Monday, February 17, 2014

Location, location, location

I might not be in the best location for the QRP Fox hunts, but I do have to admit that I am blessed when it came to achieving QRP DXCC.  Those of us in the Northeast definitely do not have the edge in Fox hunting that our fellow Hounds from the Midwest have.  When you look at the Hound's scores, the guys "who get 'em all" are usually, if not exclusively, from the middle of the US.  But those of us in the Northeast, and on the East coast in general have the edge when working Europe and the Caribbean.  I believe that Jim W4QO in Georgia posted that he worked over 100 different DXCC entities just this past weekend.  That's nothing to sneeze at and is a great accomplishment!

But if your a new QRPer you may be saying to yourself, "That's all well and good, but I'm just starting out and I don't have a tower and a beam or a fancy antenna farm." I'm not saying that those wouldn't be helpful, but you can achieve a lot with simple antennas.  I posted yesterday that I worked about half a DXCC award this past weekend.  I did it with a Butternut HF9V antenna and a home brewed 88' Extended Double Zepp antenna.  These antennas are surely within the reach of beginner QRPers (HOAs notwithstanding). With 5 Watts, I worked (in no particular order):

Czech Republic
Puerto Rico
The Ukraine
European Russia
The Azores
The Turks & Caicos
The Cayman Islands
Madeira Island
US Virgin Islands
French Guiana
Atigua & Barbuda
The Balearic Islands
The Canary Islands

That's 45 DXCC entities in just around four hours of operating.  So I don't want to hear about how QRP DXCC is hard or impossible.  I've done it and believe me, if a ham and egger like me can work 100 different countries using 5 Watts, then you can do better!  And when you come down to it, my performance this past weekend was really nothing to crow about.  If you want to read a great story, then make sure to read Phil AK2MA's recount of his ARRL DX Contest effort - 150 QSOs and 57 countries worked with an INDOOR Buddipole on just one band (15 Meters)! THAT my friends is an achievement!

There is a price to pay, however, and that is you're going to have to work on your Morse Code. Life is not a dish of assorted fancy cashews. QRP DXing and CW go together like hand and glove. Some of these contest stations were sending so fast that it took me 7 or 8 listens to get their calls right.  Normally I am comfortable copying up to 25-28 WPM; and on a good day, I can stretch that to 35 WPM if the code being sent well and the exchange is short (like a contest exchange). Some of these guys were sending around the 40 WPM stratosphere and I had to just pass them by.  But with dedication and practice you can get to the "mere human neighborhood" of 25 WPM without going crazy.

And that's part of what this is all about, too. Constantly improving your station, your antennas, and yourself!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Wow, thanks for the mention Larry! Before I got into QRP, yourself and others like John, N8ZYA and Steve, wG0AT (just to name a few) all have inspired me. When I knew I was leaving Alaska, I was not that upset knowing I was dropping my QRO contest station and packing it up for an extended amount of time. In thinking back, one of my most memorable QRP events was hiking with Steve, Rooster (SK) & Peanut to the top of Mt. Herman in 2010.

    Reading your adventures and well informed articles here and reading John's daily activity log helped me realize I could still get on the radio with success! Without that inspiration, I probably would have not looked twice at running QRP or QRPp! So, thank you! Like you, I try to share my success stories in hopes of inspiring others. Your kind words mean more than you know! 72, Phil

  2. Don't have a tower and beam or fancy antenna farm?

    GET ONE.

    Seriously. At any power level, having good antennas at your disposal is key.

    I operate two different station QTHs. One has a small tribander at 15m, with a 40m dipole attachment, is shunt fed for 80 and 160m. I have a trap dipole for 12/17/30m. It took me about 10 years to build it to this point.

    The other QTH is more modest, with an invert-L with traps for 40/80/160m, and a dipole for 80/40m. I'm working on putting up some kind of beam for 20/15m. I have no towers, but have woods handy.

    I've also operated dozens of times from the NQ4I M/M station. I've operated every position there.

    Antennas MATTER.

    Put up the best antenna system you can afford / manage. Never stop trying to improve it.

    That said, work with what you have. You can work stations with just about anything, if you have the tenacity and patience.

  3. Hello Larry,

    I worked about 30 of them myself this weekend. Aruba was a new one for me and it was nice to work Morocco again. The Aruba station was #96....I'm getting real close to the DXCC now!