• QRP Is!

Elecraft K1
Amateur Radio (also affectionately known as ham radio) is many things to many people. That's because there are so many sub-hobbies within the hobby. Some hams have fun working the satellite, while others focus on Morse code, PSK, RTTY, or some other mode of operation. Many enjoy the comradery of operating on nets, while others enjoy the challenge of contesting or collecting awards. The list is endless.

Small Wonders Lab DSW-30
One aspect of ham radio that many of us enjoy is QRP, which means low power, Low power is relative and means different things to different hams, especially since we're permitted to use up to 1,500 watts output. The typical Low power HF transceiver has 100 watts output, which many hams consider to be low power. However, in the QRP world, it usually means five watts or less on CW and 10 watts PEP or less on phone. The radio on the left is one of the many QRP transceivers I've built. It's the DSW-30, a 30-meter rig manufactured by Small Wonder Labs. I also built the look-alike DSW-40. They both put out about 2.5 watts.

Tuna Tin II
QRP aficionados are fortunate today because there are many manufacturers and QRP clubs who are making QRP kits available. The 400-milliwatt Tuna Tin II I built (pictured to the right) is another example. So is the NorCal 38 Special seen in the last picture. I ended up mounting that one on the dust cover for my Bencher CW paddle. It fits quite nicely. Unfortunately, I no longer have the Bencher paddle or I would have taken a picture of them together.

Not only are there lots of QRP kits available today, but there are several magazines that are devoted entirely to QRP (e.g., QRPARCI's QRP Quarterly) and nearly every major ham magazine now has a QRP section.

NorCal 38 Special
I first got into QRP back in 1980 when I built a Heathkit HW-8 and my first contact using it--with 2 watts--was with DK4KK in Germany. In the late 90s, I built a couple of NorCal 38 Specials (described above) for 30 meters. One I kept at the 300mw out level and the other I beefed up to 5 watts.

One of the best QRP transceivers I own is the Elecraft K1 you see at the top of the page. I built the 4-band version (40, 30, 20, 17 meters) and a 2-band module (80 & 15 meters) I can swap in and out.

The absolutely best QRP radio I have is the Elecraft K2 I built. You can go to www.elecraft.com to learn more about it. I added the 100-watt amplifier which would un-QRP it, but that is easily switched in and out through the K2's menu.

If you haven't discovered the thrill of QRP yet, I encourage you to give it a try soon. It's challenging, rewarding, and just plain fun!