For more than a decade, beginning in 1996, I adopted the QRP lifestyle and had more fun building kits, learning about antennas, making friends and filling the log than I had during any other period of my many decades in the hobby. Granted, my goals during that period were modest, but I’ve never had much problem making contacts using QRP and CW with wire antennas.
Count me as a believer in the magic of QRP. But while contacts can be made using QRP, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for the guy on the other end of the link, who may struggle mightily just so I could put him in the log and publicly proclaim, “QRP Works!” Low-power enthusiasts should always acknowledge that any success is not so much theirs as it is the guy on the other end of the contact.
Beyond that, admitting that there are benefits to be derived from generating a potent signal is important because they are many. You don’t read much about that in the posts of QRP blogs. Most seem to take great pleasure in pointing out that “QRP works” without mentioning the obvious — if low power CW works then high power CW works too.
This last weekend, John Shannon, K3WWP, a devoted QRP and CW enthusiast and co-founder of the North American QRP CW Club (NAQCC) surpassed the 20 year point in a continuing “streak” of days (7,305) making at least one CW contact. Using low-power and simple wire antennas. From a less than desirable HF radio location. It’s an impressive show of perseverance and tenacity that he says was done to show that QRP CW works. He wrote:
“This is dedicated to all those who say things like ‘You need high power, big antennas, and a great location to be able to make ham radio contacts’, or ‘Life is too short for QRP’, or ‘CW is dead’ and other such remarks denigrating QRP/CW.”
But I would suggest that there are fewer operators who claim “QRP doesn’t work”, than there are QRP enthusiasts willing to concede that finding a potent signal that pops out of the noise floor is one of the great joys of abiding in the shortwaves.
The “right tool for the right job” is an eternal wisdom. It’s always been good advice. “If all you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail” is another nugget of wisdom. Putting them together and stretching them to fit, I came up with a corollary:
If all you want to use is QRP, you’ll spend your life preaching how well it works.
Common sense, and physics, support the notion that if a five watt CW signal can be copied, a 1,000 watt signal will be easier to copy despite the vagaries of propagation, QRN, and QRM — though you won’t find that truism bandied about much.
QRP Works – QRO Works Better.
I’m going to have that tee-shirt made. Who wants one?