QRP Thoughts and Experiences
Upper Left to Lower Right: FT-871nd in the back yard. 2018 Field Day. Xiegu x5105 antenna analyzer. 4-States QRP kits. Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000 TIA antenna, x5105 station on dining room table.
2019-02-12 I just can't quit playing with my QRP radio, the x5105. Oh, I use my QRO rig too, usually at about 25 watts, but it's not the same. The thrill of a QRP contact is addictive. Yesterday I tuned up my G5RV on the x5105 and very quickly had a QSO with WB2DHY 650 miles away in Virginia on 40 meters, mid day. He gave me a 559 and he was 579 in here. In the course of the QSO I learned he was running 1kw into a vertical! Granted it was an easy to copy signal but I was more than proud of my 5w and G5RV!
Then about a half hour later, on 20 meters I heard VA7JC 1700 miles west in British Colombia calling CQ so I answered him. He gave me a 529 and he was 569 in here. We chatted for just under ten minutes and were solid copy both ways! Thanks Jon for hanging in there with my S2 signal. You made my day!
I ended the day with two other QSOs, one on 20 meters and the other on 30 meters, 800 and 600 miles respectively with solid copy on both. That's why I keep coming back to QRP. I could probably have had twice that many contacts in the same time frame on my main rig with 25 watts. But in comparison to these four, it would have felt kind of "utilitarian" instead of invigorating! Of course it would have been even more fun had I been using my magnetic loop or the Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000 TIA! So I compromised a bit! Maybe today, though the 7 inches of new snow will probably rule the Silver Bullet out!
2019-01-31 I just completed five QSOs with stations in Puerto Rico (2140 miles), Colorado (900 miles), West Virginia (530 miles) and Maryland (630 miles). The Puerto Rico and Colorado contacts were between 2:00pm and 3:00pm on 20 meters. The other three were between 5:00pm and 6:30pm on 40 meters. All were CW and all were made using my DIY magnet loop sitting on my camera tripod in the middle of the living room! I used my Xiego X5105 for all of them.
Looking through my log I see that I logged 173 five watt QRP QSOs since January 1st of 2018. For antennas I used a DIY trap inverted vee (58), my home G5RV (53), a 35 ft end fed wire (50), a link inverted vee (11) and one on a fan inverted vee. The most distant contact was with DJ5MW in Germany (4400 miles) using my G5RV antenna. Twenty four of them were distances of greater than 1000 miles.
I've since had several QRP QSOs using my newly acquired Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000 TIA portable vertical antenna Pictured above set up on our front side walk,
All that to say that QRP works! What have I learned?
- QRP is not necessarily easy. You don't make a contact every time you pick up the mic or pound the key. It takes patience and persistence. My CW contact with the station in Puerto Rico this afternoon probably took at least a half hour as he was pounded by stronger signals. But each time he ended a QSO I sent my call. And when he finally sent out a CQ he heard me and came back immediately. I was surprised at his 579 report as my S meter showed him 559 here. But he was solid and we had a solid QSO. On the other hand the QSO with a station in Maryland was easy to get initially but signals faded almost as soon as we made contact. It was a struggle but we got the essentials across.
- QRP is rewarding. Most of the time the thrill of "getting him" is much greater at 5 watts than when I fire up my IC7100 and G5RV and call or answer CQ and connect, even with 25 watts which is my normal power level. The QSO with KP4SJ this afternoon at 5 watts with my small mag loop antenna was a lot more exciting than the one I had last week with KP4RP using 50 watts and my G5RV station antenna! And that is probably one of the main reasons I like playing with QRP. It just gives me a greater sense of accomplishment! That makes the time involved worth while.
- QRP needs to be intentional. If I only have a short time to play radio, I'll usually fire up the base station, pick up the mic or key, tune around and answer a CQ or call CQ and within a fairly short time have a QSO. It's quick and easy which is what I want at those times. I have to make a conscious decision to use my QRP gear because I know it will be "more work." Especially if I want to use one of my portable antennas like the mag loop or trapped inverted vee, or even the Wolf River Coils vertical. They have to be set up so it takes some time up front. I also know that spending an hour or so with no contact is not uncommon. But I also know that snagging that contact with a station in Germany, France, Puerto Rico or even contacting a SOTA or POTA station (or sometimes with anyone!) will be worth the wait! In fact after such a contact, I often just put down the mic or key, go get a glass of water, eat a cookie and just savor the success! I don't need many QSOs to feel rewarded!
So, my encouragement is, turn off the high power rig now an then. Turn on your QRP rig and commit to sticking with it for a while. When I got the x5105 I decided to use it exclusively for a while. That "while" lasted nearly three months! Seventy percent of my QSOs during August, September and October this past year were with that x5105! I not only enjoyed it but enjoyed "bragging" about it to my QRO friends! In fun, of course! It was fun and rewarding and I now understand that rig front-to-back as well as a lot more about QRP operating as a result. So Go For IT. You'll be glad you did.
A great resource for operating QRP is the book Minimum QRP by vk3ye. He takes a very practical approach to many of the issues one much deal with to operate QRP.