A great way to get out there and enjoy the outdoors and your Ham radio hobby at the same time is to get yourself a little battery operated QRP ham radio, pack it in your day pack, or bike bag and head out into the great outdoors. You could ride or hike through state forests, fire roads, or state parks to get to a good transmit/receive location and there are lots of great low-power (5 watts and under) radios that will get you on the air. But there are some things to consider before buying…

Phone or CW? – Do you have a fist for CW? If so, there are many options in the QRP world from which to choose. From home-brew projects that’ll fit in an Altoids® tin all the way up to an all-band, multi-mode rig along with a roll-up home made dipole and mini-key can be your ticket to QRP fun in the out doors…

Which Band? – Many small QRP Ham Radio rigs (especially the small cw-only rigs) will have options for different bands when you order them. You can opt for a mono-band or a multi-band which will cost more, but give more options when conditions are tough.

Which Antenna? – An inexpensive way to get out there with high portability and quick deployment is a home-brew band-specific wire dipole. It’s easy to build, and, when made right will resonate without a tuner for your favorite band. You can use it in a tee configuration for some directional operation, or as an inverted-vee. But if you’re more serious about hitting DX stations from different countries, you might want to consider something with some more gain. If you’re only running 5 watts, a 3 db gain will double your Effective Radiated Power (ERP.) So in other words, 5 watts will now become 10 watts. 3 more db of gain will double the 10 watts to 20 and so on…

All equipment aside, however, my favorite part about QRP Ham Radio is the pure serenity of being on a mountain top or in the middle of the woods and contacting the world with nothing more than a radio and wire strung through the trees. That to me, is Ham Radio in it’s purest form.

73’s Brian – KB3ZHX

QRP Ham Radio Yaesu FT-817nd

Mountain Biking and QRP operations in the hills of Virginia