QRP contesting is never easy but it can be amazing.
Having said that, QRP contesting really, really needs decent conditions.
This weekend is the CQ WW DX CW contest. It’s the biggest CW contest of the year. I’ve spent my entire Amateur Radio life preparing for this weekend. Okay that might be a bit much but I’ve at least worked on the station all this week getting ready.
And then on Friday we got word that two M-class solar flares were predicted to hit earth this weekend. When the earth’s ionosphere is struck by the solar energy of a flare it’s like contesting in a time of cholera (stealing a title from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love In A Time of Cholera). All or some of the bands go dead.
This weekend wasn’t quite that bad but it’s Sunday 5 am and I can hear North American stations and on KH7 out of Alaska on 80 and that’s it. On Friday night of the contest I heard Africa (can’t remember who now) on 80 which was a first but the rest of the bands were in very poor shape.
Saturday was up and down with it being mostly down but not as bad as I had thought. We’ll see what Sunday holds as I await 40 meters which is very wishy washy right now.
So here’s my point. When you’re contesting, you’re contesting. It’s like when you go fishing and you don’t catch any fish. You were still fishing.
And at any power level whether it be five watts, a 100 watts or a KW you’re still contesting.
For QRP contesters it’s important to remember you are always much more powerful than you think. You’re louder than you can imagine and with quiet conditions your signal is perfectly readable right into the noise level.
You can break pileups in a single call. You can leap over KW stations and transmit as fast as a speeding electron.
But remember with this great power comes great responsibility. Don’t needless tuneup thinking no one can hear your peanut whistle. I was tuning a Tuna-Tin transmitter at 300 milliwatts on 40 when out of the blue came a ?? I thought that can’t be for me. It was and I worked a guy in Illinois.
Solar flares make for very challenging but extremely interesting contesting conditions. So far this weekend I’ve worked over 150 stations doing search and pounce including several stations in Africa, Australia (long path again) and Japan. I heard Vietnam for the first time this weekend and a contest station in China knew I was there and calling but we couldn’t make the exchange.
The gods of propagation give and they taketh away. Back to the bands.