2m QRP Contesting in the Sun and DX

Elecraft KX3 ready for some 2m DX

Elecraft KX3 ready for some 2m DX

On Sunday the 10th of June I took part in the RSGB 2m Backpackers contest. I like this contest because it combines portable operating and QRP, some of my favourite things! I entered the 5B section, which means you’re limited to 5w output and a mast height of 4m above ground.

With this restriction I decided to take my Elecraft KX3, which has the 2m internal transverter fitted. This has an excellent receiver, and it has a voice keying facility which is perfect for a longer contest on VHF. The only downside to using this rig was the 3w maximum output from the transverter instead of the full 5 watts allowed. I decided it would still be better than using the Yaesu 817 at its full 5 watts. But this raised a question:

Just how far can you expect to work on 3 watts using 2m SSB? Can you work DX?

Great hilltop location

Great hilltop location

I chose to go to a local hilltop which offers a good clear takeoff, especially to the North and West. The hill offers a short sharp drop off perfect for a good VHF takeoff. My usual go to antenna for this sort of operating is my 9 element Tonna Yagi, this is relatively lightweight, quick to assemble and offers reasonable performance. To minimise any further losses of my precious 3 watts, I used a short run of Ecoflex 10 coax cable fitted with high quality N-Type connectors.

Here’s my full equipment list:

  1. Elecraft KX3 (with 2m internal transverter)
  2. LiFePo 4200mAh battery (lasted the full 4 hours)
  3. 9 Element Tonna Yagi
  4. EcoFlex 10 (low loss) coax
  5. 4m aluminium mast (max height allowed in the Backpackers section)
  6. Fishing umbrella/shelter
  7. Small laptop for logging

It was a lovely sunny day and a perfect day for some portable contesting, just a light breeze and a warm 22 degrees.

I carried out a mixture of running and S&P to maximise points and grid square multipliers. I finished up working 72 stations in 15 different grid squares in 5 DXCC (G, GW, GM, GU and F). I was very happy with this for a relaxing few hours in the sunshine. I had several DX highlights:

  1. Having GU3TUX/P respond to my call from the island of Alderney (short distance from Guernsey) down in IN89 square which is 264km from my location.
  2. Having F/ON4NS/P respond to my call from France while he was on holiday. The call threw me initially.
  3. Working MM0CEZ all the way up in IO75XU, which was 501km from me and my best DX of the day!

Here’s my QSO map: 

2m QSO Map (10-06-18)

2m QSO Map (10-06-18)


So it turns out that 3w SSB from a good high location will get you further than you might originally think. Conditions were pretty average, certainly no lift and no exotic DX heard like the previous tropo lift I experienced that same week on 2m.

I was very happy working 501km into Scotland. Was it a 59 contact? No! I had to repeat the exchange a number of times but we completed, and with 3w I’m surprised I could raise him at all!

So some fun QRP operating, from a beautiful hillside in the sun… what is there not to like? My friend Phil M0NVS came along to help me pack up, before we retreated to the pub for a well deserved beer in the sunshine.

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