What is, QRP?
QRP is a term adopted from the international RQS signals meaning to reduce
power. Hams have taken this term and its meaning to be low power.
Generally, ORP is 5 watts or less from the transmitter, regardless of the input
power to the transmitter. If you hear someone on 40 meters calling CQ QRP,
he (or she) is calling for a low power station. More than likely, they will be using low power, too.
What is, QRPp?
QRPp is the older term for RF power of 1 watt or less. That extra small "p'
meant really low, low power, generally under 1 watt. That term has been replaced by the term "miIliwatting." While it may be hard to believe, you really can work around the world with an output power of 50 milliwatts! There have been many hams working DXCC with only 100 milliwatts to the antenna. It is hard to do, but not impossible.
What are the most popular QRP bands?
There really is no one band more popular than the others. You'll find QRP
operation everywhere from DC to Light. But, some consider the 40 meter
band around 7.040 MHz to be QRP Central. You can also find some action
on 7.035 MHz and 7.060 MHz. In the winter time, when summer QRN is
down, 80 meters is very popular during long cold nights. There is QRP activity
on 160 meters, too.
The 30 meter band is a QRPer's delight! Try 10.106 and up for low power
signals. Then, let's not forget about the 20 meter band either. This is by far
the most popular ham band when it comes to working DX. Low power operation used to be located around 14.060 MHz, but alas, other forms of digital signals have been moving down, overtaking the QRP-calling frequency.
Check the entire band for QRP operators-they're everywhere on 20. You
can find QRP signals on 17, 15, and 10 meters, too.
I'm not into cw, Can I still operate QRP?
CW is by far the most popular mode of QRP operation. It's partly because
CW transmitters are easier to build than SSB rigs. With CW, you get more
bang for the watt, too. But QRP is not only CW, it's any rnod
Do I need to change rigs or equipment to operate QRP?
Of course not! Most of today's rigs can be easily turned down from a front panel control. You'll end up with low transmitter efficiency, but you won't have
to spend a penny.
How about antennas? All I have is a simple dipole.
No matter what power level you use in amateur radio, the better the antenna.
the better your signal will be. Use a good grade of feed-line and get the
antenna as high as possible.
I enjoy a good contest now and then. How can I compete with other stations if I run only 2 watts?
Most of the major contests, such as the CQ World Wide DX contest,
Sweepstakes, and even Field Day, have special low power sections. You only
compete against others within the same power class. You don't have to worry
about the guy running a kW because you are not in the same class!
I know many QRPers like to build their own gear. I'm not much of
builder. Can I purchase a commercial QRP transceiver?
It's too bad you don't like to build your own gear. You're missing out on a
lot of fun. But yes, you can purchase a commercial QRP transceiver.
It is the 21 Century and today's technology is solid-state and microprocessors.
But, if you want. you can still use a vacuum tube in a QRP transmitter. The
best place to look for a circuit is in an old copy of the ARRL Handbook. Begin
looking with the early '70s and work your way back to the '50s. Parts for
those circuits may be next to impossible to locate, unless you have a really
big junk box!!!
Can I operate PSK31 or JT65?
Yup! Sure can. Again, QRP simply means low power. Any mode of communications is suitable for QRP, with the exception of moon-bounce! I've had some great QSO's using PSK31 with less than 4 watts PEP.
Are there any QRP clubs to join?
Yes! As a matter of fact I'm member of the British G-QRP which is based in United Kingdom and publish SPRAT which is full of construction projects. Almost every Radio-Society run and support a QRP department. There is also the SV-QRP group and their bimonthly e-magazine sv-qrp!
I like to collect awards. Can I still do so with QRP?
Yes! There are many, many awards issued just for QRP operation. These
range from a DX contest with QRP endorsement to the Miles Per Watt Award .
Many other contests also provide a special QRP award such as the ARRL's
Sweepstakes or the CQ World Wide DX contest.
What are some of the limits of QRP?
QRP is not push-button communications! There will be times when your 2
watts just won't cut it. Band conditions, QRM, sunspots. and QRN all take
their toll on a 2 watt signal. There will be times when your 2 watts of RF won't
be enough to make a contact. Some modes don't seem to work as well as others. SSB, for example, is much harder to do with QRP power levels because everyone likes that arm-chair copy. You won't be armchair copy most of the lime on SSB. AM phone is really tough on QRP! It's possible to
I'm on a limited budget. Would QRP be the best way to go to enter ham
QRP means low power, not inferior equipment! Don'1 get the two mixed together.
If I start to operate QRP, what's in it for me?
No matter what you do in life, you get out what you put in. QRP really boosts your ego. Breaking a DX pile-up with 2 watts will keep a smile on your face for weeks. Working the east Coast with 1 watt from a transmitter you
put together with your own hands is one of the best ways to generate those
warm fuzzy feelings. If you're tired of the quick, "Hi. Rig here is .... Weather here is ... Five-Nine..." type of QSO, give QRP operation a try. And if it's nothing else -it's FUN!