QRP Hours contest – after the event

As planned I operated in this relaxed event tonight, for a couple of hours.

I decided to use my IC703, partly because it has a CW filter and I know how useful that is even in a quiet cw contest.  (I should get one for my FT817).  The other advantage the IC703 has over the FT817 is that it has a speech compressor which improves the average power output on SSB.  But as a test and a self imposed handicap I decided to cut the IC703 power level down from its nominal 10 watts to 2 watts for this event.

First an hour on CW, where I made 11 contacts.  As you can tell this is not a hard paced, highly pressured event.

Then an hour on SSB where I made 17 contacts, a few more than I did last year.  I recognised some of the callsigns from last year and also made contacts with friends such as  Mike VK2IG, Murray VK1MDP, Waldis VK1WJ and Peter Vk3YE.

I don’t think running 2 watts instead of 5 or 10 made any difference to the number of contacts made.  While 10 watts is 5 times higher, which translates to 7 decibels, 80m generally provides good propagation and there is more than enough “head room” in the available signal levels for QRP signals to be easily readable.  80m can be a noisy band on SSB especially late at night.  There was some electrical storm noise but it wasn’t too bad.  Another time those 7db might have been quite important.

A few interstate stations gave me good signal strength reports so the old 80m dipole at 6 metres above ground was doing its usual job.

The low dipole isn’t any use for dx though.  I have heard some US and JA signals on the CW end of the band but even the strong ones rarely even return a QRZ? to my call.  Have to get a decent vertical going on that band to work dx.