CQWW WPX Contest, SSB
Class: SOSB15 QRP
Operating Time (hrs):
Total: 100 Prefixes = 87 Total Score = 18,444
Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club
I generally find myself entering contests for one of several reasons, in order
of increasing "seriousness of intent:"
1) JUST FOR FUN: See who's on, make some Q's, get some practice, see how the
station is working, sample the band conditions
2) EXPLORE A NICHE: Focus on a single band, experience an operating mode like
QRP or SO2R, and possibly try to win some minor category that may have limited
competition but still takes a real effort
3) ALL-OUT: Full-time effort to stretch me and my station beyond what I've done
before, with some goals that are aggressive relative to my past performance, and
possibly even win a moderately competitive category, probably limited to my
section or region
This time I was in the second category -- more than just getting on and making
some Q's until I got bored, but not a full-time effort either. I thought about
my options and decided to build on my QRP effort in ARRL DX SSB with another dip
into the QRP water, and combine it with a focus on 15M, since it seems to be
coming back to life with the recent increase in solar flux.
Long time QRP'ers take it for granted that "it works," but even knowing the
math, and that it is "only" about 13 dB / 2 S units down from 100W, it is still
a leap of faith for someone used to running HP and sometimes having a hard time
getting through with that, to crank the transceiver down to 5W output and think
the guy across the pond or the country is going to hear you. It definitely
sharpens your senses and makes you tune into details that you might ignore when
using an amp. Like listening really carefully to the din of others calling in
the background, no matter how faint, and never jumping in unless it is quiet.
Or really paying attention to which calls are getting answered by the other
operator. Or having the patience to wait just a bit longer than normal, and
find that with confidence in your signal and ability, you often get through on
the 6th, 7th, or even 10th try, and don't give up when you don't make it
through in 2 or 3 tries.
There is also the real fun of getting through when there is a small pileup of
callers -- much more satisfying than when the amp does a lot of the work for
So on to the contest! I got started Saturday afternoon, and with my first QSO
being a VA7, 3000 miles away, I was satisfied that the band was open and 5W
peak was doing the job! The first hour netted 15 Q's, mostly West Coast US and
Canada, and a couple of Carribbean stations thrown in. A little after 2000 I
worked a KH6, which was also great fun QRP! Pointing the other direction
snagged a 6W, and around 2100 the PY's and LU's started rolling in (where
"rolling" in QRP terms, at least for me, means 1 every four or five minutes!).
A little after 2200 I hit a new QRP distance record for me, working the KG6.
Sweet! Following that with the HC8 seemed almost anti-climactic. No EU's at
all for me, and the band seemed to be milked for the day by about 2300 and I
put down the headphones for the day.
Sunday morning after church I got back on a little before 1600 and worked a few
more Carribbean stations, plus an EA, DL and CT3. I think I was too late for
much EU action both Saturday and Sunday, as Sunday closed with only one more,
an HA late in the afternoon. The EU stations I heard calling others were
weaker than what I heard during ARRL DX SSB.
The biggest thrill of the whole event was after 2100 Sunday afternoon when I
tuned across a VK calling. Hmmm, is there even a chance? It didn't seem very
likely and he had a pretty steady flow of callers so I'd have to really hit a
silent spot. Well, patience paid, and after 12 minutes of listening and
throwing out my call, my heart jumped when I heard "the 4 station??" and then
"4XD? You're really light. Only 4XD..." and then bingo, he got my call! I
had to send my number about a dozen times, but he got it, and then I couldn't
help but say "thanks, QRP!" and he answered back, "OK, QRP!"
I know I won't win any "miles per watt" award with this, but I tell you, it was
at least as exciting as working my first JA on top band.
The only real disappointment - not a prayer of breaking into the JY pileup!
Have I switched to QRP? No, but it's fun to sample more of the variety ham
radio has to offer. And with a modest setup -- an Icom 756 pro II set at 5W, a
Spiderbeam up about 50' with a ridiculously long 300' of LMR400 cable feeding
it, you can get out! I might try QRP on a CW contest one of these days, after
QRP SSB it will probably feel like I turned the amp back on!
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