QRP Operating Notes

Last weekend, our family had its annual get-together “up north,” as we say here in Michigan, at some cabins on Elk Lake. As I have for the last three years, I took my Elecraft KX-1 and did some operating.

This year, I had a lot more success than in years past. I attribute that to my antenna. The first two years, I used a 28-ft. random wire with a counterpoise. This is the antenna recommended in the KXAT1 antenna tuner manual. 28 feet is not a half wave on either 40m or 20m and, therefore, does not present a high impedance to the tuner at those frequencies. That antenna did tune up, but it wasn’t a very good performer.

This year, I used the 66-ft. doublet that I built last summer at an AMP Team meeting. Every time I’ve used it I’ve gotten good results. This year was no exception. In fact, I almost worked my first DX on 40m. One night, I heard EI9JF calling CQ. He had a strong signal, so I thought I had a good shot at working him. He heard me, but couldn’t quite make out my call, though, so I can’t claim a QSO.

One of the contacts I made was with W9ZN in Chicago. He was running a kW, while my little KX1 was putting out only 3W. Even so, he gave me a 579 signal report. He, of course, was 599+ at my QTH. Just goes to show you that you don’t have to run big power to make contacts.

Another notable contact was with N8UN in East Jordan, MI. East Jordan is about 20 miles away from where I was, as the crow flies, yet he gave me a 599 report. That got me to speculating about the propagation between our two locations. It seems to me that 20 miles away would be too far for a ground wave, but it also seems unlikely that we’d have been bouncing a near vertical signal off the ionosphere. I guess the latter is more plausible than the former, though. If you have any thoughts about this, please leave a comment.


  1. Dan KB6NU says:

    Last night, on 40m CW, I had a QSO reminescent of my East Jordan QSO with Larry, W8NIC. Larry’s QTH is Utica, MI, which, according to QRZ.Com, is about 45 miles from Ann Arbor. He was running only 5W and was 559 here in Ann Arbor. I was running 75W and got a 599 report from Larry. 45 miles is definitely too long for ground wave, especially running only 5W. So, I’m guessing that this was again some kind of weird NVIS propagation.

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