Friday, May 6, 2016

Fun with 1 watt...

Some of my ham friends think I'm crazy. As band conditions continue to wax and wane, I've been lowering my power more and more.  No, I haven't been channeling the Marquis de Sade and wishing for pain.  Although pain, at times, when it relates to QRP operation, can be exquisite.

For the past week or so, I've reduced my operating power from 5 watts to 1 watt.  It's no big deal, really.  In fact, the  QRPp crowd think running 1 watt is equivalent to running a rig with an amplifier. They run milliwatts!  For now though, 1 watt is my new 5 watts.

1 watt is not a lot of power nor does it have a lot of energy. Let's put it into a bit of perspective.  The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant in Nebraska has one reactor that puts out about 470 Megawatts of power and that's considered to be small output in comparison to other reactors.  The measly and solitary watt can just about light up a small light emitting diode.  Now... hold that dimly lit little LED high above your head and imagine you're trying to light up and find your way through the vastness of infinite space. get the idea.

However, 1 watt can still provide reliable communication even when propagation isn't cooperating. Here's what my 1 watt looked like last night on The Reverse Beacon Network.  All had at least a 15db or higher signal into the skimmers: 

And here is a map of the actual contacts over the last few days with varying band conditions.  The mode was CW, the antenna is the old reliable 30 foot end fed wire up about 40 feet.  The bands were mostly 40 meters and one QSO on 20.  RSTs were at least 559 and some were better:

Fun with 1 watt!  Pretty cool, huh?  Comment and let me know how you do with just 1 watt.  Soon, I'll be milliwatting.  Can't wait. 72/73 de N2ICZ


  1. Nice blog entry. Keep the QRP faith. It isn't easy. I'm consoled when my cw QRP CQ signal appears on the RBN. Especially when no return to my CQ. A tip of the hat to all RBN monitoring stations. Their efforts should be recognized.

    1. Good morning Larry, I have posted about raising my power from 1-5 watts up to around 6-10 watts! I have call CQ and checked RBN and it shows nothing, but in the past that has not been the true indication my signal is not getting out. I have had "0" his on RBN but soon after a CW QRP contact into Europe. The antenna here is an MFJ magloop on the balcony so not the best for low solar activity times. Your post has given me a boost to keep the QRP spirit alive and see what QRP and QRPp can net me. I have found using low power adds an extra challenge to the hobby. The way I look at it (this is my opinion only) if your going to use Kilowatts of power you may as well pick up the phone and call....close to the same thing.
      73, Mike

    2. Thanks, Dick, for the kind words. Yes. The RBN is indeed a comfort when calling CQ. You know your signal is there even though no one responds. For my 1 watt contacts, I used the search and pounce technique on the loudest signals I could find. Worked.

    3. Good morning , Mike. Yes, I read your post about increasing power up to 10 watts. Actually, that's what gave me the idea to lower my power to 1 watt! lol I figured I'd go in the opposite direction and see what happens. Like Dick said above, keep the faith. If my signal can get out to Minnesota on a crappy 30 foot wire, your signal is beaming out there, my friend, on the mag loop!