Moving from Ohio to Indiana in 1996 was a major disruption in my ham radio life. Having decided to start-over with my station once settled in our new home, I sold all my gear before we left, there was no point in moving any of it. This was a significant change preceded by weeks of trying to decide what would be the next amateur radio adventure I wanted to pursue now that I was middle-aged.
I had long had an itch for a handmade HF station. Either home-brewed or from a kit, it didn’t matter to me so long as it was assembled with my hands. But Heathkit was no longer an option and I didn’t have the patience to craft something from scratch. Digging around for kits, I stumbled into the world of QRP.
There wasn’t a better time to jump on that bandwagon than 1996. Low-power enthusiasts had been around since long before then, but it was in 1996 when QRP became a full-blown “movement”.
Rabid followers were busy night and day building and operating battery powered gear and sharing their adventures via an online mailing list, which quickly became the favorite channel for all things QRP.
I built first one and then a half dozen small transceiver kits. All of them CW only and all of them worked well. I can’t even guess at the number of contacts I made with a just finished circuit board laying on my desk, not yet even mounted in an enclosure.
It was easily the most enjoyable season of my ham radio life.
But momentum was only beginning to build. In 1999 a new start-up, Elecraft, dropped the K2 on us and that was like pouring gasoline on a bonfire. Everything that could be shaken was shaken and the movement added thousands of enthusiastic, dedicated followers.
More than 20 years later that QRP movement continues to thrive though it seems to have cooled considerably. One could argue that nothing could burn that brightly forever.
Now that operating outdoors has become one of the fastest growing trends in amateur radio, all that trail-friendly, battery powered gear, and accessories pioneered by QRP enthusiasts over the last few decades is fueling a new ham radio movement.
And the beat goes on…