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I have been a licenced amteur radio operator since 1985 and I’m interesting in DX-ing, mostly low bands as well as contesting. My other hobby and part time business is photography – see my Flickr gallery.

I live in an apartment building in the Brisbane inner city suburb of Woolloongabba, and any visible antennas are simply a no-go here. For that reason I have a very thin (0.5mm) long wire antenna from my balcony to a tree in the neighbourhood which is pretty much invisible to a naked eye.

The antenna is about 15m long and about 10-12m above the ground. I use the antenna tuner at the end of that wire, then feed the coax cable into the apartment. The antenna works … ummmm … well, better than no antenna at all.

I have recently tried the mode that everyone is talking about – FT8 and worked about 30 countries over a few days with a few watts and the LW antenna. To be honest I wasn’t impressed at all. Somehow it loses the charm of our hobby, it doesn’t feel challenging and it looks more like a Catch me if you can Click me if you can game on the computer screen. I still make a QSO here and there, but it’s not my cup of tea.

However … using a low power for FT8 got me intrigued and I have decided to see what can I do with low power using my favourite mode – CW.

In the first week I worked KL7, VE6, JA, JD1 and many stations in between with only 5 watts. I also woked VE7 and W6 with 1 watt. All of this on 40m CW.

I’m using Icom IC-7300 which lets me turn the power down to approximatelly 250 mW.  This radio doesn’t display the power in watts, but rather as percentage. If my MFJ tuner wattmeter is correct, at 0% the power output is about 250 mW, at 1% the power is about 0.8 watts and at 5% about 3.5 watts. I usually set it at 5% and use it like that.

From time to time I also get active in IOTA and WWFF programs, operating from various conservation and national parks and nearby islands with a linked dipole, Yaesu FT891 and couple of LiFePO batteries. If the place is accessible by a car, then the situation with the power gets much, much better.

I hope to see you on air.