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How to Work a DXpedition While Operating QRP

I've done a lot of low-powered operating and it's amazing what can be done with power of less than one watt. One night, I was tuning about the bands and heard a moderate-sized pileup on 40 CW, with hams working a VP2M in pretty rapid succession. I kept tossing my 250 milliwatt signal into the fray, careful even at QRP levels to not transmit on top of other stations and all the other bad things that somehow seem to happen in pileups, to little avail against the kW amps that were competing for the QSO.  But long ago, I learned that listening to that DX station is *critical* to having success with low power (or with modest antennas, or even just in competition with everyone else trying to work the station).  With "full QSK" at my station, it was pretty easy to send my call until the DX station called someone else, and when he did, I listened attentively to everything he said and did, to maximize MY chances.

He was a great op!  He had a rhythm going that was a joy to behold, with "QRZ?" followed by a call followed by 5NNs on both ends, followed by "QRZ?".  Once in a while, a LID would mess it up by calling on top of the QSO, but most hams got the hang of the rhythm and he was banging them out very efficiently.  Then, a friend of his called the DX station, so the VP2M broke the rhythm to say hello to his friend.  Not a problem, of course, because DXers are people, too, but the pileup got a bit confused.  Sure enough, just as the DX station was saying goodbye to his friend, someone started calling, and the entire pileup jumped in, with everyone sending their calls, just as the VP2M said, "73 Bill QRZ?" 

Just as the "QRZ?" finished, the pileup stopped calling. Apparently there was one lone QRPer who had listened instead of piled and when he sent "QRZ?" followed by that wonderful radio silence, I sent my call once, 'KA1CV' (my call at the time).  He heard me quite well, came back, "KA1CV 599 K."  The Devil made me do it, so I sent him "R 599 QRP HR 250 mW."  He came right back, "FB 250 mW 569 73 QRZ?"

I could hear the groans all across the country as all those big guns with the big amps realized that they had just been beaten out by a QRPer! <grin>  There is a lesson here, of course.  Listening, listening and just plain old paying attention in a pileup is going to work MUCH better than trying to stomp the other guy, sending your call blindly, tail-ending and all of the other nasty tricks that occasion may result in a QSO, but more often than not, just mess things up for everyone. (I've even heard hams QRM their own QSOs!)

Ed Hare W1RFI