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.
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.
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.
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?