VK3YE amateur radio pages

What's QRP and why do it


All material on this site (c) Peter Parker VK3YE
1997 - 2014.

Material may not be reproduced without permission.



what is

Operating QRP just means you're transmitting with low power on the amateur bands. This is widely taken to mean 5 watts or less on CW/digital modes and 10 watts or less on voice modes. QRPp is less widely used but means 1 watt or less. Other, who run mere milliwatts, call themselves 'milliwatters'.

All power measurements are taken at the transmitter; 5 watts to a high gain antenna still counts as QRP even though the effective radiated power is higher. Achieving strong signals through superior antennas and locations is a popular facet of many QRPers' interest.

Those whose aim, like a broadcast station, is to always radiate the strongest possible signal don't see much point in all this. Their idea of achievement may be to exploit difficult high-loss propagation paths, be first to work a rare DX station or come tops in a contest.

QRP's benefits

However there are situations where QRP offers benefits that outweigh having a somewhat weaker transmitted signal. These include:

* Home construction: QRP transmitters are cheaper and easier to build due to the lack of high power RF amplifiers, power supplies and antenna couplers. A very simple QRP transmitter can be made in a day for under $50.

* Operating portable: QRP gear is smaller and lighter so is easier to carry when travelling or to remote locations. This makes QRP is an excellent complement to outdoor activities such as hiking or mountaineering. Some of the reductions in transmitted signal strength can be remedied by choosing favourable locations, such as near (or in) the water or on hilltops.

* Operating without mains power: Low power transmitters draw less current so allow longer talk time with lighter batteries than if high power were used. The use of quiet solar power rather than noisy generators is a benefit in some locations.

* Challenge and satisfaction: QRPers often derive satisfaction from making contacts with simple gear they have built themselves and/or spanning long distances with less power than a car's indicator lamp. Such success requires greater attention to antennas and operating technique than with higher powers.

The video below gives some of the many reasons to operate QRP and build equipment.