Well many say “life’s too short for QRP”, and well for some that may be true. But I enjoy a good challenge! And QRP, especially phone can be one heck of a challenge! Here’s how I chase CQ callers and deal with pile-ups.
In the logs below you’ll see that chasing callers with a QRP rig on phone is not impossible, but it can be difficult if you aren’t patient. While out portable I sat out on a deck in TN with the Xiegu G1M, a LDG z817 tuner and a 40m dipole up 25 feet and within 51 minutes made contact with 5 stations. Now that’s not a huge S&P (Search and Pounce) rate, but remember its 5w PEP on SSB phone. Then at another location in NC sitting at a picnic table running the same rig and tuner but this time with a 203′ long wire 6 stations in 1h and 5m. After a post on FB I had Phil tag me asking if I was still on so I went back out and set up again and picked up the Canary Islands on 5w SSB!
You will not “bust a pile up” with a QRP rig, rarely will you be the strongest signal. And I mean REALLY REALLY RARELY will you be. So you can’t think like many of the big guns with the beams and KW amps who just key up and talk over top of the entire pile up. But good news there’s a secret to it!
The secret? Well that’s simple, you listen. You listen, find the pattern and get the timing of the CQing station, the callers in the pileup and get a feel of how he’s choosing what caller. Sometimes he’s calling the first heard. Sometimes he’s calling the station that’s most easily copied out of the pile up, sometimes they are calling the loudest. This part depends a lot on the mood and style of the operator calling CQ, we can do nothing about it we have to work with it. Pay attention is the station he’s calling one that was “in the clear” the only one that didn’t have 5 other stations calling at the same time? if so that’s how we want to try and time our calls. Does he favor the calls to the front of the pile up or the rear? This helps us determine timing first or last. Middle, when everyone is on top of each other, is rarely a choice we want to choose.
Next, we want to be clear. We want clean audio, easy to copy if at all possible. Remember we are working low power, on a weak signal phone mode at a time in the solar cycle where people are complaining how hard it is with even 100w and showing em it can be done with less. We may need to be quick on the phonetics, but clear always clear. If its not clear and clean then us being down in the noise will get us disregarded as more noise and unreadable/unworkable in a hurry. So hurry, but don’t rush. But remember what you listened to before, does he seem o skip over the hurried phonetics? If so, then we want to be slow and smooth on them. Oh how much of it is a listening game!!!!!
Then you time your calls so you can be heard it helps sometimes to slide in the QRP either before or after your call to get their attention on the fact that yours is a “special” contact. Though QRP can be a detriment to you in the call also with some, sadly, as they believe “life is too short for QRP” and simply wont want to work you knowing you are QRP. So if it seems that’s biting you in the rear. Wait a while, work some others and come back to them this time either leave out QRP or append “Portable” and see what happens. Its a game of patience and skill but I assure you it can be done!