Monday, February 21, 2011

ARRL CW DX contesting with 5 watts....3....2....then 500 mW's

As the weekend approached the propagation condition were improving beyond what I had hoped for.  With the solar flux well over 100, sunspots going from 50 up to 100 things were looking great for the ARRL CW DX contest. I had decided to take a very leisurely approach to contesting for me the fun factor is much more important. I am happy to say that there was no computer, radio or antenna hiccups this time around.

Contest breakdown
Band          QSO          Countries          Total points        Fun factor
20m            65              33                       6039                 10/10

As with all contests I am in the QRP category but this year as the solar conditions were on the rise I wanted to go for the gusto.....partway through the contest I dropped the power down to 3 watts from 5. Then Bert PA1B sent me a comment on my blog. He informed me that I may be hitting the 1000 mile per watt mark!!! Never thought about that before so I took up the challenge and not only wanted to get the 1000 miles per watt....well have a look below. I used N9SSA's miles per watt calculator to come up with the following....
At 1 watt of power
  1. SO2O          at 4339 miles per watt
  2. DL6FBL      at 3830 miles per watt
  3. S59ABC      at 4376 miles per watt. 
Its now time to take it up another notch.....500 Milli watts 
  1. EI5DI          at 6498 miles per watt
  2. TM6M        at 7014 miles per watt
  3. DL0MM     at 8308 miles per watt
  4. G5W          at 7180 miles per watt
  5. OH8A        at 7904 miles per watt

I was so shocked at the performance of my 20 meter attic dipole and along with the great propagation. I was only on for a total of 5.5 hours this year but the with QRP and first time ever QRPp contacts I  made it was a very rewarding time.
One of the 1 watt per 1000 mile contacts


  1. Hi Mike, I already found your 3W amazing. But this is simply unbelievable!! A lot of fun....
    I's much more rewarding then do the same with 1KW and a large beam on an even larger tower. 73, Bas

  2. Hey excellent work, Mike! There were certainly some loud European stations who could hear as well as they could "talk" - all to our mutual benefit.

    One or two more contests like that & you'll have DXCC with an attic dipole...I wonder if that's been done before?

  3. Good evening Bas, I must say that I was just as surprised as you were. I will say there was lots of stations coming back to me that indicated they were running a KW. It was funny to think I was getting back to them with at times as little as 500Mw's. They have great ears and I was asked now and then to repeat several times.

  4. Good evening John, first want to say sorry to hear about the LDG tuner and you are correct it should not had gone at 500 watts when rated for 600! Do post once you find out about the outcome with LDG. A DXCC would be out of this world for sure and it is the contests that will do it for me as everyone is on all at once. whether its been done before I will first wait to do it then look into that.

  5. Hello Mike, very nice list, just great! 73 Paul

  6. Hello Mike,

    What a great results. That's the way to do it. Like the Limbo, you go lower and lower.
    You will notice, that once you dicovered 1000 MPW, that when the S-meter goes up, you will reduce the power. I note my power in each QSO.
    It's great to put the used power, distance and miles per watt on the QSL that you send. hi

    My lowest power in the ARRL-DX was 1 watt, so your antenna in the attic is doing an excellent job, with your 500 mW QSO. hi

    Yes it's great fun, when you meet a 1kW station with your 500 mW. In the WAG contest I once made a 50 mW - 1kW QSO. hi You will do also, in time.

    Sunspots high or low, we can still make 1000 MPW QSO's and QRPp QSO's in EVERY contest.

    The ARRL-DX is a rare exception, concerning the used power in the exchange. In other contests the receiving station will only read my power, when he or she receives my QSL-card.

    I enjoy the fun you have. Spread the word and we all have fun.

    72, 73, Bert PA1B

  7. From Washington, DC, I worked Slovenia, Hungary, Uruguay, Argentina, and many others with 5 watts to a magnetic loop on my balcony - mostly on 15M - and I can't even copy CW much above 5WPM. Good thing my computer can! Though, by the end of the contest, I was certainly starting to be able to copy some of it. Hopefully next year I can participate without using my computer to copy the code.

  8. Congrats Mike ... It takes a good operator to accomplish that many Q's at below qrp levels. Job well done. I played in the contest as well but with 1500 watts this time... I focused on 160, hoping to add a few more country confirmations for LOTW. I did manage to work TJ9PF for a new one on Topband. Thanks for the link to the MPW calculater. Great Blog Mike !!

  9. Good morning Paul, thanks very much

    Good morning Bert, it's true now that I know such low power can result in DX contacts I am more often going to use very low power. For sure with that low power I will not have to worry about interfering with the neighbors.

    Good morning to you Paul and thanks for stopping by the blog. I plan in the near future to get a magnetic loop. Keep up with the code Paul it was not to long ago I was at 5 wpm. With the on air practice the speed comes along.

    Good morning Todd great work on 160 and yes the MPW calculator is pretty cool when you want to see how each watt has gone the distance. Good luck with the top-band hunting.

  10. Fantastic contact with that power!

  11. Hello Mike,

    Do you know, if you reduce from 5W to 1W, your signal will be only one S-point lower, but it will give a boost to the miles per watt of 5x. hi

    72, 73, Bert PA1B