HF frustration

2014-06-19 at 08-42-47We’ve got our little MFJ-9420 (20M) transceiver set up. We have the antenna strung as an inverted-V over some trees in the back yard. We have the antenna tuned to a SWR between 1:1.1 and 1:1.3.

And yet, apart from one QSO where I snuck up on someone in Arizona (thus proving that a signal is getting out and getting heard), I’m getting no responses to calling CQ.





After several weeks of trying regularly.

Yes, it only puts out 10W or thereabouts, and I suspect that’s the main issue; our signal is getting lost in the noise for most folks.

But, really, nothing at all? It’s very frustrating.

I’d appreciate any suggestions.


  1. Bill KA8VIT says

    Not sure with whom you’ve spoken with or how long you’ve been on HF, but QRP SSB on HF is not really for beginners.

    There are skills one develops working HF for a while that aid the QRP operator.

    I suspect you haven’t developed those skills.

    Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

    Do you have an Elmer ?

    If not, look me up on QRZ.com.

    73 – Bill KA8VIT

    • glen says

      Hi, Bill – thanks for the offer. I got my Tech in 2004, but upgraded to General in April and Extra in early May. Didn’t have any HF equipment until a few weeks ago so, yes, I’m a total n00b. I’ve enjoyed hearing folks from Russia, Spain, New Zealand (!), as well as central America and of course the USA. I’ve been able to partially connect a few times but never had anyone respond to a CQ.

  2. says

    K3DCA here. I’ve also had no success on phone, but in all honesty I haven’t tried much. One thing you could do is invest less than $100 more to get an interface between your radio and computer and try PSK31. It requires very little power and 20m (14,070.150) is the happening place to be. Even better, the hard part of tuning is done on your computer. I have reached from Japan to Chile to Russia (even Texas) with this digital mode. A second suggestion – we could try an arranged “play date” at a set time and frequency to see if we can connect on SSB phone. For some strange reason I see a lot of Texas stations in the evening. Of course it could be because of all those “big antennas” you Texans seem to have.

    K6GEC K6GEC de K3DCA K3DCA sk sk.

  3. Samuel A. Falvo II says

    When I listen to HF, I regularly hear people from Texas and surrounding areas. Now that I’m a General, maybe I can try to connect with you via 20m. With both on online chat, we can coordinate frequencies and signal reports in real-time.

    I’m on vacation at the moment and unable to help right away, but e-mail me at work, and we can try to set up a sked when I get back. I return to the office on the 30th.

    • glen says

      Yes, I’ve had some near-contacts with southern California (i.e., I could hear them and they could *almost* hear me), so I know that the signal is getting out.

  4. Tim says

    Noise floor maybe the worst part of it for many. AM broadcasting knows this is a serious issue as well. So combine that with 10 watts, which is otherwise a good amount of power, and it’s not too unusual to not be heard. Try setting up in a park on Saturday.

  5. N3OAB says

    One thing you might want to try when calling CQ is letting everyone know that you’re operating QRP. For instance, your call might be “CQ 20 CQ 20 this is K6GEC operating QRP from (your QTH) calling CQ CQ.” By letting other stations know that you’re operating QRP and from where they may be more likely to respond to your call. You can also try building or buying a directional antenna if you have the space for it. A few db of gain can’t hurt if you’re pointing in the right direction..

  6. says

    You don’t mention it but I assume you are hearing other stations? If not then the first step is to figure out why not. If you are then tune in to a group contact, wait for it to wind down and call back on the frequency right at the end when they’re still listening.

    • glen says

      Yes, I’ve been able to tag onto existing conversations that way. I have heard people all over: Russia, New Zealand, Spain, Columbia, and the USA, of course.