|Kendall Amateur Radio Society||
Kendall Amateur Radio Society is proud to announce that our past
President, Bob Rosier - K4OCE, has been inducted into the QRP Hall of
Fame for 2018 by the Amateur Radio Club International (ARCI).
is known throughout the Amateur Radio World as “Mr. QRP.” He has
every QRP operating award given by MILLIWATT, CQ and the ARRL, and was
the first operator to work QRP DXCC.
He has written a number of articles published in MILLIWATT, CQ
and QST, to encourage others to try QRP.
His QRP home-brew transmitter helped the QRO World try QRP and
experience the excitement of this segment of our hobby.
We are very proud to have Bob as a member of our Club.
Bob tells you how to do it in the article below.
Bob tells you how to do it in the article below.
QRP Operating Methods
Bob Rosier, K4OCE
was asked to share QRP operating methods in hopes of increasing this
mode of operation. A well
know QRP saying may sum up why many operate in this mode; “Power is no
substitute for skill”. Many
of you already have good operating skills, so I will try to concentrate
on methods that can be applied to QRP.
It is important to do your homework in advance of a DXpedition or
a DX contest. You should be checking propagation for the best times and
frequencies, gather data on the DXpeditions itself as to the frequencies
they plan to use and which bands they will operate. DXpeditions often
have a Web Page with good information in advance including their
operating frequencies and sometimes propagation charts. Often, a QRO
stations will just wait until the DX is spotted, then start calling.
Doing the research often gives some advantage to the QRP station.
start with, you may be needing some convincing before trying QRP,
especially working DX at the 5 watts, 1 watt, or even at lower power
levels. Let’s pursue that a little.
The different between 1000 watts and 5 watts is 23dB. This is
equivalent to just under 4 S-units on your receiver's S-meter (an S-unit
= 6dB). If you were to
receive an S-9 running 1000 watts, then you would receive an S-5 if you
drop your power down to 5 watts. This
would be a perfectly readable signal to a DX station. The following
chart may help to understand how much you could lower your power and
still be copied. As an example, if you were running 600 watts and
received a signal report of S-6, you could drop your power down to 2.4
watts and still be copied. 2.4
watts is approximately the power of a standard flashlight.
Not only is that cool, but you have used about 1000 watts less
power to accomplished the same goal…....making
I sometimes mention to my DX friends, that making a contact running 1000 watts is really rather boring. Don’t you get a little tired of hearing the same generic QSO information? “You are S-9 plus old man, and you have good audio, and that’s a nice shine on your shoes.” Well, maybe not the last part, but with QRP you will be perfectly happy receiving 55 or 559 signal report at the 5 watts level and have much more of a feeling of accomplishment. QRP also exemplifies the spirit of the FCC rule (97.67 (b)) that states that “amateur stations shall use the minimum amount of power necessary to carry on the desired communications.”
are internationally known QRP frequencies. These are not calling
frequencies, but more like centers of activity….places where QRPers
are likely to hang out. Of course you may operate QRP anywhere that your
license allows, but it is a good idea to check around these QRP
frequencies on a regular basis.
can operate QRP and make lots of QSOs with just a dipole. I have had a
great deal of success on 30 meters with just a simple dipole. With the
good propagation we had back in the spring of 2016, I worked both Juan
de Nova, FT4JA and Heard Island, VK0EK with just one watt and a 30
meters dipole. On 30 meters there is generally fewer stations, and the
200 watt power limit makes QRP more competitive. The propagation on this
band is a cross between 20 and 40 meters. At night, it is usually open
for DX and there is practically no QRM. There is much less thunderstorm
static than on 40 or 80, and don't forget that a 30 meter dipole is 20
feet shorter than a 40 meter dipole, so the construction is simplier.
I built my multiband dipole for 12, 30, 80, and 160 meters using traps,
I cut each section of the dipole a little long. With a pulley system
from the top of my tower, I could easily raise and lower the dipole to
make measurements. I would make a measurement, then lower to do some
trimming, then repeat the operation until I had resonance at the lower
part of each CW band where I like to operate. Naturally you should try
to place your dipole broad-side to the desired direction of
transmission. Mine is running North to South and this has worked very
well. The trimming I did on my multiband dipole may seem like a lot of
trouble, but if your impedance mismatch results in a drop of 2 or 3
watts of effective radiated
power, it would be of little concern when running 1000 watts, but
becomes a big concern at the 5 watts level.
Obviously a beam becomes an
advantage when running lower power, as does your transmitter tuning,
your coax, and the antenna itself. I used a simple Kenwood TS-570 for
many of my DX contacts. This rig could be set to 5 watts, and I found
that at the 5 watt setting, the output power on all bands measured
between 4.8 to 4.9 watts on both CW and SSB, perfect for QRP. My present
rig is an older Yaesu FT-1000MP and I choose that rig mainly for the
dual VFO and good receive filtering. For QRP awards, you normally use
input power of 5 watts for CW, 10 watts peak-to-peak on phone. However,
If you have an accurate way of measuring power, you can use output power
so long as you are just below the 5 watt levels. This is another way of
picking up a little additional power, and by now you probably understand
that every little bit counts. My present antenna is a Cushcraft X9 with
the ad-on 40 meter rotatable dipole. I used the more expensive LMR-400
coax and ordered it for the exact length needed and with silver plated
coax connectors. By using coax relays at the top of the tower to switch
between the multi-band dipole, the beam, and an ad-on 40 meter rotatable
dipole, only a single run of the coax was needed making the LMR-400 cost
effective. On 20 meters the total cable loss is about 0.3dB.
Again I would like to emphasis that
a good antenna, low loss coax, measuring and using output power rather
than input power, all contribute to transmitting a decent signal. Still,
you can only expect to pick up about an S-unit over a dipole.
Directivity of a beam, of course, is another advantage. I have heard
over and over that being successful with QRP requires a
really good antenna. That’s like telling your host of a dinner party
that her wonderful meal must be due to her good pots and pans. There is
definitely skill involved, something that is only learned with
experience. You will gain this experience with every QRP contact.
When purchasing a property, realtors
often tell you it is location, location, location. With QRP it is
listen, listen, listen. Perhaps better said, it is listening,
practicing, and patience. How is the DX station operating? Is he just
random, is he calling by call area, is he split frequency and up or
down, is there good propagation at this time?
Think of working QRP as learning to play a guitar. If I play, I
may be able to help you a little in learning to play, but it is up to
you to practice, practice, practice.
One of the best ways to get started
in QRP DX is by operating in one of the annual DX contests. This gives
you the opportunity to call over and over again on the same frequency
until you get a clear opening to the DX station, and the DX station
really wants to work you for the points. Although I prefer adding /QRP
to my call, in contests you may want to consider using just your base
call to avoid confusion, and I have found that many DX stations in these
contests won’t add the QRP to their log anyway. They are only
interested in a quick QSO. If you get discouraged at the beginning of a
DX contest, just wait until there are only a few hours left in the
contest. At that point, DX
stations are often begging for new contacts.
Before a contest or an upcoming
DXpeditions, you should do a lot of research.
You should regularly monitor Announced DX Operations which lists stations that will be in
contests or stations that will be on a DXpedition.
Contest rules and exchange information is also available on this
site. In the case of a DXpedition, you should have the propagation data
written down showing the best times and best frequencies to make a
contact. Always check to see if the particular DXpedition has a Web
Page. They often do, and
they supply their operating frequencies and often propagation data.
It should be obvious that you need to determine the best bands
and the best times to work a particular DX station. I use DX
Toolbox for propagation, and DX
Monitor for DX spotting. There are lots of others: DX.qsl.net, eHam.com,
DXMaps.com, DX Summit, DX Scape, etc.
Sometime I will listen to WWV on 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz to get a
quick idea of propagation.
you are just looking for new countries, first check propagation, aim you
beam to the direction of propagation, then carefully tune down the band
for any DX. This is often called the “search and pounce” method. I
often hear DX stations calling CQ with no responses. This method
requires a lot of listening, but often pays off. I have found that this
method works really well when there is an active rare DXpedition going
on. The DXpedition will keep the big boys busy giving you a better
chance of searching the rest of the band for new DX.
of the propagation sites will also show you the grey-line.
So, what is the grey-line? The ionosphere is a section of the
earth’s atmosphere that form layers due to ionization by solar and
cosmic radiation. The F-layer is where most HF signals bounce off. At
the lowest part of the ionosphere, is the D-layer. Signals don’t
generally bounce off this layer, but this layer absorbs a lot of your
signal on the way up to the F-layer, and again coming back down to
earth. During a short period of time, however, (typically 20 minutes) at
dust and at dawn, the solar rays do not reach the D-layer because of the
angle, but still reach the F-layer. Signal levels can increase
significantly during this short period of time and I have personally
worked some DX by the grey-line that I was not able to work at other
that you are prepared, once the DX station is on the air, you need to
take the time to determine his operation methods.
There may be more than one operator, so this is sometimes
difficult. It is always tempting to just jump in and start calling with
the rest of the world, but here is an example of a QSO.
DXpedition to the rare Bouvet Island 3Y0Z resulted in a lot of
attention, perhaps because it was well announced ahead of time.
You should note the announced frequencies they plan to use, and
often a DXpedition will provide propagation. If not, there are lots of
propagation sites as I mentioned earlier. DX
Monitor and other similar web sites provide real time data from
hams all over the world. When I heard Chuck Brady (who is also an
Astronaut by the way) he announce that he is listening over a 20kHz
range (rarely does DX use this wide a range). My first thought was that
this was really going to be a challenge. Often it is wise to wait until
later in the operation when the pileup diminish to some degree.
After monitoring 3Y0Z for about a half hour, I noticed that he
would tune down from the higher frequency, down to the lower frequency,
but instead of starting back up the band, he would jump up to the higher
frequency and start back down. I first tried following him down the band
calling a few kilohertz ahead but with no results. As he was getting
close to the lower end, I moved up and parked myself at the highest
frequency. After calling for less than a minutes, he came back to me. He
was impressed that he was having no problem copying my 5 watt signal and
even mentioned that he was reading me as well as some of the other
stations. I thanked him and wished him luck with the DXpedition.
I thought it was a little ironic that here I am having somewhat
of a rag-chew with one of the rarest station.
Besides the QSL I received, I also received the 8” x 10”
glossy color picture above of the space shuttle with my call and
Chuck’s signature. I believe that he sent this only because I was QRP.
Other hams I asked never received such a picture.
Here is another perk to QRP. I often receive extra things
included with the received QSL card. Stamps, a note of congratulations,
post card from the area, or in this case a very nice pictures.
I always liked to add /QRP to my
call, and the majority of my QSLs have that added. When signals are
marginal, however, this can cause some confusion on the receiving end.
On the other hand, adding QRP sometimes results in the DX station
calling you out of curiosity. On
phone, it is a little easier to mention that you are QRP.
When several stations are calling a DX station, there is another
trick. Instead of trying to give your long call, you might try to time
an opening and throw in “QRP”. Many times I have had the DX station
stop and ask “who is the QRP station.”
In about half of the time this has happened,
the DX station then asked if there are any more QRP station on
the frequency, so in a way you have helped your fellow QRPer.
I seldom call CQ, but if you do call
CQ on CW and sign /QRP, some hams may think you are asking to work only
QRP stations. I suggest the following: “CQ DX…CQ DX…CQ DX…HR QRP
5 watts de W5ABC/QRP”. The
“HR” is simply an attention getter so that the listener will perk up
in time to here “QRP 5 watts” and hopefully want to give you a
report. On several
occasions, I have had the receive station drop their power and we end up
in a 2-way QRP QSO which is really cool.
There are several DX nets in which
you can check in and are then given the opportunity of working any DX
station that has also checked in. This can work well for a QRP stations.
I would get my call on the list by calling in at 100 watts, and then I
would drop my power to 5 watts. When
my turn comes, I have a clear frequency to make the call at the QRP
level, and in my experience I have made the contact about 80% of the
There are many new digital modes,
and these modes work extremely well at the QRP levels.
In recent months, I hear a lot of station including lots of DX
stations using the FT8 mode. I hope to be operational in this mode soon.
Also, I haven't talk as much about SSB, but I have worked about
the same number of countries on SSB as CW.
I just happen to prefer CW. Since
you can't afford slipping up on your call sign when calling a DX
station, I highly recommend a memory keyer. With QRP, sometimes you only
get one shot at a QSO. Good
luck, and good DX.