2B2C : life isn't too short for QRP. A DX story.

I’m visiting some relatives in EA1/BU, in a very small village, with about 20 inhabitants.
This is a very RF quiet environment, and I’ve installed my SOTA gear to chase.

  • My gear: KX3 batt powered and a 20m EFHW wire for 40 & 20 m band (30m struggling with SWR), deployed as inverted vee, 6 m appex.

The antenna is just in the backyard, surrounded by houses, not very well located, but that’s the best I can do.

DX Spot!
I use to chase in the morning.
We are on holidays and we are not in a hurry to get out of the bed.
Today (Jul 26th), I opened the eyes and grabbed the phone. 6:30 utc, too early to go and prepare the breakfast.
Let’s see the announced alerts on Sotawatch.

I see an Australian station spotted on 14.060 MHz, no way to hear it, I guess, but, what if I’m lucky?

I move to the window where I have the mini shack, connect the antenna, switch on the radio and tune on 14.060.
Okay, as expected there is a German station calling CQ QRP.
I better get back to bed and… Wait!
What’s that little signal slightly off frequency, down?
I concentrate in the pauses of the DL and retune, narrowing the passband, and I engage the APF filter.
What? That is VK3HN/P, Paul, calling CQ!!

The signal is steady for some seconds, there is a bit of QSB later, and then it recovers again.

I quickly check for SWR, right, 1,9:1 enough for calling him.

While I’m preparing, Chris @F4WBN has already called him.
I hear their QSO and I take the chance to increase the power, trying to get 10 watts from my radio.
No way! My batteries are a bit flat, 10,6 volts, and the radio refuses to provide more than 5 watt. Come on, let’s try QRP!

After Chris, I call a couple times.
Tense silence.
VK3HN calls CQ again.
Oh dear, I call him again.
Then he replies : EA2??
I’m almost there!
I send twice again.
Hold my breath, and…

… Bingo! There he is replying to me, unbelievable! EA2BD, EA2BD??
I confirm R R R, and give him a 429 LP BK
Paul sends me a 319 and we exchange a final 73 TU.

Wow! That is magic, a Long path qso at 5 watt with my compromised station!!

I stayed on the frequency and enjoyed listening him logging a few more EU stations, well done Paul.

I warned my friend Alf EA4R on whatsapp and a few minutes later I heard them in QSO.
I took my phone and recorded a video, as I do with the relevant stations I log.

After some minutes with a reliable signal, the activation was over. Great that I jumped out of the bed just in time!

Second part: @VK3HN gear
I was curious to know about the gear used by Paul. I wrote him an email right after switching the radio off, thanking for his activation and sharing my excitement.

A bit later I received his reply: he was also excited as this was his first DX with Europe using that rig. His phone was low batt and he promised to write later with all details.

2B2C design
The next day I received his long explanatory letter.
Paul is keen on building homebrew rigs.
He activated this Sota using a rig he baptized as 2B2C, why?

Because it’s a analogue CW transceiver, direct conversion receiver, crystal locked (both rx and tx), running on 7023 and 14060. Therefore 2-bands & 2-channels.

His antenna was 20m EFHW (matching unit at the base) mounted vertically (helical) on a guyed 6.3m collapsible flag pole.

He confirmed it was a 4 - 5w rig, so we did a 2 x QRP qso.

By looking at a picture of his tiny rig I was even more astonished we did our QSO:

Paul has build a number of rigs, you can watch info in QRZ.com

The 2B2C rig is interesting, Paul compared many rigs and selected the modules from several of them building his own combination. We could see it as an improved 2 bands Pixie, with improved receiver and more output power.

I encourage you to see a deeper description on his blog, here:

You can also see details on his YT channel. I am impressed with the clear explanation he provides, and the quality of his editing, not a boring video at all. Really a great contribution.

This one explains the basics of the 2B2C:

Thanks Paul for your nice email.
You made my day with our DX QSO. I would even say you made my summer, hi.

Who said life is too short for QRP?
73 Ignacio


Nice story, Ignacio.

What firmware is your KX3 running?

MCU 3.02 / DSP 1.52, 2-21-2022

  • MORE OPERATIMG TIME AT 10 W IN CW MODE: In CW mode, the KX3 now provides up to 10 W output as long as the supply is above 9.0 V (on key-down). In other modes the criteria for 10 W output is still 10.0 V. This is required to preserve low transmit IMD.

… should read, also the KX3 now provides … :wink:


73, Heinz

life is too l-o-n-g for QRO! - fred kt5x


Thanks for letting us participate in your adventures, Ignacio!
The beginning of the story sounded a bit like “the complete DXer” and I liked it very much!
What can be more fascinating than hearing your own call sign come back from the other end of the world? Especially if low power and compromised antennas are involved!
Thanks also for sharing the technical details. This nice little radio has already caught my interest :slight_smile:

73, Roman


Thanks for the nice story, Ignacio, and congratulations on your DX contact! I never tire of those “magic of radio” moments. I’m still looking forward to my first contact with Australia. One day!

73, and keep enjoying the radio.
Matthew M0JSB


Hi dear Heinz,

Thanks for the tip. I jus checked my firmware:

MCU 2.76 / DSP 1.50

You see I’m outdated, I must get the updated firmware… I will do when I am back at home. Take care.

Thanks dear Roman, I have exactly the same feeling when I read any other interesting experience here I the reflector!

Sure Matthew one day you’ll get your chance.
You can never plan that in advance, this kind of magic simply happens.
That’s the great thing of HF propagation, it is not always the same, we suffer from bad conditions at times so that when we’re blessed with improved conditions, as for this DX, you are surprised and happy!

73 Ignacio


Thanks so much for posting our 2xQRP SOTA QSO VK to EU. While VKs work EAs every day, it’s not always the case that both ends were sub-5 watts to low wire antennas, and in a portable situation.

Now that I see your wire antenna setup, and how relatively low and enclosed by buildings it was, I am again impressed that we caught favourable propagation between us. For me, this was the first time I have worked ‘real DX’ on this particular transceiver. Of course we know that any rig that can transmit 5 watts CW can reach around the world under the right conditions, but it is still a thrill when it happens. At least for me!

My log for the 20m part of my activation is as follows:
ZL1TM s549 r559
F4WBN s599 r579
KG5CIK s539 r599
EA2BD s319 r429
M0TTQ s539 r339
ON7PQ s579 r559
F6CEL s569 r559
EA4R s579 r529

My antenna was an EFHW on 20m, 10m of wire, wrapped around a 6m pole with the excess tied to a nearby tree, so it is an EFHW in an inverted L configuration. Perhaps the vertical orientation helped.

Two other comments. My homebrew rig uses a fixed xtal oscillator on 14060, which explains why it was not spot-on a kHz marker. It has no VXO so it is wherever it comes up. Second, I use it with either 3S or 4S LiPo packs – on a 4S pack (15V) it delivers close to 5 watts on 20m, but on this occasion I used a tiny 1.8AH 3S pack, so on 11V the rig would have been delivering only 3 to 3.5 watts.

I have started making a video of this activation. As soon as I finish editing I will upload it and post a link here. Thanks Ignatio and to all the other chasers, I can’t wait until life conspires to allow me onto another SOTA summit late in the afternoon again.

Paul VK3HN.



I’ve edited a short video of the EA2BD and EA4R QSOs from VK3/ VC-040, with video from both ends. Ignatio EA2BD is almost impossible to hear on my radios tiny speaker but i assure you, he’s there.
73 Paul VK3HN.


Ignacio, Paul,

I was with Paul on Camels Hump and am the one taking the video. We had a great activation on the close to ideal summit - enough trees to support antennas and a clear centre to spread out our gear. I used my mcHF on 40m but we had to alternate as we interfered with each other.

Paul’s homebrew 2B2C is most impressive - it really is small! Yet it proved itself capable of very good performance. It’s all analog so doesn’t even have a keyer, Paul was hand sending using one contact of his Iambic paddle. It was a pity the phone microphone didn’t pick up the Dx signals well from my position.

Photo shows a wider view of the setup. Options for guying the antenna were limited on the rocky mountaintop, but it worked!

73 David VK3KR


Paul, David,
I loved to see you in action. You were on a nice summit.
It’s exciting when you get my callsign right and your efforts to enhance the audio by damping the noise on the speaker with your hand: clever filter!

You see that in my end you sounded steady and reliable. Thanks we both were in a very quiet environment.

Well done, I will keep an eye on your interesting projects.

Take care and CU. Vy 73


Paul and David, thanks for the video. Paul, looking at your face at the end of the video, I can see how with so little we have made your day a little happier!!:grin:.
I forgot to try to receive by SP… for the next time and I promise video!

73 de EA4R Alf


Well done all. I find it fascinating to hear the contacts from each end and to reflect on my knowledge of the VK3 summit, (having activated it last year), having activated with both vk3 operators and Ignacio EA2BD and even his rig, as I used it for several activations in 2019. Always interested in your activations, Ignacio.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA