Band conditions seem to have deteriorated lately. Bob W3BBO and I were discussing this on Saturday. The upper bands, 10, 12, 15 Meters still have signals on them, but they seem to be not as plentiful and nowhere as strong as they were just a month or six weeks ago. Just after the cold weather broke here in NJ and I resumed my QRP sessions, it seemed like each lunchtime from the car netted 3 our 4 or even 5 DX stations per sitting.
Lately, those kind of band conditions seem to have disappeared. Signals are fewer and weaker. But today was a case of the one that got away. I was tuning up and down the bands and heard JY9CF on 12 Meters. He was kind of loud and was calling "CQ USA ONLY". I tried, and wasn't being heard. But I did have time, as I heard him early on during lunch hour and he was getting louder. I figured giving just a little bit more time, I just might have nabbed him. However, many non-USA stations began calling, and the operator was getting frustrated as a few times he sent, "PLS LSN USA ONLY". As his signal strength to me increased, so did his frustration. Finally he announced he was going QRT.
Rats! My gut was telling me that with a just a bit more time ...... maybe. I am pretty certain that if I was home and had the shack KX3 fired up to the 75/100 Watt neighborhood, that I would have garnered a new country. It seems that 5 Watts and the Buddistick just didn't cut it today, even though the JY9 station was the loudest I have ever heard here.
On the bright side, I did have a short QSO with Jim N0UR on 20 Meters. I have worked Jim in many Sprints and many QRP Fox hunts. It was good to hook up with him in an "everyday QSO" situation. Jim was running 4 Watts from his Flex1500 and he was a good, solid 579 here into New Jersey (when QSB wasn't kicking in).
BTW, Paul NA5N has announced the theme for this year's QRPTTF - "Tres de Mayo" considering how close this year's event is to Cinco de Mayo. I have already decided what I am going to do to be "in theme" - but I am NOT sharing until after the event. All the rules can be found here: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/2014/ttf.htm
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!