In my last published field report, you might recall that I successfully activated a park using 500 milliwatts or ½ of a watt. I was so surprised by the results of using this QRPp power level I immediately made plans to push the power level even lower during my next activation.
Let’s face it, I was drunk with a lack of power!
After my last field report, there were quite a few questions about the term QRPp and what it means. To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s an “official” definition, but here’s what is widely accepted as QRP power categories:
- QRP: 5 watts to 1 watt (for some contest 10 watts = SSB QRP)
- QRPp: Less than 1 watt to 100 mw
- QRPpp: Less than 100mw
I don’t own a field radio that allows me to lower the output power to QRPpp levels. In fact, few of my radios actually allow me to lower power below one watt.
My Elecraft radios, however, do allow me to lower power output to as low as 0.1 watts or 100 milliwatts.
On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, my travel schedule shifted and it opened up the entire afternoon to play radio.
A rarity indeed!
It was very rainy and foggy that day and I didn’t have my ENO rain fly with me, so I decided to visit a park with a good picnic shelter to keep me, an my gear, nice and dry.
Fort Dobbs State Historic Site (K-6839)
I had four park options with covered picnic shelters within a 45 minute drive. I decided that I would try to activate Fort Dobbs State Historic (since it had been a couple months since I’d visited) and Lake Norman State Park would be my back-up plan.
Fort Dobbs is a small park, so I called in advanced and asked for permission to do the activation and also asked if their picnic shelter was reserved.
The rangers there know me, so the phone call was pretty quick–no need to explain POTA nor my motivations. They told me that on rainy/foggy December days they have so few guests that I was welcome to use the picnic shelter or even the entire park if I wished (perhaps an ideal time to erect a Rhombic antenna–okay, just kidding!).
The Dobbs park rangers an volunteers are the best!
I needed to make the most of my 100 milliwatts, so I figured the MM0OPX EFHW would be the best antenna for the job.
Deploying the antenna was a wee bit tricky. As I demonstrate in the activation video (see below) I actually had to launch the throw line quite high into a tree next to the shelter. This was one of those rare occasions that my 25 meter throw lines wouldn’t have been long enough. It took two tries with the throw line (off camera) but I did manage to snag the best tree limb.
One thing that would have helped the antenna would have been a proper counterpoise or a long feed line (since end-feds use the RG-316 shield as counterpoise). Unfortunately, I only had a 10-12′ length of feedline–too short, but then again EFHWs are pretty darn forgiving.
Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, and eBay links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.
- Elecraft KX2
- MM0OPX QRP EFHW (Contact Colin for Availability)
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch
- Moleskine Cahier Journal
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera (affiliate links)
A few notes about QRPp operation
I decided to start my 100 mW activation on the 20 meter band. If you watch the video, you’ll note that I moved around a bit before finding a good calling frequency. That is to be expected when operating QRPp.
I do have some potentially helpful advice should you decide to go QRPp someday:
- Since your power output is so low, you really do want to find a clear spot on the dial giving your activation wide berth. Even if my KX2 has no problem operating only 0.5 kHz away from another station (receiver-wise) the other station may wipe out or QRM my puny signal on the hunter’s side. It’s much better to space yourself a good 1 kHz+ away from other stations if possible.
- You may find that someone starts operating right on top of you even after you listened and called “QRL?” before sending CQ. This is because the other station simply can’t hear you. Just QSY!
- In fact, many of the hunters searching for you have noise levels at home that are S5 or higher. If your QRPp signal is 529, they’re not going to hear you through the noise.
- Of course, to make the most of your wee wattage, choose an efficient antenna. It’ll be doing the heavy lifting.
That said, it was time to see if I could log ten contacts and validate this activation with 100 mW!
On the Air
My first contact was my friend Bob (WC1N)! What a brilliant think to work POTA royalty with 100 mW!
Then, the stations kept coming in. I was floored!
In ten minutes, I logged ten stations.
This really surprised me. The signal reports were all pretty low 529/539 etc. but golly! It actually worked!
Here are my first ten contacts (click image to enlarge). I should buy them all a beer:
After validating this activation, I then pumped up the power to five watts. As much as I loved playing with 100 mW, I wanted to give hunters a chance to work me in case they haven’t yet worked someone at K-6839.
I continued working 20 meters for a while, then moved up to 17 meters where I increased power to 10 watts.
Next, I moved down to 40 meters and decreased power back down to 5 watts.
In the end, I worked a total of 65 stations in 82 minutes.
It was such a luxury not being pressed for time.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click image to enlarge).
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
The real hero here
Obviously, the MM0OPX end-fed half-wave antenna is extremely efficient and effective. I know Colin’s focus with this particular design was efficiency; he obviously achieved it.
As I mentioned in a previous field report, Colin does sell these antennas, but only in small batches. This is more a labor of love for him rather than a business. In addition, at time of posting, I believe he may pause the business for a few weeks due to an injury to his hand. I assume Colin may have a wait list; you might drop him an email if interested (use his address on QRZ.com).
Thank You & Happy New Year!
I hope you enjoy my field reports and my activation videos as much as I enjoyed creating them. It’s a pleasure to share my field experiences with you and I appreciate the fact you accompany me.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me and here’s wishing you a Peaceful, Happy, Prosperous, and Radio-Active New Year!
Best & 72,