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NAQCC FAQ's & Info

We do not intend to have a strict set of rules for the club, but some members have asked about certain matters dealing with the club or CW/QRP in general. This page is here to try to address those questions.

General information about the NAQCC.
Simple Wire Antennas
Suggestion on the use of /QRP
Club Operating Frequencies
Key Types
Member List Updates

1. General Information About the NAQCC:
If you would like more information about the NAQCC take a look at this YouTube VIDEO.

2. Simple Wire Antennas:
First of all, an explanation of why we feel antennas need to be classified. Nowadays in contests, DXing, and chasing awards, often a QRPer will feed his 5 watts transmitter output into a high gain antenna that boosts the 5 watts to a much higher ERP. In the case of an antenna with a gain of 13DB, the effective radiated power will be very close to 100 watts.

Let's state right now, we have no objection whatsoever against QRPers who use high gain antennas, just as we have no objections to hams who use QRO or other modes besides CW.

What we do object to is that virtually all ham clubs and organizations make no distinction at all between QRPers running close to 5 watts ERP and those QRPers running much higher ERP's from their high gain antennas. Thus the QRPer, who for one reason or other, uses minimal antennas stands no chance of competing in a contest at the same level as the QRPer with the high gain antennas. Also those QRPers who earn DXCC or other awards with their minimal antennas are lumped right in with the QRPer with the high gain antennas. We feel that is not fair either, as it was much more difficult to earn the award for the minimal antenna QRPer.

The NAQCC is going to address this matter by having contests with categories based on the type of antenna used. The minimal antenna QRPer will only compete against other minimal antenna QRPers, and the ham with the high gain antennas will only compete against others in the same situation. We heartily invite the QRPer with the high gain antennas to compete in our contests as long as they realize they will only be competing against others with similar high gain antennas.

Also the NAQCC is offering awards to those hams who make DXCC, WAS, WAC, etc. using minimal antennas since no other organization is doing so. We do not feel additional awards for QRPers using high gain antennas are necessary since the organizations issuing regular DXCC, WAS, WAC, etc. awards endorse them for QRP.

So we need to define what antennas belong in which category, and after much thought and research, a simple wire antenna by NAQCC standards is defined as follows: Any single element antenna that does not provide significant gain over a standard half-wave dipole.

Using that definition, most antennas fall clearly into one of two categories, either a simple wire antenna, or a high gain antenna. There are exceptions, and since we have no intention of creating more than two categories, there will be some controversy.

Let's mention the controversial antennas first. A loop antenna is a single element wire, however some loops are constructed in such a way that portions of that single wire may act as a driven element while other portions act as a reflector or director similar to a two-element beam. The gain of such a loop antenna can be as much as a few (5-6?) DB in a very well engineered loop to as little as 2 DB or less for most loop antennas in common use. Since most hams use loop antennas because of space considerations and other factors, and not because of their gain, and because actual gain is extremely difficult to measure without elaborate test equipment due to the almost infinite configurations of a loop, we have decided to allow the use of loop antennas as a 'simple wire antenna', even though in certain cases it will give the QRPer using one an advantage.

A single wire antenna that is significantly longer than a wavelength will also provide some gain. However, as in a loop antenna, that gain is not easily measurable. Hence any very long wire antennas are also considered simple wire antennas.

Another antenna that was brought to mind by Kevin, KI4DEF is the collinear array. Since the purpose of this antenna is to provide gain and it is a multi-element antenna, it is not a simple wire antenna at the frequency it was designed for. However it can also be used at lower frequencies with a transmatch and acts much like a simple dipole. Therefore we have decided to split collinear arrays into both categories as follows: If the array has an overall length of more than one half-wavelength at the operating frequency it is a gain antenna. Otherwise it can be counted as a simple wire antenna.

A misnomer is involved with a vertical antenna or in some cases a rotatable dipole since these are often made of aluminum tubing, not wire. However since they do not provide significant gain over a half-wave wire dipole, they are considered simple wire antennas nevertheless. In other words the material of which an antenna is made is not really a consideration.

With the controversial antennas explained, that leads now to a list of what the NAQCC considers simple wire antennas and high gain antennas.

Simple wire antennas:

Dipole - horizontal, vertical, sloping, inverted vee, rotatable
Long wire - any length or configuration including a closed loop
Random wire - any length or configuration including a closed loop
Inverted L
Zepp - regular or extended
Vertical - ground or ground-plane mounted
Mobile whip - vehicle or home use
Collinear array - length of one half-wavelength or less at operating frequency

High gain antennas:

Any antenna with more than one element such as a beam, quad, log periodic, phased dipoles, phased verticals, phased loops, etc.

If there is any other antenna type not clearly included in one of the above categories, then the following criteria apply. If you installed the antenna to increase the ERP of your QRP signal, then it is a gain antenna. That's pretty plain and simple. You are on your honor to make the decision and let us know.

When a QRP QSO is referred to in award qualifications, contest rules, challenge rules, or any other club activity, it means the QSO must be initiated using 5 watts or less transmitter power output, and that power level must be maintained throughout the duration of the QSO. It is not permissible to start a QSO at more than 5 watts, then reduce power to 5 watts or less and call it a QRP QSO for NAQCC purposes. Nor is it permissible to raise power during a QSO above 5 watts, and call it a QRP QSO for NAQCC purposes.

The same applies to a QRPp QSO at 1 watt or less power output.

4. Suggestion On The Use Of /QRP:
The use of /QRP after one's call is something of a controversial matter among contesters and DXers. Personally I (K3WWP) NEVER use /QRP after my call for several reasons. When DXing or contesting, the added letters are a burden to send and/or copy, taking up valuable time in situations where every split second counts. Also I know for a fact that /QRP is used fraudulently in big DX pileups by a few QRO stations to try to get attention and/or sympathy from the DX station. As a result, gradually many DXpedition and contest stations are getting to the point where they will not respond to those using /QRP after their calls. Still another reason is not all computer logging and contesting programs will handle /QRP calls correctly. Continuing on, many folks are using LOTW and eQSL for their QSLs these days, and submitting a call to them as /QRP will more than likely never give a correct match and a QSL. Beyond contesting and DXing, I find that signal reports will tend to be more honest if the station doesn't know at first that you are operating QRP. Many will alter their reports, making them either higher or lower than they should be if they know you are a QRP station. The time to let them know is after the first full exchange of info.

Now after saying all that, please feel free to continue using /QRP if you wish but we do request that you not use it during our monthly sprints. (The / symbol tells our Autologger to look for some special location information.) In the long run, if you intend to become a better CW operator, we suggest you are much better off dropping the practice, especially if your long term goal is to become a top-notch QRP contester or QRP DXer.

5. Club Operating Frequencies:
Since one of the major purposes of the club is to increase activity on the CW bands in general, we suggest that members spread out their activity and not operate on or near one frequency on each band. One exception being for the club contests where we do suggest a small segment of frequencies on each band.

Now, with that said, there are certain "watering hole" frequencies where CW QRP activity tends to be located. If you are specifically looking for other QRPers to work you might want to consider these suggestions:

160m - 1810, 1843 KHz
80m - 3560 KHz
40m - 7030, 7040, 7122 KHz
30m - 10106, 10116 KHz
20m - 14060 KHz
17m - 18096 KHz
15m - 21060 KHz
12m - 24906 KHz
10m - 28060 KHz
6 m - 50096 KHz

6. Key Types:
The NAQCC definition of a straight key is any device on which individual dots and dashes are made by closing two contacts requiring a new physical movement for each closure. In other words sending a "5" requires 5 physical movements to make 5 contact closures. Sending an "O" requires 3 physical movements to make 3 contact closures. The direction of the physical movement is irrelevant and a sideswiper or "cootie" key is considered to be a straight key.

The NAQCC definition of a bug is any device where each dash is sent by closing two contacts with separate physical movement required for each closure. But strings of dots can be automatically sent by a single physical movement that initiates a series of contact closings. In other words sending an "O" requires 3 physical movements to make 3 contact closures for the dashes. But sending a "5" only requires a single physical movement to initiate the 5 contact closures for the dots. The automatic dot closures can be generated either mechanically or electronically so a keyer that is in "bug mode" qualifies as a bug.

The NAQCC definition of a keyer is any device that will generate strings of both dashes and dots (or alternating dashes and dots) electronically from a single physical movement of a "paddle." Or a device that will generate entirely formed Morse code letters from a single press of a keyboard key.

7. Member List Updates:
We do not have any automated way of updating member info so we need to hear from you about any changes to your personal information. You can go to our MEMBER UPDATES page to report any changes.