Reading the January 2013 edition of WorldRadio Online, I was happy to see that Rich Fisher KI6SN, featured Jim Cluett W1PID in his “Trail-Friendly Radio” Column (WorldRadio Online, January 2013, pp 23-25). In his column, Rich recalls one of Jim’s many hikes to Knox Mountain, this one occurring in the Winter months of 2011. Jim and his neighbor Hans, W1JSB cross country skied to the mountain and back; and did their usual QRP operating while they were at their cabin refuge.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I enjoy QRP. For me, it is the hallmark of my Amateur Radio experience. Every QSO, whether it be with a Ham across town, or with a Ham across the world is a unique and enjoyable experience. I am constantly and consistently amazed at the ability of a few Watts of RF energy and how it can travel the world. Fortunately, I never take the phenomena for granted and QRP continues to be a delight, even after all these years.
However, when you operate QRP from the outdoors, you take that enjoyment and multiply it many fold. Indeed, as if the experience can’t become even better – it can. In my most humble opinion, there is nothing finer and more rewarding than taking a radio, a piece of wire and a battery to someplace “remote” and making contact with someone, somewhere – all the time enjoying the beauty of nature that surrounds you.
And while that may mean going to a mountain top ala’ Jim W1PID, Hans W1JSB, Steve WG0AT, Guy N7UN, Martin VA3SIE or a host of others, it doesn’t need to be so “grand” a proposition. While your ideal QRP portable dream may be to operate from the rim of the Grand Canyon, or while overlooking the majesty of the Smokey Mountains or the Grand Tetons, it can be also be as simple as going to a local park, or even your own back yard. The sun on your arms and the breeze in your face, while simultaneously wearing a set of ear buds and pounding out Morse, or talking into a microphone isn’t as incongruous as the uninitiated might first suppose. For some the “minimalist approach” doesn’t necessarily mean using the simplest of transmitters and receivers, so much as it means enjoying the challenge of setting up an effective station in the most simple of settings.
Perhaps this is the reason that QRPers have so many outdoor events to choose from during the year. Whether it be FYBO, QRP to the Field, QRP Afield, The Flight of the Bumblebees, the Skeeter hunt, or whatever your favorite QRP outdoor operating event happens to be – it seems the QRP community has “gotten it” and as a whole, enjoys the experience of getting out of the shack and communing with nature, if even for just a bit.
I am so happy that this aspect of Amateur Radio is so closely associated with the QRP community. While your average every day “Joe Ham” might get out into nature for Field Day or a DXpediton or perhaps a Special Event station, QRPers in general take delight (and pains) in making the uncommon a very commonplace event. And that’s why, when I see articles like KI6SN’s series on Trail-Friendly Radio, or videos posted to YouTube like Steve WGØAT and Martin VA3SIE do, it really makes me smile – and gets my juices flowing.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!