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What's QRP and why do it

Introduction

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'. Power is normally defined as RF output power, measured at the transmitter's antenna socket.

Achievement for the QRPer isn't only about spanning maximum distance. It could just as easily be about spanning a particular distance with lower and lower power levels. Or making contacts with homebrew gear. Particular locations, such as mountains and national parks, are well suited to QRP and many amateurs try to work as many as possible, claiming many of awards on offer.

QRP's benefits

Other things being equal your signal will be weaker with QRP compared to the legal limit. However QRP offers the following enjoyable benefits. 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.

* Low cost: QRP gear is much cheaper than full power gear. A single band QRP station, capable of fulfilling voice contacts over hundreds if not thousands of kilometres, can be assembled for 100 or 200 dollars if not less.

 

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