Speak Out: Your experiences with QRP...
A contributor asks: "What has been your experiences with running QRP? What are some of your favorite bands, modes, radios/kits to use? Antennas? What was your lowest power and longest distance contact?"
51 opinions on this subject.
Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
[Speak Out Home Page]
Anonymous on 2001-02-07
My experience with QRP is with a MFJ 20 meter SSB radio. A little more powerful than 'true' QRP at about 8-10 watts but, hey, close enough! It's a lot of fun. My Icom 746 has better performance- it better!- but the idea of getting across the country with just that little box and the wire stretched between the trees is exciting. I liken using this radio to fly fishing- techneque makes a difference and just making the contact is as fun as whatever is said.
WA7QJY on 2001-02-06
You just gotta try QRP!
And when you do, build a Wilderness NC40A
If you've ever thought about QRP, but decided against it because the radios seemed like toys, you are not alone. I never could
understand what could be so interesting about under powered poor performing QRP radios. In a weak moment, and after reading an
article in the December 2000 issue of QST I finally decided to find out. About a week after I sent a check to Wilderness Radio a little
tiny box arrived in my mail. Inside was a detailed manual, a top-rate custom enclosure, and a couple of baggies of loose parts. It didn't
look like much, and certainly no where near enough parts to make a decent radio.
I was wrong in a big way!
I hadn't put anything in the way of electronics together for a long time, so I took it slow. In about 45 minutes, I had all the parts
inventoried and arranged on a couple of sheets of notebook paper. I scotch-taped each part to the paper so I wouldn't loose too many
The single circuit board was very well made, and the plated-through holes were smaller than I expected. The next thing I did was run
down to Radio Shack and buy a 15 watt pencil soldering iron with a fine tip. Believe me, you better do this, the parts are small and very
compactly arranged on the board. The instructions recommend using 2% silver solder - do this also. This solder is a joy to use, flows
very well and leaves barely any residue at all.
Aside from the solder, nothing else is needed to build and operate this radio (a magnifying glass would have been nice for my feeble
For the next two evenings I was squinting at resistor color codes, and minuscule printing on teensy little caps. There are some toroids to
wind, but don't let that scare you. I'd never done it before either. I did make one mistake, I tried winding one toroid with the wrong size
wire. Don't do this! Luckily, I noticed it in time and re-wound the darned thing with no problems. The instructions in the step-by-step
manual are exactly correct.
Look at the pictures, and follow the the instructions. Your radio will work. I know this is true, because mine did.
When I said mine worked, did I mentions that it worked instantly the first time I applied power? Well, to my genuine amazement, it did!
Alignment is a snap, and no special tools or instruments are needed.
The best part is how well, the receiver works. I swear, the receiver in this QRP Transceiver is just as capable of pulling weak signals out
of the muck as is my regular rig. I've got an Icom 735, which is a good radio even by today's standards. The Wilderness Radio NorCal
40A is a REAL rig, not a gimmick or a toy. I was on the air before the last solder joint had cooled and made several contacts thousands
of miles away using my barely marginal vertical all-band antenna.
Nowadays, the only thing I use the SB-1000 amp for is as a perch for Conan my jumbo sized cat. He hasn't been in the shack much
lately. I guess its the searing heat put out by the amp that he really likes.
I thought he was copying code all this time.
I've been operating QRP on 40 meters lately, and believe me, with QRP the thrill is back! Every time someone answers my CQ I'm
shocked that my measly 2-watt signal can be heard. But they really do hear me, and I can hear them too. I usually use my IC-735 and
tuner to get the antenna matched to around 7.025 before I switch the coax to the NorCal 40A. The neat thing about this is that I can flip
the coax switch and get the Icom listening through the same antenna as the QRP rig. Usually there isn't any detectable loss of signal
from one to the other. I know, I know you don't believe it. Well, I didn't believe it either when I read a similar claim in a Ham magazine.
That's why I had to try it myself.
This is a really big radio in a little box.
The coolest feature of this hot little radio is the built-in memory keyer. What's so cool about a memory keyer these days? This keyer
will tell you what the operating frequency is at any point in the band, and will also tell you when a desired frequency has been reached!
Aside from that, the keyer allows setting of QSK, Iambic mode, key-down function, and a bunch of other stuff. Neat-O to say the least.
The KC-1 memory keyer is optional, but I strongly suggest you buy it right away. It comes with a front panel drilled and labeled for a
really professional look. I highly recommend this QRP kit. Get in touch with my friend QRP Bob at Wilderness Radio(http://www.fix.net/~jparker/wilderness/nc40a.htm)and
have him kit one up for you!
Oh, and by the way . . . I don't work for Wilderness radio, they didn't pay me to say this, and I didn't even get a free radio. I did talk to
QRP Bob on the telephone when I was putting the kit together. I was a little worried about one of the steps. He listened to me, assured
me that everything was going to be OK, and to just do exactly what it says. "Yes", he said, "the instructions are correct and the radio
You can send mail to me via Amateur Radio AX.25 packet just like any other E-mail, except that it will appear on my Ham Computer
terminal linked to the network via a 147.180 MHz FM repeater Click here to send Radio E-mail WA7QJY@WA7V.ampr.org.
My VHF packet address is: wa7qjy@wa7v.#sewa.wa.usa.noam, you packeteers out there will know what to do with this!
Of course, my plain old boring Internet E-mail address is:email@example.com
WB8YYY on 2001-02-06
QRP is not so much a power level but an attitude. The essence is to get away from the appliance operator, brute force attitude of "more in necessary to be satisified." QRP'ers are more intimate with their equipment, like the hams of old who had no other options. Making QSO's with the same power or less as your "night light" with equipment you constructed is an experience to be appreciated. QRP ranges from simple 'Tuna Tin" tranmitters with 2 transistors, to well-engineering monoband transceivers (homebrew or kits) to now state-of-the-art performance of the K2. While I still own/operate an "appliance rig" I also benefit from the QRP experience. This is a fast growing, enthusiastic aspect of the ham radio hobby that is fortunately for us all very broad.
Anonymous on 2001-02-06
Let's dispell the myth that all QRP signals are piff-poor and require a radio telescope or EME array to hear; maybe 500 mw is, but few of us use QRPp.
Most reports I get (with 5 watts CW) are at least a 559 (even with my lousy, low *indoor* antenna) - perfectly copyable under most conditions if the op on the other end has a half-decent CW filter. Many of us (as a British ham pointed out) *have* to QRP due to either financial or TVI/RFI considerations.
How about a QRP-only band-segment when they do away with the novice bands ?
WB2WIK on 2001-02-05
QRP certainly helps sharpen operating practices, and gets us all, after working QRP for any length of time, to listen harder and dig for the weak signals that are so easily overlooked. Any time I'm not contesting or specifically looking for new DX, I really enjoy hanging out in the "QRP section" of the CW bands, typically around .040 up (or higher), and working, or at least trying to answer, QRP stations. Unless pressing obligations forbid, I try to make at least one QRP QSO daily -- even if it's just one, and with somebody down the block. Best DX I can recall was a DL2, worked from my QTH in southern California, while I was running power too low to indicate anything on any "normal" metering I had at the time...I remember estimating power was likely in the 10-20mW range, it read "zero" on my 5W F/S Wattmeter, which does indicate 100mW pretty well. If this was 20mW and the DL2 was in central Germany (guessing), this would be about 300,000 "miles per Watt." I know others have done better, but I was very happy with this. Thankfully the band was in great shape and the DL2 had not only good antennas but a lot of patience -- it took several tries to get my callsign across, but was one of the few DX QRP contacts I've had where I didn't start out at some higher power and then reduce it. Recalling this makes me yearn to try it again, so I shall -- tonight, if possible, but with JA, since that's the direction where the band's open in the evening.
Anonymous on 2001-02-05
QRO is for guys who feel inadaquate. It's a kind of penis envy. The FCC should allow a maximum of 500w on all bands.
K1KID on 2001-02-05
Some seem to be missing the point with this QRP thing. The real advantage is being able to work DX or locals where ever you are on vacation, business or just out in the back yard on a nice day. Portability is what it's all about to me. A medium sized lunch box can carry my rig(K1), antenna(gusher 40, 20)and power supply (an 8 pack of NIMH AA cells), headphones, and a Paddlette key.
Set-up time is just a few minutes and you are on the air. QRP gives you the opportunity to spend more time on the air because you can operate from where ever you happen to be. No need to be in the shack with the QRO rig.
I do QRO too, but the opportunities to operate are much more frequent if you have a QRP rig too.
And who knows, if the rolling black outs get any worse on the west coast, it will be QRP or nothing folks. Just my one cents(qrp) worth.
Anonymous on 2001-02-05
Qrp is not my bag! BUT
I have worked CA from Colorado
on 15m with 10 mw on regular skeds.
I have worked Finland on 20m with
90 mw output to small A3 cushcraft
tribander at 115 feet from Colorado.
Qrp can be a lot of fun with good
antennas. More fun for me is QRO
using stacked monoband yagis!!
To each his own!!! QRP does NOT
prepare the user to handle pile ups.
When 10 to 25 stations are calling you
constantly it requires skill that can
not be developed from QRP operation!!!
Anonymous on 2001-02-05
My experience with QRP is usually on the other end, trying to dig out the really weak signal. In some contests and/or pileups you sometimes wish the QRP guys would run at least 100w, or in some cases not run .0001mw to an indoor G5RV! :) -Chris KL9A
PA3ALX on 2001-02-05
I have been operating QRP since 1978. My first rig was a HW-7 .Now you can learn to copy and operate QRP if you really want QRP!!. Problem with most hams is that they are not well trained in copying very weak and distorted signals .Most of them only copy 599 and automatic keyers!!
Now I am using a Ten TEC Argonaut 515 and a Kenwood TS 570DG.
Antennas mostly wire 20 metres or so endfed and a vertical, the R-5 about 8 metres above ground.
My best QRP has been New Zealand (12000 nautical miles from the Netherlands ) using 3 Watt output into a vertical antenna on the 20 meter band. (14060 kHz).
What is the fun of QRP anyway !!??
Well it is the ability to copy signals most hams cannot copy because they are not well trained and only copy computer writing with signals 599++ !!
If you are a serious QRP-er you never give up and keep that QSO. Lower your speed and listen.. listen ... listen !!
For me it is easy for in my younger years I did learn copying Morse signals professionally being trained as radio officer in the merchant navy. They did not have, and as a matter of fact they forbid the use of elbugs so every thing had to be done with the handkey!! Now you learn morse !!! The equipment on board the ships mostly was old army gear and even DC receivers were used on the short wave bands. Now you learn how to copy !!
I do not hope that I frustrated all them computer operators with 599 ++ sigs !
Always on air with QRP and always very nice QSO's with fellow QRP-ers who understand what communicating is.
Thank you for your attention
73 de PA3ALX Herman
Enter your opinion about Your experiences with QRP...:
The opinions expressed within eHam.net Speak Out are those of the
contributor, and not necessarily that of eHam.net. eHam.net
simply provides a forum for people to express their opinions on
various amateur radio subjects of interest.
Do you have an idea for a Speak Out topic?
Email our Speak Out Manager
with your ideas.