(I Also Hold The Call VA6CW)
Check The Propagation
should be as simple as possible - but no simpler."
First of all, an introduction to QRP by a famous QRP'er.
"What motivates the low-power (QRP) amateur operator? This question does not have a simple answer. A vast number of QRPers are "turned on" by the relative simplicity of most home-made QRP equipment. Simple gear is not only easy to construct and operate, but it is fairly inexpensive to build. This has a special appeal to those who lack technical backgrounds and have yet to develop their skills. Furthermore, many of published QRP circuits may be assembled on a PC (printed circuit) board that is available by mail from one or more PC-board vendors. The parts-placement guide for a given project is generally published in the related article. Guesswork is thus eliminated for the most part.
Other amateurs have the ability to design their own circuits. QRP equipment offers a short-term exercise in the workshop because many of the projects are simple. This enables an experimenter to try new circuits in an evening or within a couple of days. He can try new ideas and obtain fast results. He may continue to work with his new circuit until it is perfected at which time a final model can be built, housed in a cabinet and used in his station.
Other QRPers are captured by the nostalgia that takes them back to the early days of Amateur Radio, when hams, through necessity, used only a few watts of RF power for communicating. In other words, they had to do things the hard way. Each successful QSO was logged as an achievement! Pride accompanied home-made gear and the ability to be heard at great distances.
I have spoken to a number of QRPers who expressed boredom from using store-bought, high-power (QRO) transmitters. Worldwide QSOs via brute-force methods were no longer stimulating to them. They found relief when giving up the mayhem of DX pileups, taught nerves from battling phone-band QRM and household power bills that were inflated from the use of high-power transmitters. QRP offered a new and exciting challenge as they worked for their WAS (worked all states) or DXCC (100 confirmed countries) with less than 5 watts of RF power. As past contesters they were able to satisfy their competitive urges by taking part in the many QRP contests that are offered each year.
Still another advantage associated with QRP operation is the relative freedom from TVI and RFI. The fundamental overloading of TV receiver front ends is seldom a factor at low levels of RF power. Also, the magnitude of the transmitter harmonics is very low when we use QRP transmitters. This also minimizes potential interference to entertainment devices such as TV sets, FM receivers, VCRs and telephones.
In general, QRPers are a special breed of friendly operators. You have much to gain by getting involved in this growing movement." - Doug DeMaw, W1FB -
"Work the World with QRP Power Levels!"
Another brief introduction to QRP by another well known ham.
"Welcome to the realm of QRP, a place where less RF power is more fun for the operator! In general, QRP operators use equipment that weighs less, takes up less space, costs less and is less dependent on ac power than the typical ham station of 50 watts or more. In return, QRP enthusiasts get freedom - freedom to carry a complete station, with accessories and antenna, in a briefcase.
A typical QRP station is small enough to take along on vacation in a car full of family, by air or backpacking. Your QRP station can operate from batteries for long periods when the power fails, or indefinitely from unusual power sources such as private hydroelectric, wind or solar power systems.
Freedom is gratifying, but better still is the sense of accomplishment that comes from operating equipment you built yourself. You may best love the feeling when that first CQ from your home-built transmitter is answered - or the way a smile steals onto your face when that 1-KW station gives your 1-W transmitter a 599 report."
- Dave Sumner, K1ZZ -
"CW and QRP - A Combination!"
International regulations state:
stations shall only use the minimum
power required for effective communications."
Are you bored with high power (QRO) operations? Have you already been there - done that? Sometimes a properly adjusted high power radio station is needed to make contact with the station you wish to work on the air, but a lot of the time it can be done with very low power. With good propagation, working DX with a high power linear amplifier seems about as easy, challenging and exciting as dialing them up on the telephone.
Many amateurs such as myself have become bored with high power (QRO) operations. We have switched to QRP and are finding ham radio exciting again. Why not try some QRP operations for an exciting challenge? You'll be surprised and amazed at what you can do with QRP power levels or even QRPp (less than 1 watt) levels! A signal that is received at 20 DB over S-9 from a 1000 WATT transmitter will still be received at 10 DB over S-9 signal with 100 WATTS or S-9 with 10 WATTS or about S-8.5 with 5 WATTS or about S-7.5 with 1 WATT!
"My last set of finals cost me $2.25"
QRP or low power communications are one of my favorite past times.
CW, due to it's narrow bandwidth, simplicity and superior ability to get through the noise is my preferred mode to use when operating at very low power levels. No other mode is as effective as CW or can even come close. Amateurs have known this fact for many years. CW gets through when NOTHING else will.
Fortunately, for the good of amateur radio, we have the MORSE CODE and QRP to credit for bringing in many new hams into the hobby every year! The availability, simplicity and low cost of CW equipment, especially QRP CW equipment, continuously attracts a large number of people into the hobby.
Kit and parts suppliers such as the ones listed in the links below make ham radio accesible to almost anyone who is willing to learn the Morse code. A lot of credit also goes to those who are constantly volunteering their time to design simple CW rigs. Many amateurs, too many to list here, design this radio equipment and make the information available for free to anyone who is interested in building their own from the circuit diagrams. Thousands of new home-built radios are put on the air every year by new hams using CW equipment they built themselves.
Amateur radio clubs such as FISTS, ARCI, Norcal, and several others are some of the fastest growing amateur radio clubs in the world. Each of these clubs have thousands of members who enjoy the great benefits of such a narrow bandwidth and effective mode on a daily basis. Below is an example of how CW compares to SSB.
*Note - Graph courtesy of the
New Jersey QRP Club.
Check out the online slide show called "Why QRP?"
To be classified as QRP your power level must not exceed 5 watts output when transmitting a CW signal.
*Note - Some amateurs may be exempt from taking the Morse code examinations to gain access to the high frequency bands due to a disability. These amateurs are not expected to have to learn the code. Check with your local government radio agency for more information.
There are many amateur radio operators who enjoy working low power S.S.B. as well. To be classified as QRP when working S.S.B. your power level must be kept at 10 watts P.E.P. output or less.
Equipment needed for QRP operations need not be complicated or expensive. There are many low cost commercial kits available for CW and S.S.B. low power amateur radio communications, or you can homebrew your own equipment from the many available circuit diagrams found throughout the QRP community and on the internet.
Here's a fun little project that will give you a complete low cost 40 meter CW station when completed. It consists of a receiver called "The Herring Aid 5 Receiver", a transmitter called "The Tuna Tin 2 Transmitter", and a VFO called "The CB Slider VFO".
For a more advanced and high performance transceiver be sure and check out the 2N2/40 Transceiver website. This website will give you the information required to build a 40 meter CW rig from scratch.
Antennas for QRP use can also be kept very simple and still yield great results. When propagation is good, 5 watts to a simple wire antenna will allow you to communicate worldwide. Have a look at W4RNL's Antenna Site while you're here.
Most QRP'ers operate on or around frequencies that have been sort of designated as QRP Frequencies. This way QRP operators can more easily find and work each other QRP to QRP.
While you have your QRP station on the air and if you're looking for a challenge you might like to work towards some of the QRP Awards that are available.
I am using an Oak Hills Research OHR-100 for 20 meters, a NW8020 for 30 meters, and a Small Wonders Lab SW-40+ transceiver for 40 meters. I listen to the 80 meter band with a Ten-Tec T-Kit 1056 direct conversion receiver. I have recently built an Elecraft K2 transceiver and this is now my main station transceiver for CW and SSB.
I sometimes use a DOS computer software DSP filter called SBFFT (download link - 1.5 Meg). This is a full functioning DSP audio filter program that works with the sound blaster audio cards. The program works very well with CW, SSB and the digital modes. The bandwidth is adjustable and several filters may be run simultaneously.
My QRP station is powered by Solar Power.
Several QRP'ers have recently been experimenting with a few new computer programs for a mode called PSK31. The computer programs are used for sending and receiving digital data. So far the results have shown that it works quite well with low power QRP stations. There are several versions of the software available on the Official PSK31 Homepage. The Windows/Soundblaster version seems to be the most popular. Be careful to download the proper version that you require for your particular operating system.
I'm presently active with PSK31 on the 80 meter ham band using a PSK-80 'Warbler' transceiver that was kitted and made available by the New Jersey QRP Club. I run about 2.5 to 3 watts output with this transceiver using the DigiPan PSK31 software.
The proposed frequencies for PSK QSO's are these:
3580.150 (European Round Table on Wednesdays and Sundays at 2000 UTC*)
7035.150 (European Round Table on Sundays at 1100 UTC*)
7070.150 (Seems to be used more in North America)
* These times are for winter. During the summer these times are an hour earlier.
Some Additional PSK31 Sites
I am a member of the Norcal QRP Club. My Norcal membership number is #2315. I also belong to the Internet QRP club. My QRP-L membership number is #1144. Membership to both these organizations is FREE, although if you wish to receive the publication called QRPp offered by Norcal there is a subscription fee of $15 U.S. for Canadian and U.S. hams. The subscription fee for international or DX is slightly higher.
The QRPp is probably one of the best little homebrew publications I have ever read and is loaded with construction articles. It is published quarterly with a spring, summer, fall, and winter issue.The QRP-L has a QRP E-mail reflector which anyone can subscribe to. Check out the following QRP-L Link for more information.
holds an annual QRP CW Contest at Halloween
(Click above for details)
There is now a new Canadian QRP E-Mail reflector called QRP-Canada. The purpose of this list is to provide a convenient electronic means of communicating in order to enhance the sharing of ideas and knowledge based on a common interest in amateur radio QRP operations.
This mailing list creates another way that amateur radio operators can enjoy their hobby by learning to build low power equipment, put that equipment on the air and sharpen their operating skills and have FUN all at the same time. You won't believe the great feeling of SATISFACTION you get when you make your first qso using equipment that YOU built!
There are NO fees involved thanks to the generosity of the Great Plains Free Net located in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. There are NO officers. Only subscribers who are interested in QRP activities such as fox hunting, building equipment, antennas, working many stations including DX at low power levels, obtaining various awards using low power, just to name a few of the various interests to be found within QRP. Put FUN and LEARNING back into *your* hobby!
To subscribe to QRP-Canada, send an E-Mail to:
Leave the Subject box blank. In the Text box type the following:
qrp-canada your name callsign
Example - subscribe qrp-canada Jill Doe VE5XXX
*Note - real names only.
- If no call letters, leave blank.
Check out the new QRP-Canada Website!
Here are some of my favorite QRP links that you may enjoy.
My Favorite QRP Radio Clubs
Some personal QRP pages
"Discover the Thrill of Building Your Own Equipment!"
Some QRP kit suppliers, and parts suppliers
Send mail to VA6CW
CW - The Hottest Mode Going !
Solar X-Ray Activity