QST magazine recently did a review on the new Ten Tec Argonaut which is a 5-watt QRP rig that can be had with a 100-watt matching external amplifier. The reviewer did most of his testing at 100 watts and then expressed great surprise when he could actually work some DX at QRP levels.
You see in any decent 48-hour CW contest I work hundreds of DX contacts running the FlexRadio 1500 at 5 watts into either my modest Hy-Gain Explorer at 16 meters or a Butternut vertical (80-10) or a G5RV-JR or other various dipoles and end-feed wires.
But QRP operation can open a whole new world to you as well.
The Hunt has multipliers for home-brew equipment, for operating near water (I’m not kidding.) and operating portable. (That’s him in the photo.)
I wished I had known about the contest as I’m within walking distance of the north shore of Lake Ontario and there are a bunch of parks with trees that I could have used.
One tip: Ambient noise is often an issue when operating outdoors. If you’ve got noise cancelling headphones or earbuds that make a good seal in the ears will be very helpful.
Also I use a Par end-feed antenna that requires only one end high in a tree and is terminated in connection to a short run of RG-58 coax. Martin’s antenna setup will work better but requires more setup.
When operating in a public place I’d suggest finding a picnic table that’s a little out of the way and make certain the antenna is well out of the way and the feedline isn’t dangling in such a way as to provoke comment or complaint.
I’ve got an 8-amp 12-volt gel cell which will power a 5-watt rig for days and days. My entire QRP station (Ten Tec R-4020, Elecraft QRP autotuner, paddles, Par antenna and feedline plus roll of twine and the battery) fits into a small handyman’s tool bag.