Posts Tagged ‘QRO’

QRP Works – QRO Works Better

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?

Filed under: Ham Radio Tagged: cw, qro, qrp

QRP v QRO – Blood on the Floor?

The mighty, omnipotent sun that our precious emerald and sapphire orb circulates is nearing the crescendo of its eleven year repeat-performance.

For the first time since 2003, I have revisited the high frequencies: the short waves of equal delight and frustration that ebb and flow with the days, seasons and years. Back then, I worked the world with 10 Watts and a rather long wire antenna. I stayed up all night sometimes to listen to the magical waxing and waning of distant continents on 80m. It was like listening to a sublime symphony. Having moved to a new house with more limited prospects for creating a good HF antenna system, I turned my back on these noble frequencies to chase the excitement of VHF and UHF.

Ironically, the drive for portable operation at V/UHF has led me to flirt with HF again. It's the inevitable purchase of arguably one of the best amateur radios ever manufactured, the Yaesu FT-817. Five delightful Watts from top band, all the way to 70cm. MF to UHF. Sea level to mountain top. CW to FM, with all modes in between. What a gem of beautifully packaged, miniaturised happiness.

FT-817. 5W on 10m.
With 5W of HF readily to hand, I’ve hastily run 10m of vertical wire in the back garden to listen to a more contemporary performance of a classic favourite. Happily, 10m has truly sprung into life. This morning I’ve just completed a QSO from home (Wales) to Greece with 5W at both ends. Deep joy. A quick bargain has even brought a Miracle Whip into the ensemble – just experimenting for fun.

But scanning through the bands in general I’m noticing a tendency to transmit at powers of 1kW and above, whatever the band, whatever the conditions. Abrupt reports of 5/9+ are exchanged with a seemingly insatiable appetite to amass as many transient contacts as possible. Then there are the pile-ups. Those ungentlemanly bun-fights where the loudest (or largest bank account and electricity bill) wins. I’m sure that there are whole streets in Palermo where the lights actually dim when DX from Pago Pago is heard on 20m.

We’ll never know if was possible to work Pago Pago with QRP because we were never given the chance. This is on SSB at least. CW operators have a greater appreciation of low power. This is an old argument that will attract equal venom and praise from our electromagnetic community. But I do believe that as technology advances, there is a global drive for efficiency. Low power is in fashion and with solar conditions as they are, we should all be ‘turning the wick down’ a little bit, shouldn’t we?

I do believe that when the sun takes its rest, there is a place for high power, particularly on the more difficult bands. There – you see? I’m not anti-QRO at all. I’m just advocating using (as your exam tells you) the minimum amount of power necessary to maintain a comfortable QSO.

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