QRP: Use the force Luke

Running QRP (five watts or less) in an SSB contest like CQ WPX SSB where it seems everyone is running a kilowatt or better would seem to be an exercise in insanity…but it’s not...if you use the force.

What’s the QRP force?

It’s called “you’re louder than you think you are” and it’s measured in decibels. If fact, you’re a lot louder than you think you are.  I am reminded of the Star Wars movies where Yoda implores Luke to “use the force.”

(Here’s the secret: A five watt signal is only about 2 S-units less than someone running 100 watts. Yes it’s true that your five watt signal will get swamped by the 100 watts signal but that’s a really good reason to search and pounce and work guys who nobody else is working in that moment.)

Once you truly believe (This is starting to sound like Peter Pan talk!) you’re louder, you’re going to make more contacts. It’s just that simple. How do I know this is true? Well this past weekend, working with somewhere between four and five watts out into a Hi-Gain Explorer beam on 15 meters (always a good band to experiment with QRP as there’s a ton of useable frequency and a small amount of power can work wonders. You can run QRP on any band, including 160, and be successful, it’s just that 15 and 10 meters can propagate your QRP signal easily around the world) I worked over 250 stations and a ton of DX in CQ WPX (where everybody works everybody else).

And how good was the DX?

How about VK4KW who I worked late Sunday afternoon? I also worked a bunch of JAs pretty much effortlessly. Conditions were great with 15 open from 10 am to dusk both days and there’s no doubt that made QRP operation easier. But here’s a secret to QRP. Signal strength is secondary to band conditions. If conditions are very noisy, nobody is going to hear your signal. If the band is very crowded it will have the same effect. But if you’re in the clear, you are going to be amazed at how easily you can work DX.

And, if you’re in southern Ontario, you’re one hop out from the Caribbean and it’s easy to break major pileups on the first call using QRP.

BTW I sold the Icom 756 with dual 500 Hz CW filters on Sunday. The passing of an era has taken place.

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About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

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