QRP Blues...

Hi everyone,

Here in my “belle province” there are two types of summits:

Those with a high-power broadcast tower on top; and
those with a wind turbine farm.

What would you do with a 3.5w QCX-mini against all that noise ? I don’t actually hear the noise, i hear the FT8 frequency and the high power cw stations, but it is very difficult for others to hear me. I try to distance myself from those RF monsters, while staying within the activation zone.
I also have to hike ultralight so bringing along a RF amp and associated battery could be difficult,
so what i have left is patience, such as a fisherman on a quiet lake, 1.5 hours calling CQ for 4 QSOs.


Thanks, i just needed to rant for a bit hihi !

73, Sly VA2YZX


Sly: you say you don’t actually hear any QRN from the turbines or the nearby RF. But then you say it is difficult for others to hear you? The turbines and towers should not affect your outgoing signal at HF unless they are very close to your antenna. Are you able to spot yourself from those locations? What is your antenna?


I have a simple dipole, and that’s the thing: the RBN does not pick me up at all and i have to self-spot.
I did activate a smaller summit the same morning, (no wind turbines) and i stayed away from the antenna. I actually ended-up with a small pileup. I figured the RF noise from turbines could be broadband ?
I also find that the noise is hard to hear on the QCX, maybe an issue with adjusting the AGC ?

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I always self spot with an app if I am within cellphone range. If no cell range then I use APRS from my VHF rig. Otherwise you are unlikely to get many contacts.

The RBN network is not very reliable. I find RBN works best if you call CQ like this:

I really doubt the QCX would pick up noise from either the turbines or the RF towers. I have used my QCX minis (40, 20 and 15) at very high RF sites with very active VHF,UHF and Radar dome transmitters and have never had any issues. I have not yet been near turbines, however…

I suspect you might want to get the antenna apex up higher, check your SWR, broadside it for the USA for your location in VE2 and maybe adjust the toroids to get you 5W out.

Good luck…


Thanks for the advice Larry,

btw i meant SOTAwatch, not RBN.
The reason i suspected turbines is that i got 2 contacts to start with, then the turbine engaged. Then, nothing…
I’ll re-check my antenna with the NanoVNA, and my QCX output wattage.
I did have a bad experience with a high power antenna last week, my compass needle kept pointing towards it. I walked 300m from it, and the pileup appeared.
Thanks again for the suggestion, i’ll double check the hardware.


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Well, don’t give up, Sly. The band conditions haven’t been too hot
lately, either. I was unable to hear you today, and was unable to
hear any of the east coast USA SOTA stations, either. I can usually
get a QSO or two in the morning with VE2/W1/W2 areas around the
1400 UTC hour. But the last couple of days have been difficult.
John, K6YK in California


Thanks John, i never questioned the conditions, being mid-afternoon on 20m and having had success end-of-morning. Maybe that’s what it was all along, that would explain a lot. I may look into a 17m QCX in the near future, with all the effort i put in getting to a summit, having a single-band radio IS like putting all my eggs in the same basket !


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A tip. Stay 100 m from any installation on a summit. Whether it uses solar panels, a diesel or is a wind turbine the ancillary electronics can be very noisy on hf if within 10 m.

Depending on the type of HP transmitter you may need to be further away for health reasons. There should be warning signs.

The installations will not reduce your signal at distant stations. It’s propagation and your antenna set up that determine if you are heard. Oh and spotting on the SOTA Watch site. That’s makes a huge difference. You need listeners looking for you.

If you can’t hear the noise then someone 500 km away certainly won’t hear it. Any noise that bothers them is likely to be local to them and you won’t hear it.

The RF noise levels from wind turbines and transmitters are mandated to be below specified levels at typically 10 m away. This is to ensure receivers that are not close to these installations can operate normally.

Remember the propagation rule for local interference. Double the distance, quarter the signal.

Good luck with your future activations.



Thanks Ron for the good advice,
i’ll make sure my antenna is setup properly also.

I thought about bringing a QCX Power amp but i don’t think i would like to bring the weight of an extra battery.
Any good internet site that show “actual” propagation i could access on my cellphone, and not the usual prediction we see everywhere?

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Try this DXSummit.fi

Elliott, K6EL


Thanks Elliot, it should help a lot,


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Hi Sly,

For a quick look at what is happening on the HF bands, I find the “Band Activity” panel on this DXHeat page very useful:


Select North America as your location in its drop-down menu.

If you want to see what the current MUF is across different parts of the world - this is also a good site but not really smartphone-friendly unfortunately:

73 Ed.


Back in the 90’s [before getting my now ~20-year-old FT817] I had a series of CW QRP monobanders [They weren’t as small as the modern ones]. And you [and others on other threads] have hit on the problem with monobanders for SOTA, i.e. if condx aren’t good for your band that time of day, you might have trouble qualifying the summit, or spend ages doing so [maybe in adverse Wx].

But before monoband fans retort, I understand there’s a certain purity about having a very small, very lightweight rig especially if you built it yourself from a kit.

Re ‘QRP blues’, for about 20 years I was strict about being a QRPer. Nowadays, I’m more relaxed and run my KX2 at max power [10W] knowing some of my antennas are inefficient.


Also worth considering the International Beacon Project, details here: International Beacon Project Transmission Schedule

All you need is your radio and just listen for up to 3mins on the given frequency. Stations around the world cycle through every 10 seconds. Each sends its callsign, followed by 4 dashes of decreasing power (100/10/1/0.1 watts). No need for any smartphones and you actually hear what works to your location and antenna!

73 Jonathan