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Author Topic: QRP and antennas  (Read 19690 times)

Posts: 864

« on: April 15, 2014, 09:19:41 PM »

Obviously, QRPers are minimalists when it comes to power. Does the same hold true for antennas? Do most QRP operators tend to use simpler, lower profile antennas, or is the percentage of them using beams and towers about the same as for QRO operators?

73 John AF5CC

Posts: 203

« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2014, 10:45:05 PM »

Hello John,

Minimalist, definitely. However minimalist doesn't mean not efficient. Take the PAR Trail end-fed for instance, or any small end-fed tuner with a thin wire.. You have a full half-wave antenna that fits in your pocket. All you need to do is shoot the wire up a tree and you get a very efficient antenna. I prefer tuned end-feds to "random" wires by far. You get a better radiation pattern and efficiency.

Antennas like the Buddistick and similar models work, but the conditions must be close to ideal. I once used my buddistick on 30m, inside the house (2nd floor), clamped to a coffee table and managed to have a chat (Morse code) with a friend eight hundred miles away using 2W. The Buddistick is for when i can't find a suitable tree though, the end-fed is always better.

I also use a large homebuilt magnetic loop (21ft. perimetar octagon) inside. That gets me to Russia from Florida when conditions are good. Is it minimalist? Well, it's only 6ft. tall and a very simple antenna.

Those three are all I have. I don't feel like I need any other antennas or more power than a few Watts. The key is to use a resonant antenna, sized for a low SWR. My end-feds are mostly installed with the tuning box on or close to the ground. No radials or counterpoise. It is minimalist, but I have no trouble making contact. Of course it's in CW, so that is a huge advantage...


Posts: 1668

« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2014, 03:37:53 AM »

My records only: During the last 4.5 years of both local and DX 2 way QRP contacts I have logged all antenna info. The majority of fixed (foreign) QTH DX boys use some type of beam mostly a Hex or Moxon. For both local and (foreign) DX portable the majority use some variation of simple wire types mostly dipoles. Also as mine are, the majority of all antennas used are homebrew. I have also noted a small uptick of Hex beam QRP users here in the states.

Posts: 2231

« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2014, 04:07:09 AM »

I think you will find QRPers use all kind of antennas. From big beams to shortened antennas like the Buddistick. From dipoles to verticals. It all depends on the op, what he/she wants to accomplish, and also any restrictions (monetary or otherwise) the op has - similar to any other ham operator.

Some QRPers believe a minimalist antenna is appropriate, others believe the antenna should do the work. The NAQCC emphasizes simple wire antennas.

I personally believe in using the best antenna you can. Whether that's a monobander on a tall tower or a wire hanging out a window if that's all you can do to get on the air.

My favorite antenna right now (and this is just me) is my Carolina Short 80 Windom. It covers 80-10 and installed at 35 - 50 feet kicks butt in my opinion. Having 2 perpendicular to each other is an awesome antenna system considering the cost. There will be a thousand other opinions on something different.

I've also been looking into end fed antennas Gil mentioned in his post. I also have made some 2 element vertical wire beams that are interesting because I've found they work well and cost about 25 bucks to make.

Remember, too, many QRPers like to take their rigs camping, hiking, and wherever else they go, so their antenna requirements would be much different.

I think you will find the antennas QRPers use are as varied as the activities we participate in. One thing I think is universal and that is the thrill of making low or very low power contacts.

Posts: 13250

« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2014, 09:04:15 AM »

If I'm operating QRP from home, I'd pay at least as much attention to my antennas as most
100W stations would.  That varies with time, as I'm always experimenting.  Might be a beam,
maybe dipoles, a loop, or a long wire.  In that regard there really isn't any difference.

When operating portable again it depends on the circumstances.  If I'm backpacking and
just taking a stop for lunch or an evening, I'll just toss up dipoles for a couple bands. 
If I'm going to be somewhere for a couple days, or for a contest, then I'll get more elaborate
with my wires:  large loops, vee beams, long wires, bobtail curtains, etc., depending on
what supports I have available.

When operating portable, I've never yet had a case where I didn't have space for a full-sized
dipole for the bands I wanted to use - even on 160m.  But that depends a lot on where you
plan to operate from:  a 160m dipole wouldn't be as popular in a crowded RV park.  Using a
full-sized antenna helps to maintain efficiency and simplifies setup:  I tuned up my backpack
dipoles over 30 years ago, and don't have to make any adjustments to them when I set them
up each time.

Posts: 209

« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2014, 01:55:41 PM »

To WB6BYU.....

As always...well stated Dale.....Thanks.
I do about the same as you do whether being at home or in the field trekking...contesting...

I always TRY to put-up the best possible antenna I can where ever I'm operating. And like you, I LOVE to build and experiment with high efficiency antennas to enhance my 5 watt Qrp station.
ANTENNAS ANTENNAS me that's what its all about...... whether your  Qrp or Kilo-watt station ...simply-put....always have up the BEST antenna you can.

I hope this finds you healthy and well.
always my BEST with many 72....73.
Don sr. -- WA2TPU/Qrp --

Posts: 773

« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2014, 02:59:41 PM »

define minimalist... Wink

A dipole is minimalist as antennas go.  Getting it in the air can vary all over the map.

A quarter wave vertical is also a minimal antenna though adding enough radial to make
it work is NOT minimal work.

Whats going on is really the question of  is low power crappy antenna a norm?

I've run low power for a lot of years and my minimal antenna is dipole or its equivalent
the half wave end fed.   But I'm not above running a 5 w radio into a 3 element beam either.
I might at that low power with a wire beam is very effective.

What I try to do is avoid running a low power radio into a compromised antenna though as
a mobile op that's often required (try to be efficient at 40M).  Having done that it can and
does work, just not as well.


Posts: 145

« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 11:08:30 AM »

Hello John, I really don't know where the 5 watts to a budipole idea came from but I've always been qrp going on 30 yrs, I think improving the ant is really the main thing you can do, obviously 5 watts is all your going to run, so the needs to be the best you can put up, I started with a vertical, then a mini beam, just kept improving as my DXCC total improved my antenna improved, hope this clarifies qrp and antenna's at least WG5G's point of view, 73 Dan WG5G.

Posts: 12844

« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 12:20:59 PM »

define minimalist... Wink

If you really want to be "minimalist", no fair working stations who are running 100W with a Yagi at 50 foot. That would be letting the other station do all the work. Wink

Posts: 16


« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 12:34:53 PM »

The antennas used at my QTH are a Butternut HF9V vertical, and 88' Extended Double Zepp and a W3EDP antenna.  For portable ops, it varies. If I am operating "stationery mobile", I will use a Buddistick mated to my Jeep's roof via one of those tri-mag magmounts.  Operating from a park or some other "away from the car" location, I will use a PAR END FEDZ or an EARCHI end fed antenna for 40-10 meters.

I operate QRP 99% of the time, unless I hear a new DXCC entity that I have never worked before and 5 Watts ain't cutting it. I'm enough of a DXer to do whatever I can (within my means) to get a new one in the log.

A Hexbeam or a Spiderbeam would be nice, but I don't really have the space in the backyard for it.  Lots of overhanging trees and such that would inhibit its turning radius.  That being said, I have been very successful with QRP and very rarely bang my head against the wall.  However, had I the space and funds to support a directional antenna on some type of tower, I would do it in a heartbeat.

To me, QRP refers to output power, not necessarily running that 5 Watts through a wet noodle or a piece of string.

Posts: 144

« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2014, 09:58:57 AM »

I do enjoy QRP and have a full size dipole and a yagi on a tower.  But I have the most fun going out in the back yard and tossing a wire up a tree and hooking it and the counterpoise wire to the KX3 using BNC male to stackable binding posts and operating.   As has been mentioned, wire is cheap and very effective.  I guess the idea is to stay simple and spend your time operating and having fun.  Hope to catch you down the log.

Posts: 1428

« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2014, 09:23:54 AM »

I operate portable QRP - usually when we go out of town.  My preferred antenna is a 20M dipole with switches to disconnect sections so it also works on 15, 17, 12, and 10M.  And clip-on loading coils to make it work on 30- and 40-meters.  Info in the "Articles" section of my website at  When the location is not suitable for erecting the dipole, I use an Alexloop Walkham.

Phil - AD5X

Posts: 935

« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2014, 09:24:01 PM »

For local work low dipoles, cant beat the efficiency and advantage of ground gain from the low dipoles.

If you have a medium height (40 to 50ft) pole dipoles are again the winner if you can string them tru horizontal  or inverted V.

For simplicity a S9 fibreglass mast with 1/2 wave end fed  monoband verticals are hard to beat.

I worked FT5ZM all band slots /modes with the exception  of 160 meters with a 25 watt manpack and end fed half wave verticals. I did this from a hotel carpark while on a work assignment. I did it more for the challenge than needing FT5ZM

I prefer to use 1/4 wave verticals near seawater.

I operate portable QRP - usually when we go out of town.  My preferred antenna is a 20M dipole with switches to disconnect sections so it also works on 15, 17, 12, and 10M.  And clip-on loading coils to make it work on 30- and 40-meters.  Info in the "Articles" section of my website at  When the location is not suitable for erecting the dipole, I use an Alexloop Walkham.

Phil - AD5X

Posts: 169


« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2014, 08:25:13 AM »

For what it's worth...

I have a RockMite 40 CW unit with an upgraded final puts out a watt I think.  Recently, I tried operating from my 5th floor hotel room using a shortened dipole (capacity hats to shorten the length) inside my room (windows did not open). No joy.  I heard one QSO and my CQ's were not heard.  With such low power I need to do more when it comes to antennas whatever that entails.  That might mean hamsticks, it might mean a base loaded whip with some kind of radials or running wire around the room but whatever I can do to get heard.  My situation was very limited both by the closed-up windows and the fact that I did not have a way to tune the antenna.  The tuner I hoped to use would not deflect because of the low transmit power so I had to rely on "hope this works", which it did not.  I think having an ideally tuned antenna is best to transfer as much power to radiate and not turn into heat.  With a watt, there's nothing to waste.

So my spare time will be devoted to coming up with an antenna that will work in this situation that I must admit might be too tall of an order.

For what it's worth,
Glen - KE7FD

Posts: 55

« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2014, 03:34:28 PM »

For what it's worth...

 Recently, I tried operating from my 5th floor hotel room using a shortened dipole,
Glen - KE7FD

FWIW... I have never had any luck inside a hotel room. Too much noise and building around! I always go outside and throw up a wire or use the Buddistick. If you have a balcony... Things get better. YMMV
Scott N6PG
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