Welcome to the KF8GR/QRP page

QRP and Adventure Radio

"You are 60db over nine, turn down your power, stupid!"

What is QRP?

Technically, qrp is a Morse code abbreviated code meaning to reduce power.  It is commonly used among amateur radio operators to mean using low power (less than 5 watts), to carry out communications.


I feel there are six main reasons why qrp is so popular...

1) Ease of design and construction, with low parts counts, most hams could design or modify and build a cw qrp list.
2) Size,  Even in the IC synthesis age, a lower power output transistor will require a amaller heatsink, and less parts.
3) Weight.  With the small, and reduced parts and power requirements, a light rig isn't to dufficult to design and build.
4) Skill.  The qrp operators must develop increased skills to replace the power output.  There is less margin for errors

5)  Price.  If you reduce parts counts, delete frilly features, and have a junk box, you can build a nice rig on the cheap..
6)  With low power thare is much less chance of interfering with your neighbor's radios, televisions, phones, and such.

My QRP "Shacks"

Rigs:   Wilderness SST   Yaesu FT-817  Heathkit HW-9  Norcal 38 Special
TNCs    a Bay-Pac bp-2m and an AEA PakRatt PK-232
Antennas   a hybrid mini-quad, or, my Gap Titan  DX.  Portable I use homebrew antennas, St.  Louis Vertical, longwire on a tuner, or my favorite, a Slinky toy tuned with my wire tuner (works amazingly well).  My smallest antenna is a Miracle Whip which is a compromise antenna.  It will not perform as well as a full length antenna, but receives remarkably well, and will get contacts on 20M and above.
Power         At home:  30 amp low noise switching power supply.     Portable:  gel cell and hope to add some roll-up solar cells soon.
Keys:          A chopped down J-38 handkey.  HamKey!!,     Whiterook Iambic paddles (MK-44)
Computer:  At home I use an AMD-64 3000 with 512 Meg.  sdram and 120 Gig hd running Debian Sarge.   Portable I use a 300MHz laptop with 6 Gig running Debian Sarge.

What can be accomplished with low power (QRP)?

Well, I guess the answer is everything you can do with high power (QRO), it justs takes more skill and patience.  Power is no substitute for skill.

For example, I have a Toshiba Portege laptop that is small, and weighs about 3 pounds with battery.  My Yaesu FT-817 weighs about 2 pounds, and is also quite small.  With some software on the hard disk, a couple of audio cables, mobile mic and qrp key, I can operate rtty, psk31, MT63, APRS, packet, sstv, satellites, and of course cw and ssb would be possible even without the computer.  Total weight including a durable plastic box with carrying handle is about 8 pounds.  Covers all hf, 6m, 2m, 440 MHz bands, lots of modes, a qrp powerhouse.  Add a 'Miracle Whip" made for the FT-817 (collapses to 8 inches) and I have a REAL 'shack in the box -- O.K.  Neil???'  If you don't want the computer, and fancy modes, you can make it happen with an SST with microkey, battery, earbuds, antenna in a protective case for under 4 pounds.  Can't touch this.

If you operate qrp from your home qth, there are an infinate number of options.  The best investment you can make after your radios, is your antenna.  If you have the space, put up the best beam you can afford, and get it as high up as you can.  Even with the biggest linear, you won't communicate if you are talking on the dummy load.

Be realistic!  You can't expect to work DXCC in a couple of hours on qrp.  In fact, you will have many qso's broken because someone starts calling cq right on top of your signal, simply because they cannot hear you, and are not even aware the frequency is occupied.  Having said that, if you invest in some rechargable batteries, and a solar panel, your electricity for your radios is free, and earth friendly.  There is much to be said for working the world while preserving it for future generations of hams.  If you can derive pleasure from the smallest of things, you need to try out qrp.  Big things come in small packages.

Whare to find QRP Operators

CW Novice
160 M
1.818 MHz
1.910 MHz
1.843 MHz
80 M
3.560 MHz
3.710 MHz
3.985 MHz
3.690 MHz
40 M
7.040 MHz
7.110 MHz
7.285 MHz
7.090 MHz
30 M
10.106 MHz
20 M
14.285 MHz
17 M
18.069 MHz
15 M
21.060 MHz
21.110 MHz
21.385 MHz
21.285 MHz
12 M
24.906 MHz
10 M
28.060 MHz
28.110 MHz
28.885 MHz
28.360 MHz
6 M
50.060 MHz
50.885 MHz
50.285 MHz
2 M
144.060 MHz
144.285 MHz

These frequencies can vary by location, some areas use 60khz up from the low end of band, others use 40 kHz up from low end of the band, but you are allowed to operate with any mode, anywhere your license allows you to transmit.

Will Linux work with QRP?

Sure.  You will need a rig like the Yaesu FT-817 or Elecraft K-2, and a computer with a soundcard to use some of the software.  Other than that, it will work just the same as your home rig.  Linux has matured so that it can work with most laptops, but, if your laptop needs a custom version of Windows, you may not get Linux to work with it.  Stay with the name brands and everything should work fine.  Also, make sure your laptop has speaker and line input jacks.  Many of the laptops have internal mics that do NOT turn off while using the mic jack.

QRP/Emergency Communications in the great outdoors

Qrp operation in the wild is one of the best ways to renew the soul, increase your operating skill, make sure you have all the cables you need, and prepares you for operating under the most difficult conditions.

It is unfortunate that many hams think Field Day is the only training they need for emergency operations.  Field Day is the WORST training possible for emergency operations.  The entire design of Field Day is to get lid operators doing ANYTHING to run up the score.  If you doubt me, listen to the idiots trying to talk over the SSTV frequencies on any contesting weekend.  Now don't get me wrong, contesting CAN be a great way to get set up for emergency traffic handling, etc.  It is just not normally used that way, it is just the excuse used to contest.

Using a qrp rig, a laptop computer, and the best antenna setup you can find, and working on a day when no one even knows you are out there is how you test your true skills.  If you can fill a logbook from a rustic park or woodland setting, you can work emergency operations almost anywhere.  Every day you spend in the wild is a true test of your operating skill, band conditions, and camping knowledge.  Couple this with Adventure Radio, and man.... that's living.  Any jerk can spend a weekend in June pretending to be an emergency communicator.  As the good book says, by your works you shall be known.

If I have offended any hams, good.  Maybe they will get out and REALLY start to learn how to be an emergency communicator.  I do know a little about what of I speak.  I learned emergency communications in the USAF, as a combat communications operator.  I may be getting old, but staying alive is what I do best (at least so far)!

the Rigs
I enjoy working digital modes from the wild.  It renews the soul.

Staying safe in the great outdoors.

Staying safe is what makes qrp/adventure/combat radio fun.  Learn how to play well with nature, and how to respond to situations that you did not expect to happen.  My survival page is chock full of survival flavor chips.  I recommend making a survival kit that is small, light, and in keeping with the idea of qrp/Adventure radio.  Why drag a QRO survival kit to do a QRP job?

QRP Links

This webpage covers a lot of info from books to clubs to qrp homepage links
American QRP Club This is a must check it out link.  Good Stuff
Australian QRP QRP  with an Aussie slant.  A very well done page with some of the best links in qrp.  Well done mates!
Colorado QRP Club Colorado QRP club homepage.  Qrp topics of interest, club information and more.
CW Operators QRP Club CW qrp at it's finest.  I think this is one of the oldest qrp clubs in existance, please correct me if I am wrong.
G3CWI This is a really good example of a qrp homepage for all reasons.  This is a must see.  Really!
G3VGR A nice qrp page with frequencies,  links  and rig info.
G3YCC G3YCC was well known among qrp'ers, and brought a British flavor to qrp.  73's Frank, you will be missed.
Homebrew QRP is gud 4 u This is a prime example of how qrp can become a twisted obcession.  I LIKE IT!!!
JA9MAT Hide's homepage A Japanese qrp operator page, Hide has not only a very nice page, but speaks better English than I do!
K3WWP 100% QRP John has a mission.  All qrp, all  cw, all the time.  Has an incredible streak of at least one qrp qso a day going!
K4MSW Totally QRP A website that concentrates on rigs, pics and links.  Nice layout, good info.
K7QO Anyone who has been around qrp for awhile knows Chuck's site.  When it comes to qrp, Chuch is serious, and objective.
KF8KL QRP Page Mark's page reads like a book with many links interwoven into the story.  A kit builder/homebrew flavor.
Michigan QRP Club One of the most comprehensive qrp srehensive qrp sites on the web.  A Good read, many links, and a great newsletter.
N0TU QRP Homepage A Colorado qrp adventure radio page.  Notice how well qrp and adventure radio go together?
New Jersey QRP Club The NJ qrp club is active in producing kits and expanding qrp information.  A good group of guys.
QRP ARCI Club Another old qrp club.  Steeped in tradition, with an International approach to qrp.  A must see page.
QRP Homebuilder This is another "Tool Time"  page for qrp builders.  Lots of good information.  If you build it, they will come.

QRP Venders

Elecraft Elecraft is a kit maker that produces some ery fine kits.  Users say if you are a kit builder, you will NOT be disappointed.
Emtech Emtech is another manufacturer of quality qrp kits.
Oak Hills Research Oak Hills manufactures some very rugged qrp equipment for all type of qrp operation.  You are sure to find something you want.
Red Hot Radio Red Hot Radio makes qrp rigs in red hot cases.  Makes sense.  Check 'em out
S & S Engineering Another manufacturer who's wares are qrp based.  I have not had any dealings with them (YET), but looks interesting.
Small Wonder Labs That's it name, that's it's purpose.  Some of their ideas make you wonder why nobody's done it before.  Good stuff!!!
Ten Tec Ten Tec makes a lot more than just qrp, look around their site, it's so amateur radio, you can smell it.
Wilderness Radio Wilderness Radio is a backpackers best frient.  They produce rugged, inexpensive and light radios with the backpacker in mind.
Yeasu FT-817 This is one of the finest radios I have ever owned, qrp or otherwise.  Small and light even with batteries, a workhorse.


One of the funnest aspects of qrp is Adventure Radio.  It will sharpen your Communicaitons skill, help you gather together all those little cables, help you operate in emergency situations, and besides, it's fun.
What exactly is Adventure Radio?  Well, it's ham radio, uh... on an adventure.  Canoeing, backpacking, camping, biking, hiking, motorcycle riding, snow camping, mountaintopping, well you get the idea.  There a basically two things you need to do Adventure Radio, an adventure, and a radio.  And, there are two things to remember when doing Adventure Radio, when to turn the radio on and operate, and when to turn the radio off, and just live.
There are a few things to know about backpacking that can help you immediately if you are new to Adventure Radio.  First is the bivy bag/tent.  A bivy bag is a waterproof sleeping bag shell with a built-in mosquito net over your face.  It will lower the useable temperature rating of your sleeping bag by about ten degrees, and keep the bugs out.  They are very small and light, and it may allow you to leave the tent at home.  But, they are a bit closed in, if that bothers you, you may need a bivy tent.  The bivy tent is slightly larger, but will give you more area to store your radios and camping supplies.  They are more comfortable to spend a rainy day in, but can still cause anyone who dislikes small places some discomfort.  If you work it carefully, a bivy CAN be turned into an operating position, but it will be quite cramped.
And while you are in the wilderness, you need nourishment.  And to cook food, I shamelessly recommend the KF8GR Mini Photon Stove.  Built out of beverage cans, it can cook your camp food quickly, is very small, and weighs about 0.3 oz.  Check out the link, I think you'll like it.  Build one and have fun, but safely.

Combat Radio

Combat radio is something I came up with on my own, (although I thought I invented Adventure Radio too, until I started finding information about it on the web).  Combat Radio is like Adventure Radio, but with the addition of stealth.  Nothing subversive, just not interfering with nature.  Using fine wire antennas that disappear in the treeline (which you take with you when you leave), camoflaged gear that lets you blend in, things of that sort.  And noise discipline.  If you don't leave your phsysical pollution in nature, don't leave your noise pollution in nature.  Nature will thank you with many splendid sights.
I started combat radio as sort of a tribute to the Coastal Watchers of Norway, and the Australian Coastal watchers of the South Pacific.  It seemed like a natural thing to do.  Take technology to the wilderness, but, don't let the technology overpower the wilderness.  The one thing I must add here is that different countries laws vary.  Adventure/Combat Radio could be illegal in your country.  It could even get you branded as a subversive or a spy.  Make sure that your laws do not prohibit Adventure or Combat Radio BEFORE you try this.

What I have learned

There are some things to keep in mind if you decide to try Adventure Radio.  Many I learned the hard way.
Don't put lead-acid batteries in a backpack, that is totally stupid, and dangerous.
Don't push yourself until you are  so tired you decide to forget the radio half of the adventure.
Plan your trip early, make adjustments, and let someone else know where you will be.
Dress in layered clothing that can easily be added to or taken off.
Don't drag a Yaesu FT-817 or Elecraft K2 all over if all you have is a single band antenna.
Invest some time and money in a good multi-band packable antenna.
Use a small alcohol stove like the Photon, and keep nourishing food with you.
Don't scar the Earth.  Leave it like you were never there.
And above all, set a comfortable pace that will allow you to have fun.

Here are some links for Adventure Radio pages

Adventure Radio Society
Adventure Radio - Europe
Bicycle Mobile Hams of America

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This page last updated by KF8GR May 17, 2005