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The Ramifications of the Psycho-technical Sociology of a Misunderstood Aggregation of Self-foisted Communication Circumscriptions.
QRP is not this.....
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QRP or QRO, A Timeless Tale of Tragedy and Triumph
by Tom Morton, W5TOM
On a daily basis, we Hams are indulging in recreational communication whether we admit it or not. Sure, a few of us might be the last bastion of communication that will save lives when times get nasty, but for the most part we are just having fun. Because the hobby is so vast, we have a wide selection of fun to have. What we choose are actually restrictions we place on our selves. Some go for the 150 Ft. tower and stacked beams along with the biggest Alpha they can afford. Many don't have the money or location for such, but have capability for many other choices. Something must be said for finesse, grace, style, and skill over force and power. I like to compare QRP and QRO to a sail boat and a power boat, or a 1952 MG to a Trans AM muscle car, or even a diesel mechanic to a watchmaker. Actually there is value on both sides, but it is a choice. To help you make your choice I will spin this yarn of fiction packed truth.
Let's take a look at two Ham friends of mine who have made different choices. Big Bad John and Lance both have similar circumstances and live in different states, but John has chosen the QRO approach and Lance the QRP. John has stacked 6 element mono banders on all bands, 40 through 10 on 300 ft., free standing, stainless steel, towers rotated by a Cummings diesels running on natural gas. He has Ten Tec Orions for each band; he's a mite lazy and doesn't like to have to change bands on radios. For finals he has Alpha 99s, sitting next to a few modified BC 610s. The amps are connected to 3 inch hard line through a switch actuated by a truck steering wheel, going to his antenna farm with the towers to the west and the curtains and rhombic to the east. Almost forgot to mention; he drives a Hummer, his kid is overweight, and his mode is SSB .
Now, Lance, being a gentleman of style and grace, has chosen to enjoy QRP. He uses rigs he built himself, with wire antennas, at home, when camping, skiing, sail boating, and on business trips to Hawaii from the hotel balcony. His smallest station is an Elecraft KX1 CW rig with two pieces of light wire 35ft. long, some string and a fishing weight. This station has a memory keyer, automatic antenna tuner, LED readout to 100 cycles, 80, 30, 40, and 20 meter bands, built in battery power, micro processor control, variable IF crystal filtering from 2kc to 300cps, RIT, RF and AF controls, S meter, power out meter, SWR meter, variable power from 3 Watts to about nothing, and a few features your big rigs don't have and I can't remember. I think one is a spellchecker. It is the size of a 3x5 card and 1 inch thick. Almost forgot to mention, the whole station fit neatly in Lance's tastefully tailored, Brook's Brothers, Black Watch tartan, sport, coat's inside pocket.
This is all leading somewhere, I promise. One fine day when the bands were open, both Lance and John came across a rare DX expedition working both CW and SSB from the eastern side of Gambieri Island, which is rarely inhabited by man because of the grappling weed and long toothed snicks. To top it off, Tom Christian assisted by his wife Betty as logger, was manning a mean pair of Begali Sculpture paddles with carbon fiber finger pieces, on 20 meter CW. Now what happened next, QRP fans, is almost too tragic to relate. I'll bite my lip and force myself to continue.
Big Bad John torqued up the plate voltage on his BC 610s; he was running two on parallel because, that day, the sunspot numbers weren't quite high enough to satisfy him. "VP6TC, VP6TC",over and over he shouted as the plates throbbed cherry red. The pile-up was tremendous and John tweaked the last tiny kilowatt out of the floor saggers. After a few failures and in a fit of total desperation, he switched his Heil mic to the "No, No, Not the 4" position. Alas, there was no QSO. See there is always a bigger bully on the beach. Charles Atlas proved it, and Murphy's brother Shamus guaranteed it. In a fit of frustration and disappointment John stormed into the kitchen and kicked the snot out of his dog and screamed at his wife. This was the last straw for her, she packed her things, took Freddy by his little fat hand, and headed home to mother. She sued for divorce and won the house, kid, and the Hummer. Almost forgot to mention; her lawyer, one of the few good ones, advised her to get her Tech license (it's real easy now without that pesky CW stuff) and she won all the Ham gear too. Almost forgot to mention, John ended up destitute, homeless, and sleeping under a piece of cardboard, next to an exhaust fan, behind the Gilded Truffle restaurant.
Lance offset his RX frequency 100 cycles and carefully tuned his Elecraft K1 to the center of his pass band and heard, "DE VP6TC QRZ" at 10 over. Several times he tried, each time slightly improving his timing and tweaking his frequency to avoid the stronger stations in the huge pileup. The lack of success almost caused him to crank up his power to the full 7 Watts, but then he heard his call sign and a 589 report. He was elated. After the contact, he bounded into the kitchen. "I just busted a pileup and worked Tom Christian on Eastern Gambieri Island, in spite of the grappling weed and long toothed snicks", he exclaimed as he hugged the dog and petted his wife, "And he was using a set of Begali Sculpture paddles with carbon fiber finger pieces". To celebrate, they had a few glasses of wine and a wonderful dinner for two at the Gilded Truffle. The next day, after hearing about the QRP success, his boss made him VP in charge of communications and with the bonus, he took his wife for a vacation to the Cook Islands. They made friends with Tom and Betty Christian and had a great time. Almost forgot to mention; nine months later they had a joyous baby girl who was not overweight, and was destined to be a winner on American Idol, and get her Extra class Ham ticket.
The choice is painfully clear and up to you. Is it QRP or QRO?