QRP transmitters are defined (roughly) as having an output of 5 watts or less. However, I find the QRP area to be rich in opportunities for the amateur radio enthusiast to learn more about how radio works. The best learning takes place when actually building radio circuits, and this is where QRP really shines. However, it is safe to say that most of us do not have EE degrees in RF design. So before heating up the soldering iron, here are some resources that I think no do-it-yourself’er or QRP’er should be without.
W1FB’s Design Notebook – Doug DeMaw, W1FB (sk) – ISBN: 0872593207. This is the book that you will want to start with. Doug explains all about various electronic components and what they do, along with representative diagrams. Also covered are construction techniques, practical receiver and transmitter design techniques and practices.
W1FB’s QRP Notebook – Doug DeMaw – ISBN: 0872593657 – Many consider this book to be the “bible” for building QRP equipment. Doug covers receivers, transmitters, and an assortment of QRP accessories.
Crystal Sets to Sideband – Frank W. Harris, K0IYE – Frank has written, and continues to update, another “Bible” for home brewing an amateur radio station. He explains the concepts in electronics that you will need to know, and he takes you through any necessary theory. He presents plenty of diagrams for building, and he includes a section on using tubes. Contrary to popular opinion – tubes are not dead! As a matter of fact, they are readily available, with most tubes costing $3 to $5. His book of 400+ pages is freely downloadable in PDF format. I took mine to PostNet and had it printed out.
Experimental Methods in RF Design – Wes Hayward, W7ZOI; Rick Campbell, KK7B; Bob Larkin, W7PUA – ISBN: 9780872599239. Make sure you read this title carefully. This is not a book about experimental radio; it is a book about how to apply methods of experimenting to RF design in order to test and measure performance. The book’s focus is really on building straightforward and well defined circuits. The theory of operation is also given for all the major blocks of receivers, transmitters, accessories, and several pieces of test equipment about you can actually build.
W1FB’s Antenna Notebook – Doug DeMaw – ISBN: 0872592618. Like Doug’s other books, this one explains what antennas do in practical terms and then gives a treatment on various fundamental antenna types and how to build them. This book provides a very practical and usable approach to building your own antennas.
Note: Book title links go to Amazon’s listing for the book, except for Frank Harris’ book, and that link goes to his site. You can download the whole book or just chapters of interest. The book is free in PDF format.
I consider the above books to be the essential core of my QRP and home-brewing library.