QRP Key?

There are things in our daily lives that we acknowledge as being true, even though technically they aren't. There are all sorts of phrases that just don't make sense, but we say them all the time. I've played a lot of baseball and I am a big fan. There are phrases in that sport that confound logic. For example, when your team needs a rally and the batter at the plate takes a big swing and misses, how many times have you heard the phrase, "Okay , we don't need a homerun, just get on base.......really, you don't need a homerun? When, in any baseball game, do you not need a homerun? Yet, its a common phrase and if you are a baseball fan, I'm sure you've said it. Or, you yell at the pitcher who is having control problems, "just throw strikes". Now do  you really think the pitcher is thinking anything different? Do you think he is intentionally walking the opposing batters just to irritate the crowd? Or if you are a basketball fan, "They need to quit shooting so many three pointers". What you really mean is that you wish they would quit missing three pointers. How can you make a three pointer, if you don't shoot it? For the non US readers, I'm sure there are similar phrases in other sports that confound logic when you literally interpret the phrase.

So, that brings me to the term "QRP Key". We've all seen it, an advertisment or solicitation for a small morse key or paddle. Phrases like, "a nice compact morse key suitable for QRP operation" or the key is "QRP" sized. Now this brings a few questions to my mind. QRP in the technical sense means low power, so can you only sent 5 watts with this key?  I suppose QRP operators are not suppose to use full sized keys or bugs as obviously you wouldn't be QRP any longer. Does using a full size key boost your signal? Does this mean that this small key cannot be used for QRO operation, will this "QRP key" degrade my high power signal? What are the specifications for a "QRP" key?

What about the QRPp operator? What are they to do for an appropriate key? Surely if you have QRP keys, QRPp keys must be even smaller and only those with very small hands can be successful, QRPp operators.

All of this is very confusing from a literal sense. If I am new to QRP must I get a new key? Dare I mix my QRO and QRP paddles or will I have problems if I do? I have this nice desk paddle that I love, but surely I couldn't use it with my KX3, or could I? Since the KX3 is larger than my KX1 maybe I could use my big paddle with it, but definitely not with the KX1. Surely you understand the dilemmas here. What to do?

Now, a few more descriptive terms for these small keys is the term "portable", "small "or the phrase "for field use". These terms, from a literal pespective, seem to make more sense. Certainly these "QRP keys" make sense for the QRO operator on an expediton who doesn't want to carry around a heavy key. Begali uses the term "adventure key", which seems to be self explanatory and doesn't invoke a QRP only use.

So, be careful and use your own judgement on when and where to use your QRP key, someone may be watching.
Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “QRP Key?”

  • Chris KQ2RP:

    IMO, there are portable keys and base keys.

  • Charlie Cartmel G4EST:

    Also another ham phrase. “You are 5 by 9, please repeat your call and serial number”. One repeat is Ok, two perhaps, but over that is a bit much.
    Contesting jargon I know but just plain ridiculous and a lie to make logging easier. After a repeat or 2 I often QSY, well he did give me 5 and 9 so should have it correct. If I am give a 4 x whatever I will persevere.


  • TJ W0EA:

    haha I have thought this myself! 72

  • phil ve3axl:

    maybe you have a new and nervous op that is doing his best to keep up!

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