Before I get to the meat of this, I need to stress that I’m neither pro-QRP, anti-QRP, pro-QRO or anti-QRO. I find there is fun and enjoyment to be had no matter how you operate. Currently I’m playing QRP HF on SOTA and the contest group I play with tends to be a bit to a lot QRO when we play on VHF/UHF etc.
A commonly heard comment is that QRP only works because the other guy is QRO or has a big antenna. Well I was in conversation with Rich N4EX over some database issues and just happened to ask him what equipment he uses for SOTA chasing. Now Rich is a regular of my 20m and 17m operations. I think I’ve worked him on all bar one of my SOTA activations on these bands. He’s also a good enough signal to be heard when there are a few closer by European/Russian stations calling at the same time. No he doesn’t get over the top but I know there’s something there along with the strong stuff.
So I was well impressed when he said he only uses 5W from a K2 when chasing SOTA. He’s always around 529-539 when I hear him. So what’s the antenna then? On 20m he has a 3ele beam which will be 5-6dBd. But on 17m he’s only using a rotary dipole and he’s still a respectable signal with a 0dBd antenna. Yes, louder on 20m than 17m but it shows QRP to QRP can and does work on contacts over 5000km. I suppose it also shows the loaded 3.5m vertical antenna I use on 20m & 17m works OK. I must try a dipole for those bands to get a benchmark to compare it with.
If anyone wants the dimensions for my 20/17 antenna then let me know and I’ll write something about it.