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Best HF CW Backpack Rig

Im just starting out on SOTA and have a question about HF rigs. What is the best rig for HF operation on 20 or 30 meters CW? There is a lot of talk about the Yaesu FT 817 and the Elecraft K3. Im interested in a good 5 watt CW rig with good frequency versatility, stability, selectivity and low power consumption. The field doesn’t have to be limited to CW. I prefer CW due to its DX range over a 5 watt SSB signal. I have yet to purchase an HF rig and would appreciate any thoughts on what works for SOTA operation. Thanks in advance.

In reply to W6AH:

Have a look at the Elecraft KX3 (not the K3!) and the PFR-3 (CW-only, 40-30-20m 4W Trcv). I have both and used the PFR-3 on more than 140 summit activations. I like the built-in Z-match tuner and the low power consumption. Since August I have a KX3, more expensive than the PFR-3 but also more more versatile (all mode 160 - 6m) and a high quality receiver. The built-in tuner workes just great. I can tune a 2x7m wire dipole from 40 to 10m and with limited bandwith even on 80m.

http://www.elecraft.com/KX3/kx3.htm

http://www.qrpkits.com/pfr3.html

73 Heinz, OE5EEP

In reply to W6AH:
Congrats on recognizing the DX superiority of CW for SOTA operating.

If you’re not dead set on 5 watts, I’d recommend the KX1. What’s nice about the KX1 (and KX3) is the built-in automatic antenna tuner. It makes portable operation a breeze with random end-fed wire antenna. The KX1 is also VERY light, well under a pound.

The Weber tribander looks very nice, although it lacks the antenna tuner. KD1JV has brought out many fine cw radios over the past few years targeted at portable operation (ATS, PFR, MTR).

The FT817 will also do a fine job, but it’s a heavier radio (over 2lbs). It’s fairly rugged though, something lacking in the KX3.

Power consumption on any of these radios is not an issue. A 2000-3000mAh LiPO battery weighing under 200g will provide several hours of operation.

73/GL,
Barry N1EU

In reply to N1EU:

The Weber tribander looks very nice, although it lacks the antenna
tuner. KD1JV has brought out many fine cw radios over the past few
years targeted at portable operation (ATS, PFR, MTR).

Barry, you are not correct here: The PFR-3 does include a tuner. This is the only of KD1JV’s designs that includes an antenna tuner. It is a Z-match for manual tuning with both, balanced (= symetric to ground) and grounded output. I found this Z-match sufficient to tune a 2x7m wire dipole in inverted V configuration on a fishing pole. The built-in tuner means one less box to carry and one connector cable less to miss at home :wink:

What speaks against a PFR-3 is that it is only available as a kit and requires some soldering skills.

I agree on your proposal of the KX1. I never owned one, but had a chance to use occasionaly. Certainly also a good choice.

73 Heinz, OE5EEP

In reply to OE5EEP:

Barry, you are not correct here: The PFR-3 does include a tuner.

Heinz, I didn’t say the PFR-3 doesn’t include a tuner. I said the Weber tribander (a new, different radio - see http://qrpkits.com/tribander.html) doesn’t include a tuner.

Your signal has been consistently excellent with the PFR-3, congratulations!

Heinz, I actually heard you call me last week when I was on W2/GC-056, but you didn’t hear me give your report unfortunately.

73,
Barry N1EU

In reply to N1EU:

Heinz, I didn’t say the PFR-3 doesn’t include a tuner. I said the
Weber tribander (a new, different radio - see
http://qrpkits.com/tribander.html) doesn’t include a tuner.

I apologize, I was not aware of this design and thought you refer to the PFR-3. Steve’s designs are all great radios, but I would definitels use one with a built-in tuner for back-packing for reasons stated before.

Heinz, I actually heard you call me last week when I was on W2/GC-056,
but you didn’t hear me give your report unfortunately.

Conditions were borderline and indeed I did not hear you coming back. Let’s hope for another occasion soon, or even better, a transatlantic S2S!

73 Heinz, OE5EEP

In reply to OE5EEP:
I am rather impressed by my HB1B, my unit looks reliable.

In reply to W6AH:

I can vouch for the Elecraft K1. A super little rig perfect for SOTA. Worth serious consideration. Now that the KX3 is available quite a number of K1’s are on the market.
Ian
G4WTF

In reply to N1EU:
Another vote for the KX1, I love mine. I use it at home more than my bigger rig, a Yaesu FT-857. The cost adds up a bit though if you select all options.

I was close on going for the PFR3, looks like a good all rounder.

I’ve found anything around 2 watts and higher is consistently enough for a CW activation with a sprinkling of dx here and there.

73,
Ian.

In reply to MM0GYX:
Hi All…
I´m using the KX3 since few month and I have to say…A great radio…
Good RX…using a 7ah akku on 6 summits with no problem. If 5watts are not enough you can switch to 10watts…I´m very impressed…

best 73 de Tom
DL1DVE

In reply to DL1DVE:
To all who replied to my initial post - THANK YOU! Your knowledgeable input is greatly appreciated because I know it comes from your own first hand investment in hours, miles and vertical feet! i am patiently working my way to activating my first summit on HF and expect to obtain the rig in the next month. I am leaning toward the PFR-3 (im ok with a soldering iron). So look for W6AH on cw on one of the three bands 40, 30 or 20 meters.
73
Mike
W6AH