Some QRP Radios at K4EQ - Click for larger view
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 satellites, 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.

Many of us enjoy operating QRP. QRP is a radio term meaning 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 HF transceiver has an output of 100 watts, which many hams consider to be low power. However, in the QRP world, low power means five watts or less on CW (Morse code) and 10 watts PEP or less on phone. Power output in the milliwatt range is called QRPp.

QRP aficionados are fortunate today because there are many manufacturers and clubs that produce QRP kits. A QRP club I belong to is the Four State QRP Group. They regularly  provide new and great QRP projects for hams, like the Bayou Jumper (see picture above). In addition, they have several on-the-air activities and a growing annual convention in Branson (Missouri) called OzarkCon.

Tuna Tin 2 built by K4EQ
Not only are there QRP clubs and a multitude of QRP kits available today, but there are magazines and newsletters that are devoted entirely to QRP (e.g., QRPARCI's QRP Quarterly). Most ham radio magazines have frequent QRP articles on building and operating.

I first got into QRP back in 1980 when I built a Heathkit HW-8, a popular 2-watt CW transceiver. It was a fun build. My first contact with it was with DK4KK in Germany. That did it! I was hooked forever on QRP. Since then, I've worked a total of 131 DXCC entities on QRP and have built several more QRP radios. Click here to see pictures of some of my builds.

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