QRP DXing is like riding a Penny Farthing: its both simple and hard
I received great news – it looks like I will be on the air with the Elecraft KX-2 and with the UrbanBeam up 65′ by the end of this weekend. I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s “Free Range QRP DXing Manifesto” blog post, and its now set – its simple, yet hard. Its simple, because like the rider above on the Penny Farthing – he has only what he needs to travel – there are no gears, bells and whistles, just wheels, a seat and his own personal power and ability to get up on the bike – and stay on it. He will travel under “his own steam”. Its hard – because he can’t just hop on a motorized vehicle and let someone or something else transport him.
Free Range Penny Farthing Riders
Sprocket Man – by R. Holoch (KY6R)
I love the Zen expression “Do Nothing Extra”. I’ve meditated on that quite a bit as I have gotten older. I’ve even asked myself “What if I do Nothing?”. You see, there are so many situations in life where we are pulled in many directions. And because we only live this life and now – we have to make choices. Its true – we will never pass this way again as far as this exact time and place and our being in this time and place is concerned. Not to get too deep now – maybe a better way to phrase this is “Make Hay While The Sun Shines”.
Preparing the Hay Harvest to Prepare for the Long Winter Months
When I started DXing in 2001, I am sooooo glad that I had a “twinge” and thought – WOW – this DXCC program is a bit “anachronistic” – my first reaction was “I better do this while we still can activate all of these ultra rare and costly / hard to get to places”. I also thought – “Better throw all firepower and antennas at the problem” – which was my “Young Man’s” (OK – well younger man’s) fancy. I have no regrets – in fact I feel pretty darned smart, and obviously have bragged about my accomplishments. After all – with this hobby and pursuit of DX – all we get is bragging rights, really.
Sometimes “Doing Nothing Extra” means its Complex
After swearing that I would never use more than 100 watts and wire to get to DXCC Honor Roll, I quickly got more complex and turned the dial up to 11 – and I then had a complex station – with radio, tuner, amp and tower with massive antenna. I remember thinking “Have I gone too far?”. And I asked myself “How Much is Enough?” – another corollary on “Do Nothing Extra”.
Now I have gotten that out of my system. A few years back I read about a fellow who earned DXCC Honor Roll using only QRP and a massive 5 element home brewed quad antenna. However, he started his pursuit many years before I did – and it took him a long time to earn that. In 2001 I knew time would be short on DXCC – that the sun would be setting on the program in many ways (Cost, Access and even just the average age of the DXer getting older geometrically each year). In fact – there is now a dearth of DXers willing and able to go on DXpeditions and to activate these places.
I’ve done Complex – it was necessary, but that phase of my DX-ing is now over for good – I’m on to Simple
I’ll never forget the three times where I really felt like an idiot running QRO:
Each one of these things felt like “a bridge too far”. I do remember thinking that I wish I could just run low power and get the job done. If I had started DXing back in 1973 – when I got my first ham ticket – I could have run low power – I would have time. As it turns out – I did what was required to get to HR in 11 years – but am at the point where I could be one of the first hams who will never be able to “work them all” – since I need Bouvet and Glorioso. It is possible that I will never work them.
SO, do I just complain that “Its over, Ham Radio and DX-ing is dying?”. Of course not. Instead, I have been thinking since VK0EK in 2016 – “What can I do to rekindle that great feeling of working an ATNO – but not feel redundant?”.
Yesterday’s Blog Post is my answer, and like 2001 – I’m doing the right thing at the right time in the right place. This time around less is more – when it comes to power output – but antenna wise – that needs to be as complex as it needs to be to make 5 watts seem like several hundred.
Less is More and Do Nothing Extra are very interesting things to contemplate, and QRP – like me selling my car and using a bike to get around for the past 2 years all seems to make more sense now than it would have in 2001.