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QRP frequencies

QRP rig Picture of crystals QRP rig


QRP clubs around the world have agreed for the following frequencies to be centres of CW QRP activity:

10m: 28.060 MHz

12m: 24.906 MHz

15m: 21.060 MHz

17m: 18.096 MHz

20m: 14.060 MHz

30m: 10.106 MHz

QRPers on lower HF bands may also congregate around certain frequencies, with more local variations. For example:

40m: 7.030 MHz (Australia 7.028 MHz)

80m: 3.560 MHz (Australia 3.530 MHz)

160m: 1.810 MHz (Australia 1.815 MHz)

Various CW clubs eg Fists have their own 'watering holes', often fairly close to the above QRP frequencies.


Overseas publications list SSB QRP activity frequencies, but to my knowledge these are less successful than the CW frequencies above. This may be because (a) most serious QRP DXing is done on CW rather than SSB, (b) QRP is more conducive to 'search and pounce' operating where you tune the band looking for other stations calling CQ or finishing a contact, (c) crowded bands (in some countries) makes it difficult to nominate special use frequencies that everyone agrees to (Full power SSTVers have enough problems on 14.230 MHz during a major contest!), and (d) quiet bands (in other countries) mean insufficient numbers to sustain an active QRP frequency.

Ceramic resonators for 3.5 and 7 MHz make frequency agility easy for builders of simple DSB and phasing SSB rigs. So they may heard around the band. You may also hear homebrew SSB/DSB on frequencies for which crystals are cheap and common, eg 1.843, 3.579, 3.686, 7.159 and 14.318 MHz.


AM is a specialist interest on the HF bands. So is QRP. AM QRP is doubly so. AM QRPers are likely to be found on the popular AM frequencies. Examples include 1.825 MHz, 1.843 MHz and 7.125 MHz (most active). There may also be some AM on 3.579 MHz as this is a cheaply obtainable crystal frequency.

Digital modes

Many narrowband digital modes (eg PSK31 and WSPR) work well with QRP and no special frequencies are used or needed. Changes in activity levels have meant that some frequencies which at one time were exclusively used for CW operating are now also used for some digital modes. In some cases this can create opportunities for cheap hombrew digital modes rigs if you have crystals for frequencies like 3.579 or 7.040 MHz.

QRP frequency usage in Australia

The majority of casual QRP activity takes place away from these frequencies, for two reasons. The first is that QRP operators are a minority and the vast bulk of contacts made will be made throughout the band with stations running 100 watts. Secondly most Australian QRPers use the 'search and pounce' technique to get contacts (answering calls and 'tail-ending') as this is more effective than calling CQ if your signal is weak. Hence these frequencies are not widely used, except during QRP contests, such as the annual QRP Day, nets and other events throughout the year. 

However it's worth knowing them if two-way QRP contacts with DX stations are desired.  14.060 MHz is particularly popular overseas when conditions are favourable. Homebrew QRP activity may occasionally be found on 1.843 MHz and 3.579 MHz due to the easy availability of crystals for these frequencies. 7.160 MHz has recently become quite active because it is easy to build single frequency SSB transceivers that operate there using cheap 7.159 MHz crystals. SOTA stations are invariably QRP and are commonly heard on frequencies around 7.090 MHz.

International beacons

When tuning around the higher HF bands, it is worthwhile to listen for the International Beacon Project beacons. These operate on 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 metres and are located around the world.  IBP beacons are particularly useful for QRPers as their output power is varied over four steps – 100 watts, 10 watts, 1 watt, 0.1 watt.  It is often possible to hear the 1 watt transmissions, and sometimes even the 0.1 watt signals.  IBP beacons operate on the following frequencies:

20m: 14.100 MHz

17m: 18.110 MHz

15m: 21.150 MHz

12m: 24.930 MHz

10m: 28.200 MHz

In addition 10 metres has many beacons in the 28.2 - 28.3 MHz segment. A tune across this area can be rewarding when the band is open. These typically run fairly low power so if they can be heard then there's a fair chance you'll be able to make contacts with QRP.


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