From: Mike J Pulley (
Date: Fri Sep 29 1995 - 19:32:00 EDT

     Why do QRPers insist on using our laptop-sized radios
     outdoors? I've settled on five answers.
     1. Every really critical radio operation has always been
       portable. Operating from a picnic table beneath the open
       sky links us with those Real Communicators of Lore, those
       men and women who got the message through under tough
       conditions. You're with the WWII Australian coast watcher
       reporting enemy movements and never more than one step ahead
       of capture. Your breath hangs in icy clouds with the
       Antarctic explorers who reach out and touch someone for
       morale and supplies. You're preparing for the day when your
       training, ingenuity, and mettle are put to the test and you
       work among the hams who report widespread or remote
       catastrophes and serve as the conduit for relief messages.
     2. QRP is by nature small and light and therefore
       portable. This is the "we do it simply because we can"
       argument, the same reason many professional musicians relish
       hitting those high notes and hot licks.
     3. Outdoors is an excellent opportunity to experiment with
       big antennas. This is our chance to test the theory that
       whatever we forfeit in QRP power, we recover in efficient
       killer antennas.
     4. The scenery in our home shacks rarely change. Though
       our signals travel to yonder corners of the globe, we sit
       glued to a 10 foot operating radius. How long can we stare
       at the same wall or out the same window without suffering
       psychosomatic psymptoms?
     5. It's fun to watch the reactions we get from onlookers!
     This year was especially rich in onlooker reactions.
     Shortly after we started, "Burton", a gray veteran from
     the war in the South Pacific, hobbled over on crutches,
     attracted by the sounds of CW. The sight of simple
     radios (and simple people using them, no doubt!)
     prompted him to reminisce about a younger time before
     crutches were necessary. Burton sat patiently,
     listening and conversing between contacts. He had
     learned Morse back in the Navy Air corps, but became
     tongue-tied in the language from years of disuse. The
     compact, though obviously fully functional, NE 40/40
     sparked his imagination. He was amazed that a complete
     radio station could be small enough to fit into a 50 mm
     shell box. Ever the flier, Burton saw QRP as the ideal
     emergency communications kit for downed aircraft.
     Then there was the couple in the adjacent campsite who
     rolled out late in the morning to discover our longwire
     antenna stretching 60 feet overhead. When asked how we
     got it up so high, Resident Diplomat Rocky Evans,
     KG7VG, told them we stood on top of their tent and
     threw rocks over the trees. We thought it was pretty
     funny, but I don't think the neighbors appreciated the
     humor. Maybe that's why they confiscated our spool of
     string near their campsite.
     Lots of people on their morning walks pointed at our
     picnic table, then into the treetops with wide eyes.
     "How did they get that up so high?" What? That? Oh
     that's easy with this trusty wrist rocket sling shot
     thingy here. You say you've never seen a sling shot
     with a casting reel attachment? I'll tell you, it's a
     sight better than shinnying up those trees or throwing
     Mr. Crescent Wrench! It's a lot safer, too.
     Later in the day, "Joe" stepped over. You see,
     curiosity had been gnawing on Joe all morning and
     finally got the better of him. Joe's a ham from
     Phoenix, too. He's often fantasized about operating
     portable from a picnic table in Arizona's tall
     Ponderosa pines, but he had never actually seen it
     done. Until now. He asked questions about every piece
     of equipment and every technique. I expect to hear him
     on these QRP contests someday.
     Obligatory QRP Content:
     Ours was essentially a 2-ham operation again this year.
     Rocky Evans, KG7VG, and Mike Pulley, WB4ZKA, along with
     Mike's wife and daughters and Rocky's dog, headed to
     the tall, cool mountains just south of Flagstaff, AZ
     for QRP-Afield. Our station consisted of NE 40/40, MFJ-
     9020, borrowed tuner, and an end-fed longwire antenna
     with <trip!> lots of <snag!> radials <stumble!>
     connected directly <tug!> to the tuner.
     Being on the western fringe of a New England-based
     radio club does have its drawbacks. Namely, we
     couldn't hear anyone from New England. Well, almost.
     We did work W1NRG (#300) in CT. Out of 31 QSOs, we
     worked only 6 NE-QRP members, mostly from west of the
     Mississippi. The rest were a mixture of QRP (64%) and
     QRO (36%) stations who stopped by for a brief chat.
     The membership number in our report confused several
     operators. They though it was a serial number, so we
     worked two club founder stations with "membership" #
     001! Next year, I think I'll report my power like a
     non-member to avoid so much confusion and explanation.
     We *really* liked the sliding contest period this year.
     Six hours is the perfect contest duration to enjoy with
     non-ham family and friends. There is a movement afoot
     here to redefine Field Day for our group as a sliding 6-
     or 8-hour QRP contest in a 24-hour window. We plan to
     compete just against ourselves from year to year, and
     avoid making it a blood `n' guts radio marathon.
     31 QSOs, 13 multipliers, high power, in the field
     brings our score to 1612, two-thirds of last year's
     score. Wait til next year!
     Thanks again to Jim Finton and Chester Bowles for
     putting on another excellent QRP-Afield!
     -- Mike Pulley, WB4ZKA
        Phoenix, AZ

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