30 Ham Radio Contest Tips — Challenge your operating skill with QRP

QRP ContestingThis month, I’m providing a ham radio contest tip-a-day (along with other posts) to help you trigger your own contesting activities.

Today’s tip: Challenge your operating skill with QRP.

There are some really hot operators out there — when they have the big amplifier with the stacked beams and in the right geographic location. But put them at an average station in a geographic neutral location and they can’t make the score of an average contester in the area.


Not enough operating skill. Contesters working without the benefit of thousands of dollars of towers, antennas, and location have to contest the old fashioned way: they have to earnit.

Consequently, they learn about propagation on the bands, how to bust that pileup without the best equipment and location, and when to call CQ and when to Search and Pounce.

If your operating skills haven’t been tested, I’d suggest this: operate a contest QRP.

First starting the contest, you’ll be totally frustrated — and that’s good. It tells you that you have to figure out new ways of working a station, getting that multiplier, and busting that pileup.

After a while, you’ll become less frustrated because a couple of things that you’ve done worked and you’ll start putting stations in the log.

After a day, you’ll have figured out a lot about what propagation has to be for you to work a station, how loud the station has to be at your S-meter before they can hear you, and whether or not tail-ending or calling off frequency works.

By day two, you’ll be less frustrated still and will get into a bit of a groove now that you’ve tried new ways of working stations.

By the end of the contest, the uncomfortable ways of trying to work a station will have become comfortable — the sure sign that learning has taken place.

And the next contest that your operate QRO you’ll have a better score because you worked the last contest QRP — and increased your operating skill because of it.

Scot, K9JY