Amateur Radio and QRP, in particular, are like fishing. You send your signal out into the ionosphere much like an angler casts his line into the water. Sometimes you get a nibble or a hit, and sometimes you come home with an empty creel. And it seems just about every serious fisherman has a story about “the one that got away”.
Today my story should read more like “the one I never had”. Out at the Jeep during lunch, I had two quick hits on 10 Meters, D44AC on Cape Verde Island and OA4//N7CW in Peru. With those two in the log (very decent DX for 5 Watts to a Buddistick, IMHO!), I was feeling rather confident (read that – cocky), and tuned around the rest of the band. Hearing nothing else that intrigued me, I decided to switch bands to see how conditions were on 12 Meters. That’s when I heard them – 3DA0ET – the Swaziland DXpedtion! They weren’t the loudest, but they weren’t the weakest, either. They were louder than D44AC, who got me on the first call, so I thought I stood a chance (read that – expected to work them). I was seduced by the Dark Side. I ended up wasting the rest of my lunch trying to get them in the log, unsuccessfully (and thereby re-learning a very valuable lesson in humility).
But thinking about it, I guess it really wasn’t “wasted” time. It’s like that saying about the Lottery – “You have to be in it to win it”. I don’t gamble much on lotteries, but I do like to chase DX! Who knows? If I had been on at just a little different time, or if band conditions were just a little different, maybe I would have been heard in Swaziland. And it goes without saying, if you don’t try, you’ll never get them in the log. That’s what makes chasing DX so much fun. First off, you have to think of the sheer distances you’re covering. It still amazes me to this day, that a radio signal of not-much-power can travel that far – over continents, over oceans and make it to the destination – audible and intelligible!. Sometimes it takes a while for my head to wrap around that, even after being in this hobby for as long as I have. It’s so easy to take this all for granted and to not marvel at it anymore. Secondly, there’s the thrill of the hunt. You have no idea as to whether or not you will be successful. But when you do get heard and make it into the DX log – Wow, just wow!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!