K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Mike - K7RVX

I am back into CW QRP again, with an occasional shift to 2m FM for the local emergency net on Thursday nights (on a 2-watt HT, naturally). I hardly ever use the TS-140S any more. Frankly, It's just not that much fun compared to QRP. Now I divide my time between an FT-817 I just bought and the SW-20 I built last Spring. I use a half-size G5RV on the roof when I'm home and a Saint Louis Vertical when I'm elsewhere (usually in Wyoming, visiting the in-laws). I just finished building an LDG tuner and balun for the FT-817, and can't wait to try it out on a really lengthy longwire hung in the top of one of the huge Cottonwood trees they have near Grandma's house.

Although I have some nice paddles for the FT-817 and an old Heathkit iambic keyer, I usually use the same J-47 key my Dad (ex-W7BLM) gave me when I was 13. I do it because my Dad died last year, and it is so fun to think about the first QSO we made with that key when I got my Novice ticket back in 1960. The rig back then was a crystal-controlled 6AQ5 oscillator link coupled to a really nice dipole Dad and I had just built in the back yard. We tuned the transmitter up by holding a loop of wire hooked to a #47 pilot lamp over the tank coil and tuning for maximum brightness on the lamp. Believe it or not, it worked! The frequency was 7189 kc (they didn't have kHz back then). We made two A-frame masts described in the ARRL Handbook, and the wire was up an honest 40 feet. The receiver was the Hallicrafters S-38E, and it had just been aligned. Dad felt really confident that we would work somebody that Saturday morning, but I was skeptical. It just didn't seem possible.

Finally the moment of truth arrived! We heard Al, K9YJQ calling CQ right on our frequency. Dad said to answer him, which I nervously did, fully expecting and sort of hoping for no response. Well, Al came right back with a cheerful 579 report from Chicago, just like we were next door. I was so flustered I didn't know what to do, so Dad helped me through the rest of the QSO. I think we gave Al a 599 and asked him for a QSL, which still holds an honored place in my QSL collection.

I ended up working about 40 states with that 6AQ5 transmitter, which for a long time I thought ran about 25 watts. We finally checked plate voltage and current one evening to make sure we were legal, and the DC power input turned out to be about 3 watts! Probably the radiated power was about half that much. So I had run QRP for about 4 months and not even known it!

You're right about CW, John. It will get through when NOTHING else will, including all the wondrous digital modes like PSK-31. Many times I have been on 20-meter PSK when none of the waterfall signals I was seeing would print, and then drop down to 14.060 and work QRP DX right off the bat. Guess who doesn't work PSK-31 any more?

Well, thanks for the bandwidth. 72! Mike Johnson, K7RVX, West Jordan, Utah

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