO, trying the various filter combinations on my receiver, using different receiving antennas, etc. Then and only then do I give up on the QSO, and feel bad that I couldn't make a go of it.

Always give honest signal reports in casual QSO's. Now in contests I know it's the norm to give out 599 to everyone even if you can barely copy them. In a rag chew type QSO it just doesn't make any sense to give a 599 report, then ask for the station to repeat everything. We QRPers are not offended when we get the honest 229, 339, etc. reports. If I do get a 339, I'll know that I should make an effort to repeat things in the course of the QSO that may be difficult to understand like uncommon words, numbers, etc.

Finally, try to tune a bit away from zero beat after a CQ. Some of the QRP transmitters are still rock bound (crystal controlled) like in the old days of ham radio, and they may not be able to exactly zero beat you.

I said I'd mention the most common QRP frequencies so here they are: 3560, 7040, 14060, 21060, 28060. These are pretty much written in stone and have been used for many years. 1810, 10106, 10116, 18096, and 24906 are also used on the Top band and WARC bands. These are not as well established as those on the 5 big bands.

That's about all the room I have for now. Till next month, good QRPing (and QROing, too). Visit me at home.windstream.net/johnshan/. Email me or send regular mail to John H. Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. 73 -30-