Thursday, October 11, 2012

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?

11 comments:

Richard said...

I dunno. It may even be time to return to that 100 watts or less definition of QRP. Lots of amplifiers in use around the world. I am no longer married to five-watts but run that level whenever possible. I know that I sometimes need more than five having a low end fed wire, half in the darn tree-branches.

Julian Moss said...

An increasing number of rigs capable of more than 100W barefoot too. But on the other hand receivers are much better than they were a few decades earlier, making it easier to receive weak signals. Ten watts doesn't seem such a restriction any more.

Julian

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Using QRO power is just psychological. So is QRP with a large beam or just a mobile antenna like a MP-1. It is just what you think what QRP is. The definition is different for everyone. My opinion is that QRP has to do with power out of your radio. What kind of antenna is used is not the question. Someone that operates QRP from the top of the Himalaya has probabely a advantage over someone that operates from below sealevel, although they could have the same antenna? You know what I'm thinkin' 73, Bas

tmw said...

When I was researching various minimalist operation schematics (and I like just the term MO) there was a term simply "low parts count." Thanks as always for great posts!

Paul PC4T said...

I think all is relative, but for me QRP is 5 watts or less. Antenna: I don't know... If I had space enough I would have a bigger/longer antenna. But I am restricted to a small compromise antenna. So an end fed is for me Okay, or a HF vertical. 73 Paul

Keith GW4OKT said...

I like the idea of 5 watts to 'a modest antenna', each to their own I suppose but I feel very comfortable with what I'm using and to me, it's a great buzz to work any station using low power.

73 de Keith GW4OKT

Mark said...

There is, here, a huge range of kit and expectations. For me, the appeal is pretty stealthy (hidden antenna, low power) but it may not be for "the other end". I suspect most accept QRP is "low power", but don;t accept limitations on antennae.

Then there's QRPP and QRSS and qRPPSS.....

Justin Pinnix said...

I think the people arguing about this have too much free time on their hands. Can't we just enjoy using our radios and talking to each other? I don't understand why so many hams are hellbent on dividing our already tiny community into factions and pitting people against each other.

VE3WDM said...

Good morning Julian,it's time to chime in on this one....I have been reading the posts about QRP on the reflectors. It's interesting to read the different points of view on the subject. Years ago when QRP was seen as 100 watts or less receivers were not even close to what they are today. Heck 5 years ago when 5 watts was QRP the receivers are not what they are today. Having said that 5 or 10 years from now who knows maybe 5mWs will be considered common QRP levels. My view is as long as your having fun, allow the hobby to challenge you and working at getting more into the ranks...that's what it's all about to me!!

Roger G3XBM said...

Hi Julian,

Receivers may have got better but the lower HF bands noise floor has got a LOT worse down here (20-30dB). So, as much as I'd like to run QRP on 160 and 80m, it is now all but impossible. In my view the QRP definition of 5W CW and 10W pep SSB seems fine. I'm OK with people using beams but think the true spirit of QRP is to use as low a power as possible to a simple wire antenna and with homebrew when possible.

Richard said...

QRN from all the cheap electronic devices on the market, not to mention some plasma TVs, municipal lighting, etc., may be the greatest obstacle to QRP in the future. Not compromise antenna installations. And, that problem applies to all hf bands.