DX on 1.5W from a SOTA summit

Who said life is too short for QRP? Not true. Let me explain …

Andrew (VK1AD who used to be VK1NAM) and I activated Mt Goorooyarro (yes, say that with your teeth out!) which lies on Canberra’s border with New South Wales the other evening and it was up there that I made my first real DX contact with my Elecraft KX1.

But let me start at the beginning and save the juicy bits for later.

Mt Goorooyarro (VK1/AC-036) has an altitude of 872m and comes with only one SOTA activator’s point as a result. But don’t let this minimal number fool you; it lies on private property behind a locked gate with a sign warning visitors to keep out as there are unexploded ordinances there. This area, you see, used to be a military firing range and even today it borders on a range that is still in use by the military.

We had permission as long as we kept to the track to the top. So we parked the car on the dirt road near the gate, hoisted our backpacks on and made for the gate.

It was an easy matter to climb over, but not so easy to keep our eyes from that warning sign.

Andrew_Goorooyarro

That sign! Scaling the gate backwards was the way to go.

The walk up to the summit took about 45 minutes with the going ranging from easy to pantingly tough. But we did pass some interesting sights.

IMG_0113

We did wonder how these old cars got there.

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Andrew with one of the many ant hills we encountered.

Once on the summit, we set up our stations and set to work.

Now for that juicy bit I alluded to earlier.

I heard Bernard, F9IE calling on 14.028 CW and as no one responded, I did. And he answered! We had a lovely, longish QSO, which was my first SOTA DX contact. My station consisted of the Elecraft KX1 putting out 1.5W and a Buddistick vertical antenna. Then I worked a JA station (JL1MUT) but conditions were noisy at his end.

That got me thinking about the magic of QRP. Think of it this way: if 100W gets you a S9 reading on someone’s S-meter, what will that same meter read you if you were, like me, putting out a meagre 1.5W?

Here’s the thing: it takes four time the power to move the S-meter one S unit. So going the other way, it takes a signal four times as weak to move the S-meter one S unit down.

So if 100W registers an S9, 25W will register S8, 6W will register S7 and 1.5W will register S6. Remember, we are reducing power by a magnitude of four each time.

So is life really too short for QRP?

 

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4 thoughts on “DX on 1.5W from a SOTA summit

  1. Grant,
    Nice read. Congratulations on your great DX contact with 1.5w.
    As you say, 1.5w should only be 3 S points below 100w so it isn’t really that much less. Apart from that, it is so much more satisfying to make contacts in less than ideal conditions at either end of the path.
    And your SOTA activator score is mounting.
    Always interesting to read about SOTA activations.
    73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

  2. QRP Rules! The feeling of working DX (Europe and Japan) from Down Under with a few watts is a feeling that can’t be beat. But, doing it from a portable set up multiplies that feeling by a zillion times! I have done it often with 2,5 watts into a long wire with counterpoise whilst sitting at a picnic table near about 75m from salt water.

    I worked Bernard F9IE last year when he signed as F9IE/VK2 and also Yo san JL1MUT. However I admit to using more power than you and from the comfort of my home.
    Once again, well done.
    Seeing the tall ant hills reminds me of Botswana!
    Ian ZL2AIM

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