Far too often I hear things like “life is too short for qrp”, “not going to break any pile-ups with 5 Watts”, … Most of those silly comments about QRP, come from operators routinely trying to win contests, or collect additional bits of qsl wallpaper. That certainly might be a fun aspect of “the hobby”, but let’s not forget amateur radio is a service.
I routinely remind operators about the differences between ham radio as a hobby, and amateur radio as a utility with purpose. This is especially true when it comes to emergency communications, group communications, or preparedness. The simple truth is we’re not all trying to achieve DXCC! Before I get sidetracked, here are 5 great reasons why we should all try QRP Portable from time to time.
- Operating QRP portable, you’ll quickly learn to carry the comms equipment you need, versus the equipment you thought you needed!
- Operating QRP portable can help expose weaknesses in your comms gear, routinely hidden by operating QRO.
- Reducing your output power, increases your operating time in the field.
- QRP stations are lighter and more portable than their QRO counterparts.
- Skills learned operating QRP from the field, can help us become better QRO operators.
Those are my top 5 reasons for trying QRP Portable, but that’s not the whole story.
For some, 5 watts can be frustrating if his/her goal is to win the latest ARRL contest. Getting outside with limited station resources, will help us overcome the false belief about the need to operate QRO. Operating QRP forces us to look at things like alternative antenna configurations, the directivity of our antenna, coax & connection losses, more efficient modes, … things that the QRO only operator rarely cares about, because they operate within abundance of TX power. Even if you’re not open to the 5 watt discussion, a 20 watt station is still much more practical, exponentially more portable, and is often as effective as its hundred-watt counterpart with the correct antenna and antenna configuration.
I nearly forgot to mention “getting away from the grid noise”. Okay we’ll discuss that another day.
If you seriously want to become a better QRO operator, or if you’re simply looking for a more challenging operating environment, start by operating QRP in the field.