Yaesu FT-818ND QRP and CW keyer

How to operate QRP successfully

Operating ham radio QRP, that is using low power, is probably not a good choise for the new beginner. To successfully operate ham radio QRP you need to use all your skills when it comes to selecting the correct bands, modes, propagation and evauluating current conditions. As a beginner to amateur radio it might be a better idea to start off with for example a 100 watt rig to get a lot of successful QSO:s and acquire knowledge about propagation and conditions first.

However, when you start to know how propagation and band conditions work, operating QRP from a portable location with a small temporary antenna can be an exciting and rewarding challenge. When operating QRP any contact is a success, not just far away DX stations. A contact just 500 or 1000 km:s away using a few watts is really exciting. But operating QRP requires patience. Don’t expect to come home with a log book with hundreds and hundreds of QSO:s.

  • Use CW. It comes through better with small amounts of power than SSB.
  • Listen around on the bands to estimate which bands are open and select the one with most or strongest stations. I usually start off on 10 meters and walk downwards on 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80 meters. If 10 meters is open, it can give you nice contacts with small amounts of power. That is during day time, if it is evening or night you might start off at 30 meters and walk your way down to 40 or 80. But as you know how propagation works, this is not news for you 😉
  • If you have Internet connection, send out a few CQ:s on each band and search for your call on Reverse Beacon Network (enter your callsign in the DX box) to see on what bands you show up and where your signals are strongest.
  • I prefer the WARC bands (12, 17 and 30 meters). They are contest free and generally less crowded.
  • Responding to CQ:s are way more efficient than sending CQ:s yourself. Even though your CQ might be heard, people have a tendency to respond to stronger signals and your will be weak when operating QRP.
  • If you decide to CQ yourself, use the QRP calling frequencies; 28.060, 24.906, 21.060, 18.086, 14.060, 10.116, 7.030 and 3.560 MHz. I usually add “QRP” one time before “PSE K” to indicate that I am operating QRP.

My QRP “go to” band usually is 30 meters. It is often open, it has propagation characteristics between 20 and 40 meters. And I usually get best results on RBN when I work 30 meters.

In the pictures below, I am operating QRP as SM0RGM/6 from a location nr Strömstad, Sweden.

Good luck and hope to see you on the bands! 73 de SM0RGM / OZ0RGM