Why is QRP not for new hams?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KI6ZRE, Jun 12, 2009.

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  1. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually, the FT-817 is a better choice than a dual band HT for a beginner.

    QRP on HF sideband can be very frustrating on the lower bands. On 6 and 10 meters, 5 watts of SSB will work a lot of DX when the bands open. You can make contacts on SSB on the higher bands, too with 5 watts and a decent antenna.

    I started out in ham radio running about 5 watts, and it was frustrating, but I made contacts. I was on CW, of course. I moved up to 15 watts from 5 and it made a big difference!

    After years of being on the air, mostly running a KW, I rediscovered low power operating, and was amazed at what I could do with 5 watts. I did, however, have excellent antennas - a 52 vertical I used on 40 and 80 and a triband beam for 20, 15, and 10 at 50 feet.

    Recently, I've been operating from inside my house with a small loop antenna and 5 watts. I've made contacts, even worked a little DX in the DX contest, but it is really tough! It's so hard that it's not even much fun for me.

    Now, I'm working on getting a decent antenna up this weekend, and I expect to do decently in Field Day running 5 watts, but we shall see.

    If you are going to do CW, and have a decent outdoor antenna - a dipole at 30 feet will work fine - I don't see a reason to avoid QRP if that's all you can afford. If you're going to work CW with the FT-817 a CW filter will help a lot.
    Or, there are some excellent little CW-only kits out there, like the Elecraft K1 with excellent receivers. Ten Tec has sold a few different generations of radios called 'Argonauts'; which were outstanding QRP rigs.
  2. KB3RHV

    KB3RHV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agreed.....and I think cost is one of the biggest myths that new hams believe, and the second is the antenna one.

    So lets do some myth busting and common beginner mistakes........

    Cost: You go out and buy a 5W HT for 300 and them a 50W mobile for another 250. That's 550 in stuff that sticks you in a FM only mode.

    For a few dollars more, they could have bought a new 817ND or a used 706 or 857D that will let them grow. Also, the 817 can be used as a HT, mobile, and even as a base due to its size and power requirements.

    Antenna: If you have a poor antenna design/surroundings, regardless of running 100W or 5W, you will not make contacts or will have a hard time trying.

    I have seen this first hand due to aether restrictions (CCR) or not having the room that is needed. Like in my case, I have a ground floor apartment in a brick building and I have no balcony or patio. I have tried loops and long wires with a 100W rig and it just dose not work well. Now in my case, I knew that having a true home station was out due to my surroundings, and this is why I went the QRP route and have been quite satisfied by going this route.

    Other common beginner mistakes........

    1) Not having an ideal on what they want to do with ham radio.

    Research and get your self a game plan! See what options you have and what will interest you the most when starting out. The first place to start is your Amateur Radio Association. For the US, its the ARRL and for the UK, its the RSGB. There is also AMSAT for amateur satellite. At this point, you should look too see what clubs are close to you and go talk/meet them.

    2) Not knowing what bands and operating modes they can use when they start out.

    This go's with number one, when your at your countries Amateur Radio Association website, get your self a band plan in pdf. This will tell you what modes and bands you can use with your license. I would also see if they have a Considerate Operator's Frequency Guide.

    3) Not understanding how there surroundings will impact them when they buy equipment.

    Before you go out and buy equipment, get with a local Elmer and get them to take a look at your surroundings so you don't run into any gocheas with your planned setup. I would also check to make sure your development or town/city have any CCR'S or laws that might impact your setup.

  3. KZ9U

    KZ9U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Everyone else has said it all so well that I need only add my agreement to the "It can be frustrating for a new ham" and "The antenna is the most important aspect" statements.

    That sid, I live in an apartment without room for a full sized antenna. With my 817 and a homebrew loaded dipole for 20 meters, I work into Eurpoe fairly easily on PSK31. I do have an advantage, in that I am in a top floor apartment in a medium rise building, however.. OH if only I could get them to let me put up a tribander on the roof!
  4. KI6ZRE

    KI6ZRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks everyone for your input on QRP. I am working on learning CW but I don't think that would be my main way of communicating on HF. I would like to use voice to start. I am going to see what people are using on Field day and also talk to some local hams that have FT-817 to see it in action.
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Another option to consider would be one of the available outboard HF amplifiers that will boost the FT-817 output to the 30-40 watt or higher range. Here's one: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/5149

    Tokyo Hy Power also has a 45 Watt FCC-approved amp for the FT-817.

    These will further increase the flexibility of your station. You can also buy small amps for VHF and UHF if you want.
  6. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is a rather expensive route. It would actually be cheaper to buy the 817 and an 857 than to buy a VHF amp, UHF amp, and HF amp. Heck the THP is around $400 on its own.
  7. CT2JUT

    CT2JUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I believe that QRP is mandatory for new hams all over UK...

    In my opinion it´s a good starting point, where you need to get the most of your signals, making you read some books! :)

    Later you´ll be very satisfied by getting a technician license and take advantage of full power on the antenna.

    73 de Miguel
  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree.

    What happens when hams start out in QRP, is that new hams have to "overcome" certain obstacles and they learn a lot about what works and what doesn't work in the process. (A good thing)

    It eventually provides them with an excellent foundation to put together a "station" in the right way at a later time.

    You really don't learn anything about amateur radio if the only thing you ever did was setup a plug and play station and talk into a microphone. A great deal of enjoyment is missed if you never experiment or conduct your own research related to everything you are doing. For me, I like to know "why" everything works... This is a technical hobby and while ragchewing, DX'ing etc.. is fun...we shouldn't limit ourselves to only these activities.

    Another enjoyable aspect of QRP is in the fact it's typically associated with the outdoors. This makes QRP equipment the perfect pastime to bring along to the campsite..

    Additionally, there's something about operating in an area where there is no cell phone coverage, local radio or TV stations but yet you can still manage to communicate with a minimalist setup (which you create) in the middle of nowhere. The success of this challenge is directly proportional to your well rounded understanding.

    QRP is not for everyone, but for those who have managed to overcome the obstacles and take the time to ask questions (don't be shy) to learn all they can about it, often find out it becomes extremely rewarding.

    My Best.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  9. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm coming in late on this thread, but here is my two cents (adjusted for inflation):

    For a newer Ham, the IC-718 may be a very good choice. When set to its lowest power, it usually is putting out a little less that 5 watts. No, not in the MW range, but still officially QRP.

    But the 718 is also a full duty cycle 100 watt radio. Throw in a 500 Hz filter for CW and for about $600.00 New) a person has a pretty darn nice rig. It is nice sized for a base unit, but light enough to take out on field day (but backpacking is really out of the question).

    My thought process is this: With the 718, it is a pretty low cost to get into the hobby with a decent rig, and if QRP just gets to be tooooooo much, one can always up the power and run QRO.
  10. KJ4KDM

    KJ4KDM Guest

    One of the biggest things i noticed is that 70% of the stations on 20, 40 and 80 feel the need to be running atleast 800 watts + through a hi gain antenna at any given time! Which when your running a 100 watt station on a wire let alone a QRP station can get discouraging, especially trying to break a pile up.What happend to using the least amout of power to make the contact?
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