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Author Topic: Getting adjusted to QRP  (Read 38821 times)
KF4LXB
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« Reply #45 on: December 03, 2012, 11:10:12 AM »

I think I understand what K8AXW is trying to say and it comes from my experience in the military. The main gripe, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, is that we seem to engaging in a recruiting scheme that paints a rosier picture than the reality. No recruiter ever told me about the hours upon hours of "hurry up and wait" that I would face in the Army and they certainly never told me how hot it was in the Middle East. I signed up anyway and found out what the military was all about. It was lots of hard work, sweat, sometimes activities that seemed utterly pointless and time spent away from the people I love. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. If that is really what we are doing here then shame on us. However, speaking for myself only, I don't get any benefit or kickback when more people operate QRP so I am only going to share what has actually happened in my experience.

Physics, attenuation and S-meters aside I find an incredible amount of enjoyment in working QRP. I've been a ham for over 15 years and I will freely admit that I'm no tech guru. I'm a liberal arts kinda guy and while science is fascinating to me I'm no expert. That means that the challenge for me is not only making the difficult contact but also understanding the principles that drive my hobby. Due to my lack of technical expertise my joy comes from what would otherwise be second nature to many hams. When I finished my tri-bander kit and it actually turned on I was tickled pink because I'd never done anything like that before. My interest in QRP comes from a challenge/satisfaction equation (here I am talking math like I know what I'm saying).

Challenge in building= satisfaction in operation.
Challenge in operating = satisfaction when I make the tough contact
Challenge in understanding propagation = satisfaction in long haul contacts
Etc., etc.

A year and a half ago, if someone had told me I could make the kind of contacts I have at 5w or less I would have thought they were crazy. The science can help make the case and support the results but nothing can make a QRP believer out of someone other than first hand experience.

The beautiful thing about ham radio is that if you try something and don't like it then you can always turn the amplifier on/off, get a new rig, or build/buy a new antenna. If you're up for a challenge, give QRP a shot. If its not for you then go QRO and no one is going to fault you either way...at least I'm not.

Incoherent rambling done,

Christian KF4LXB
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Christian
Albemarle, NC
EM95
http://kf4lxb.blogspot.com
W7ASA
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Posts: 268




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« Reply #46 on: December 03, 2012, 12:32:24 PM »

Hey Christian -

"Incoherent rambling" accepted and enjoyed!

--- Totally off the main subject, but about yours ---

The Army - Ha!  Been there and done that.  Yes, those recruiters were long on selling the "Fun, Travel & Adventure", with things like the G.I. Bill on top. However, they were a little lite on things like:

'Oh - by-the-way, the enemy ARE going to try to capture, torture and eventually kill you...

...some of those enemies may be part of our drill instructor cadre'. ....
 
We're going to inject you with experimental cocktails of vaccines from time-to-time, just to see what happens . . .
 
...and by the way, we can involuntarily extend your enlistment at any time, for the most trivial of reasons ...'.

Oh and 'most everything that you're going to do for us for the next several years would otherwise be totally illegal & get you tossed into prison, so don't even THINK about doing this back home, or elsewhere for private hire. Just to make things interesting, we'll imprison you ourselves if we think that you might talk about what you did for us.

-----------------------------         -...-        -------------------------------

Military life hinges on those little words that tend to be so well hidden:

"As suits the needs of the service." 

Yes - you were "guaranteed" by the recruiter to be the only male on an island near Hawaii filled with beautiful women and a HUGE, unlocked, liquor depot. However, in reality that three digit code on your contract sent you to be a latrine repairman on Shemya - "As suits the needs of the service." 

It's a heck of a way to raise kids, but it does seem to work - in it's own, odd way.   Shocked

-...-

>>>  I know what you mean about building.  I just grafted a DDS VFO project into my old Wilderness Sierra - very cool.

73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._ 
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AA4GA
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« Reply #47 on: December 03, 2012, 01:49:01 PM »

But Ray, why is it when QRP operators start quoting these definitions and comparisons they all stack the deck with numbers that are mathematically correct but it's never pointed out that MOST QRP signals seldom ever move an S-meter?  And because QRP signals seldom ever move an S-meter all of the numbers and comparisons leak like a sieve.
Really?  I've never noticed that. 

Quote
And it should be pointed out, if it wasn't for good operators willing to work a bit, QRP operators wouldn't have the success they have.
Here's a secret a lot of non-QRPers don't know.  You'll hear many of these "naysayers", as you call yourself, say that the heavy lifting is really done not by the QRPer, but by the station doing the receiving.  And there is some truth to that indeed...but here's the secret:  A large contingency of QRPers like to work other QRPers!  That's right, they knowingly subject themselves to copying weak signals!  I'm active in SOTA, QRP Foxhunts, and various QRP contests, all of which often involve QRPers listening to other QRPers.  And many, if not most, of the times the S-meter does in fact move.  No, it's usually not pegging the right side, but it's usually not glued to the left either.

Quote
As for the rest.... if a guy gives you a signal report and then dumps you because your signals is too weak to copy without a great deal of work, what has been accomplished?  Another country?  Another state?
You write that as if that is a bad thing.  Who are you to judge the value of my QSOs?  I prefer short, contest-style QSOs.  I don't enjoy ragchewing...most of the ragchews I hear are boring conversations.   

Quote
When we set down for an evening of operating, we really want an evening of working stations.
So far in 2012, I've made over 2200 QSOs in 131 DXCC countries, all using 5 watts or less and an 80m doublet up about 45' or so or an EFHW sloper at the same height for 20m and 40m.  Trust me, I've worked plenty of stations and had many enjoyable evenings of operating, running QRP.

Quote
Most of us old timers started out using low powered transmitters and then worked our way up.  But if low power is so great, why work our way up?
Possibly because that is what we've all been told for years.  Many (I suspect the majority) of folks start with 100 watt rigs and never QRO from there.  Some have never experienced an output level of over 5 watts.  In my case, I went the "traditional" route of starting with ~100 watts and later adding an amplifier.  But even later, I realized that amount of power isn't necessary for me to make QSOs or to enjoy radio.

Quote
Many come here for information and I feel they are getting a lot of smoke and mirrors here on the QRP forum.
What smoke and mirrors?  Maybe what you're smoking??

I'm not anti-QRO, well other than to the extent that it pollutes the bands with a bit more QRM than is necessary.  I have chosen to use a maximum of 5 watts for most of my operating.  That may change some day, it may not.  But as was mentioned earlier in this thread, to call QRPers' accomplishments "smoke and mirrors" and to effectively call us liars is rude.  I don't go to the amplifier-building forums and accuse people of running more power than necessary.  Why do you come here and disrespect our niche of the hobby?

And FWIW, CQ magazine and the ARRL have both been long-time supporters of QRP...and both of those entities have a vested interest in increasing the numbers of amateurs.  Do you think they would support QRP if they thought it was a ticket to nowhere and would discourage newbies?

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STAYVERTICAL
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« Reply #48 on: December 03, 2012, 05:53:38 PM »

The thread topic "Getting adjusted to QRP" is really quite revealing.
It implies that one can get used to operating QRP, and consider it as a normal baseline activity.
This is in fact true, not just about QRP but just about anything.

Where conflict arises is in meeting other peoples baseline conditions, and the clashes that result.
For example, where do you draw the line in the sand as to what your minimum power used will be?
Will it be 100W or 1.5KW?
Many will say it should be adjusted to meet conditions - but will you really do that - or just leave it where it is.

QRP enthusiasts have drawn a line in the sand - a fixed power boundary they will not cross and still consider themselves QRP.
This self (or equipment) imposed limit is something they accept willingly - and then strive to maximize performance within this limit.
Any group which sets a self imposed regime of austerity is always viewed with suspicion by others who cannot understand this thinking.
In some cases, it is viewed as a criticism, such as people who will not drink alcohol at parties are sometimes viewed.
A private and personal decision is somehow viewed as being offensive to the group.

Another obstacle to the QRP enthusiast is the "perceived wisdom" gambit.
"Everyone knows QRP signals are weak, so QRP signals must be weak".
It is a circular, self justifying argument based on nothing except memes centred on anecdotes.

While on the fishing metaphor - remember the lobster trap.
If a lobster tries to crawl out of the trap, the other lobsters will pull it back down.
So every guy or gal who decides to try QRP is assailed by horror stories of hardworking QRO beam wielders, brows dripping with sweat, pulling in those weak QRP'ers.
It is a subtle ( or not ) form of the lobster trap, pulling back any who may stray from the QRO fold.

This "perceived wisdom" self delusion is not limited to QRP operation either.
I run a small magnetic loop antenna, and am subject to exactly the same erroneous ideas.
Everyone I work, when confronted with my good signals (keep in mind I work mainly DX), is astonished I am running a small magloop a mans height off the ground.
I get comments like " you are a great advertisment for small magloops" , and " It's hard to believe".
And I hear stations which many beams can't because my signal to noise ratio is fantastic on the magloop.
Even though the local hams hear me making the contacts, preconceived ideas are so strong, they still can't get their head around why it works so well.
It illustrates the power of preconceived ideas.

As regards S meter readings, power is subsumed by the antenna and propagation path.
I frequently work other QRP stations with S9 or better signals, even from the other side of the planet.
Their secret?
They are using good antenna's, and/or good feedline systems such as open wire feeders.

I come up against incredulity every day, both with QRP operation and my Magloop antenna.
It has shown me the incredible self-limiting power of preconceived ideas, and how it shapes each one of us.
We all build our own versions of reality, and construct fences to keep ourselves within mental boundaries.
Sometimes, it helps us to grow by hopping over those fences to see what is on the other side.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 06:02:22 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
K8AXW
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« Reply #49 on: December 03, 2012, 09:43:05 PM »

Quote
n short: you are calling us liars?  That's rather rude, to say the least and totally uncalled for.  You asked for the thoughts of those who do QRP hamming and when our answers, long experience and basic calcs do not match your preconceived 'feelings', you tell us that we're knowingly hiding some gruesome 'truth' from newbies? That Sir, is what "smoke & mirrors" means: lying.  You did not actually mean that - did you?


Quote
The Army - Ha!  Been there and done that.  Yes, those recruiters were long on selling the "Fun, Travel & Adventure", with things like the G.I. Bill on top. However, they were a little lite on things like:


C'mon Ray..... we're having a civil discussion here.... you know back and forth.... so don't throw shit into the game!  Calling you a liar?  Not hardly....I'm not calling anyone a liar.  I'm simply saying that the whole picture isn't presented quite often when someone inquires about QRP.  May I suggest you research the definition of "smoke and mirrors?"

Now take your own example.... the second one..... did the recruiter LIE to you?  No, he just didn't tell you everything. If a recruiter told you EVERYTHING we'd still be trying to get men for the civil war! That's smoke and mirrors and since you're an old Army guy, you should understand this.  You actually repeated what I've been trying to say here!  Shocked

I have absolutely nothing against QRP operators or them trying to tell how much fun it is.  Actually, Ray, last night I fired up the old 100w rig for the first time in quite a while. It's  been so long that I really had to stop and study how to operate the damn thing!  That's because I've been using my QRP rig.

STAYVERTICAL: I'm not quite sure how to respond to your comments except to say that I do not entertain "preconceived ideas."  Preconceived ideas have a tendency to get shoved up your nose.   

Your metaphor of the lobster trap sounds more like the description of a cult.  Like I said, I really don't know how to respond to your comments.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that I'm unable to express myself in a way that makes myself understood.  Why is everyone offended?  Have I questioned something sacred?  Or is QRP a cult?  Intersting.......



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STAYVERTICAL
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« Reply #50 on: December 04, 2012, 01:03:20 AM »

C'mon Al, you are one of the most entertaining writers on eHam, the place is definitely enriched by your posts.
In addition, you are a QRP user, not just an armchair general, so you have experience to make informed comments.

My post (like most of mine) was a bit abstract, and I am not surprised you don't know what to make of it (I sometimes have trouble on re-reading!).
I guess I was trying to use pop psychology to explain the strange vehemence of some QRO guys (not you by the way) towards QRP.
It borders on irrationality, after all it is just a niche part of the hobby, and does no harm to anyone.

When you have those attitudes expressed in a forum section devoted to QRP, it should come as no surprise that you rattle a hornets nest.
I would even dare to say (here comes the controversy) that QRP devotees are more passionate in ham radio, because they have continual challenges.
If you are not a risk taking individual, or like an easy life, then you will probably not stay with QRP.

Looking at the people who post on this forum, and use QRP, you can see a lot of outdoorsmen, hikers, bicycle mobileers and so on.
QRP does not limit them, because they are naturally curious and prepared to accept challenges.

In addition, QRP has considerable advantages over even 100W operation.
For example; ability to operate indoors without excessive R.F. exposure, simple low power antenna tuners,
lower voltages on antennas, less chance of interference to electronic equipment, small batteries or power supply requirements
and small footprint transceivers are just some benefits.
These advantages make QRP a viable option for situations from hikers to retirement homes.

It is true that QRP will frustrate the newcomer who wants a cellphone like experience in ham radio.
For those users, a quick trip to buy a KW amp will be their salvation.
But, QRP users, like many other niches in ham radio, are a self-selecting group.
I can't speak for others, but I look forward to going to bed thinking of how to put up that half rhombic in my antenna restricted area.

In some ways, to use a military analogy, QRO users are like the regular army, and QRP users are like special ops.
They may not have the massive firepower with them, but they have to be agile and aware of their surroundings and objective.

Remember, it is not the size of your signal, but how you use it that counts!

73 - Rob

« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 01:18:50 AM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
W1JKA
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« Reply #51 on: December 04, 2012, 04:34:06 AM »

          STAYVERTICAL is right on track.IOTA,SOTA,HFpac,pedestrian/bicycle mobile,Flex qrp,PSK,birds,kayack/canoe/MM ect.along with hundreds if not more web sites/pages,blogs,You Tube videos and as mentioned previously the proliferation of qrp kits,homebrew schematics and information available to this low power,entry level cost niche of the hobby,it comes as no surprise to me that the reason most of the potential and new hams that I have met or talked to on the air get into the hobby is because of all the interesting options  and activities availiable with qrp.
           Now compare the above with the stereotyped QRO ham sitting within the confines of his cozy"shack" in front of the latest,greatest, expensive rig and tribander atop a 60 ft.tower and mostly noted for a 5x9 73 qso in a dx contest.This along with relatively little internet presence and most exposure seemingly limited to QST and the glossy HRO catalogue,the difference  being  quite noticeable I now understand the fairly recent surge of interest in qrp ops and can't help but think that this may be a continuing trend in the future of ham radio.    Jim
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W7ASA
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« Reply #52 on: December 04, 2012, 05:09:37 AM »

“ …QRP users are like special ops.”
Rob, as usual, you bring much to the table with your thoughts and your SOF analogy is actually quite a good fit.

There is a joy in simplicity, the ‘less is more’ thought pattern of efficient, small, light and self-contained...  For me, QRP has a similar appeal. It’s much like Japanese cooking, where a few high quality ingredients thoughtfully arranged, produce a wonderful (to me) dining experience. Then again, a sumptuous, multi-course meal in the European tradition is perfectly fine as well. I’m not a monk.  ;^)

Al, thanks for clarifying.  I read what you wrote, not what you meant. I agree that ‘agreement’ is all good and well, but it’s where differences are skillfully expressed that the real fun begins. I’ve spent many happy evenings around a campfire with old warrior friends, long range sailors and etc. telling lies (I mean TRUE tales) Ha ha  I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m still adapting to: ‘Als’ fecal expression of the day.’ where you inject the word “shit” into some of the oddest places in an otherwise civil conversation. As an ex-lingi, I’m always overly literal.  By the way, you & I have probably talked on the air a few times.  Your name & “8” call in WV stands out.

73 de Ray
W7ASA …_ ._
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #53 on: December 04, 2012, 05:53:03 AM »

I just realised that because I ride a pushrod air-cooled Italian 50hp motorcycle I am doing the equivalent of motorcycle QRP.  Grin I have had people incredulous I could ride to the south of France and back on a little Guzzi - surely you need 150hp to do this? Or asking me when I am going to "move up to a big bike?" After 39 years on motorcycles I reckon I have worked out what suits me.  Wink

I use 25w into my hybrid W3EDP at the moment but one day certainly I hope to operate backpack/portable with an FT817 or similar and throw a doublet into a tree at a picnic table and go for it with the straight key!
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
K8AXW
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« Reply #54 on: December 04, 2012, 09:19:09 AM »

OZI:  Is it me or does it seem that most here are taking the stance that I'm against QRP?  STAYVERTICAL gives me lip service about being a QRP operator...... which is correct.  Correct in reality but not in spirit. 

The reason for this is because as I work QRP I look at this operation objectively and can see that it is a specialized form of ham radio which isn't for everyone.  And THIS boys and girls is what I'm trying to get across here. 

Too many are extolling the virtues of QRP WITHOUT tempering their comments with the negative side of QRP operating.  For example, "Working stations all over the country/world is a hoot when you can do it with 5w or less."  "However, it should be understood that a great deal of listening, calling without results can lead to frustration, disappointment and even anxiety if you've invested a lot of money in your gear." 

This might be a an exaggerated example but if you read my opinion(s) objectively without prejudice you should be able to see the point I have been trying to make.

Rob:
Quote
But, QRP users, like many other niches in ham radio, are a self-selecting group.

As a rule this is correct.  Most QRP users are like me, I think, who are tired of the same old thing and try QRP, or the birds, or EME..... whatever.  These are the ones that go into QRP with their eyes wide open and if or when they realize that this isn't what they want they simply go back to whatever they were using.

I'm posting about the guys who come here for information on QRP; who think starting out with QRP might be the way to go and are looking for advice. What they get many times is a one sided opinion without the "howevers."

OZI:  Would you recommend the little Guzzi to a first time biker wannabe without telling him the downside of riding a small motorcycle cross country?
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AA4GA
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« Reply #55 on: December 04, 2012, 12:05:11 PM »

The reason for this is because as I work QRP I look at this operation objectively
NO!  You are not being objective at all!

Quote
Too many are extolling the virtues of QRP WITHOUT tempering their comments with the negative side of QRP operating.  For example, "Working stations all over the country/world is a hoot when you can do it with 5w or less."  "However, it should be understood that a great deal of listening, calling without results can lead to frustration, disappointment and even anxiety if you've invested a lot of money in your gear."
No different that trying to DX with QRO!!!  You have the same frustrations, disappointment and anxiety potential - and a lot of patience and listening (a rare skill!) is required for DXing with QRO as well!  But you haven't mentioned that - why not??  Oh, and if you're not successful, or don't enjoy QRO operation, you've sunk a lot more money into it....which with more money at risk could lead to even more frustration, disappointment, and anxiety when operating QRO.  Oh my!

Are you a lawyer?  Do you think every single potentially negative aspect should be disclosed for every post about every subject? 

Sheesh!!

You still haven't said what the "smoke and mirrors" are that you're referring to!

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W1JKA
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« Reply #56 on: December 04, 2012, 12:30:48 PM »

  I don't know about the rest of you gents but I'm surely getting educated in the fine arts and sciences of fly fishing,papermaking,applied physics,moto cross,calf roping ect. and I'm hopeful it will all  help me become a more efficient qrp operator.  Jim
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WA2TPU
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« Reply #57 on: December 04, 2012, 06:38:29 PM »

To W1JKA..... Indeed Jim. Indeed!
             Certainly, I tip my hat to you.

Best regards and many 72/73.
Don sr. --WA2TPU-- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION.
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GILGSN
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« Reply #58 on: December 05, 2012, 12:41:51 PM »

Well, as I have mentioned before, I am a new Ham; ten weeks on the air. I have never used anything but QRP, and having a ball. Ray (W7ASA) and I have been experimenting from FL to VA on 30m. One of our first QSOs, I had my Buddistick clamped on a coffee table inside my house. I thought my K2 was set to 14W, but it was on 2W. No problem.. Faint but readable. A couple days ago, we were trying a wire/counterpoise up a tree in my back yard, and for kicks, I turned the power down to 200mW. He could hear me and decode. That was 200mW going through 25' of RG-174 and a SOTA tuner to the wires. So, it's hard for me to understand that there is any argument here.. Sure, sometimes people can't hear me at all, but it's not a phone, it's radio. Either there is a path at that time, or not. Most of the time, when a band is open, I get through. When I get through with 14W, 5W works almost as well, and sometimes 1W is enough. 200mW might have been a fluke, but the more you try, the more flukes happen..

I'd rather spend some money getting a sensitive receiver like the K2 than spending a fortune on a 1KW amp. I like portable operations and QRO is not practical in that context.

So, are QRPers painting a brighter picture than it really is? I don't think so. Anyone willing to spend time to experiment and build efficient antennas is practically guaranteed to succeed. It's not plug-and-play. Aren't some Hams around using only a few milliwatts?

I am able to make contact almost every time I get on the air. No frustration whatsoever. If I had 1KW and was guaranteed success every time, that would be boring...

Gil.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #59 on: December 05, 2012, 09:06:18 PM »

Quote
WA2TPU-- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION.

This is one aspect of QRP that I never considered.  Saving the planet!  It would be interesting to see mathematically how much your "Green Station" is contributing to the welfare of the planet.   Roll Eyes

Quote
Are you a lawyer?  Do you think every single potentially negative aspect should be disclosed for every post about every subject? 

Sheesh

Does one have to be a "lawyer" to make your comments to newbies clear and fair without embellishment?  Sheesh!

Quote
The reason for this is because as I work QRP I look at this operation objectively
NO!  You are not being objective at all!

I am the ONLY one being objective.  I'm the ONLY one who has explained both sides of operating with low power.  BTW, I'm very familiar with your method of arguing and I'm not impressed.

I've decided to let this discussion die.  I feel that I have stated my reasons quite well for fair and honest replies to a newbies question about QRP.  I obviously have failed and once again I feel that I have tread upon something sacred with the only result is I've generated a great deal of animosity in a hobby that is noted for service and camaraderie.

I've concluded that the worst thing that can happen to anyone taking advice about getting into QRP is that they waste some money and or, out of frustration, go find another hobby.

I don't think anyone is going to be ostracized, shunned or turned into a toad if they leave.



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