Yes, it's that old chestnut - life's too short for qrp. I've heard the expression a million times. I'm sure some people think QRP operators must be on a shoe-string budget and have no choice but to buy a low-power radio, but that's absolute tosh.
And although my licence restricts me to 10W, who's to know if I use a 1kW Linear to reach those DX stations? Me!!
I just don't feel the need for more power - I love QRP!! I could pass my Intermediate exam in a heartbeat, which would give me extra power, but I just have no interest in it. I find it much more thrilling to obtain a DX contact using 4W than 400W. In fact, it always makes me chuckle when operators tell me they're "only running 100W" and then I go back to them and declare my 10W or less 😂
I suppose it's a bit like biking. I've had small capacity bikes and big bikes (up to 1700cc), but my absolute favourite is 400cc. The bigger, more powerful bikes can reach 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds with absolute ease - it's just twist and go!
But to ride the roads quickly on a small bike is far more challenging and rewarding. You have to be skilled and focused enough to wring out every last bit of available power from a 400cc bike and make sure that you are maximising the power and torque bands by being in the right gear at the right time. It's all much more involving! I've toured Scotland with friends on powerful sports bikes and left them behind me on my little 400 Honda. Great fun!
I have to admit though, most of my radio time is not spent in the home shack - it's spent in the great outdoors, so my perspective is probably different to others.
People regularly mock the idea of working QRP. I see it on various internet platforms, on-air, at radio clubs and even (quite surprisingly) in magazine adverts! There are even Badges, Cups and T-shirts available to help reinforce the idea that QRP is a bit of a waste of time. So what's the problem?Well let's not forget that in most cases it's just a bit of humour! But like any joke which is repeatedly aimed at a particular group, it can become a little tiring - especially when you keep hearing hams talking about QRP on the radio as though there's something a bit odd with low-power operators.When I mention that I made a contact with someone thousands of miles away, I often get asked how much power I used and when I tell them I used 10W (or less) they smirk and imply that I'm lying.
Well, apart from the fact that I'm only licensed to use 10W, I actually prefer to use less when possible! I've made SSB voice contacts with people 7,000km away using just 2.5W and got a 55 report from them (eg. KE5EE).
It gives me great pleasure listening to QRO operators from my region struggling to get a contact logged with someone and then I manage to do it with my little IC-705. It's even more amusing when I know that they're using a monster antenna and I'm using a portable dipole or an end-fed wire.
Yes we all know that I could pump up the power and in reality no one would know any better, but I would know and that's the whole point - I'm playing radio for me not for others!
Even when I go on a Field Day with a club, I wouldn't dream of leaving my QRP radio at home. I'd much prefer to make ten contacts with 1W than making fifty contacts with 100W on the Club Radio. I love the challenge of QRP.
If people want to use 100W, 400W or 1500W, then that's up to them. I don't think any less of those operators - they've paid their money and chosen their preferred operating method just like I have. For me, QRO is like fishing in a bucket - it gets boring real soon. I know only too well that sometimes 10W just won't get you where you want to be and in my mind, I just think "I need to get to a higher location or a better take-off point". Or I need to improve my antenna.
The harder I have to fight for a contact, the happier I am when I get it. Getting the station set up optimally and in the right location is my "power". And it all ties in with my enjoyment of going outdoors. Thankfully, my wife is also happy to go out with me for the day. We prepare a picnic, choose somewhere to go and while I play radio she can enjoy a good book, walk the dog or just chill out for a few hours.
When I'm at home, I spend very little time in the shack to be honest. Most of my time is spent with my IC-705 in the garden or in at my holiday home connected to a magnetic loop. If it was at all possible, I would sell my high-end radio and invest in an amazing antenna array, but that's never gonna happen due to local restrictions.
So what happens when I'm stuck at home and conditions are poor and my 10W limitation is getting me absolutely nowhere?? Well that's when I switch to my DVMEGA CAST which allows me to have some great chinwags with anyone in the world on FUSION, DSTAR and DMR. Or I jump onto Wires-X with my FTM-500 and PC.
Cynics say "So why have you got a 100W Base Station"?
Yes I have an Icom IC-7610. It's a magnificent radio!! That's why I bought it. If the IC-7610 was a QRP radio, I would still have purchased it, but of course it's 100W so there's nothing I can do about that.
If Icom had brought out an IC-7610W and an IC-76100W for roughly the same price, which one would I have bought then? Well I would obviously have still chosen the 100W radio to guarantee the highest resale price.
Just last night I was on my IC-7610 when I heard Ana from the Azores (CU2YK) and I moved from 5W to 10W but no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get through to her. I could very easily have pumped up the power, but it’s just not me. I’ll get her another time when I’m higher up (and probably on less power).
.After two years of being a licensed operator (Update : 4 years now), I absolutely know that I will never need 100W, 400W or 1000W and will therefore never take my Advanced test (not that I'd have a hope in hell of passing it). I might take the Intermediate just so that I can use more power in my truck on 2M & 70cm FM. That is where I will admit to feeling limited. But then again, 2M FM occupies an extremely small part of my operating time.
VIDEO OF MY TRANSATLANTIC QSO - 9W using Elad FDM
So please, let's stop the "Life's too short for QRP nonsense" 😂.
Here's a typical comment too, on the subject of whether a QRP Rig is the right thing for a newcomer to use. This was a chat on Facebook in Nov 2023 where someone told me that QRP Rigs were merely toys for experienced hams!