Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Kind of QRP'er Are You

As with anything, there are as many reasons and motivations for being drawn to QRP as there are people involved in this segment of the hobby. Just take a look at the blogs, reflectors and publications to get a sense of the variety of interests. In the QRO world there are DX'ers, ragchewers, contesters, award chasers just to name a few of the reasons hams turn on their radios. Of course some of the same motivations exist in QRP, but I don't think to the same degree.

From my observations, there are two main categories in the QRP world. There are the Builders and the Minimalist. What do I mean by these descriptions?

The Builders are those guys who actually understand how to build a circuit, tweak it, connect it to other circuits and produce a functioning radio. They speak in technical terms. They know the color codes on resistors by heart and talk about pin outs, tracings and soldering technique. These guys build radios for the sake of building it and not necessarily to operate it. They may even build the same kit multiple times. They can deal in elegant or ugly design and both styles work. These guys are the backbone of the QRP genre. Without them we wouldn't have small, efficient radio with which to enjoy our hobby.

The Minimalists are the guys who like the challenge of operating with minimal radios, they like to get everything in a single case, bag or backpack to set up a fully functional station, they like QRP for the challenge. This group will walk out of a warm, well equipped shack into the snow so they can shoot a slingshot at a tree in order to erect a wire antenna and then brave the elements to operate their radio on a battery. They might even do this after climbing a mountain. Don't be too hard on this group they probably have built a RockMite that might have even worked or they managed to get a Ramsey kit to transmit, but they will never be confused with the Builders. Three sentences into a discussion on building technique would blow their cover. These guys are radio advernturers the operators who test the designs of the Builders.

We need both of these groups to keep the hobby vibrant, it is a symbiotic relationship within the QRP world that nets out to technological advances and adventures in radio that make QRP interesting.

I suppose there are probably a few Super Radiomen out there who are comfortable in both worlds, but I would guess that, broadly speaking, most of us are one or the other.

So, what kind of QRP'er are you?


  1. Although I enjoy taking my FT817 out to the park to play I will admit the real reason for me to be operating QRP Portable is that the batteries weigh less.

    I have taken a FT 897 out with a 30ah battery pack and had lots of fun with 100w and the wire antenna stretched out but....

    I have the same amount of fun with the FT817 and the same antenna and a 5ah battery... And its easier on my tired old back...

    Its just fun....

    Remember that "Radio can be an outdoor sport..."


  2. Bob,

    I agree. Plus when operating QRP, a contact to anywhere seems to be a little more gratifying. I will readily chase US stations on QRP, but only look for DX when QRO. As you said, the fun is the same.


    Mike AD5A

  3. Well I seem to do a little of both...if that is allowed...:). I have the KX3 and K2 for the out and about stuff in parks, the car and on a trail now and then. I have the K3 at home for the home bound QRP contacts. That is one side of the coin now comes the builder side..... I have build most if not all of the elecraft rigs along with test equipment. I am no engineer but I do know as you say the resistor code and so on. I also dabble in QRPp contacts as well. I will for sure agree wit Mark and I most of the time chase DX with QRP or QRPp power.