QRP from the QTH

So today is memorable for two things, one is my 28th Wedding Anniversary to XYL Monica. We are so blessed to have each other and I’m so thankful to have an amazing missus who I love so dearly.

Also today I made my first ever QRP contact from my QTH with 10W of power. I’ve had the ‘setup’ for a few weeks, and its been sat under my table (sadly) waiting for a time to go out. Today the weather has been fantastic in IO90, so I seized the opputnity to get out with the 705 in my front garden.

For those who are inclined, here is the setup I used today.

  • Transceiver :- Icom IC705
  • Antenna :- HFJ-350M & CGW-560 Counterpoise
  • Antenna Analyzer :- Rig Expert Zoom AA-55
  • Additionally :- M12 Copper Washer & BD7-Maple Antenna Bracket

I made myself comfortable with a long-used and reliable camping table and as being at home, a soft cushioned chair, which was invaluable for the tuning and waits for the QRP sessions.

I started off tuning the HFJ-350M (350M) for 40M. With the Rig Expert and instructions provided, this was suprisngly easy to get the antenna tuned for the SSB Telephony section of 40m. I started with the measurements from the instructions, and then adjusted the antenna until the SWR was at a good reading.

Tuned into 40m

However with the contest on this weekend 40m was simply full of contesters. I don’t mind on my usual home-rig to take part in contesters and give the 001 serial to give a signal report, but being QRP and for 5-10 with an Italian call sign who was very clear to me, I was unable to complete the contact with my QRP setup.

For interest, I then went onto 20m (14mHz) and found tuning the antenna was straight forward. To start with it was quite close to having a SWR reading of 5-to-6, whilst not good enough, it was better than the ‘infinite’ value, so some fettling with the antenna in slowly sliding and taking a measurement soon produced the whole of the 20m band with good SWR reading for transmission

Again, 20M was full of contesters and I was unable to break the pile ups with my 5W of power. At this time I headed into the ‘shack’ and grabbed my LiFO battery, allow the full 10W of power to be used. I also research non-contest bands and QRP frequency. I found that 17M (18Mhz) was a non-contest band. I was able to use the same method to get a good SWR reading across the 17m band – the antenna was at least matching very well and using a repeatable process I could use in the field.

With some time and patient listening, I heard a call on the QRP frequency on 17M of 18.130, and with of effort with both myself and the operator from Finland listening was able to make my first QRP contact. It was incredibly satisfying with such a low power and compromise setup to make a contact on HF – my report was 5/3 with a very weak signal, understably with 10W and in an urban environment – needless today I was ecstatic to make a contact.

QRP contact video

Whilst I was unable to capture the video (the run time would of been over an hour !) I do capture the unbridled joy of a QRP contact on a portable setup. Hopefully I will be able to make more trips to less RF noisy environments as I thoroughly enjoy QRP operation as it gives a fantastic sense of satisfaction in making contacts with such small amounts of power.