Rick's QRP Page


This is really for fun. I want to show off some of the things I have done with QRP. Technically speaking, QRP means "reduce power" but over the last few years it has become synonymous with low power operating. Today the definition of QRP operation is a maximum of five watts of output power. I think it goes beyond that however. I believe QRP is a "way of thinking." QRP ops I know today embody the spirit of Ham Radio I learned over 35 years ago when I first got started. The very nature of low power operation makes everyone a better operator if they are going to succeed. Not only that, I think QRP ops tend to be friendlier and more helpful to their fellow operators. This is my soapbox, so that doesn't mean everyone agrees.

Now that I am off the soapbox, here is a picture of the Wilderness Sierra I built a couple of years ago. This rig was originally designed by Wayne, N6KR as a NorCal project, then produced commercially by Wilderness Radio. It is a multi-band rig with plug in modules for each band. I think it is the best of the home built rigs on the market today.

Sierra QRP rig

Here is a closeup of one of the modules without its cover. Yes, winding all of those toroids does take patience.

Sierra Module

One of the reasons I started in QRP was to take a rig along when I go camping with my Scouts. The rig I usually take camping is the Small Wonder 40 by Dave Benson, NN1G. This rig is also known as the NE 40-40. Here is the way I built mine. Since it comes without a case so you can package it any way you like.

As you can probably tell by now, I like to build things. Here it the first set of paddles for QRP operation I built. The original design is by Floyd, NQ7X. These are called the Mini-mag Paddles and they are a real gem. I used aluminum for mine instead of brass like Floyd specified. That is a great part of homebrewing, you can use whatever works for you.

Those paddles were built to go with an electronic keyer. The one I built is the Island Memory Keyer. I haven't quite finished it. I still need to do the lettering. You should see the stack of projects on my workbench. Here is the partially completed keyer.

This is a picture of my Sierra, the Island Keyer, and my Vibroplex Paddles. I used this setup for the first time a few nights ago and worked the infamous Fox, of QRP-L fame.

Sierra and Keyer

You may have noticed I said "first set of paddles" for QRP operation. I am currently building a set of NorCal/K8FF paddles. You can check them out on the Norcal page. They look great, and I put them on the air last night (Jan 8, 1998). No takers, but that wasn't the paddles fault. I am showing these off at an upcoming Home Built night. Since I took this picture I have finished the plastic paddles. I will get a picture of the totally finished item soon!

Paddles and Island Keyer

One of the more interesting contacts I have made while running QRP is with the CIA special event station. Yes, the CIA was celebrating its 50th Anniversary in September. I managed to work NN50CIA on 30 meters. This is their QSL card.

All of the opinions about rigs are mine, I don't have an affiliation with any of these folks (other than being a NorCal member). Just a satisfied customer!

A late news flash. Under the Christmas tree was a Ten-Tec Argonaut 509. This is one of the classics of QRP rigs. I used the Argonaut 509 during the FYBO QRP contest sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions in Feburary. I stayed home but it was a lot of fun. The highlight for me was working Hawaii on 15 meters! Nice to have that band open again. Come on sunspots!!

Animated Key

You may have noted my comments earlier about PSK-31 being a great low power mode. It certainly has attracted a lot of attention from the QRP crowd. One of my favorite contacts on this mode has been working Bill, K4BX in Tennessee on 80 meters. He was running 5 watts from his Elecraft K2, QRP rig. Great signal here in Colorado.

Here are a few of my favorite QRP sites you might want to look at. There are certainly far too many good ones for me to list all of them here.