QRP / CW / Portable

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In amateur radio, QRP operation means transmitting at reduced power levels while aiming to maximize one’s effective range while doing so. The term QRP derives from the standard Q code used in radio communications, where “QRP” and “QRP?” are used to request, “Reduce power”, and ask “Should I reduce power?” respectively. The opposite of QRP is QRO, or high-power operation.


CW stands for “continuous wave” transmissions, and it dates back to the earliest days of amateur radio. Thinking of the old telegraph offices, communication was accomplished with a “straight key” and the operator, using “Morse Code” simply used the key to interrupt a continuous transmission into “dits” and “dahs”.

Over the years, CW has lost much popularity, although many still practice this mode of communications and it is widely held that when all else fails, CW will still get through. Since it uses very little bandwidth and due to its nature, CW can be “pulled out of the mud” when nothing else can be deciphered.

Not truly a digital mode, since it isn’t binary, CW is still considered to be digital by many.


Portable’ operations is usually signified by amateur radio operators appending the suffix ‘/P’ to their callsign. Operating ‘/P’ normally means that stations are operating away from their licensed station address.

The advantages of /P operation include the use of large empty spaces where full size beam and wire antennas can be erected on tall trailer mounted masts. If operating on VHF/UHF, this can mean a location on the top of a hill or cliff, with clear line of sight to the horizon.

The main disadvantage is normally the power supply available. As normal mains grid power is unavailable, the /P operator may have to resort to batteries, portable generators, solar panels and wind turbines.

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