Tuesday, August 16, 2005

1000 Miles per Watt

One of the grand awards in the QRP world is the "1000 Miles per Watt" Award. This award, which is sponsored by the QRP Amateur Radio Club International is given for accomplishing a QSO where the distance covered, divided by the power used, exceeds 1000 miles per Watt of power.

Experienced QRPers do this on a regular basis; and in fact, is probably no big deal anymore. However, the first time you do it, is a special event that you remember for the rest of your life.

I've exceeded the 1000 mile limit several times. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I had a QSO withTerry in Madison, Wisconsin. I was using my Rockmite at 500 mW out; so that QSO worked out to be over 1700 miles per Watt. As memorable as that was, my first or qualifying 1000 mile QSO was very special indeed; and it was with a far away and exotic place which made it all the more memorable.

Back in February 2004, Jeff Parker came onto the Elecraft e-mail reflector to announce that the following weekend, he would be operating from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean as V73GJ. That was all very exciting and I took note of his operating schedule. When time came, I plugged my recently completed K1 into my Butternut HF9V antenna and even though I didn't expect to, I was able to copy Jeff on 15 Meters quite well. He was calling CQ and I thought, "What the heck!". Much to my surprise, Jeff came back to me with a 559 report. I was estatic! Subsequent calculations revealed a distance of some 7000 miles seperated New Jersey from Kwajalein Atoll, where Jeff was operating. 5 Watts divided by the distance yielded a QSO that was about 1445 miles per Watt.

Not only was this my first 1000 mile per Watt QSO; but it was with a new DXCC entity that I had never worked before. Also, Kwajalein Atoll while distant and exotic, was at least a familiar name which I had heard while watching episodes of "Black Sheep Squadron" back in my youonger days. The DX in this case was not only exotic; but it also played an important part in the history of World War II.

I thought of all of this as I came across the QSL card commemorating the QSO. It was time to pony up my money and send in to the QRP-ARCI to apply for the Award and make it "official".

Thank you, Jeff!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Vacation Operating - Redeux

In a post or two below, I mentioned making contact with the vactioning W1OH during the NAQCC Sprint. Tonight I was calling CQ on 20 Meters, when lo and behold, VY2/W1OH came back and answered me! And tonight, instead of a quickie contest QSO, I was treated to a ragchew with Geoff.

He and his family have been vacationing up at Prince Edward Island for the past 17 years. What had started out as camping trips has evolved into extended vacation stays in rented cottages. Fortunately for Geoff, his temporary landlord has no problem with temporary Amateur Radio antennas. Geoff was using a doublet cut for 80 Meters with an antenna tuner, which allowed him to answer my CQ on 20 Meters.

Geoff's Yaesu FT-897 was doing a fantastic job from Prim Point, PEI to New Jersey. Geoff was about 100 yards away from the water; and I'm only about 10 miles from the New Jersey coast (as the crow flies) ; so maybe the RF was following the saltwater path between us.

From Google searches I have done on PEI, it looks like a pretty fantastic place to vacation. Now that I know that it can be Amateur Radio friendly - it just might be a place to visit one of these upcoming summers!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Speaking of vacation ..........

Speaking of taking a QRP rig along with you while you're on vacation .......... Do you know those little white oval stickers that you can get from vacation spots or countries for your car? You know, the ones that have a DMK for Denmark or IRL for Ireland or LBI for Long Beach Island or OBI for the Outer Bank Islands of North Carolina?

You can get similar stickers with "QRP" on it for your car. The Hams you know will understand immediately; and you can keep everyone else guessing!

Check out the eBay store by clicking on the title above. This will take you to the Bell Imel Group LLC - Jeff Imel K9ESE owns it and carries them!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Lunchtime QRP

I always have my K1 in the car with me. I keep it in a tool box and have fun with it at work during lunchtime. When the weather is nice, I go out to the car, plop a Hamstick on the roof and break out the K1. More often than not, if band conditions are decent, I'll end up having a QSO.

Today, the weather has been hot; but things have been hectic at work, so I decided to take a break. I went out to my Ford Explorer; popped the 20 Meter Hamstick onto the magmount and fired up the radio and put out a "CQ" near the 20 Meter FISTS frequency of 14.058 MHz.

Much to my delight, Tom K4OFZ answered my CQ and indicated he was operating QRP, also. Cool! Band conditions were not the greatest and the QSB was deep; but we managed a 'lil QSO. I was able to learn that Tom is on vacation down at Edesto Beach in South Carolina. He was using an MFJ QRP radio to a dipole. He had a decent 559 signal into New Jersey before the QSB got so bad that it took us out.

If you get a chance; scope out Edesto Beach by doing a Google search on it. It looks like Tom knows where to go on vacation - really nice place! Would not mind being there myself.

More Hams should take some kind of QRP rigs with them when they go on vacation. It's a ton of fun operating from someplace other than home - seeing how far you can get on low power and maybe not the most ideal of antennas. A few weeks ago, I worked Geoff W1OH during the NAQCC Sprint. He was signing VY2/W1OH which meant he was vacationing at Prince Edward Island up in Canada. That's another place that I would like to travel to someday.

Ham radio - vacation - sunshine - warm air ....... does it get any better than that?

73 de Larry W2LJ