Finding the Good Stuff
by Ron Chester ★ Saturday, October 16, 2021

One of the main challenges with the Internet is finding the good stuff. That's true with ham radio, just like anything else.  First licensed in 1960, I mostly concentrated on HF and working DX. Around 1999 I moved back to Silicon Valley after living in the Los Angeles area since the mid 1970's. Soon after returning to Northern California, I discovered the Norcal QRP Club and soon after that I started contesting with low power, inspired by the activities of the Norcal QRP Club. QRP has been the niche in ham radio that interests me the most ever since then.  

I found out about an excellent resource for QRP by attending the Norcal meetings after the flea markets in the East Bay once a month. It was a mailing list on the Internet called QRP-L. Everyone active in the QRP world was also on that mailing list. There have been some changes over the years with who is running the list and where the server is located for the list. During the height of the Norcal days, the list was very active and later tapered off some, as did QRP-L. But amazingly there is still an active QRP-L more than two decades after I first discovered it. Google QRP-L and you'll find it is now on a server at which also hosts archives of the postings to the list, available only to members.  

I want to point to a recent example of what an excellent resource QRP-L is for QRPers. But I can't do it in the normal way it would be done on the Internet, by simply linking to an example of an excellent posting. That's because only members of the list can read the archived postings! A non-member would not be able to see such an example, if I were to link to it. So I can only describe it to a non-member.  It was posted to the list on Sat Oct 9 05:55:10 EDT 2021. The very first email to the list on that day was titled One Year with the IC-705 - and a 20 Foot Wire. It was from a QRPer who lives in a HOA environment that allows no antennas. This is not an uncommon situation a ham might find oneself in, especially more and more these days. He bought a new Icom 705 and proceeded to get on the air in spite of the restriction, using a 20 foot long wire with a rock tied on the end, thrown into a tree out my window.  This end-fed antenna was essentially invisible to other members of the community, so he was able to use this to make contacts with other hams all over the world for the next year. On the one year anniversary of the start of this experiment, he was writing to the list with a report about his results using this stealth antenna during that year. He used a tuner to operate on all HF bands, 160 meters to 6 meters, using power levels of no more than five watts, mostly one-half watt out. He had made 3021 QSOs with 58 countries, mostly with cw, during a period of poor solar conditions. He said I love the challenge and rewards of operating QRP and encourage you all to give QRP a try!  

Of course he was preaching to the choir, as the members of the list are all QRPers with their own similar results. But it is always gratifying to read what others have accomplished and the next seven emails posted to the list that day were congratulating him on what he had done. He had done it with super low power and a very modest wire antenna, to say the least, so folks really did appreciate what he had done. He had not been shooting fish in a barrel as a friend of mine in Norcal used to like to describe QRO operation with gigantic beam antennas and KW amplifiers. It was done in the original tradition of making contacts with the minimal power required to make the contact. 

About seven hours later another member posted his results from running 3 watts and less to end fed wire antennas run through an antenna tuner, none up more than 15 feet. He is currently standing at 191 DXCC entities using that configuration. His rig is powered by a 9 volt battery, which is why he is limited to 3 watts out, rather than 5.  

Two hours after the first posting of the day, Hans G0UPL of QRP Labs wrote in to announce their upcoming new QDX transceiver, a four band 5W digi modes transceiver for 80, 40, 30 and 20m. It will cost $80, plus an extra $20 for a handsome extruded aluminum enclosure, all easily held in the palm of one's hand. They will soon be taking orders for the first run of 450 kits. Because of the current global shortage of some semiconductor devices, he doesn't know how soon he will have another run of kits ready to be shipped.  Several days later they started taking orders for the kit and the first run of 450 kits sold out within 15 mins.