QRP DXCC Part 2 - Keynote # 8, 2002
Last issue we discussed getting the first 50 or so countries toward a QRP DXCC. We saw that it was not all that hard to reach that stage in the quest for the award. Going from 50 to 100 will prove a bit more difficult, but not overwhelming by any means.
Since that article was submitted I worked J45RW to bring my total to 200 countries worked. A quick check of my log shows 105 countries worked in 2002 as of August 20. I mention these figures to show that getting the basic QRP DXCC award does not require all that much work. Except for a fairly heavy effort in the ARRL DX contest in February, I have not been all that active in chasing DX this year for one reason or another and yet I have worked enough countries in 2002 to earn a DXCC.
If you have gotten to 50, then you realize that you can work most parts of the world with your QRP setup. You've won the first battle of the war, so to speak. Personally I know that when conditions are right, I can work anywhere in the world pretty easily except for Southeast Asia which continues to elude me. I still need 4 zones for my WAZ, and all are in that part of the world. However that is of no concern as far as DXCC goes, since you don't need to work every corner of the world for that award. In fact a quick count with my old eyes in the ARRL DXCC Countries list shows about 48 countries in North America and 68 in Europe for a total of 116 countries from just two easy to work (at least here in the NE USA) continents. Granted a few of those countries are small islands or other special cases where there is little or no regular ham radio, but you get my point. Only 4 of the 68 in Europe have eluded me, as have 2 of the 48 in North America, so I have 10 more countries than I need for DXCC just from EU and NA.
Last month we mentioned contests as the best way to quickly get new countries. Let me give you another tip regarding contests. Keep an eye on the bands a week or so before and after the big contests also. Many stations check out their equipment the week before a contest, or just get on the air to give out that country to those who need it. In this regard, watch out for the big phone contests also since the ops in those contests will often get on CW to relax the week before and after the contest as well. These pre and post contest operations often take place on the WARC bands (30,17, and 12) that are not available in the contests themselves.
Watch other contests as well, like the IOTA contest for example. Many of the islands that are activated in this contest are new countries for many of us. That's where I got my J45RW QSO mentioned earlier.
The Caribbean islands are wonderful vacation spots at all times of the year, and many vacationers are hams whose idea of a great vacation is to sit at a rig in a somewhat exotic country and enjoy the thrill of being the target of a large pileup. They could care less that they are in what is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in the world. All they want to do is to work as many stations as they can. You could easily be one of them and get one more country in the process. This also applies to other exotic vacation spots in other parts of the world. You'll hear many operations from these places as you tune around the bands.
While I personally prefer to just get on the bands and listen to find my new countries, there are other ways to do it. You can check DX spots on packet or on the Internet to see what stations are on which band at the present time. You can read the DX bulletins on the Internet to become aware of any upcoming activation of a rare country. In this information overflow age, there is no end to the sources of DX info if you choose to use it.
While I have not been specific in listing the countries to look for to take you from 50 to 100, I'm sure you can apply what I've said to help you know how to go about increasing your totals.
I think that anyone using a little bit of effort can easily get a QRP DXCC within 6 months to a year. Now getting the QSL's to make it official will be a little more difficult, and will definitely take more time. If you work a big DXpedition that has made almost 100,000 QSO's, it is naturally going to take some time for all those cards to be filled out. Also the bureau system grinds exceedingly slow if you go that route for your QSL's. It's definitely more economical, but can take up to a few years for the card to finally arrive. Personally when I work an overall new country, I always send my QSL direct. I can't afford to do that with all my DX contacts though, so I often have to wait a long time for some cards.
I'd like to find out what you would like to know about working DX or getting a DX QSL. Please address any questions to me via email or regular mail at John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. Or perhaps all your questions can be answered at my web site where there is a ton of DX (and other CW/QRP) material. That's at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/.
Till next time, 73 es gud DX de K3WWP. -30-