Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Are you married ........?
The other day, I received a request from Terry WA0ITP, to post the monthly Run For the Bacon announcements on the Four States QRP Group e-mail reflector. It would seem that quite a few “Four Stater’s” have built Pig Rigs and want to be kept abreast of when RFTB is held. So I went about the process of joining the Yahoo group and subscribing to the e-mail reflector. I was approved and started receiving e-mails yesterday.
Immediately, one hit my eye. It’s entitled “QRP till death do you part?”, and it was written by Gust ON6KE
The premise of the post is, that in addition to all your QRP only gear, you own a 100 Watt rig, or perhaps a barefoot rig and an amplifier. At the same time, a DXpedition is underway to Tromelin, Peter I, Kerguelen, or some other very exotic place that has not been on the air for years (and perhaps might not be on again for many more years). If you have never worked that entity before, do you:
1) Try to work them QRP until they’re just about ready to pack their bags, and then if unsuccessful, go all out with everything you have?
2) Try to work them QRP for a few days or a week perhaps, and then if unsuccessful, go QRO (well before the departure time draws near)?
Gust ends his post by saying, “I guess this question is about how “fanatic” one is about QRP”.
Interesting question to say the least! In my head, I guess I would add another possibility:
3) Try to work them QRO and get them in the log and THEN try to work them QRP at another time, before they leave?
Personally, my primary interest (my passion, if you will) in Amateur Radio is QRP and CW. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that. I have been interested in and have dabbled in QRP since I was licensed as a Novice in 1978. I joined QRP ARCI back in 1979, back when QRP was considered to be 100 Watts or less. I became a “QRP only” station, under the current understanding of the term, in 2003. From 2003 to 2013 (Wow, 10 years!), I have not had a rig that was capable of going past QRP levels (OK, my K2 could go up to about 15-20 Watts – that’s technically not QRP, but it ain’t QRO, either!).
But since my Novice days, I have also been drawn to working DX. I’ve worked my share of DX with 5 Watts or less, enough to earn the ARRL’s QRP DXCC award. There have been many DXCC entities where the only way I have worked them is with QRP, but I’ve also had many, many disappointments. There have been many times during that ten year period where I limited myself to 5 Watts only, where I failed to get a DX station or a DXpedition in the log, even though I tried until the cows came home.
I would consider myself to be fan and aficionado of QRP, but not a foaming-at-the-mouth QRP “fanatic”, where it’s QRP and CW to the exclusion of everything else. I am enough of a DXer NOT to marry myself to the idea that using something more than 5 Watts is heresy. That’s why I went and sold my K2, so that I could purchase the KPA3, 100 Watt module for my K3. For the first time in a long time, I have been able to increase my power in order to work DXCC entities that I have never worked before. This just bore fruit a few weeks ago when I worked Egypt SU9VB for the very first time in my Amateur Radio career, and I did it using 85 Watts.
And that’s why I would subscribe to possibility number 3, above. For instance, if I’m fortunate enough to hear Spratly loud enough to even attempt to work them before they leave? Like any other DXer, I am going to be there with my 100 Watts trying to break that pileup and get them in the log, Baby! But once they’re in there – I just might try to work them again (not the same sitting) with 5 Watts only. I am also enough of a practical QRP DXer to want to be able to claim that I got them with low power, too.
In the end though, you have to go with what works for you. What works for me, may not work for you. Amateur Radio is a big enough tent where opposite slogans such as “Life’s too short for QRP” and “Quit Running Power” are cute; but really have no place. There’s room for every thing and every one. If there’s one bit of advice that I would subscribe to, it would be “Life is too short to pigeon hole yourself”. Or as Cicero said, ”Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide”.
I have done QRP, I have done QRO, I have done CW, I have done SSB, I have done Digital, I have done HF, I have done VHF/UHF, I have done satellites – they were ALL fun.
I would still like to do more satellites and some PSK31, I would love to try meteor scatter and EME, someday. I would LOVE to have a tower and a yagi someday. There’s so much to try and do – don’t cheat yourself! Amateur Radio is like being at a sumptuous buffet, it’s perfectly fine to try a little bit of everything!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!