Wednesday, March 31, 2010

QRP is a kind of religion

You can't work all of the Hams all of the time. It’s matter of power, antenna, propagation, sunspots, and a lot of luck. Sometimes I hear nearby radio amateurs working DX stations one after another. And I didn’t hear a thing. And they say: ‘You’re 5 and 9 here, loud signals.’ What’s wrong with my dipole or vertical? I think we live in parallel worlds. Do they make contacts through worm holes? I don’t know, but it is sometimes frustrating. There must be something magic about radio transmissions. Last week I heard an EA7 station working a G station on 17 meter. By the way I love 17 meter because it’s a practical noiseless band with fine signals. Anyway, the two stations were experimenting power levels. First the EA7 station starts with 100 watt (barefoot) he was 5 6 – then he decreased his power to 50 watts. He was 54. No problem at all. Then he goes to 10 watt. Still OK, report 52. Finally he was running 1 watt and still I could copy him, with no problem at all. Why don’t we all use QRP? Everything in life is relative. When I read QRPp bulletins about transmissions of making QSO’s with milliwatts, then 5 watt or 10 watts is almost QRO. Barefoot is ridiculous when others use 500 to 1500 watt. But, David beats Goliath, so keep up the faith that 5 watt will do. I can’t work all of the hams all of the time. When I turn on the rig, I start without any expectation, just believing I can make wonderful QSO’s and sometimes I do. I like to chat with someone from the UK or DL. I don’t mind where they come from. And when I came across a DX, it will make my day for sure. 3000 km or more is really DX for me. QRP is a kind of religion. When I commit a sin by using too much power, I feel guilty. When I see my 2x15 meter dipole and 7,2 meter vertical I think ‘What am I doing?’ My Miracle Whip with 10 meter wire was doing OK. Will I become mad? Someone has to stop me, please.

Look, there is a DX today! Yippee. (Click on picture to enlarge)


  1. I think the answer is it's not the power it's the antenna. When I work DX (whether with QRP or more power) they are always using a beam on a tower. I think that's why I hear them and they can hear me. It's not just the gain of the beam but also the height and the low angle radiation. Conversely I think that our low QRP wire antennas are why we don't hear the DX that others work.

    I think the best definition of QRP is not "5W or less power" but simply "doing more with less." So I don't think using a tower and beam is true QRP. But it's good that people do have such antennas, otherwise long distance contacts made with QRP at one end would be few and far between.

  2. Hello Julian, yes, the antenna is the main thing. It's true what you said: I am glad that some of them have towers, so they can hear us. ;-)

  3. Hello Paul,

    Hope you are beginnig to feel better. I know what you mean: there is so much temptation to work further and further afield that you lose sight of your "low profile" station as it grows into the kind of station you never intended. I have to admit, what drew me to your site in the first place was the incredible success you had with your miracle whip. When I hear of success with your larger antennas I think to myself "well sure, you would expect that with a bigger antenna".

    I know they say that the antenna is everything, and I am sure it is true and far more relevant than the power you are running, however I am still more drawn by the idea of small, low-cost, low profile, stealth antennas like your lovely miracle whip and if using such an antenna means making fewer DX contacts then that pay-off would not be a problem for me.

    I have been a bit unusually honest in this comment and hope I have not caused any offence, but I personally believe "low profile" is the way to go in this hobby that can so easily get out of control.

    Bye for now, 73 and best wishes from a sunny Torquay! Adam (M6RDP)

  4. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I resorted to 20 watts yesterday. Even though it was a test to determine antenna condition, I felt as if I had betrayed my principals.

    I will post a photo of my antenna on my own blog at some point today. You will see that a Buddistick, so positioned and so close to the house, leaves much to be desired.

    I will begin my operations at the 5-watt level and make every attempt to raise other stations at that power. As I always have...until yesterday.

    73 Dick

  5. I certainly agree with you, Adam, that seeing what you can work with very minimal or stealth antennas (I wouldn't call the Miracle Whip low cost!) is a worthwhile challenge and an end in itself. I wouldn't want to denigrate such an activity since for many it may be the only form of radio activity possible and every contact you make in this way is a big thrill.

    But I think most of us would like at some time just to have a ragchew with other enthusiasts using voice without the other guy struggling to hear you and that is rarely possible with 5W to a MW on HF.

  6. Dick, I felt much the same way until a couple of years ago. When my K2 was my main station I would always stick to 5W CW / data and 10W SSB even though it would go up to 15W.

    But sometimes what you want to do can't be achieved at such low power. I don't see why you should feel bad about that. You haven't sold your soul to the devil. It's a means to an end, and as long as that end is not to claim a QRP award by making contacts using more than QRP power I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

  7. The good thing about the M6 license call is the restriction to 10 watts.

    My radio can do 100 watts out the back, and it has been tempting to do that, but no I will not as I am proud to say that I am a QRP station, it would be cheating (and against my license terms) to go QRO.

    Yesterday I contacted a station in Maryland him 5/7-9, me 4/0 to 5/2, him 1000w, 3 ele beam...I find that quite funny, OK how much gain does his antenna give on RX, say 9 dB, so I need 80 watts then to his now reference dipole..

    Why run a kW ? And thats 500w inside his license limit !!

    Question - Is there a resource whereby I could find the callsigns of 'M6' Amateurs in other countries, do other nations have a Foundation License like us here in the UK ?

  8. Hello Adam: my station is no longer a low profile station anymore. But certainly not a big one either. The dipole is hardly visible, but the vertical does. Still I keep my rig on 10 watt or 5 watt. That's enough for me. 73 Paul

  9. Yes, I must admit most of the long distance DX I have accomplished, the other station has had a beam or other gain antenna of some sorts compared to my wire G7FEK.
    What attracts me to the QRP world, is the comradery I have seen on blogs like this one. Also, don't have a big budget for equipment, and must make do with what I have at hand, which also seems to be the QRP way.

    I must admit I don't always work at "QRP" powers, however I do try to use as low power as conditions allow. This means if I want the other station to copy me well, I will crank up the power.

    73 André

  10. Hello Dick, when the possibility is there to pump up the power, it is very tempting. I did several times, but it gives nor satisfaction nor the wanted results. So I quickly return to 10 or 5 watt. With the FT-450 and antennas I have the possibility to work on all HF bands. But now there is too much choice. It makes me restless. Maybe I must have a monoband antenna or rig so I keep it to one HF band, e.g. 40 meter. Or 20 m. 73 Paul

  11. Hello Paul M6PCZ, yeah, QRP is much more fun. With my license I am allowed to use 400 watt. But I will never use such much power. Today I worked Kazakhstan 4621 km with 10 watt PSK31. That gives me a thrill. When I was running 40 or more watts then it is challenge to work this distance. In the Netherlands we have 2 licenses: Full and novice. The last one starts with the PD prefix. They are restricted in power and band use. 73 Paul

  12. Hello Andre, QRP is a way of living. Born out of necessity: lack of space and money. The XYL gives me the FT-450 and antennas. But am I more happy? Not really. The FT817 looks at me, and I hear her say: why do you abandoned me? And I say: I love you baby, I won't sell you. We'll stay together forever. 73 Paul

  13. I still have my FT-817 too :-)

  14. And I'm still looking for a FT817. But second hand it's hard to find...

  15. Hi Paul,

    I operate QRP all the time, as you know; but I really don't think too much about it. I just get on the air and operate. Sure there are times I wish I was QRO, but I got rid of those rigs years ago. If I don't work a station that I want to, I will some other day. Just have to be patient.

    72 de Larry W2LJ

  16. Hello Bas, The FT817 is a very popular rig. It's a wonderful little devil. 73 Paul

  17. @Hello Larry: I envy your patience, it's the right attitude. Keep up the good work! 73 Paul

  18. Hi Paul:
    Hope your feeling better - what a fantastic response to your post - when I was first licensed I used the standard 100w for a long while - But I soon found out that 5-15 w is all you need, I always use dipoles because they work.
    Watch when the bands open especially 10m work strings of w's on 10w and PY's - My FT817 is now ready for portable use from the seashore near me wonderful stuff.
    Enjoy Easter..... de P

  19. @Hello Peter, I am feeling much better, thank you. 10 watt is just fine. And indeed when 10 meter is open again we can work a lot countries with qrp. happy easter! 73 Paul


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