Why is QRP not for new hams?

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by KI6ZRE, Jun 12, 2009.

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  1. KI6ZRE

    KI6ZRE Ham Member QRZ Page


    I have been reading QRZ forums and eham.net and see that many people say that QRP (Low Power) is not for beginning hams.
    Being new to this, QRP seems to have the advantages of being relatively inexpensive, like the FT817 to start and have both HF, VHF, and portability.
    Can someone expand on the downsides for QRP for newbies?
    Thank you.
  2. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Main thing is frustration. I spent a couple of weeks trying to make contacts on a Pixie for 40 Meters.

    Most people would get burned out by that real quick.

    Also, antennas are key to QRP, since you need every milliwatt to go out the antenna, not to cook worms. And many news hams struggle with antenna design.

    I still like QRP and call CQ at least once a day with my Pixie, but it boils down to the fact most new hams will become very frustrated and give up.
  3. K2KLI

    K2KLI Banned QRZ Page

    QRP can be a lot of fun, but it can also be one of the most frustrating aspects of ham radio. You're working with a small amount of power, which means you have to make up for it with an efficient antenna and if you're trying to receive other QRP stations, a good receiver with good selectivity, sensitivity and noise immunity.

    Sometimes it takes a long time to make contact at 100 watts. Imagine how frustrating it could be, calling CQ for hours at low power and not getting an answer because you're competing with QRM and QRN.

    Just some thoughts. I've done a lot of QRP. I actually prefer it. I do Part 15 beaconing in the 1750 meter, MW, and 22 meter bands too.

    QRP takes a lot of patience and skill. Most new operators are eager to make their first contact without a lot of hassle.
  4. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    QRP could potentially be very frustrating for a new ham. Especially QRP phone operation on a busy band can be difficult. I think the fear is that a newcomer with no experience would quickly get frustrated and depressed, and give up.

    Personally, I think QRP is a fine way to start out. Rather than seeing it as potentially frustrating, I think a better attitude is to recognize it as a challenge from both technical and skill perspective. Challenge can be fun and satisfying.

    Certainly it is easier to make contacts with 100 watts, but 1 to 5 Watts of CW or PSK can easily work the world when propagation conditions and band selection are right, and with a good antenna and appropriate patience and skill.
  5. K3WRV

    K3WRV Guest

    Let's differentiate between HF and VHF, and fone and cw/digi. My comments are directed primarily towards HF - it works much better on VHF especially if you use repeaters.

    QRP cw can be a lot of fun - most of us hang out on certain QRP frequencies and are used to copying weak signals. For the most part, the KW alley guys leave us alone, which cuts down on competetion and QRM..

    Fone is a different matter: First, cw gives your weak signal much higher readability than fone. While there are QRP frequencies, the fone guys don't respect them, and most of us don't hang out there. It seems like every noobie that gets on HF buys an amp, which doesn't help, and most fone ops lack the skills to copy weak signals or don't care to bother..

    Others have mentioned frustration, operator skill and Antennas, all very valid points, so be prepared to deal with them. But QRP operation will make you a much better operator and you'll acquire the skills you need eventually., which WILL pay off in the long run. Most guys on HF want to work DX, and while you can do it QRP, don't plan on it.

    Finally, propagation these days is pretty poor on the high bands, which is where QRP works best.

    All that said, many of us OF's started out running near QRP (10 or 20 W) and made a lot of contacts, even on AM Fone. My first side Band rig was a Central 10-B (probably 5 W out), but we also had a year or two experience by that point, so we weren't completely new. I'm probably 50 pct QRP these days, and did exclusively QRP for about 10 years and had a blast, but we had sunspots back then so 10 and 15 were open. Plus, I had some good antennas, which helped.

    If I were starting out, I'd look for an old TenTec Argosy (50 W out) and turn the power down as I got more experience. QRP for PSK works FB, and 30 M is a great QRP band (but you'll need cw or PSK).

    de Bob

    de Bob
  6. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    The bolded section is exactly why I still work QRP, and even am still pushing on making a QSO on 10 meters and QRP 40 Meters CW right now.

    I figure if I can make a QSO on 10 meters with poor band conditions, then I know I have the antenna's design down pat. Same with the QRP CW contacts. If a few milliwatts are getting even across the city, then I know my antenna and operating is down pat.

    Plus, I figure I'll tick off fewer people for being an inexperienced operator on HF that way :p
  7. G4ILO

    G4ILO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think the main reason is that most newbies these days expect to use a mic. QRP SSB on HF is pretty frustrating, unless you are using the kind of antenna most newbies won't have.

    QRP HF CW is not difficult as long as you have a reasonably decent antenna (e.g. a dipole) and don't add to the difficulty by trying to use a Miracle Whip or some such. But most newbies won't know CW.

    QRP PSK31 can also be quite successful given, again, a reasonable antenna. But most new licensees don't go straight to digimodes.

    However, the entry license here in the UK is QRP (10W) and people seem to cope with it. It's a great incentive to upgrade to the next level, though!
  8. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I operate mostly QRP, and really enjoy my FT-817.

    As others have pointed out, it boils down to what modes you are going to use. If you use CW or PSK31, then the difference in power makes very little difference. I did Worked All States on PSK31 in about 5 weeks. I honestly don't think more power would have made a bit of difference.

    Similarly, on CW, about 99% of the time, if I can hear 'em, I can work 'em.

    However, if you plan to use SSB on HF, there is a definite difference between 5 watts and 100 watts. This is not to say I haven't made SSB QSO's, but luck and good conditions have a lot to do with it. I think it would be frustrating if you wanted to work SSB, and only had 5 watts. On phone, the extra power really makes a difference.

    So if you think you'll be doing a lot of CW and PSK31, then I think the FT-817 would be a great choice, and you'll even make a few phone contacts. But if you want to use primarily phone, then I would look for a 100 watt rig.
  9. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's an interesting question.

    I suppose, for one thing that the FT-817 is not all that much cheaper than a full-power 100 watt rig like the FT-897.

    As has been said, QRP phone is an exercise in frustration, often. I used to use a 20 watt HF rig with a buddipole portable and it was tough, I want to actually MAKE contacts. And I did, some, but you had no chance in any sort of pile up, usually with both reduced power and compromise antennas.

    As also has been said: Good antennas make a difference and even more so when you are dealing with 5 watts or less.

    For this relatively new Amateur, 100 watts is enough of a challenge currently.

    BTW, most of the above is irrelevant as soon as you have to carry radio, battery and antenna on your back into the woods any distance at all!
  10. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is simply a projection of fear, a fear of loss of interest. As has been stated, many people assume that a newbie will grow frustrated with QRP and push the hobby aside.

    I will tell you this. The 817 is a much better idea than an HT.(IMO) It is much more flexible and sadly similar in price to some if the more fancy HT's.

    As I tell everyone, it all boils down to personal preference and patience.
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