by Mike Bray, K8DDB

I was very excited after my QSO with Alan, VK6PG. Western Australia was my farthest QSO yet and I had done it using an antenna, rig, tuner and wattmeter all built by me. To think that my 4.4 watts had traversed the 10,869 miles to Alan’s QTH was amazing! I hurriedly composed an email to Alan and here is his reply. It seems he was almost as excited as I was.

From: Alan Gibbs [[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, September 08, 2000 23:47
To: Mike Bray
Subject: Re: VK6PG QSO with KA1DDB/qrp

At 04:34 PM 8/09/00 +0100, you wrote:

Hello, Alan -

Hello Mike …
Delighted to receive this message.

Thanks for your patience in getting my information from my weak signal. You did a superb job! Using grid square information I calculated the distance between our stations to be 10,869 miles, which is my farthest QRP QSO yet!

That’s great stuff and I was excited too. I’ll get your QSL off to the FISTS buro in the post this weekend.

My station consists of a Sierra QRP kit at 4.4 watts into a homebrew 20 meter half square antenna at a height of 20 feet. I built the antenna about a month ago using 28 gauge wire from a 100 foot coil of computer ribbon cable. It is supported by two 20 foot telescoping fiberglass fishing poles mounted on the ground. The feedline is also made of the ribbon cable– two conductors of the cable are used to form a balanced feedline which is fed via a homebrew z-match tuner. Although the station was built with portability in mind, I was using a regulated power supply this time. My portable power supply consists of a 7 ampere hour gel cell and a 10 watt solar panel.

How interesting Mike. It seems you have miles of ribbon cable, Hi.

I am 60 years old and retired from the power company. I worked in the Operations Department of a nuclear power plant for almost 30 years.

Here I’m now 65 and been QRV for 50 years. Ex electronic engineer and technical teacher but retired now for the last three years and getting back into my favorite pastime—Ham Radio, Hi. See attached photo of me in the shack.

Your QSL card will surely be conspicuously displayed in my shack! My QSL card will be sent via the FISTS buro.

You are most welcome. When condx are good, I’ll drop the Icom down to say less than 5W and we’ll see if we could manage a QRP/QRP contact. That would impress the natives, Hi.

Yes, it was a struggle but these are usually the best contacts if both stations have the patience to persevere. I have also a Timewave DSP9 on the end of the Icom which was enough just to winkle you out of the noise!

Thanks for the FB DX QSO -

The pleasure was all mine.

Mike, KA1DDB/qrp
Grid EN65cr

Like Alan said, the QSO wasn’t easy from his end. Many operators when confronted by these conditions would say “Sorry OM, but you’re too weak” and let it go at that… and I wouldn’t blame them at all. But Alan stuck with it, asking for a single bit of information until he copied it and sent it back to me for verification. Then asked for the next bit of info and then the next. Great operator!

If you no longer experience excitement in Ham Radio, the thrill of QRP can bring it back. But, to have a successful QSO it sometimes takes an exceptional operator with a lot of patience and skill at the other end. Thanks, Alan.

VK6PG Photo

VK6PG Photo