Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thought provoking

I received an e-mail the other night from one of our Ham brethren.  It was very interesting and thought provoking:

"Hello Larry, I'm curious about how hams get interested in their hobby. If you don't mind, I'd love to know what made you interested in QRP exclusively. I read your bio on QRZ and you said you dabbled in QRP but in 2003 you began to operate at QRP exclusively. What made you do that? What was the tipping point for QRP only?"

I answered :

"There are probably two main reasons I decided to go totally QRP.

In the year 1998, I moved to my current QTH.  At my old QTH, I ran a lot of QRP; but also a lot of QRO.  I had a neighbor who really made my life a living hell at times.  He would accuse me of constantly wrecking his TV picture.  I had him over to my station, where I happened to have a portable TV set up.  I showed him how the picture stayed stable while I operated; but facts didn't figure into anything - I was his culprit.  When I put up a GAP vertical, things got even worse.  Just to show you how hilarious it had gotten, he met me in my driveway as I came home from work one evening and really berated me about my station and how I was ruining his TV watching life.

I had asked how bad it was during the past week; and he told me what a job I was doing on him,and how he was going to report me to the FCC.  That's when I said to him, "That's pretty amazing, Bob, considering I was away in Switzerland on business for the past week".

When I moved to South Plainfield, I also ran QRO for a bit; but always had a nagging feeling that somewhere, someone was going to see the antennas and start complaining.  I felt that by working low power, the odds of that happening again were likely to be slimmer.

THEN ...... in 2000, my wife and I had the first of our two children.  The leg of my dipole is anchored at the house right outside my son's bedroom window.  The rage at the time was RF Safety and I just felt that by running 5 Watts that it was probably a good thing for him too, even though I never bought into the "RF cancer causing theory" horse hockey. But your perspective changes a tad when your own kids are in the picture; and I figured "What the heck!  Better safe than sorry."

I can't say that there hasn't been a time or two since 2003 that I wish I had some kick to the signal when chasing DX; but all in all I've been very happy.  Life is a lot simpler and less complicated when running all QRP and CW."

I think the main things that drew me into QRP full time were:

1) Lack of potential conflict with neighbors (mentioned above)

2) RF Safety for my family (mentioned above)

3) Simplicity - refer to Sunday night's post - "Reminiscing"

4) Monetary factors - yes, you can go whole hog into QRP, too.  But for the most part, as long as you don't go over the deep end, QRP is pretty wallet friendly.  I mean, look at my K2.  Even with the options I have, I have  a very good (at one time state-of-the-art) transceiver for under a grand.  $600 at the time for the 10W model and I added the KAT2 autotuner and the 160 Meter board.  That's not bad considering what you could pay.

5) The challenge.  I've often said that QRPers are no different from any other Hams; and this is true.  But we do impose voluntary limits on ourselves.  This not only makes it interesting; but keeps it fresh and alive!  It's like the old Novice days in the here and now.

6) Community - This was not as evident to me when I first made the switch; but has become so in the years since.  The QRP community is like no other that I have experienced in Amateur Radio.  The expertise that is here that is given in an unselfish, kindly manner is flabbergasting at times.  Some of the "best-est" friends that I have never met face to face are from the QRP community. I hope to meet some of you for real, somehow, someday.

Anyway, that e-mail is the kind I love getting!  It made me do a little thinking and it was interesting, to me at least.  Thought I'd share.  And a special thanks to the author of the letter - I have a feeling he checks this space out on a regular basis.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. That's a pretty good summary of the reasons for going QRP, John.

    I think there is one other, which is a reason for going QRP rather than the "de rigeur" 100W. Years ago when I was just another 100W station I was constantly frustrated when I lost out to people with more power or better antennas/QTHs. When I went QRP I developed more realistic expectations. I knew that some people wouldn't hear me, but I didn't mind because the thrill when someone did hear my 5W signal more than made up for it.

    I ended up enjoying the hobby more even though my power was less. And of course if you are happy with what you are achieving you don't have the constant nag that things might be better if you spent more money on this or that.

  2. Oops, I think I might have put John instead of Larry - brain malfunction.

  3. I had a similar situation were I used to live. The lady that lived beside me came over and asked about the VHF antenna on the car. I told her about ham radio. All she said was "really" Then the fun began I would get knocks on the door at dinner time asking me what I was doing!!!! I told her we were having dinner and she demanded to come and and have me prove it. I did have a home station but no antenna yet. Then I got the antenna up, a vertical. I purposely did not run any coax. In no time she was at the door constantly with TV, clock radio, ceiling fans stopping, blowing fuses and the list goes on. I never used the vertical I sold it and put an antenna in the attic and used it for years. Never heard from her again. She did not see the antenna so did not have the imaginary gremlins again

  4. Hello Larry,
    My neighbor had a problem with an over sensitive amplifier. A wise man seeks for a solution but a .... man seeks for someone to blame. hi He can not hear my 500 mW.
    In 2001 I discovered that when I receive signals of S9 + 10dB, that I can use 50 mW. So I have great FUN on HF with CW in many contests with 5W to 50 mW or even less. I often make more than 1000 Miles per Watt QSO's.
    Thanks for suming up the reasons for QRP.
    73, Bert PA1B