Saturday, July 27, 2019

QRP and contests - yes they can work together

QRP and contests aren't necessarily things you think would go together. All the bedlam. And all the high power stations. You might think that as a QRPer you wouldn't stand a chance. 

But look at it this way. Let's say that only 10% of the calls you make, when replying to stations, are successful. Either the other guy comes back to someone stronger or they fail to hear you at all. 

During normal band conditions during a usual operating session you might only call ten stations and make one contact. 

Whereas during a contest everything is packed in. You might have the chance to call 100 stations in the same amount of time. If 10% hear you then that's ten contacts in the bag. It's a numbers game. There's many more opportunities to call and therefore to get contacts than during a non-contest time. 

Ah, but there's competition from other, stronger stations. Yes, true. But contest contacts are very short. Once they're done you get another chance to call a minute later. The motivation to get points is very strong - some people are willing to struggle with a weak QRP station to get a signal report and contest exchange even though they wouldn't hold a ragchew as it's just too hard. 

The types of people on during contests are often top operators with good stations. Possibly in the country with a low noise floor. Which means they're more likely to hear you than someone in the 'burbs with a low dipole. Even if someone stronger does call you may be audible underneath in which case the calling station might take another listen. 

To summarise, QRP can work in contests. You might not get a top score but you can still do quite well. And smaller sprints or locally-based contests can be excellent also. Here's a few videos demonstrating how QRP can work during contests. 

The Commonwealth Contest - a DX oriented contest

A short local 80m contest

Another short contest

A 2019 Field Day contest

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