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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged

from Charles Cohen, VA7CPC on March 26, 2010
View comments about this article!

"Editor's Note: Due to the popularity of some of eHam's older articles, many of which you may not have read, the eHam.net team has decided to rerun some of the best articles that we have received since eHam's inception. These articles will be reprinted to add to the quality of eHam's content and in a show of appreciation to the authors of these articles." This article was originally published on: 10/4/2006





How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged

I got a Yaesu FT-817 a few months ago, and started "learning the ropes" of QRP operating. It's been a frustrating, rewarding experience. Lots of people here on eHam, and friends met along the way, have helped me along.

Recently, the Yahoo "FT817" group had a thread on QRP operating, under the heading "Not much success". It was started by someone wondering "Why isn't anybody answering my CQ ? ".

The responses were a good guide to QRP strategies. Here's a compendium of what was on that thread, combined with the advice others have given me. Thanks to everyone!

0. [really important] Use the best antenna you can. Don't confuse "low SWR" with "efficiency". Lots of wire, up high, works well. Most other things work worse. [There's a wealth of expertise here in the "Tower Talk" Forum.]

For me, portable operation has been quite successful. A 31' windsock pole on a beach puts out a much better signal than a hamstick off my apartment balcony. A 7 amp-hour battery is enough for many hours of operating. My recent 5-watt SSB QSO from Vancouver BC to Trinidad/Tobago, shows that a decent antenna really helps!

1. Don't call CQ. Your signal is weak, and many people won't bother to answer it. Instead, listen, listen, listen.

2. Use CW or digital modes -- PSK31 or RTTY. They are much more effective than SSB. [For new CW ops, a membership in FISTS and listening on the FISTS frequencies will probably give lots of contacts, and practice.]

3. "Tail-end" QSO's, after the final sign-off. A call to one of the stations often works.

4. Work strong stations. An S9 incoming signal means that there's a good path to the other operator, or that he's got a good antenna. In either case, he's more likely to hear you than someone with an S5 incoming signal.

5. Work the nets. Try MIDCARS, dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, 7.258. They're not a traffic net. They primarily do mobile check ins. The will listen and normally call for QRP stations now and then. I've used the Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) on 14.300. There's an Alaska Net, numerous local and regional traffic nets, WAS nets, and so on. The WAS net participants expect QSL cards, but you'll have a bunch of people listening _very hard_ for your signal.

6. Work the contests. The big ones, the smaller state "QSO Parties" -- everyone wants to talk to you! 2 points is 2 points. Many participants have excellent antennas and skills. Check the ARRL website for times and required "exchanges". My first contest experience was overwhelming; the second was more effective; the third was a blast.

Good luck! You _can_ enjoy the party, even if you have laryngitis !

Charles Cohen
VA7CPC

Member Comments:
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How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by K9ZF on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
A very good primer for new ops.

Good job!

73
Dan
--
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269 Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
<http://www.qsl.net/n9rla> List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by AP2WF on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
One more point I would like to add is the break-in timing. You can best fit your call between the signoffs when there is a little pause creating a good opportunity for you to be heard. I am still using far less than 100 Watts.

Well to me a QRP is trying to solder a big joint with a very low wattage Iron. All you need is a worm environment.

73

Wasay
AP2WF
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by N4DSP on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
LIFE IS TO SHORT FOR QRP!
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KB2DHG on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
After over 23 years in the hobby, I just recently got into QRP... I built a 30 meter QRP rig this winter.
Truly a challenge but more rewarding when you do make that good contact.
I cannot agree more about the antenna... I first started using a long wire and had poor results.
Then I built a dedicated 30 meter dipole for the transceiver and what a difference!
The best way I found to work QRP is:
(1) A good antenna
(2) Listen for a strong station
(3) use CW
(4) be patcient
Thanks for posting this article and If you never tried QRP, give it a try... You will be amazed how far you can communicate on 5 watts!
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by W2LJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
All great points - however, I don't totally agree with point #1. I've dabbled in QRP for over 30 years; and have gone totally QRP since 2003. My experience has been different.

I have called CQ and continue to do so on a regular basis. I have no problems having QSOs. Just because you're putting out 5 Watts does not ALWAYS mean that your signal will be weak on the receive end. I know, lots of times it will; but lots of times it will not. Many, many times I have been asked if I was sure that I was at 5 Watts because my signal was so loud on the receive end.

By limiting yourself to nets and contests would deprive you of many delightful ragchews. Heck, just last weekend, I had a 30 minute QSO with a Ham in Germany. How many times do you get involved in a ragchew with a DX station instead of "TNX UR 599 73".

If you really want to devote yourself to QRP, the best thing you can do is to forget that you are QRP and just operate! For the really long time old timers among us - when you were Novices working with homebrewed stations - a lot of you were QRP without realizing it - lucky to get any amount of wattage out. Did that make your enjoyment of the hobby any less?

The other point that I would like to add, would be to learn all you can about propagation and use it to your advantage. Now that Cycle 24 is starting to heat up, operating QRP should become more fun than ever!

QRP is not for everyone. QRO is not for everyone. But there is room in the hobby for everyone.

72 de Larry W2LJ
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by K4LJA on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. Thanks. And John, N4DSP -- QRP is a wonderful part of --- life. On your own QRZ dot com station rundown ... you list having a "Sierra CW QRP- 3 watts maximum output". Come on John, you know you love QRP. Don'tcha now? randy K4LJA in Monroe, Louisiana
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KB2HSH on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent little article. I've been a QRPer since the first days of having my license in 88, when I used a cheap Ramsey kit transmitter and an old Hammarlund receiver. The point about forgetting you're QRP is quite valid. With a decent antenna, the low power almost becomes irrelevant. And the point about digital is true. 5 watts with Olivia or JT65 will net some nice DX.

Sure, you'll never be able to use brute force to pound through a pile-up, but you will still be able to make plenty of contacts.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KL7AJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
One of the "lads" in my electronics class built a ROCKMITE (on 7030) and I must say it's a fabulous little rig. GREAT front end....eveything a QRP rig should be. This should be the PREFERRED entry mode into ham radio...not 2 meter FM!

And for the skeptical....40 meter QRP WORKS....especially up here in Interior Alaska, where the noise is non-existent (at least in the winter!)

For ages I used a Ten Tec Argonaut...another rig with an amazing front end.

It's important to have a really good RECEIVER for QRP, because as a QRP operator, a lot of the stations you work will ALSO be QRP! A lot of new hams don't realize this, and draw some bad conclusions about QRP because of it.

If you can't HEAR 'em you can't work 'em!

Eric
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by AJ4MJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I have been an on and off QRPer for most of my 3-year ham career. Over the past two weeks I have been getting back into it, in preparation for an upcoming camping trip. I forgot how much fun it can be!

Something I've never been able to decide - is it better to identify your station as /QRP up front, or just treat it like a normal QSO and mention QRP during the rig/power/antenna exchange? Are people more likely to answer a weak signal if they know you are QRP, or are they more likely to ignore a stronger signal because you are QRP.

I usually go for the "normal QSO" approach, primarily because sending "/QRP" takes quite a bit of wrist motion (I use a straight key). And the "wow, you're only running 2 watts" comments are flattering :-)
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by AJ4MJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
It's great code practice, though. I do a LOT of listening when waiting to tail-end. I've also gotten quite a bit of practice sending "CQ CQ CQ DE AJ4MJ AJ4MJ AJ4MJ K" with a straight key :-)

I make about one contact per night, over about 60-90 minutes of operating. That's a function of both my low power AND my slow code speed. When you have to work hard for the QSOs, they mean a lot more.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by K3AN on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
A great article, and the recommendations are spot on.

In my opinion, VA7CPC's rules 0 and 2 are the most important. If you have a good outdoor antenna you can call CQ and you will get some replies.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by WX7G on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
That is a good article.

CW is the way to have fun with QRP.

Calling CQ does work and it helps to call CQ near the QRP frequency and sign /QRP.

Calling strong stations - say above 579 - will net you a QSO. DXing with 5 watts is no problem if you call the strong stations.

And as the author says, work the contests. I work the ARRL 160 meter contest and field day running QRP and have a blast.

Life it too short for QRP? I say life is too short for only QRO. I use both and each has it's attractions.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by KL7AJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
MJ:

This is a great question! Stations SHOULDN'T "listen harder" just because a station is weak. Remember, a milliwatt next door is equal to a kilowatt on the other side of the world!

However, now that we seem to have QRP calling frequencies, like 7030, where almost everyone is EXPECTED to be running QRP, it's probably not necessary to state it up front...unless it's a QRP contest, of course.

Eric
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KG4YMC on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
HI, I have an N.C. G. mod 7 21 50 qrp type rig. I run ten watts thru a g5rv 104 ft at 30 feet. Qrp can be a challenge, but it can be done . I don't have thousands of contacts , but the ones I have made have been fun. I have gotten japan, spain, rotundra, canary is, europe stations , south america . I have learned a few things , and stil learing so mabey this will help. antennas , at least get the best quality coax you can afford . the Listen part is good, I have a hearing loss , so make sure the station is calling you, and not someone with a simlar call. what I do is say " florida" or ymc or something that I can make sure the person has me and not someone ele. I have been guilty of this , but working on it . Listen to other contacts to make sure you have the callsign right, even if not a contest it just makes sence. If station is haveing trouble copying you , get the basics , short transmissions, if asking for time , don't tell um how to buld clock ect.. I noticed that the stations that sometimes run lots of power are all over the band with splatter, life is to short for sloppy station? Not just foreign stations but stateside also. Anyway, that is differnt subject, other tips ,, if station has been calling cq for awail , he may be more likely to work a qrp station. Even if they are calling for dx, they may work you, or may get irked, listen to the personality of the contacts, they may be reassured that they are getting out, or mabey it can help them .
Depending on the contact, some dx stations will be interested in your qrp rig ect and have time for nice qso, if contesting , they may want you for the qrp contact also. or the basic single report. I think some of the radio company are missing out not makeing more radios like mine, I wish I had split capabilty and notch filts and dsp , but qrp can be fun and for power and budget challenged it may be the onely way to go , but you can still have fun qrp and when the guy in japan , the ea station says aj' congraduations on the ten watts " it makes it worth it. I am also spelling and arthis challlenged so hope th is made some sence 73 kg4ymc
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by AF6IT on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The suggestions in this article are good ones, although calling CQ need not be ruled out. Life is too short for QRP? Life is too short for QRO! :-) Seriously, if you are getting burned out on contesting and fighting your way through the QRM a change of pace may be in order. You may find some relaxed QRP- perhaps on the WARC bands- might just be the refreshment you need. Or if you seek greater challenges, why not reach over & turn your big room heating amp off for awhile and amaze yourself what you can do QRP! Or at least barefoot. But you really should see how big 5 watts really can be.

Afraid you won't get through? Try digital modes. I doubt you can find a better digital mode than Olivia when condx are marginal- performs much better than PSK or RTTY when propagation is on the way out. I routinely close out a band up to an hour or more after everyone else goes QRT- other than the few digital weak mode specialists out there. And I run at MOST ten watts to my doublet. Olivia, if correctly set up, can copy all the way down to where the signal is not audible nor visible on the computer screen's "waterfall". It is probably the one conversational digi mode which might in a few situations outperform cw. More power is not at all necessarily better when using digital modes. Free software requires only an old computer, sound card, and possibly a minimal interface.

But my new excitement is CW. And this opens to me a great variety of wonderful QRP kits to build. Getting my hands on a circuit and learning how it works is hugely satisfying to me, as has been learning CW. Of course there are a few worthy QRP kits capable of digital or both CW & digital as well. Some are quite inexpensive despite excellent performance. So at this point, moving up to even 100 watts is unthinkable. I'm having too good a time as it is, have no worries about near field radiation levels, and have no complaints from neighbors about QRMing them. Life is good when you QRP...

de AF6IT
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by N2UGB on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. We may have some fine points of difference.

I reply to weak signals. Hey, it may be another QRP operator. Nothing, I mean nothing more satisfying than a two-way QRP contact.

I do call CQ on or near QRP calling frequencies. Less frequently when further removed.

I do add a /QRP when I am on or near QRP calling frequencies. Just a way of identifying myself to another member of the QRP fraternity.

I don't send 40 WPM and do use a few less abbreviations. I find that practice to be more effective.

Been 30 years QRP cw with every intent to continue

72/73
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by WB4TJH on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
It's all good advice. My first HF radio in 1970 when I was first licensed was a two watt TenTec Powermite, and I have owned a bunch of qrp radios since then. But the BEST of the bunch is my Elecraft K2. None of the other radios even come close when it comes to the receiver in the my K2. If I can hear them, I can usually work them. I don't like contests, but still enjoy qrp ragchewing with DX stations, especially when the DX is qrp also. I work both CW and SSB qrp, but by far, cw is the best way to go.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by KB2HSH on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
TJH:

I still have a Powermite PM-1 here. Great radios!

KB2HSH
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by N4LI on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
When you do the math -- comparing dB to dB -- QRP really isn't as hard as some might imagine. 5W can really be quite a bit of power.

But, the most important part of QRP operation? Patience. Despite the fact that you are, indeed, audible, you don't stand out like the QRO guys. Sometimes, it takes several calls to get heard. Some folks just don't have the temperament for it. The swear; they spit and walk away. QRP just isn't for them. And, that's OK.

Enjoy the ride. Realize that you won't get everyone. And, if you're OK with that, you'll enjoy QRP. If you're not, it's going to be ugly.

Once you get the feel for QRP, you'll know who you can work instinctively. You can just tell.

My first radio award EVER? QRP/DXCC. It really is a lot of fun.

Peter, N4LI
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by AJ4MJ on March 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
What I love most about QRP isn't the low power, it's the low complexity. After spending 50+ hours a week writing and debugging massively complex multi-tiered computer software, it's very relaxing to come home and use a rig with 2 knobs and a key.

I try to explain it to new hams I meet, but most don't understand how I can use a radio without a panadapter, memories, computer control, only one band, only one mode, no accurate frequency readout, and no meter.

As a matter of fact, except for the RIT, if this radio had any less features, it wouldn't work at all!

Pehaps my additional level of relaxation comes from not having to figure out what is the perfect single antenna that works all 10 HF bands :-)
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by K0IC on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I seem to live in a part of the world there is not a lot of QRP on most bands except 30 and 40 meters. As a perfectionist in sending CW I normally do not work with a straight key. Using a computer or a electronic keyer seems to be the way for me to send CW. I admire anyone with the patience and antenna to be fruitful with QRP. I hope my planned 300-foot lazy quad will get me in better shape for QRP. It might be a 70-foot random wire does not work that well.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by WA7PVE on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
i've been playing with QRP and QRPp rigs since the early 1980's. In my humble opinion the best QRP rig ever made was the heathkit SB-104A. A wonderful rig with that tempting little button the front panel, 1 watt or 100 watts out. Man what a choice.
With the Heathkit I got both WAC and WAS and numerous DXCC countries with 1 watt on SSB. My currant FT-450 is permantly set on it's lowest power setting, 5 watts.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by G4GXL on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
AJ4MJ has hit the nail on the head !

While QRP is strictly using low power - it's actually about doing more with less. An approach to ham radio that doesn't mean bigger, costlier or more complicated is better.

I do my share of high tech using the HPSDR ( www.openhprsdr.org ) and operating SSB/CW on 10GHz. But there are great rewards in usng a $50 home made transceiver with a wire aerial.

I'm happy for those that are content to operate their Japanese box into a commercial beam on their commercial mast. But they'll never know the joy of soldering a handful of components onto Manhatten pads and hearing the first signals coming through the speaker

Take a look at QRP Quarterly ( www.qrparci.org ) to see what you're missing
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by AE4TO on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent feed back from a lot of qrp fans
I love qrp and use mostly classical qrp rigs such as the Argonaut 509, 515, QRP++ and similar radios.
QRP is lots of fun. The antenna is important, propagation, location, timing. Use the norcal doublet, fishing poles with coils, long wires.
I work dx stations with 5 watts mostly on 40 and 30 meters.
Qrp is an art, is Zen, is Sailing versus some noisy motor,is knowledge vs power,is archery versus some crude bang. Yes life is to short to just go shallow go deep.
QRP stimulates the soul....go qrp have some karma! AE4TO
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by K5YF on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I get a kick out of copying code WAY down in the noise. Every once in a while that station will be QRP.

I don't get nearly so much kick out of copying PSK by hear... I can't do it LOL! But I'll just bet it can be done. Just going to leave that to someone else for now.

When, or if, the propagation fairies grant us 10m fun this solar cycle, I promise to set up a "bedspring dipole" with appropriate electronic QSL card.

Sometimes, just for some prospective and fun, I will use an antenna that isn't an antenna. In the past I have used a set of metal garbage cans, spent artillery shells, metal coat hangers, barbed wire fencing, cyclone fencing, metal ironing boards, junk cars, and metal patio furniture. QRP of course.

-Brandon
-K5YF
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by K9TY on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I finished 160m WAS qrp in about 13 months using a Yaesu FT-817 -- on CW, of course, and my 160 inv-L. I just did the ARRL and CQ CW contests. Never would have thought it would have been so easy! :-D And the 817 does not have what I would exactly call a great receiver, and I have no filters in it, so it was brutal on my ears.... but I survived and am very happy with the results!

When the sunspots return I will head back to the upper bands and try more SSB qrp. I mostly use the "call the loudest guy I hear" strategy, and I like the calm of the 17m band too. I also hope to try FD with qrp this year -- if I can talk the other guys in the club into it -- the point system really favors qrp, and if we do a lot of CW, we should do ok.

Happy hamming to all!!

Dave - K9TY
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by KL7AJ on March 27, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
IC:

Though computers are great at SENDING perfect code, they're still pretty abysmal at receiving IMPERFECT code, unless they've made great strides in the algorithm in the past couple of years I don't know about. If you're both keyboarding, it's no problem, of course. :)

I've recently gotten back into straight key operation, (SKCC #846) and am enjoying it immensely.....especially the ability to recognize an operator STRICTLY by his fist....a bit of a challenge with computer generated code...HI!

Gut the important thing is, you're on the air!

Eric
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by K4IQT on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Best QRP QSO ever for me was calling CQ into a dummy load using a 100 mW homebrew transceiver on 40 CW, and having my "code practice" CQ answered. The other guy had an S4 on my receiver, no doubt 20+ over S9 with a real antenna. I managed a 549 RST in that short QSO but got lost due to QRM.

Everyone should give it a try, especially if you grew up during the rockbound 75 watt Novice days and if you are not psychologically dependent on a full gallon.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by W8KQE on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I'll never forget, back in the 70's when I first got licensed after joining my high school's Ham Radio club, I borrowed their Heathkit HW-7 QRP CW rig. It was thrilling to be able to work some DX using dipoles. The best QRP contacts I had was using a 'Spitfire 454' 10m SSB walkie-talkie, working some Europeans during a contest, standing in my driveway! I had bought an extended whip, and clipped a counterpoise wire to the walkie-talkie's body. Very cool stuff indeed!
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by N2UGB on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
AJ4MJ is really spot on. Couldn't agree more with his minimalist approach. I have found it even addictive, reducing station to basic essentials.

Had to chuckle reading of his relief from multi-band antenna decision-making.

72
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by KL7AJ on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
IQT:

How true about the rockbound Novice of yore. Where the equipment failed the magic took over! It was just plain FUN then...we were totally clueless, but seemed to make contacts with every tap of the key. I recently calculated just how BAD my first 80 meter Novice station was. :) It just proved that QRPppp really works. HI!

Eric
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by K4IQT on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Eric:
It would seem that QRPppp from 99705 would be quite exciting - most QSO's would be DX (of a sort)! My son lives at NP as well - sadly, he is not a ham.

73 ...
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by KL7AJ on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Actually, that experience was down in southern California...by the beach...when propagation was fabulous.

But it could happen anywhere. :)

Eric
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by AA4PB on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The difference between 100W and 5W is 13dB. If 1 S-unit equals 6 dB then the 5W signal will be a little over 2 S-units below a 100W signal at the same location and with the same antenna. Given a clear frequency and reasonable propogation that's not really all that much of a difference. If the 100W station is S-9 then the 5W station will be S-6.

That also says that unless you have reason to expect that a station calling CQ is QRP himself then there's not a lot of reason to suspect success if you answer a CQ from a station that is running S-3 at your location. When you call CQ it is often helpful to add "QRP" to the end of your call. You might get an answer from another QRP operator or you might get someone who just wants to work a QRP station.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KD7RDZI2 on March 28, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
You should not be discouraged by calling CQ. Why? Because in the case your call is heard, other hams will like to call you and have a qso done. They should call you because they have such good antennas that are able to copy even lowest power stations. They are also motivated as they will have a high probability to have the qso done. Other low power station would be encouraged to get a qso with you, as they hear you they might have a chance for a new qso.

You did not mention to use the mike that is more efficient to have a qso. Digital modes are easier, but SSB is quite effective anyway if you use a microphone that cuts basses and is essentially flat above. Use the mike that sounds clearest with your radio and check your modulation using another receiver transmitting into a dummy load or with the antenna disconnected from the receiver.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by W9OY on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The best QRP experience I ever had was during hurricane Francis. I received a K-1 the day before, and after I spent the day rigging for the hurricane I spent a little while setting up some battery power and then set about to wait for the blow to arrive. On cue the power went out about 6pm and with no power I decided to put the K-1 on the air. I spent the night in the dark working 40M and 30M all over the country and into Europe with ham ops keeping me company while the 100+ MPH winds howled overhead. The antenna never fell down and the company was MUCH appreciated.

I was playing with the receivers at websdr.org this past weekend. I had my radio cranked down to 5 watts and was listening to myself in the Netherlands when I was called by a Norwegian station and later by an Italian. It was a trip transmitting from FL and receiving from the Netherlands

73 W9OY
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by W9OY on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The best QRP experience I ever had was during hurricane Francis. I received a K-1 the day before, and after I spent the day rigging for the hurricane I spent a little while setting up some battery power and then set about to wait for the blow to arrive. On cue the power went out about 6pm and with no power I decided to put the K-1 on the air. I spent the night in the dark working 40M and 30M all over the country and into Europe with ham ops keeping me company while the 100+ MPH winds howled overhead. The antenna never fell down and the company was MUCH appreciated.

I was playing with the receivers at websdr.org this past weekend. I had my radio cranked down to 5 watts and was listening to myself in the Netherlands when I was called by a Norwegian station and later by an Italian. It was a trip transmitting from FL and receiving from the Netherlands

73 W9OY
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies ...  
by IZ4KBS on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
by AJ4MJ:

===What I love most about QRP isn't the low power, it's the low complexity. After spending 50+ hours a week writing and debugging massively complex multi-tiered computer software, it's very relaxing to come home and use a rig with 2 knobs and a key.===

That's *exactly* my same job and my same feeling about going QRP! Glad to learn I'm not alone!
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by N3JJT on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Quite a few good comments here! I love operating QRP also! I use an FT817, here at home and portable. In fact, I made a deal which involved trading my 800 watt amp for the rig. I have also ran it mobile! I am a CW op, and with QRP it is a challenge, but also fun! I worked QRP mobile with a hamstick on 40, from Ohio to Carlsbad Ca! So, it can be done in many ways. I call CQ also! Remember this,when you call CQ, you are loud somewhere on the other end too! I also wait to drop in after a QSO too..it just depends, it is a crap shoot at times! So, with all the factors in play, it does not matter if you are QRP, or QRO, conditions are conditions, and antennas are antennas! Enjoy the contacts, no matter how you make them!

72/73..N3JJT..Scott
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by KL7AJ on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I should also mention that, in my non-ham life, I've worked with multiple megawatt stations. So, I have no need to be impressed with a "full gallon." I've had enough R.F. saturation to satisfy anyone...so I still get a thrill from QRP.

Eric
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by K9MHZ on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I hear you. Nothing better than flying a Cessna on the weekends.

BTW, this was fun a while back. Had a Tempo One and disabled the sweep tubes final amplifier. Just took the output from the "VFO OUTPUT" on the rear panel, which was nothing more than a cap coupled to the plate of the 12BY7 driver tube, and ran it to a small pi network. Got I think 7 watts out of the back, and had a fun QRP rig without too much effort. Not very "green" though.....if some QRPers are into that.....ie. solar panels charging batteries, etc. Too, definitely not QRP in 120 VAC coming from the wall, but just 7 watts going to the antenna.

Brad, K9MHZ
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by AF4O on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
For me its about getting out of the shack, going out to a nice park, maybe hiking, making some simple CW QRP contacts.

Its about constructing your own simple but effective gear. You get to actually know how it works. Making your own test equipment to build the gear. Melting solder!

When you look at the rig you built, you see the inside as well as the outside. And if it breaks you can very likely fix it.

Its about contacting R1ANB in Antarctica with 5 watts and a open fed dipole last night. Riding the sunspots!

There is something primal about QRP. Its about getting that feeling i had when i was a Novice. Its a feeling that is difficult to nail down.

Its about conversing with a great bunch of hams with a common interest. And a very talented bunch technically.

Its about getting away from computer crashes, running way more power than you need (seems like an FCC rule on that :-)), having someone call your name, address, phone number, dogs name, etc before you even tell them and "your 599 qrz".

Its simplicity, its relaxing.

Chuck
AF4O
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by AP2WF on March 29, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Someone also suggested to use a suitable mike with QRP. Yes, I tried a crystal cartriage with two bipolar transistors' impedance matching network in between to produce a relatively higher frequency audio with no bass and a lot of punch.

73

Wasay
AP2WF
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challen  
by AB7KT on March 31, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I think the single biggest factor in QRP success, or for that matter anyone using a less than optimal antenna is the use of CW.

I don't seem to have a big problem working stations when I call CQ, but, I am using a decent antenna that is up at a decent height (and I am using CW). Nothing spectacular: a wire at 50 feet. But that is a lot better than a short random wire at 15 feet.

I personally don't really do this, but you will have a lot better success if you are on the higher bands if they are open. If 10 meters is open, power means a lot less (almost nothing)than it does on 160 meters. Point being, if 15 meters is open, you will have a lot more success by being on 15 meters than being on 40 (if 15 is open).

It has been posted to just forget you are QRP and there is a lot of truth to that. A couple years ago I had a very poor antenna. I had my 817 hooked to it just to listen to the Clipperton DXpedition. Just for the heck of it, I threw my call out there on 17 meters SSB and they answered me on my first call in a big pileup. You never know: you may have a path between you and the DX. Or you may have just picked the spot they are listening on when they are operating split.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by STAYVERTICAL on April 1, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I echo those comments which indicate the antenna is paramount. But dont forget the feedline. If you have a high SWR matched with a tuner AT THE TRANSMITTER, your feedline may be burning up much of your power.

The ATU may be making the transmitter happy, but the high swr on the feedline means your energy is bouncing from the ATU to the antenna, radiating a bit and bouncing back to repeat the cycle. On each trip down the feedline, your power is being dissipated by the nominal feedline loss.
The higher the SWR the more of your energy is involved in this bouncing game of attrition.
But a low loss feedline only takes a little bit of energy each trip, so keep it short, or use a low loss feedline if you run with a high swr.

Check out the calculator of VK1OD on the net to see how swr affects feedline loss.

But the beauty of QRP is that you wont fry yourself by having an antenna close to your operating position, so there is not a requirement for a long feedline.
Use good quality feedline if you have a long run, at least RG213.
If you are using RG58, try to keep it to 30 feet or less.

In any case,if possible, match the feedline AT THE ANTENNA to keep the swr low and losses will be minimal.

I know many people recommend CW for QRP, and I love CW, but in my experience, PSK31 is as good or better than CW in QRP work.
In addition, if you use a program like Ham Radio Deluxe, FLdigi, MixW etc, you can control many radios (mine is an FT817ND) via the program, avoiding small screens and menus.

Digimodes operators don't tend to think much about signal strength, as long as you decode on their screen, they are happy. I think this is because digimodes are primarily a visual mode, with many ops not even turning on the speaker.

In addition most psk31 operators use from 20-50watts maximum power.
A weaker or stronger trace makes little difference on the waterfall.

I mainly use PSK31, as it is the most popular, but use OLIVIA when conditions fall away.
OLIVIA is amazing in its ability to decode weak signals. I have had many long intercontinental QSOs' on OLIVIA during marginal conditions.

By all means use CW, but if you haven't tried digital modes, they are simple to setup with a typical PC with a soundcard. QRP takes on a different dimension with digimodes, give it a try.
 
RE: How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Pow  
by K0FF on April 1, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
5W output on HF is plenty of power for SSB. Not for every path all the time, but for some path most of the time.

Too many times QRP = bad antennas. For me, a great antenna and QRP go together.

When a particular band is open, there does seem to be a threshold level of power needed for a path to work. On 17 meters, I can make a cross country contact @ 20 mW, but not at 1 or 2 mW. Interesting. I use attenuators and RF milllivoltmeters to measure the lower power levels, as most regular radios can not turn down that low.

Nothing is more satisfying than breaking a monster-crazy simplex pileup, then telling the DX station you are running 5W.

Geo>K0FF
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-Challenged  
by WM9V on April 7, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Qrp has always attracted the scratchbuilder in me. Loved working QRP field day and miss our informal group. ARCI
is a good organization . With the right conditions QRP can be fun and now there are many DXCC certificates awarded for 5 watts. The sub QRPers are even more hardcore. Thanks for all the technical input the weak signal people contribute. The new cycle should provide
enhanced operating.
 
How to QRP -- Operating Strategies for the Power-C  
by N0OR on April 9, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. I have been QRP for about 10 years now. I don't go after the strong stations at all but look for the weakest ones that I can still copy. Once worked a guy who was running 50mw from Washington state. That's fun.
 
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