I was tuning around my dilapidated and totally neglected station (more on that later) and came across a bunch of slowish, hand-sent, continuous wave signals on 20M sending “CQ NA”. What?
A quick look over at the WA7BNM’s website (THE authority on contests happening regardless of country of origin or sponsoring entity) confirmed I was hearing the monthly sprint of the North American QRP CW Club.
I did remember that I was a member but I didn’t remember my member number (I looked on the site, I am #3333). Special points for mechanical morse (J‑38 hand key here), and even more special points for running under a watt.
I don’t really have a lot of antenna choices since a) Ants were in my WX0B Sixpak and thus still sitting on my desk, refurbished but SITTING ON MY DESK instead of out by my antenna tree. And wow, my station went from a nicely functioning SO2R setup performing very well last Sweepstakes so a single G5RV, single radio, dilapidated systems. More about that later.
My IC-7600 (won at Dayton Contest Dinner 2010)IS running very well (still) so I loaded up the antenna with the internal tuner on 20M. The power shown on my LP-100A wattmeter (won at Dayton Contest Dinner 2013) was 840mW. SWR shown is the actual that of the antenna on 20M since the wattmeter probe sits after the tuner. Not the most efficient load, and there is a calculation to determine how many milliwatts are actually presented to the antenna, but lets just agree it was well under 840mW.
I actually made some contacts! 20M was loud too!
Shoot, why not try 40M as well. It was at sunset and this time is usually 40M is good for QRP om 40M. It was, but the noise level was bad due to local thunderstorms. I made a few contacts and went back to 20M.
All I can say: When the bands are open QRP signals can be loud as hell.
40M I was putting out about 900mW to a very poorly matched load. Although my tuner fixed it as far as the transmitter concerned, I am sure efficiency sucked at the antenna. (flash: An online SWR calculator puts the loss at 54%, so power squirting out the antenna
was around 600mW. On 20M, the loss was 30% giving me a whopping 650mW into the ether.)
So, my point: QRP works just fine. Did I mention how I did really well in the November Sweepstakes running 5W? Well enough to try it again.
That is, if I get my station put back together!