Saturday, October 23, 2010


Last night I set up my QRP station on the kitchen table.  I enjoy operating from this centralized location rather than the basement for a change.  It's easier to interact with the family and I'm closer to the fridge.  I have a hole in the floor through which I can pass the main coax cable from the 40 meter end fed.  When I am done I drop the coax back down and coil the excess where the cable enters the house near the basement shack.

Another piece of gear I recently obtained for my QRP setup is a 28 amp-hour Absorbed Glass Matt battery.  This is a sealed lead acid battery engineered for deep cycle use.  Because it is sealed it is safe for use and recharging indoors.  The battery is a little large for my intended purpose but I wanted a power source I could use for extended periods of operation without always having to worry about recharging. 
I wired up an in line fuse to the rig's power cable and connected a coax jumper from the rig to a dummy load.  I connected my Bushwhacker paddle and gave it a try.  The keyer module I installed the night before worked perfectly however I had to switch the leads around on the paddle.  The dots and dashes were reversed.  This is not a big deal because the input of the K-5 Logikeyer in the main shack is reversible whereas the basic keyer circuit of the MFJ-412 is not.

I wanted to do more QRP operating this summer but life got in the way as usual and looking at my mini log I noticed that I had not made a contact with the MFJ since June.  I've been reading about other's successful QRP operations on ham radio blogs and thought it high time to get back on the air using the MFJ transceiver.  After verifying the usual 1.3 SWR on the antenna system I sent out some CQs.  Shortly I got a response from AD1R, Dave from Halifax, MA about 625 miles away.  My next call netted KG0RD, Tim in Omaha, NE 690.4 miles in the other direction.  My last contact of the evening turned out to be the big surprise that smashed my QRP distance record from back in April.  Tuning around I stumbled upon KG7RS calling CQ.  I answered the call and he responded with QRZ?  That was a hopeful sign for at least he knew I was there.  I sent my call again three times and then heard my call sign sent back to me from the other station.  John, KG7RS from Mesa, Arizona and I established contact at 03:19 UTC on approximately 7.105 MHz.  The distance between us an astounding 1,661.4 miles.  A wireless link made using the little 5 watt radio pictured above running on a 12 volt battery and made possible by the amazing properties of the ionosphere.  

I beat my old record set using the MFJ 9040 by 670 miles.  I'm sure the increased solar flux we have been experiencing thanks to the sunspots has much to do with my success and that of other QRPer's I have been reading about having fun doing more with less in amateur radio.  

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