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Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a popular hobby that allows individuals to communicate with others around the world using radio waves. One subset of this hobby is QRP, or low-power communication, where operators use less than 5 watts of power to transmit their signal. This can be challenging, but it's also rewarding, as it forces operators to improve their antenna systems, operate efficiently, and work with other QRP enthusiasts around the world. In this article, we'll explore the world of amateur radio with QRP and provide tips and techniques for successful low-power communication.

Why QRP?

The primary reason why people choose to operate QRP is the challenge. It's not easy to communicate around the world using such low power, but it's possible with the right techniques and equipment. QRP also encourages efficient operating, which is good for the environment and the pocketbook. Many QRP enthusiasts use portable setups, such as backpacks or bicycles, which allows for greater flexibility and mobility. QRP is also an excellent way to explore different modes of communication, such as Morse code, digital modes, and voice.

Equipment for QRP:

The key to successful QRP operation is using the right equipment. The most important piece of equipment is the radio. QRP radios are designed to operate at low power levels, typically less than 5 watts. They're often small, portable, and can run on batteries, making them ideal for portable operations. Some popular QRP radios include the Elecraft KX2, Yaesu FT-818, and the QRP Labs QCX+.

In addition to the radio, the antenna is also crucial for QRP operation. Because the power output is so low, the antenna needs to be as efficient as possible to get the signal out. Many QRP operators use simple wire antennas, such as a dipole or end-fed wire. These antennas can be made quickly and easily, and they're very effective. Other popular QRP antennas include verticals, loops, and magnetic loops.

Techniques for QRP:

Operating QRP requires different techniques than operating with higher power. The key is to maximize the efficiency of the equipment and the operating style. Here are some tips for successful QRP operation:

  1. Antenna: As mentioned earlier, the antenna is crucial for QRP operation. It's essential to have a good antenna that's efficient and optimized for the frequency being used. A good way to test your antenna is to compare it to a reference antenna, such as a resonant dipole.

  2. Frequency: QRP operation is often done on the lower frequency bands, such as 40 meters, 30 meters, and 20 meters. These bands are often less crowded than the higher frequency bands, and they're ideal for long-range communication.

  3. Operating style: QRP operators need to be efficient with their operating style. This means using a clear and concise operating style, such as using CW (Morse code) or digital modes. It's also important to listen carefully to the other station to ensure that the communication is successful.

  4. Power output: QRP operation is all about using low power, so it's essential to keep the power output as low as possible. This means adjusting the power output to the minimum level needed to communicate successfully.

  5. Propagation: Understanding propagation is crucial for successful QRP operation. Propagation refers to how radio waves travel through the atmosphere. QRP operators need to know the best times and frequencies for communication, depending on the propagation conditions.


Operating QRP is a challenging but rewarding aspect of the amateur radio hobby. With the right equipment and techniques, it's possible to communicate around the world using less than 5 watts of power. QRP encourages efficient operating, which