The California QSO Party with 20W and a Mag Loop

California by far has one of the most active QSO parties I have seen all year. I joined in on this for a few hours this afternoon using the FT-817ND with the MX-P50M amplifier and the Magnetic loop antenna. My goal today was to gauge the effectiveness of running at 20W vs. 5W in making QSO’s. I started by tuning around 20m but found the noise level was a bit high on the band and most stations were coming in weak. I switched to 15m and didn’t hear much until I adjusted the direction the loop was pointing in. Many stations working this band out of California started coming in after adjusting the loop.This was the first time I really noticed the directivity of the loop antenna.

I was using a 13.8V power supply to run the rig and the amp so I only needed 1 W to drive 20W out. Started to work the stations I could hear and almost all returned my call on the first try. Only one station reported a weak signal but by then the band had started to fade.I worked 20 stations on 15m running 20W with the mag loop (indoors!). I setup the loop with the shorter coax to run 15m thru 10m. 12m and 10m were fairly quiet so i tuned back up to 15m and closed another 6 contacts. These were my first real tests of the loop through its tuning range and I was able to verify it was working well.

I moved back to 10m and heard nothing then tried 12m. I heard a station on 12m from Chile and once again adjusted the direction of the loop and noticed the pickup in signal strength. On 2.5W at 15m I was getting 30W out and made the call. He picked me up right away and gave me a 54 signal report.

This experience has verified the performance of both the large loop from 20m thru 15m and the small loop from 15m to 12m. 10m remains elusive but the band is really hit or miss lately.

I am confident now that on the 20m-12m bands I can make reliable contacts using 20W on SSB using the amplifier and the mag loop antenna.

Moved to the FT-450D and made a few more contacts on 15m and 20m for the QSO party and made one 10m contact to Argentina. All in all a fun afternoon of HF.

Next up is to take to the outdoors with this setup and take some measurements using solar charged battery power.

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