QRP Is!


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  • QRP Is!


Amateur Radio (also affectionately known as ham radio) is many things to many people. The reason is that there are so many sub-hobbies within the hobby. Some hams focus on satellite operation, others on Morse code, some are into traffic nets, while many enjoy contesting or collecting awards. The list goes on and on.

One aspect of ham radio that many of us enjoy is QRP, which means low power, Now, low power is relative and means different things to different hams, especially since we're permitted to use up to 1,500 watts output. 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 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. It puts out about 2.5 watts.

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 AmQRP's Homebrewer) and nearly every major ham magazine now has a QRP section.

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. The best QRP transceiver 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

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!