Thursday, May 22, 2008

Listening on 2 Meters

I've never been a real big 2 Meter guy, even since my earliest days as a Ham. I know a lot of Hams that exist for 2 Meter FM. For them, 2 Meters IS the end all and be all of Ham Radio. For me, HF is the end all and be all; and 2 Meters is well ...... 2 Meters. Just another facet of the hobby, nothing more - nothing less.

On the ride home from work; I decided to flip on the 2 Meter radio in the car. I have it set for scanning the local repeaters; and it came to rest on the frequency of a quite popular repeater. And I began to listen to two Hams talking about the sunspot cycle, 6 meters and DXing. They were lamenting the lack of sunspots (like just about everyone else) and they got to reminiscing about the good old days. You know, the good ol' days - the days when you could get on 10 Meters and work the world with 10 Watts. The good ol' days, when you could get on 6 Meters and work all over the United States with just a few Watts.

I was kind of blown away by the conversation, being intimately familiar with the realm of low power communications. I had the urge to pick up the mike and start extolling the virtues of HF QRP; but I didn't want to seem like a braggart. Gosh, we QRPers routinely work the world with 5 Watts or less - sunspots or no - every day. To us, 10 Watts on CW is akin to running 1.5 kW to a non-QRPer. QRPers have to be careful sometimes, when talking about our special interest; because it can sound like we're denigrating the accomplishments of people who have never really tried QRP. There was absolutely no way that I wanted jump into that conversation, only to come off sounding like some kind of know-it-all snob.

Which brings us to another point. There really are a lot of Hams out there who really have no idea of where 5 Watts of power can get you. I suppose we all started out like that, in one form or another at the beginning of our Ham careers. We all think that, "The more power, the better". But each QRPer seems to have a defining moment or epiphany where it dawns upon them that power isn't everything. Skill, patience and determination are equal values in the equation of Ham Radio success. I suppose brute force is nice sometimes; but it's definitely not everything.

I dunno, maybe it just boils down to "You wouldn't understand, it's just a QRP thing!"

73 de Larry W2LJ

1 comment:

Steve said...

I believe in making do with what you've got. I could upgrade my licence and gain access to a few more bands and 400 Watts, but that would mean spending money on an amp and new antennas.

I'd rather play around with what I've got and get the most out of that. One day I might even get around to learning the code so I can get on the air with my Rock Mite.