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QRP ... MUCH MORE FROM A LOT LESS!

QRP ... MUCH MORE FROM A LOT LESS!

QRP was my own way of going active in amateur, after many years as an SWL. Whilst I coveted the well equipped stations of others, I concluded QRP was a challenging but economical route to progress beyond that pre-loved General Coverage Receiver (RX) and random bow antenna.

The newcomer reading the popular radio magazines and listening across the bands could easily be put off; seduced into the conclusion that amateur radio necessitated high finance and the very latest multi-band, multimode, high powered and most complex commercial black box transceivers and matching antenna arrays. The photo to the right shows my set-up for operating CW from the patio with a commercial MFJ9020 Single Band 4 Watt Transceiver for 14MHz(20M).

However, nothing could be further from the truth. QRP lends itself to ‘Homebrew’, providing the extra satisfaction of building your own simple affordable equipment. Not only are there an abundance of Receiver and Transmitter designs freely available, but for those new to home construction there are kits suitable for all levels of ability. It’s the ideal way to consolidate radio theory and get a compact station on the air.

For those without the time or experience, a number of reasonably priced basic single band QRP Transceivers for voice (SSB) </=10 Watts or (CW) </=5 Watts. Compact commercial aerials are available for deployment at home or portable (/P). Just select a ‘band of interest’, for example 14 MHz (20M) which would afford world-wide communications, then choose a suitable mode of operation. Historically, CW has been the most popular but SSB and the newer Digital Modes are common and don’t require the further challenge of Morse training.

The photo to the left shows my MFJ1621 Portable Antenna tuneable 7MHz (40M) to 10M (28 MHz).

The photo to the right shows operating 144/145MHz (2M) ‘QRP’ 2.5Watts from the cliffs of North Cornwall using SOTA Beams Multi-function Dipole (MFD).

Whilst QRP may be seen as a niche interest within the amateur community it’s a really friendly environment, well supported with its own national clubs. Like the G-QRP Club in the UK which also produces low cost QRP Kits for sale to members.

You will always find that other radio amateurs are willing to help! QRP is neighbour friendly too, as low transmitter power and unobtrusive aerials can negate Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and requirement for Planning Permission. Conversely, both can be serious concerns for the average ‘QRO’, high power, Amateur Station running 100 Watts, let alone 400 Watts and large antenna arrays.

The final two photos are a couple of interesting 14 MHz (20M) CW ‘QSL’ cards from my QRP collection where contacts were made using the MFJ Transceiver in the top photo.

On the left - ‘Landmark DX’ - First 4 Watt 14 MHz QRP CW contact with ‘ZL2TX’ Wellington, New Zealand.

Below right - another ‘Fort on the Air’ confirming a 14MHz QRP CW contact with ‘4Z3C’ Caesarea, Israel.

Links:

The G QRP Club was formed in 1974 and is run entirely by volunteers to promote Low Power Radio. They have a quarterly members magazine called SPRAT.

Sotabeams - Summits On The Air amateur radio supplier offering a host of great products for the Portable / QRP enthusiast.

Kanga Products are an amateur radio supplier offering an excellent range of QRP kits and components.

SDR-Kits are an amateur radio supplier offering a range of products, including the KN-Q7A Single Band 40m Transceiver Kit.

Walford Electronics are an amateur radio supplier offering a range of kits at Simple, Intermediate and Advanced construction level. They also offer a range of accessory kits. A Construction Club can be joined, with a quarterly publication call Hot Iron.

Page content by Rod G4SPS gratefully acknowledged.

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