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QRP Portable Operation - III

QRP with K3WWP - Column #64: Two columns ago I described setting up my portable station at my cousin's house, then the last column dealt with my results in the CQWW DX contest up through the time I went to bed Saturday night.

I woke up around 1115Z Sunday morning. I was surprised to hear 8S2F coming through on 40M with a not too strong fluttery signal, and even more surprised when I worked him easily. That's probably the latest I've ever worked EU on 40M. I think it must have been because it was only 3 weeks before the winter solstice and a good deal of the path between us was still in darkness at that time. CM2UE followed, then with conditions not all that good, I went back to bed till 1300Z.

When I got up for good, I spent about 20 minutes and 8 QSO's on 15M including new contest countries EW and YL. I tuned up to 10M and was delighted to find it wide open with good strong signals and I hung out there for the next 3 hours or so and had my best QSO rates of the contest. It seemed almost like we went back in time a couple years to the great 10M conditions of the sunspot cycle peak, although this time the stations didn't seem to extend as far up the band. I didn't notice much beyond 28150 whereas I had several QSO's in the 28200's a couple years ago.

Some of the interesting contacts on 10M were the following. TS7N who was another very popular catch with huge pileups. I found a lull in the pileups and got him easily. I always like working Albania ever since I read a book by a prominent DXer whose last country worked to get them all was Albania. So I stayed with ZA1A a few minutes till I got him. MU/DL2OBF was rather weak compared to other EU stations (QRP maybe?), but I worked him easily. At 1450Z I got my best catch of the contest. SU9NC gave me my first ever Egypt QSO for country # 203 with QRP and simple wire antennas. I worked H7A, but forgot which Central American country the H7 prefix belonged to till I looked it up and found it to be Nicaragua. Another D4B QSO came easily making him a two-bander so far. When I left 10M around 1715Z, I was up to 169 QSO's. That meant 77 QSO's on 10M in just about 3 hours.

After that, I went back to 15M and stayed there for a couple hours. I got 5U5Z and right after that it was D4B with just a single call for a third band. Still another pileup plagued station was 9Y4ZC whom I finally got with a single call when I tuned back to his frequency for a last try. In the same category was TK9A. Right after TK9A I worked N0IM just to put a USA station in the contest log to increase my country total. Phil, NP4Z had a good signal for his QRP operation. At least I assume he was QRP since he usually is. I grabbed VE2IM in case I needed zone 2 on 15M. One interesting QSO came with WP2Z. I sent my call rather sloppily, more like K3WrP, but WP2Z came back with a snappy K3WWP 5998. I guess he recognized me from us having worked so often. Recognition in contests is an important asset and is one reason why successful contesters enter just about every event. We all get to know each other and just like family we can communicate very easily without even saying that much.

When 15M wound down I went to 20M around 2000Z. The band was just absolutely crowded from 14000 through 14100. I tuned up and down slowly and picked out those stations I thought I could work easily or those who would be a new contest country. 20M was my poorest band in the test, but I did manage to get, among others, CQ0T, CT9M, CT3/OL8R, D44TD, RU1A, and PT5A in the half-hour or so I spent there.

I took some time off, then came back around 2200Z and spent the last couple hours jumping around the bands as best I could. I still needed 2 continents to make my goal of a contest WAC. I figured I probably wouldn't make it. However the last hour finally brought me a QSO with KH7X for OC. It was interesting to note that I hadn't quite got my SWR down to 1:1 when I was hopping around changing bands, and with the SWR up around 1.4:1 or so, I couldn't raise KH7X. I then fiddled around with the tuner and got my 1:1 and got him on the first call. I don't know if the SWR made the difference or if it was just a coincidence. Probably the latter as 1.4:1 isn't really very high. (Note: Some new hams may take this seriously. It was only some dry humor. A change of SWR from 1.4:1 to 1:1 is not all that much of a change. So don't worry if the best you can get is a 1.4:1 SWR with your setup. It will work just fine.)

I added some other new contest countries in the last couple hours from ES5MC, LY2IJ, CX7CO, CU2F, 8P5A, and RW2F. Still Asia eluded me till my very last QSO when I got P3A. Although a friend of mine said the openings to JA were the best he'd ever worked, I only heard a few weak JA's here and couldn't raise any of them for one reason or other. I had to go the other direction to get my Asia QSO.

I managed to make 230 QSO's of which 4 turned out to be dupes after final checking. I got my contest WAC. I worked 73 different countries in the contest. I think that definitely shows that you don't need much to be successful if you use CW as your operating mode. As I've repeatedly said you can have fun on the ham bands using CW, QRP, and simple wire antennas. This was an even more minimal QRP operation for me than what I do at home, yet 73 countries are in my top 5 total countries worked in a contest. I operated about 14.5 hours for an overall rate of only about 16 per hour. I could have done better in that regard if I'd had a computer or even a paper dupe sheet for dupe checking. That was the major time waster for me especially Sunday afternoon.

Let's close this by looking at some statistics. My country totals per band were: 40M-33, 20M-23, 15M-42, 10M-35. QSO totals per band (less dupes) were 40M-56, 20M-26, 15M-63, 10M-81. By continent (including dupes): AF-20, AS-1, EU-150, NA-38, OC-1, SA-20. New band countries: UA1 on 40M, D4 on 40M, 5U on 20M, SU on 10M (overall new country # 203). A final note. On Monday I worked T77C on 12M to make it 74 countries worked in 3 days. That also gave me QSO's on all bands except 160M and 17M during my stay.

Time's up, so 73 for now. Three ways to contact me besides an on the air QSO: http://home.windstream.net/johnshan, email via the links in the left column of my main web site pages, or John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. -30-