If you let them. If you keep you ears attentively tuned to the Amateur Radio sages who say, "Why, there are NO sunspots. QRP can't possibly work! You are wasting your time!", then you will find yourself downcast and downtrodden.
If on the other hand, you say, "Nay, doomsayers! I will not listen to your pronouncements of doom and gloom!", and keep an upbeat and positive attitude, and practice the virtues of patience and perseverance, you will prove the soothsayers to be full of nothing more than hot air.
Take today for instance - the Flight of the Bubmblebees. From the crack of the starting gun, it looked like it was going to be "one of those days." There was NOTHING on 40 Meters, and while there were a few stations heard on 20 Meters, they were all pretty weak and in the noise. Except for NK9G. I don't know what magic Rick has going for him, but I would swear that I don't think there's ever been a time that I've heard him worse than 559. Most times he's near the upper end of the RST scale. He must have an "in" with the propagation gods.
But this is when you can't pack it in. Patience and perseverance .......patience and perseverance will get you through. In a bit, propagation improved, more stations got on the air and jumped into the fray and before I knew it, call signs were starting to fill up my notebook page.
When 20 Meters fizzled out, I jumped down to 40 Meters. Nothing heard, so I decided to call CQ and the floodgates opened! It was like I was the DXpedition and I was running a pileup. Of course, that lasted for all of about five minutes, but you get the idea.
When 40 Meters got quiet, I jumped back to 20 Meters and whom should I hear but John K3WWP calling CQ as N3AQC at about 579/589 ............ on 20 Meters! Holy cow, short skip! I don't think I've ever heard Pennsylvania that loud on 20 Meters - after all, it is the next state over. After John, I worked Joe W2KJ down in Carolina and then Bob W3BBO, who is also in PA. And Bob sounded like he was in the room with me! Color me astounded at the instance of short skip. So even when there's no sunspots, there can always be pleasant surprises in store.
In the end, I made 32 FOBB contacts and one SOTA QSO with a peak in South Dakota. Not bad for an afternoon when the ionosphere is supposedly dead, eh?
It's always good to hear the familiar calls of friends such as Bob W3BBO and Jim W1PID, Dave K1SWL, Tim W3ATB, Greg N4KGL, Joe W2KJ, Kelly K4UPG, John K4BAI, Gene N5GW among a host of others. It was great to work Mike KC2EGL as N3AQC on 40 Meters and John K3WWP as N3AQC on 20 Meters.
It was a good day on the radio - a very good day. So you QRP Newbs out there ...... don't be discouraged by the lack of sunspots. Use the best antenna you have at your disposal and remember "patience and perseverance". Those two words are for us QRPers, are like what "location, location, location" means to Realtors - they mean everything.
For the Skeeter Hunt in three weeks (yes, ONLY three weeks) I am thinking of changing tactics a bit. I may forgo using the PAR ENDFEDZ this year in favor of a W3EDP. I can get that sucker up close to the 50 foot level at Cotton Street park here in town if I plan it right and the EDP has always been a good player for me here at home and at Field Day. Maybe I can break the 40 or 50 QSO mark that day, if I'm lucky. Or better yet, if I'm just patient and persevere.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!