Isn’t QRP amazing?

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a British wildlife conservation charity, has a slogan “aren’t birds brilliant!” I think QRPers should start promoting low power operation using the slogan “Isn’t QRP amazing!” Because whenever I try using low power the results simply amaze me.

Until starting on my QRSS adventure I had never tried very low power, sometimes called QRPP. I was inspired by Paul PC4T who yesterday wrote about using WSPR on 20m using 50 milliwatts. At the moment I am QRSSing with 50mW on 30m using my magnetic loop, but that still leaves my multiband dipole antenna for some QRPP WSPR experiments.

I connected my QRP power meter to my K3, turned the power control to the lowest setting (0.1W) and sent a Tune signal from the WSPR software. The meter read about 65mW. I thought that I would be lucky to get any reception reports at all at that power level so I was amazed to be spotted by around 20 different stations in the space of a couple of hours, including two from the USA. One, WA8RC, was at a distance of more than 5,800km! To be heard, consistently, over that kind of distance across the Atlantic Ocean using less than 100mW to a dipole zig-zagged into a tiny attic is simply incredible.

I think we all use too much power, myself included. We do it because it makes copy easier or because it increases the chance of someone hearing us calling CQ. Even WSPR users mostly use 5W or more, despite the fact that the “WS” in the name of the mode means “weak signal.” Because of our macho desire to have a bigger signal than the other guy we never discover just how far a little power will really go. And that’s a discovery that’s far more enthralling than receiving yet another 599 report, surely.

Isn’t QRP amazing?

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: