Sunday, February 7, 2016

QRP Challenge - 100DXCC in 100 Days or Less - Update as of Day 38

PE4BAS Bas           55** SSB, JT9, JT65, PSK31
W4NL  Lynn             60 CW, SSB
N1DAY  David         39  CW, SSB, 
NY4G  Ariel             70  CW
N3CZ Vlad              100* CW SSB JT65 RTTY PSK31
KF4BY Stan              6 PSK31
W2DGJ Dave          22 CW SSB
K4SV Dave              103*  SSB CW JT65 PSK31
W4KA Dave             29*** CW SSB

*Challenge Completed and Awarded
** started 1/11
*** started 1/23

Congratulations to Dave K4SV who is the first to reach 100.  He reached 100 on day 23. 

Congratulations also to Vlad N3CZ who is the second to get there on day 32.  

Things learned in getting there the fastest:
Having a good antenna system when using QRP is a must. 
The 40m to 15m bands made up for 93% of the QSOs
Employing all modes & using digital modes is a must for getting there quickest
Using loggers that employ clusters and tell you what you need is a big help
Listening & tuning around to get the DX before the skimmers do is important
Do not call in a pileup unless you are highly skilled or have nothing better to do
Call DX in response to their CQ's n Search and Pounce (S&P) Mode
If you must call in a SSB pileup drag your feet and make a long call
A short call is big help on CW. 
Propagation is your friend - so learn when conditions are favorable for QRP
DXing and contesting experience help
The above things that are learned through QRP are invaluable for QRO DXing

Saturday, February 6, 2016

NPOTA Activation of the Blue Ridge Parkway PK01

This is my first time activating a National Park.  I had my K1, inverted L on a tripod, a lithium iron phospate battery. The antenna is an end fed Par 10-20-40 resonant on those bands.  I stayed on 20m band on 14040 kHz the whole time.  The noise floor was low - made 27 QSOs very quickly.  This is good for a first time out in 27 degree weather in the mountains.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was iced over in the high elevations but the Visitor Center was open.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Homebrewed Tilt Stand For My K1 Maiden Voyage

This tilt stand was made from a clip board cut in half and joined in the middle with tie wrap as a hinge.  The stand doubles as a clipboard for taking notes, and a key holder to hold the key.  This is perfect on a picnic table.   Here is a video of the first ever QSO with the K1.   Other than my stuttering from the unfamiliar position of the key, the QSO with John W3FSA went well.  John was actually in bed when he was in QSO with me with his little MOUNTAIN Topper QRP Rig from LNR

John, W3FSA, also has a very interesting rig shown in the photo below:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Completed K1

Thanks to Don Wilhelm, W3FPR, and Stan KF4BY, my K1 is complete and making QSOs.  My K1 has the K6XX tuning indicator installed.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 38- QRP Challenge - 30 More To Go

Date   /   Time Call Country Bnd Mode DXCC
1-Jan-16 K5NOF USA 40 CW 1
1-Jan-16 S58N Slovenia 17 CW 2
1-Jan-16 F5IN France 15 CW 3
1-Jan-16 V25LK Antigua & Barbuda 17 CW 4
1-Jan-16 EA8/DH2MS Canary Is. 15 CW 5
2-Jan-16 SP3DOF Poland 17 CW 6
2-Jan-16 HP1IBF Panama 20 CW 7
2-Jan-16 PV8ADI Brazil 20 CW 8
2-Jan-16 WP4L Puerto Rico 30 CW 9
3-Jan-16 V44KAI St. Kitts & Nevis 40 CW 10
3-Jan-16 C6ANM Bahamas 30 CW 11
4-Jan-16 6Y4K Jamaica 40 CW 12
5-Jan-16 HI3TEJ Dominican Republic 17 CW 13
6-Jan-16 VA7DX Canada 30 CW 14
7-Jan-16 YV5IUA Venezuela 40 CW 15
8-Jan-16 EG4CWO Spain 40 CW 16
8-Jan-16 FG/UT6UD Guadeloupe 40 CW 17
8-Jan-16 EW8O Belarus 17 CW 18
8-Jan-16 EI5DR Ireland 17 CW 19
8-Jan-16 UA5C European Russia 20 CW 20
8-Jan-16 DP65HSC Federal Republic of Germany 15 CW 21
8-Jan-16 3D2AG/P Rotuma I. 20 CW 22
9-Jan-16 LZ1012SGM Bulgaria 40 CW 23
15-Jan-16 YU7U Serbia 40 CW 24
15-Jan-16 J79M Dominica 20 CW 25
15-Jan-16 CO8LY Cuba 40 CW 26
15-Jan-16 CT7AEQ Portugal 20 CW 27
15-Jan-16 PJ2/K8ND Curacao 12 CW 28
15-Jan-16 ZF2LC Cayman Is. 30 CW 29
15-Jan-16 CU2DX Azores 30 CW 30
22-Jan-16 OA1F Peru 20 CW 31
22-Jan-16 3B9FR Rodriguez I. 20 CW 32
22-Jan-16 PY0F/PP1CZ Fernando de Noronha 20 CW 33
22-Jan-16 PJ2/DL9NBJ Curacao 17 CW 34
22-Jan-16 OM2VL Slovak Republic 40 CW 35
22-Jan-16 ZB2FK Gibraltar 40 CW 36
23-Jan-16 HC1MD/HC2 Ecuador 30 CW 37
23-Jan-16 4V1TL Haiti 17 CW 38
23-Jan-16 GM3YTS Scotland 15 CW 39
23-Jan-16 I1EIS Italy 15 CW 40
23-Jan-16 G0ORH England 15 CW 41
23-Jan-16 FY5KE French Guiana 15 CW 42
23-Jan-16 OR0OST/P Belgium 15 CW 43
23-Jan-16 SN5DX Poland 15 CW 44
23-Jan-16 5Z4/DF3FS Kenya 17 CW 45
23-Jan-16 K3Y/KL7 Alaska 17 CW 46
23-Jan-16 W3PV/VP9 Bermuda 40 CW 47
24-Jan-16 LA0CX Norway 20 CW 48
24-Jan-16 C31CT Andorrra 17 CW 49
24-Jan-16 SM4OTI Sweden 12 CW 50
24-Jan-16 T77C San Marino 17 CW 51
24-Jan-16 MI0RRE Northern Ireland 15 CW 52
24-Jan-16 GU4CHY Guernsey 15 CW 53
24-Jan-16 EA9EU Ceuta & Melilla 15 CW 54
24-Jan-16 OZ0JX Denmark 15 CW 55
24-Jan-16 AH6V Hawaii 17 CW 54
24-Jan-16 TI5/N3KS Costa Rica 30 CW 55
27-Jan-16 OE5FBL Austria 20 CW 56
27-Jan-16 HA3UU Hungary 20 CW 57
28-Jan-16 P43R Aruba 40 CW 58
28-Jan-16 SV5BYR Dodecanese 20 CW 59
28-Jan-16 TF3JB Iceland 20 CW 60
29-Jan-16 YN7SU Nicaragua 40 CW 61
2-Feb-16 EK4JJ Armenia 15 CW 62
2-Feb-16 3A2MW Monaco 20 CW 63
3-Feb-16 FJ/N9SW Saint Barthelemy 40 CW 64
3-Feb-16 9A3YT Croatia 40 CW 65
4-Feb-16 FS/k8EAB Saint Martin 20 CW 66
5-Feb-16 V31JZ/P Belize 15 CW 67
6-Feb-16 CP4BT Bolivia 15 CW 68
6-Feb-16 JM7OLW Japan 15 CW 69
8-Feb-16 5T0JL Mauritania 20 CW 70

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow Weekend - Great Weekend for QRP

This past weekend - winter storm Jonas hammered the east coast with snow and ice.  I was snow bound at home for 3 days.  We lost power for 6 hours on Friday.  The great thing about QRP is that you can run forever on batteries and solar.  I made a big dent in my QRP Challenge QSOs with propagation being good.  I made a total of 26 new DXCC's for a total of 55.  The past three days was equivalent to the first 23 days.  Now that I am back working again, propagation has not been good on 40m with too much QRN in the evenings when I am home.  Notable contacts from the weekend were Hawaii AH6V, and Alaska K3Y/KL7.  I was really surprised at the Alaska station coming back to me on 17m with my measly 5 watts.  Also notable was the contact with Rodriguez Island 3B9FR at over 2000 miles per watt, and Kenya 5Z4/DF3FS.  The last 50 will be tough though.  I have purposefully limited my mode to CW for now.  We will see how far we get with that approach.

Don Wilhelm repaired my K1 and installed the K6XX tuning indicator.  I should have that back by the weekend or Monday at the latest.

Dave Anderson K4SV completed his challenge and Vlad N3CZ is almost there at 93.  My rotor got frozen and would not turn the hexbeam.  Fortunately it was frozen towards South Sandwich for all time new one at #288.  I also received my card from Mount Athos - SV2ASP/A from Monk Apollo.  That was a great moment cherishing that hard fought contact.  Mexico XE2B was on this evening but would not hear my small signal in the QRN - live to fight another day.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Antenna for QRP Portable Operation and CC&R Challenged - NY4G Inverted L


Multi-band coverage 40-6 meters
Near the performance of a dipole on 20m-10m
Better than a ground plane vertical on 30m
Equivalent to a ground plane vertical on 40m
Portable - system weight - about 8 lbs  including tripod and mast
No need for trees
Set up time - 15 minutes or less

Some images from the presentation I made to the South Carolina DX Association.   The reference for comparison is the half wave dipole at half wave length AGL as shown by the slide below:

The first configuration for the inverted L is the one that should be employed near the ocean to take good advantage of the ground characteristics and the ocean's reflectivity.  Theses are the results of my models using EZNRC 5.0

The next configuration is that which should be employed in general away from the ocean - parks, at home, etc.

The following slide shows the schematic arrangement of the antenna for general purpose use.

Detailed instructions

Well the final question is - does it play in real life?

A side by side comparison against conventional antennas - a hexbeam and a full size ZS6BKW at 50 ft in an inverted Vee

The following is a video of a QSO with the Azores with me transmitting at 5 watts on a KX3

How to Build

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 6 of QRP Challenge - 86 to go

QSO with Panamanian Station HP3/VY2SS.  This is not a new one but a dupe of #6.  I am still at DXCC #13.  In the evening, after working on my K1 some, sat down and tuned around 40m and found the Venezuelan station YV5IUA not very busy - but he had a steady stream of stronger stations that he kept answering.  It nearly 5 minutes before he could copy my full call.   Finally made #14.  They sure are hard to come by.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Day 5 - Slim Pickin's Again - 87 to go

Just one QSO today with the Dominican Republic Station HI3TEJ on 17m CW.  This is DXCC #13

Monday, January 4, 2016

Day 4 - Slim Pickin's today - 88 To Go

With QRN high on 40m and me getting home late - my only contact was DXCC #12 6Y4K early in the morning on 40m.   He was a rather strong station and the exchange was quick and short.  I wish they were all like that instead of the knock down drag out ones that take forever to complete.

Day 3 of QRP Challenge - 89 to go

DXCC # 9 was with V44KAI in Saint Kitts.  This was also not an easy and short exchange.   

DXCC #10 was with VE3CX in Canada.  This was during the RTTY Roundup.  There were plenty of DX stations to call but few were able to copy my tiny signal.  The mode was RTTY

DXCC #11 was with C6ANM in the Bahamas, late in the evening on 40m CW

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 2 - Three More - 92 to Go on QRP Challenge

DXCC #6 was with HP1IBF - and was a long drawn out 8 minute plus attempt at a QSO which finally succeeded at the end.  My fist or my brain finally broke down as I stuttered my way through.

DXCC #7 was with WP4L in Puerto Rico and this was more of a routine QSO

DXCC#8 was with PV8ADI in Brazil.  At first he did not want to do nything with me and just kept saying OK.  20 minutes later - he dug me out of the noise and worked me.

One of the things that one will realize when attempting to DX with QRP is that what is essential are several things that must happen simultaneously (1) Persistence and tenacity on the part of the QRPer (2) patience on the side of the DX to stop, try to dig you out and also be persistent on his end (3) Propagation and signal strength must be sufficient to support the copy of the signals.  If any of the above does not happen, the QSO does not take place.   It takes practice and judgement when the QRPer should give up on the QSO and cut his losses.

Some of these did not count - the one with VE3UTT was with the wrong call sign on my end.  The one with SP3DOF had the wick turned up to 10 watts.

My log as of Day 2

Youtube videos of each QSO is available on my YouTube Channel

Callsign QSO date QSO start time Band Mode Country RST sent RST rcvd
WP4L 1/2/2016 22:49:42 30m CW Puerto Rico 599 599
PV8ADI 1/2/2016 22:25:43 20m CW Brazil 599 599
PV8ADI 1/2/2016 21:44:06 20m CW Brazil 599 599
VE3UTT 1/2/2016 21:36:13 20m RTTY Canada 599 599
HP1IBF 1/2/2016 21:06:32 20m CW Panama 579 529
SP3DOF 1/2/2016 15:09:58 17m CW Poland 599 339
EA8/DH2MS 1/1/2016 16:42:37 15m CW Canary Is. 599 539
V25LK 1/1/2016 16:41:27 17m CW Antigua & Barbuda 599 599
F5IN 1/1/2016 16:11:44 15m CW France 599 599
S58N 1/1/2016 1:30:15 17m CW Slovenia 599 599
K5NOF 1/1/2016 0:54:24 40m CW United States 599 599

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Day 1 - Five Down and 95 to Go

The QRP Challenge has started for me and 10 others.

Right around 00:00 UTC the geomagnetic storms made for bad conditions and the DX cannot hear my answers to their CQ.  I resorted to calling CQ myself to see who would answer.  The result is K5NOF answering my call. This is DXCC #1

The following morning still on the first day - made DXCC  #2  to Slovenia.  This was an easy exchange as noted by the shortness of the video.

DXCC Number 3 is to France F5IN and was also a rather easy one in the video below:

DXCC Number 4 was with Antigua and Barbuda V25LK and took four minutes before he even acknowledged me.

DXCC Number 5 was with the Canary Islands with a German Operator EA8/DH2MS.  This was a knock down drag out fight.  It took 4 minutes before he even acknowledged me.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

QRP DXCC Challenge - 100 DXCC in 100 Days

Participants So Far

W4NL  Lynn
N1DAY  David
VY2AJ/W4 Ariel
N3CZ Vlad
N4LAG Andy
KF4BY Stan
W2DGJ Dave
KW4JM Scott
K4SV Dave
W4KA Dave

Starting January 1st 2016, We will be embarking on a Challenge to work (not confirm) 100 DXCC entities in 100 days or less.


(1) Power is to be no more than 5 watts in whatever mode you choose.  Most modern rigs will allow the power to be turned down to QRP levels

(2) Modes:  Any mode, JT65, CW, PSK31, RTTY or Phone (VHF, UHF, SSB).  Cross mode CW in SSB portion of the band is allowed.  However, be careful as some consider this to be QRM and let your ethics rule here.  Example:  If one party is calling CQ on SSB and you answer on CW by giving your call - and he answers your call - this is OK.  Vice versa SSB on CW band will not work and may be considered deliberate QRM.  Only certain rigs can do CW on SSB - e.g. KX3, KX1, HB1B, FT817   etc.

(3) Bands - Any of the amateur bands - including 160m, 2m are at play.  Propagation is direct skywave with no use of repeaters on VHF/UHF.

(4) All amateur antennas, homebrewed or commercial are allowed.  No restrictions.

(5) Time limit:  There is no time limit.  However, the elapsed time based on your log will be posted on your certificate.  The goal is still to do it in 100 days or less

(6) Logs:  Use of the ARRL QRP/DXCC record sheet is encouraged.  However, a spreadsheet that contains the same information will also do.  The first log entry will have a date as early as 1/1/2016 but not earlier.  Please submit your logs to me either electronically or by snail mail upon completion of 100 DXCC entities.

(7) Spotting assistance, use of the cluster is also allowed.   Being QRP, this is not to your advantage, since by the time they are spotted, and even if it is semi-rare, you will have difficulty breaking the pileup.  DO NOT TURN UP THE POWER KNOB.  Use of dedicated QRP rigs with power limited to QRP levels is encouraged.

(8) If you are using a special QRP rig, key or antenna for this purpose and wish to incorporate that graphic into your certificate - please submit a JPEG of such items:  Examples Argonaut 515, Heath HW08, K1, K2, KX3, FT817, Magnetic Loops. etc.

(9) Awards:  A framed and matted certificate - 11x14 see example below will be given to each participant who reaches the 100 DXCC entity goal.  If you wish to get the ARRL QRP DXCC Award, in addition send me a check for $10 payable to the ARRL to cover the ARRL processing fee, along with the ARRL DXCC QRP Application form - signed and dated.  You will get your ARRL Certificate in the mail.  Subsequently you will be added to the list of QRP/DXCC holders which is updated yearly in December


(10) Eligibility:  You don't have to be a member of SCDXA, NCDXCC or Greer Amateur Radio Club to join.  Any reader of this blog who has a radio amateur license is free to join.  However there is an entry deadline of December 31, 2015.  Certificates for any DX entries, or any radio amateur outside of SCDXA, NCDXCC or GARC will be mailed electronically as a PDF file.


The NCDXCC, SCDXA, and Greer Amateur Radio Club reflectors can be used to post any interim progress.  Tho progress reports will be posted on this blog.


David Day's - directional and gain magnetic loop