QRP on My Windowsill
By Jim Cluett
I’ve been wondering just how simple, just how inexpensive a station
could really be, so this month I decided to find out. I threw a wire
out the window, set up a miniature xtal-controlled station on the
windowsill and started making contacts. With just a QSO or two a day,
in barely two weeks I had worked 15 states and three countries on 40
meters with just two watts.
The experiment really started last fall with the desire to have a
simple emergency antenna… just in case I lost my Windom in a storm. So
I ran a 66 foot wire out an East facing window over to an oak tree. The
wire runs only 20 feet above the ground… it’s pretty humble. From time
to time I’d set up a little station on the windowsill to try the whole
thing out. I made contacts on 80, 40, 30 and 20. I couldn’t just leave
a perfectly good antenna sitting there unused, so I dedicated a little
station to it and started my experiments.
Two watts on the windowsill
I chose the smallest, least expensive gear I had. I ended up with a
little 40 meter xtal-controlled transceiver with a VXO that gives me
about 5 Khz band spread. The rig is a kit from Wilderness Radio called
the SST and it fits in your shirt pocket. You can build the kit in
about four hours. You can see it at
I really could have made the setup simpler if I’d used a resonant
dipole without a tuner. Because the antenna is just a wire, I needed
the tuner. So I chose the BLT from the Norcal QRP Club. This tuner is
about the same size as the SST and it also fits in your pocket. See http://www.norcalqrp.org/norcal_blt.htm
The back of the tuner has two binder posts for antenna wires. One side
goes out the window to the antenna; the other side is grounded to a
radiator under the window.
During my 2-week experiment I made a total of 22 QSOs. I’d stop by to
listen in the morning for a few minutes before heading off to work and
sometimes again in the evening. I worked as far West as Colorado (W0RW
using the Paraset Spy Radio). For some reason I was hitting
Alabama frequently in the morning. (WB8WOJ Dale was camping in his RV.)
But I also worked the Bahamas, Cuba and Canada.
The experiment further illustrates for me just how much fun you can
have with ham radio with a very small investment in time, money, space
for a shack, and a minimum antenna. Even though it’s not fancy, not
complicated, doesn’t cover all bands (or even much of one band), you
can still make great contacts and enjoy the thrill of wireless contacts
around the world.