I worked my first DX during the ARRL Inter DX CW contest in February. DX means a long distance station. CW stands for Continuous Wave, Morse Code. I didn’t think I had very good chances of actually making a contact. After all, what chance did my little QRP station have against one of the big guns? I tried throughout the weekend, but couldn’t break through any of the pileups. I began to feel a little discouraged.
At the same time I tried my hand in the AM QSO Party. This contest allowed a low power station to have a maximum of 25 Watts, since AM requires more power than Morse Code. I cranked my KX3 up to its maximum of 15 watts, but didn’t have any luck. Despite this I still enjoyed listening to the interesting vintage equipment used by many in the contest. One guy used a transmitter repurposed from a submarine in World War II from 1943.
Back to the Inter DX contest, as things wound down I heard TI7W calling CQ from Costa Rica, a distance of 2119 miles. I tried a few times, and to my pleasant surprise he responded to my call! I had worked Costa Rica using a magnetic loop antenna sitting by my window sill. Incredible!
The QSO happened around sundown, and this got me researching Gray Line Propagation, a fascinating matter. The ionosphere cools upward from the bottom as the sun sets, which affects the way radio signals behave. A low power signal like mine can travel a greater distance with no attenuation. The gray line tends to go from north to south, which would also explain why I got Costa Rica. I love ham radio!
I realized after the contact that I had forgotten to reduce power from 15 Watts down to the usual 5 Watts, so it does not count as a valid QRP DX. I will let you know when that happens.