Do they have to be LOUD to work them????

Learning a QRP lesson
I took advantage of another portable mobile QRP day again on Saturday. Once again using my Elecraft KX3, mono band HF whip antennas and QRP power. I decided right off the get go to use 20m whip antenna and I found there was a few CW contests going on. This is great as it gives me an opportunity to make some I thought. I chose this day to cruise up and down the band for stations calling CQ and not CQ contest. I have been doing some reading in my spare time about QRP operation and making contacts. One of the tips I read I was actually able to put into practice and make a DX contact only using 5 watts with a mobile whip antenna. I was starting my run up the 20m band and at 14.007 I heard a very faint station calling CQ. I narrowed down my KX3's filter to around 200 Hz and he was still in and out, I was not able to pick out his full call as yet. When he started to call CQ again I turned the audio peak filter (APF) and started to fine tune his signal. Then low and behold I was able to get his call RA3XM, he was DX but what were my chances of making the contact???

1. He was in and out right at the noise floor.
2. He was not at the QRP watering hole so he was running most likely some kind of QRO power.
3. What chance did my QRP 5 watt signal have if I could barely hear QRO signal?

When RA3XM stopped calling CQ I threw my call out there and can you believe he came back to me on my first call!! I was shocked that I made the distance, it was not a long QSO but I did get a 559 signal report and I passed along to him a signal report, my name and that I was running QRP. It became crystal clear to me of something I read on more than one occasion from seasoned QRP op' may come across signals that are in and out of the mud, don't short change yourself ( I have done so on many occasions) thinking "they are QRO and in the mud they are never going to hear my peanut signal. Instead throw your call out there and you may be surprised......and when RA3XM came back to me from the noise I was surprised and pleased to make the contact. Spinning the dial once again I hear AN400R booming in (Spanish special event station) I gave him a call and and made that contact as well.  On this outing it was not as simple as calling and making a contact there was F6EJN, DK7OB, AN400C, IT9RZU, MI0GH and AN400C all who I called and was not heard. A valuable lesson was learned on this outing.....even if the station calling CQ is in the mud give them a call and you (I was) may be surprised they come back to you.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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