Back in CW, QRP and HF…

Two weeks ago with the ICOM 703+ (now, already 12 years old…) and the the AME Bushwacker in SS mode, I had managed a dozen or so QRP QSOs in the SKCC WES. And this weekend, although I was in the shack for less than one hour, I was able to complete four QRP DX QSOs in the 15M Band: three in the Caribbean (ZF, KP4, KP2 and PP2CC). Yes, Rans PP2CC from Luziânia in the State of Goiás was able to receive the 5W signal that my 703 was outputting in Ottawa into the endfed long wire winding up and down the maple tree in the backyard of my QTH. Not a lesser achievement for that same antenna was the fact that the signal that it received from Goiás was being emitted at only 100W. Being heard by three of the “powerhouses” in the Caribbean (ZF1A, KP4AA and KP2A) was already awsome enough, but reaching the heart of Brasil with ony 5W, was a rare and almost unbelievable treat which turned real this morning, when in the RUMlogNG software that I use to keep track of my logs, I received Rans’ QSL via LoTW.

Granted, I was not operating CW manually, as in these contests reports are seldom exchanged at speeds below 30 WPM, speeds that I am unable to reach manually even with a iambic paddle: instead, this time I had decided to use the internal keyer of the ICOM-703 (not the most intuitive of keyers, but easy to operate once one understands the peculiarities of the button menus in the 703). Receiving, of course, was by human ear, something I still can manage even without earphones. CW at 30+ WPM is not something I can decode at first shot, but after hearing it transmitted two or three time I am often quite comfortable with my decoding. The power, something that DX stations were required to transmit with their report, was easy to pick since it was usually either K, KW or, in the case of PP2CC, a clear ATT often repeated as 1TT. The 15M band had its peculiar strong QSB, but I was glad to see that propagation seems to be slowly improving as the solar cycle continues to progress towards its new maximum. One thing is also certain: the four stations that I had the fortune of being able to contact in this ARRL DX CW were not experiencing the same temperature as that indicated by the thermometer outside the window of my shack…

73 ALL!