ARRL DX Contest, SSB
Class: SOAB QRP
Operating Time (hrs): 9
Band QSOs Mults
160: 1 1
80: 10 9
40: 2 2
20: 37 26
15: 40 27
10: 21 10
Total: 111 75 Total Score = 24,975
Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club
Hey, this QRP stuff works! I was more than a little skeptical, and questioning
my own sanity, when I decided to "just crank the power down to 5 watts and see
what happens" on Saturday when I finally got through previous commitments for
the weekend and got to turn on the radio. I figured that by having missed
Friday evening and half of Saturday already, I wasn't going to have a chance in
even a single band category, and I always like to have some sort of goal in a
contest. So this time, the goal was, "let's see how much I can do with 5W."
To be honest, my expectations were that I'd get a handful of strong locals in
the Caribbean and maybe one or two in EU and SA. When I made a few tentative
calls to on 15M and got answered by stations in HI, LU, PY and TI my confidence
started to build. By the close of the contest, I had managed at least one
contact on each band (QRP SSB DX on 160M? I sure didn't expect that!), 56 DXCC
entities, and a whole new appreciation for the power of 5W and a modest antenna
setup of a Spiderbeam at 50', a hexbeam at 35', an inverted L for 160, and
inverted vees for 40 and 80.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. "Ya gotta believe." In most cases I didn't get
answered the first call (although there were some exceptions), and the best
sign you were about to get answered was when the DX op worked off his pileup
and you heard him go back into CQ'ing. While he didn't always come back to
you, if you hung in there and were blessed with four or five consecutive CQ's,
either QRM or the ionosphere cooperated and you were rewarded with a reply.
And I can tell you, having only had my ticket 4 years I am far from
disillusioned, but in most contests there are only a handful of situations
where you feel like fist pumping when you make the QSO, like getting through to
the NT in SS. But here, almost every QSO was a celebration!
I also enjoyed the slower pace -- which is odd because I'm something of a rate
addict too -- nothing more fun than CQ'ing and working off an endless supply of
callers as fast as you can. But this was different and equally fun. Each QSO
was like a puzzle. I couldn't rely on the amp to do my thinking for me. I had
to listen to the calling pattern, be more aware of others calling, be more aware
of band conditions ("the last couple of LU's answered but the PY's, even though
they are equally loud, don't seem to hear me. Hmmm...."), and be more aware of
QRM and how that might affect my chances to be heard. Totally different than
just cranking up the amp and "powering through."
The one disappointment was 40. For whatever reason, I just didn't get heard
there compared to the other bands. Seemed like a lot more QRM, and just a
noisy band in general. I suspect I was just buried in the QRM and QRN.
So, here's my biggest QRP effort yet. No, the amp is not for sale, but this is
another cool aspect of the hobby that until this weekend I figured required a
pretty strong antenna setup, or a pretty masochistic op, to hit over 50 DXCC in
<insert all the usual QRP op apologies for puny signal and thanks for others
digging us out of the noise here>
And one last comment -- to the HR station who commented "Nice Signal!" after my
call, you made my day!
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