What is QRP?

Over on the Elecraft KX3 Yahoo group an argument has been raging as to whether running low power into a tower-mounted beam is QRP. Some folk feel that QRP also means using simple no-gain wire antennas. Others argue strongly that using an antenna with gain is a perfectly valid way to do more with less, that “less” relates to power and nothing else.

On his QRP – Do more with less blog, Larry W2LJ nails his colours (colors?) firmly to the mast. Saying those who use towers and beams aren’t QRP is baloney, claims Larry.

Personally, I think QRP is whatever the ARRL, G-QRP Club, QRPARCI or CQ Contest committee says it is. If you are competing in one of their contests or applying for one of their awards you must follow their rules. And the only limitation they specify for the QRP category is power level. So I don’t think it is possible to win an argument that QRP includes any other restriction besides low power. But I can understand why some people feel that those who have a lot of aluminium in the air have an advantage over those who only use a piece of wire and that lumping them into the same category is unfair.

To really put the cat among the pigeons does the spirit of QRP include the use of store-bought or kit-built equipment too? I certainly feel that the art of QRP is strongly allied to the practise of home-brew, but I still claim to be QRP when operating my FT-817, KX3 or K2. Should the ham who operates an Elecraft KX3 belong in the same class as one who uses a two-transistor Pixie?

Perhaps we need a new term to define this kind of minimalist operation?

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

3 Responses to “What is QRP?”

  • Dave kd6il:

    I do not contest. Personally, QRP is less than 5 Watts ERP in any direction. Directional antennas give a false sense of “aiming” sometimes. They’d never allow a lattice tower and a beam in this neighborhood anyway; I’m all verticals and loops.

    QRP is like bowhunting. You do it to prove something to yourself, more than to show others how skilled you are (they likely wouldn’t get it anyway). “Yes, you can talk to Siberia on less power than a nightlight; is that good?”

  • Bob - W2TAC:

    QRP is a lifestyle. Choose yours. There are numerous QRP subcultures — power, wire/beam, CW/SSB, commercial/homebrew. I prefer the launching wire antennas into my hemlocks, but don’t begrudge others using beams and towers. Nor do I begrudge those who prefer higher power. It’s whatever turns you on.

  • Kb3hg:

    Years ago, I recall it was centered all about power out. at the time I recall the battle cry was less than 100 watts. Then it started dropping, 50,25, 10 and mow commonly 5 watts. I hear 1 or less in casual reading now. Never Have I heard about the antenna. I personally think its about envy. This is a personal endeavor. Personally QRO for me is 100 watts. I have backed off the max power off my hf rigs as they tend to last longer that way. I really don’t think antenna efficiency should enter into the equation. it is what it is, it’s about the power level.

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