It was an exciting QRPp afternoon here on 20m. It started off well
with a ten minute contact with G3MJX. Tony was running 5w to a dipole.
I'm still using the breadboard, two-tube, 250mW (Gigi) station that I
wrote about last week.

KB0PCI in Minneapolis was my next contact. Wayne was using 5w to an
indoor loop. I thought that was pretty cool.

Things seemed to be going so well that I felt the urge to further
reduce my output power. Dropping back to 56mW, I soon snagged Jack,
W7CNL. He's out in Boise with 5w and a five-element Yagi. It was a
great contact with 579/539 reports.

After we signed I resumed calling CQ. Sometime later I heard my call
coming back at me; always a happy moment when you're running QRPp. But
wait...he's signing DH1BBO...Holy Toledo!

With a pounding heart I sent off a 559 report. Olaf came back with a
529 for me, and get this...he says he's running 300mW to a windom! The
first round was an easy copy for both of us, but thing got a little
rougher after that. Still, we were able to hold it together through
the finals for a complete QSO.

Again, my transmitter circuitry is right out of 1928; a
crystal-controlled, push-pull oscillator using a single, 3A5 (a
twin-triode introduced by RCA in 1942). The receiver uses a second
3A5. The first triode forms a crystal-controlled autodyne converter.
The second stage is a standard regenerative detector driving the
headphones directly. My antenna is an end-fed wire at 35'.

Anyway, it was one of those QSO's that I dream about; QRPp on both
ends from start to finish, wire antennas at both stations and an
ultra-simple rig from the days of yore. It was Olaf's first QRPp DX
contact ever, and 57mW now stands as my lowest USA-to-Europe contact
power (230mW was my previous best).

As for working a 300mW German station with a receiver made from a
twin-triode; I think it's a testament to what these little
regenerative detectors are capable of. I was awestruck at the age of
12 or 13; having built my first genny. I love 'em no less some forty
years later as they truly are a beautiful technology.

Mike, AA1TJ

From AA1TJ on March 3, 2010:

Gigi worked AA7VW (running 5w to a Moxon) in Oregon today with 250mW.

I've been reading a bit of history here in preparation for my
presentation at MassCon next week. For example, I've traced the
crystal-controlled, push-pull transmitter (used in Gigi) as far back
as 1928. Cady and Pierce did their ground-breaking work on quartz
crystal-controlled oscillators in 1923, so it didn't take long for
hams to jump on this one. BTW, Professor George Washington Pierce
("G.W." to his friends) was a real character!

I send my best wishes to you and the family, Bill. The sap has just
started flowing here this week. It's Maple sugaring time in Vermont
again. Spring can't be far away now.

Mike, AA1TJ


Here is a bio on Pierce: http://profiles.incredible-people.com/george-washington-pierce/

This all makes me want to reconsider my opposition to regens... Maybe they are NOT possessed.