Why I gave up QRO (vy long/entertaining)

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From: Jim Hydzik (congress@magpage.com)
Date: Tue Mar 11 1997 - 16:48:50 EST


This is a little similar to the 'I used to be a QRPer' thread but here it goes.

               This gets better towards the end :)

Bottom line first: The hobby advantage for high power operation just wasn't
worth all the effort it took to do QRO. It was laziness and lack of reward
that left me in the world of QRP.

The first amp was a single 813, then came the B&W LPA-1 with a pair of 'em,
then the 30L-1. Each of these babies required more work (to me) than they
were worth. The dipole's ceramic insulators cracked, no, blew apart
big-time in the rain, and I've set more than one tree on fire...oh yes, lots
of smoke first, but then the flames came. Picture goes here of WA3QCV's dad
outside across the street with a garden hose before the FD arrived. Then
there was the TVI....no problem in my house, but those old B&W tv's without
cable wern't too hard to overload. Neither were the neighbors' stereos and
their new synthesized organs.

Did I mention the telephone interference? How about moisture in the traps
of the beam and the verticals blowing things apart. Then the Hornets nest
catching on fire the following year in the big traps. All of these antenna
parts were rates at 2KW.

The LPA-1 took low drive for full power with the tuned input pack and often
I'd forget to hit the external bypass relay switch and work the target with
the Globe Scout 65B barefoot. There didn't seem to be much difference in
the kill-Q rate during any of the contests either. Ah, worked 583 contacts
on Field Day one year. Oops, worked 581 the year before with a Johnson
Challenger and same antennas. I knew I was supposed to progress in the
direction of my elmers and pedestalized DXers of the Western Penna DX
Society, but something was wrong. There was more time spent cleaning up RF
overload problems than working DX. A review of any previous year showed
multiple log books filled with month after month of non-US stations and
nearly all of it at 5-40 watts output.

I just got tired of the chase to fix yet another new radio or TV in the
neighborhood. With the amps gone it was back to building 6AQ5 homebrew TX's
and VFOs, and receivers. That took a little time but man what a rush
working 300+ Q's on a DX contest with the first all homebrew station. Wish
I'd kept that HB rcv'r with the Collins 200 Hz BW 10-pole filter.

Life began with less than 40 watts output, but after the amp-on/amp-off
experience, I was ready for the next revalation. The 6AQ5 TX with just a
couple watts out was turning out 375 Q's on the next Field Day. Looking at
the Math I finally figured it out. It's the antenna dummy. I forgot to
mention that in my 2nd year as a ham, now 15-16 yrs old, I won 2nd prize at
the local hamfest, a 6 element widespaced Telrex beam and had it up 60 feet
for many years. Hell, I thought everybody had the ability to work Europe 24
hrs a day on 20M.

With 280+ countries worked with less than 40 watts before getting married,
there seemed no reason to crank up the power. Then, one day, at the same
ham club, I ended up getting the Globe King 500C for $50 because the guy who
won it on a $1 raffle ticket couldn't take it home. Oh Yeah, QRO! Nobody
let me rest. Kids, wife, neighbors, no one wanted to even see the filaments
turned on. Still didn't work any further. Guess the 3 element monoband 40M
yagi did all the work and it was back to 6AQ5.

The rest of the stories can be pryed out for a Pepsi and a slice of pizza
and there are many more to be told. I grew up as a near-QRPer and didn't
know any better. When I evaluated all the time, money, effort, and near
death experiences that QRO provided, and aware of not having any more fun,
it all seemed pointless. One year I ran CQWW DX CW with a couple of avid
(Darn Good) DXers. I was definitely the least skilled of the crew. I took
the midnight to 7 AM shift in a strange station and when every one went to
sleep, I turned off the Alpha Amp. and went to 50 watts output to kill the
flickering of the lights in the shack. My Q-rate was 2nd highest out of 4
guys and not far from the highest. That was my last day of operation above
5 watts. Joined ARCI that year too.

In recent posts there is talk of QRPers' receiving skills being a little
higher than the average. I'd probably phrase it differently. We are so
accustomed to listening for the signals at the noise level that we never
hear the band go dead. What might seem to be no response to those
accustomed to big sigs during fair band conditions is an opportunity for US
to pick out the 339 stations that are always in there during a contest. We
listen longer for the weak ones. Listen to some of the big guns during a
contest. If no reply to CQ Test is heard within 3 seconds, the next CQ is
hailed. We just don't do it that way. It's not part of our daily habit.

I do hold a distinction between the DXer who does scrape the noisy electrons
off the band to seek out that far off station vs. the loud-amp contester.
The DXer with an amp is just like us, but with more power. If we were to
take the seasoned QRPer and put her/him in the QRO DXers chair for a contest
at 100 watts output, I bet the scores would rival those of Joe-Kilowatt. We
listen better! Been there. Done that. Had a good time. The sunspot
minimum has produced better listeners across the board. Everyone has now
has their share of working a band for hours on end and not seeing the meter
top S-5. When the better conditions return, we have a chance of taking
those who survived the minimum and keeping them listening for the weak ones.
Shortly we'll have before us the best recruiting tools for QRP promotion you
could ever ask for: good DX conditions and QRPers who love their aspect of
the hobby.

Remember a month ago when someone asked if the ARRL is worthy of joining,
well it's like anything else. If we don't like it, then we arn't part of
it. Write the article. Send in the pictures. Tell the story. It's what
makes OUR QRP publications so good and just out of shear volume, the other
magazines will publish a share of our stories too. There is enough talent
on this reflector to help you with your story or article. If you're
intimidated (who isn't the first 2-3 times) to submit a raw article, pick
one of the QRP newsletter editors to review it for you. I know a few of
these guys and everyone of them would be proud to help 'dress up' an article
going to the big house. That goes for me too.

>From story to proselytization, not bad for not being in Peterborough, New
Hampshire

Gary-N3GO's long message made me do it, Jim K3QIO Delaware (formerly NH)


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