Location, location, location

I might not be in the best location for the QRP Fox hunts, but I do have to admit that I am blessed when it came to achieving QRP DXCC.  Those of us in the Northeast definitely do not have the edge in Fox hunting that our fellow Hounds from the Midwest have.  When you look at the Hound’s scores, the guys “who get ’em all” are usually, if not exclusively, from the middle of the US.  But those of us in the Northeast, and on the East coast in general have the edge when working Europe and the Caribbean.  I believe that Jim W4QO in Georgia posted that he worked over 100 different DXCC entities just this past weekend.  That’s nothing to sneeze at and is a great accomplishment!

But if your a new QRPer you may be saying to yourself, “That’s all well and good, but I’m just starting out and I don’t have a tower and a beam or a fancy antenna farm.” I’m not saying that those wouldn’t be helpful, but you can achieve a lot with simple antennas.  I posted yesterday that I worked about half a DXCC award this past weekend.  I did it with a Butternut HF9V antenna and a home brewed 88′ Extended Double Zepp antenna.  These antennas are surely within the reach of beginner QRPers (HOAs notwithstanding). With 5 Watts, I worked (in no particular order):

Czech Republic
Puerto Rico
The Ukraine
European Russia
The Azores
The Turks & Caicos
The Cayman Islands
Madeira Island
US Virgin Islands
French Guiana
Atigua & Barbuda
The Balearic Islands
The Canary Islands

That’s 45 DXCC entities in just around four hours of operating.  So I don’t want to hear about how QRP DXCC is hard or impossible.  I’ve done it and believe me, if a ham and egger like me can work 100 different countries using 5 Watts, then you can do better!  And when you come down to it, my performance this past weekend was really nothing to crow about.  If you want to read a great story, then make sure to read Phil AK2MA’s recount of his ARRL DX Contest effort – 150 QSOs and 57 countries worked with an INDOOR Buddipole on just one band (15 Meters)! THAT my friends is an achievement!

There is a price to pay, however, and that is you’re going to have to work on your Morse Code. Life is not a dish of assorted fancy cashews. QRP DXing and CW go together like hand and glove. Some of these contest stations were sending so fast that it took me 7 or 8 listens to get their calls right.  Normally I am comfortable copying up to 25-28 WPM; and on a good day, I can stretch that to 35 WPM if the code being sent well and the exchange is short (like a contest exchange). Some of these guys were sending around the 40 WPM stratosphere and I had to just pass them by.  But with dedication and practice you can get to the “mere human neighborhood” of 25 WPM without going crazy.

And that’s part of what this is all about, too. Constantly improving your station, your antennas, and yourself!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “Location, location, location”

  • Phil ZL2OWL:

    Inspirational and very well said Larry – thank you.

  • David W4EZZ:

    Interesting stuff Larry. However, if it takes 35 wpm to utilize QRP then we can kiss the QRP philosophy GOODBYE. I would bet that the number of Amateur Radio operators that can copy 35 wpm is less than .0001 percent of the total.
    Some claim it but it is extremely difficult to do it without aid of electronic copy software… I want to see them do it, extremely difficult.
    Most are in the 10 to 15 wpm range and that takes practice.

  • David W4EZZ:

    Just a thought and comment…

  • Larry W2LJ:


    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. It does NOT take an ability of 35 WPM to operate QRP. However, if you’re going to do any serious CW DXing, whether it be QRP or not, the ability to copy that fast (even if it’s just to copy the DX’s call sign correctly) is a serious plus.

    And even that is not an absolute necessity, but at least the 20 WPM neighborhood is – and again, I am not speaking of operating QRP here, just CW DX.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

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