Setup the W4OP mag loop indoors for a 40 meter test run with the WSPRlite transmitter last night using my Mophie powerpack battery. It took me a bit to get the SWR really low on 40 meters, but I think spending that additional time last night adjusting the coupling loop along with the dial, was worth it! The WSPRlite transmits lower, and I recently found out that through the ‘Mac’ version of the SOTABeams configuration software for the WSPRlite that you can actually select 60 meters as an option. The W4OP mag loop actually will go down to 60 meters, but I have yet to transmit there. Since I’m using a mag loop that has such high Q, I won’t need low pass filters when I choose to transmit on bands other than 20 or 30 meters (bands for which the WSPRlite was natively designed). So 60 meters will be my next goal with the WSPRlite!
But check this out… I just transmitted a signal on an indoor mag loop with 200mW ( …that’s 96% less power than it takes to charge your iPhone for those of you who are unfamiliar with such power levels!) and was heard in New Zealand! WSPR is such an amazing software – the SNR was -29! Kudos to K1JT.
Now I’ve gotten quite a few spots up to Canada, and I think maybe a few in Mexico, but nothing ever this distant – and especially – on an indoor mag loop of all antennas! (does the DX happy dance for awhile…).
Here’s a shot of the local ionosonde around the time when the spot occurred, I don’t see any unusual activity, but then again, all it takes is a small opening that an ionosonde may not particularly catch!
I’ve been contemplating QRP more as of late – it certainly is a part of Amateur Radio that requires more skill and patience. My logbook entries have definitely taken a nose dive over the last few months due to my operating shifting towards more portable & QRP operations – but in a way I find these outings & those contacts just that much more valuable. Carrying a 100 watt setup up a summit is no easy feat either – especially considering everything else that you need to carry on such outings!
I recently ran across another hams statement on QRZ…. “QRP is about making the other guy suffer…” That statement really irked me for some reason – because it made me think – even though I may be pursuing QRP – I’m not exactly making it easy for the other guy to hear me either. But I think if you approach QRP from a different perspective – from one that looks at QRP as a specific tool, then your operating becomes much more honed in a way. You concentrate more on using efficient antennas, rather than letting a tuner take care of the rest. You develop more patience and skill as you wait for the opportune moment and listen for those beacons while on HF. You really learn when to hop on the radio and watch the propagation conditions through networks like WSPR, DXHeat, & DXMaps!
I’m not using QRP because I’m trying to make another suffer, I’m using QRP because I think efficiency is paramount – especially when using power… in any situation! I’ve always been more of the ‘power conservation’ type. Besides – we’re supposed to use the minimum power required to make the contact right? I understand that QRP doesn’t always work, I can attest to that! I’ve had many QRP outings where I’ve landed zilch for the logbook! But most of those outings were poorly planned during horrible propagation conditions and using not so efficient antennas. QRP with a dipole vs QRP with a mag loop – there’s going to be some obvious differences – so I choose my antennas carefully now. I love grabbing the mag loop (when I can….), but have generally found that the more time I take to deploy my antennas (the more complex the setup), the more generally satisfied I am with the amount of contacts I make on any given outing. This just goes to show that there is no silver bullet in Amateur Radio – and the closer you try to get to that silver bullet – the less satisfied you’ll be with the outcome.
(on a side note… I have a certain little QRP radio that should be arriving in my shack any day now! keep an eye out for an unveiling!)