Part 2: QRP Activator Chat with N9MM and The Old Timer

I have to ask, how do you make so many QSOs. Your numbers so ridiculous.

N9MM: Well the simplest answer is because I want to. I’m not saying a QRP Activator who is struggling to make 10 doesn’t want to make more QSOs, but everything I do is pointed in that direction.

What do you mean?

N9MM: Before I go there, there’s a couple other things I want to accomplish which fits in with making lots of QSOs. These concepts have their root in DXpeditions. First, I want to Work Everyone Who Wants to Work Me, or at least those make an effort. Second, I want to be Easy to Work.

Old Timer: That’s exactly what the big DXpeditions do. They’ll go out and work 100,000 plus contacts over three weeks with three stations all with amplifiers. By the end they are on the bands calling CQ without answers. They have pretty much worked everybody by then, even the guys with 100w and back yard verticals. Even the local QRP DXers are in the log.

I get that. I even worked Peter I a few years ago, but how do you do it?

N9MM: Well I’m lucky in that I have time. I know there are European Hunters wanting to work KFF. It’s the easiest way to grow their already huge numbers, so I’m on the band, and on CW, when the band is most likely open to Europe. Here in the winter time that’s, 30 minutes before sunrise. I’ll stay there for at least an hour. The rates are horrible, but I’m working the Hunters that really want to work me. The calls are familiar: I5FLN, IK1GPG, F1BLL, DL1EBR, ON7VT, ON4ON, ON4NN, ON7NQ, EA1DR. About the only shot they have is early morning my time. So I’m on the band then. Usually I’ll work Curt, CG3ZN, then too, plus some other NE US stations. By then, the 20 has opened nicely to the east coast.

N9MM: Then I’ll go to 20 SSB and work the guys over on the east coast. I’ll pick up a bunch of the regulars then too. And the rates improve dramatically.

So what is a good rate for you?

N9MM: The best rates are always on 20m SSB, where I work a mix of POTA People and casual passers-by. I like both, because some of the passers-by have turned into POTA People. But to answer your question, my best 10-minute quantity is 35, and for one hour its 109. On CW I’ll often work 25 in my first 20 minutes on the band.

Old Timer: I’d like to point out that there is a little contester hidden inside of Norm who sometimes shows up as I’ve listened to him.

N9MM: Yeah, that’s true. I was pretty serious about that a long time ago.

That’s crazy.

N9MM: No not really. Jerry hit 77/hour during our Hill Country Great Adventure, and Randy has sustained over 60/hour for several hours. Those are numbers within reach of most. Remember Randy, as a QRP Activator struggled for 10 before. But it’s not always like that. Sometimes it is necessary to slug it out at 30/hour, which seems really slow. The problem is that you have a hard time knowing when its going to be fast. Your just have to be there when it happens.

N9MM: One more point. I set a goal. On my overnight stays, I now shoot for 200 in the log. It used to be 150, but there is more activity lately, so I bumped the number. I want a standard, or goal, so that when it gets slow, I’m motivated to keep going.

I see, but that’s lots of QSOs.

N9MM: Well yes, but to Work Everyone That Wants to Work You, you have to be on the band, and being on the band goes hand-in-hand with making QSOs. Remember, propagation is somewhat selective most of the time, so you have to be on the band as propagation moves around to different parts of the country. Also, people have things to do. Many even have jobs, so you have to be on the band to give those guys a shot too. I’ll try to be on 20 morning, early afternoon, and again late afternoon. Plus 30/40 for Late Shift. Looking at today’s log of 220 QSOs (less dups), there are 196 unique call signs according to N1MM+.

N9MM: But let me back up a little bit. Relative to being easy to work, being able to identify stations that are weak and in QSB is an important factor. It’s important to be able to identify stations even though you don’t have the full call. Nobody wants to repeat their call signs over and over while the operator on the other end struggles. Its frustrating for everybody. I’ve made an effort to memorize call signs.

N9MM: Some are obvious, like W??en. Its not hard to know that’s W6LEN. I hear that, and I respond with the full call just as if I’d copied it all. Sometimes I guess wrong, but not too often. There are many very familiar calls too, but in the beginning I sat down with my logs and tried to memorize the calls. I also depend on software.

N9MM: And don’t forget about the part about putting a good signal on the air. Another part of being Easy to Work is putting a good signal on the air. Easy to Work means not making people struggle to hear you. This means no compromises within the range of possibilities equipment wise. A good antenna, power and a hill top. I so much wish I could Activate with 1500w, a tall tower and a long yagi!

…to be continued

Written By Norman Myers, N9MM. Used with Permission