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QRP/CW rigs

So, I’ve been looking at a few of the QRP rigs that have CW only capabilities. I’m mainly looking to keep the footprint low for weight as well as cost. Any thoughts on these four options? I know that the QRP Labs options are single band, so not apples to apples with the other multi-band radios, but I’m looking for all around solid CW rigs that will serve me well in the field.

  1. Youkits HB-1B: Youkits HB-1B MK5 2020 4 band QRP CW transceiver fully assembled and t
  2. QRP Labs - QCX-mini: QCX-mini 5W CW transceiver kit
  3. QRP Labs - QCX+ 5W CW transceiver kit: QCX+ 5W CW transceiver kit
  4. LNR Precision Inc - Mountain Topper: Mtr4b V2 Mountain Topper – Store – LNR Precision Inc

Also, if you know other options that would be in the similar price range and have similar functionality, I’d like to hear those recommendations.

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My low weight set is SW-3B(7-10-14)+QCXmini(18mhz)
Happy with both.

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The KD1JV Tribander is a great rig and you can choose your bands when you order the kit from Pacific Antennas.

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I have a QCX mini for 40m and also have a venus sw3b.

73 de VE6JTW

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MTR4b FTW! Love mine. Lightweight, easy to use. Durable, reliable. Good support from LNR after the sale. A little more dough initially but well worth the difference.

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I almost only do CW… There are many reports and comparisons here on the devices you suggested.

My standard device is the KX2, which I also use as a basic device for a 2m transverter. It’s a bit expensive, but I haven’t regretted a single cent in the over 300 times I’ve used it.

Recently a fully equipped KX1 incl. tuner was on offer here. That would otherwise be my choice… But I didn’t buy it, there is no support for it any more and no spare parts.

My alternative is 2 QCX mini… one for 30m and one for 17m (which I have only used once.) I use these devices especially when CW contests are on.

73 Armin

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You could consider a Pixie. My kit cost $3.50 posted and produces 400 mW. Best 40 m QSO from a summit- 1400 km. Can’t be beat in terms of value.

73
Ron
VK3AFW.

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The QCX+ and QCX-mini are outwardly the same radio in terms of features. For SOTA, the QCX-mini wins, due to the lower current consumption and smaller size, also the form factor is more trail friendly.

The MTR is a very nice rig, but quite expensive and many users complain about low audio. I have kit built MTRs and I use 16 ohm earbuds with good sensitivity. Cheap earbuds might not produce enough audio. I cut my teeth on MTRs, having firstly built an MTR-2B in 2012. I built my last MTR in 2015, an MTR-5B. I learned to use the MTR keyer timing and I am comfortable with it. However, when I swap to other rigs, like FT817, I struggle with the keyer timing. Having talked to some folks, it seems as though the MTR keyer timing is a bit ‘funky’, the other rigs are more ‘correct’.

I have no problem with the QCX keyer though, and there’s many options for keyer timing too in the menu. In terms of features per Dollar, the QCX has the most favourable ratio. The only negative with the QCX really is the lack of a multi-band option.

I wasn’t keen on the HB1B, but I know plenty of people who love them.

If I had to keep only one of my SOTA radios, I’d opt to keep my KD1JV MTR-5B, it has a display, auto CQ, 5 bands, takes about 20mA on receive and weighs only 160g. The LNR Precision MTR-4B is a close relation with a few more features and one less band.

I can’t think of any more CW rigs, except perhaps the ME+ radios, but they’re old fashioned by today’s standards, having an L-C VFO and only up to about 2W output. The SW+, which was the original version, seemed to be a popular choice as SOTA was just starting out about 20 years ago.
https://www.midwayelectronics.us/qrp/

73, Colin

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How about a PFR3B? Hendricks kits used to sell them. 20,30,40m onboard batteries and ATU with swr indicator. Has a couple of keyer memories nothing special.

Unfortunately, most of the small CW TRX are no longer available.

73 Armin

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I really like the SW-3B, it’s simple, cheap and repairable.

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Always flaunting your wealth, Ron! I built RV3GM’s Micro 80. It didnt actually cost me anything, as I had reasonable substitutions for all the parts in stock, but, using all brand new parts, it would still come in well under 50 cents.

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Using 3 QCX Mini 40,30,20m and a QDX 80-20m… hopefully the QSX all band will come soon. It is a bit delayed …

73s
Ingo

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Silly question, if you have the SW3B with 7-10-14mhz why again 7mhz with the QCX?
73!

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I bought the sw3b from a friend. I offered him a little more than half the value but he did not accept it and he practically sold it to me at nominal value. One day the key plug got stuck and when I removed it I broke the key connector on the rig. I sent an email to Venus (not the planet) and a few hours later he replied with the connector data. I ordered it from Amazon and was able to repair it without any problem. Although I did not buy the rig from Venus, the after sales service deserves to be recognized.

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I bought the QCX for 40m back in the summer and then I was pointed in the direction on the SW-3B by @KN6EZE and asked the wife to get me it for Christmas so I have it but don’t have it yet haha.

73 De VE6JTW

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I’m in the same boat as you Jesse… gotta wait for Santa :pleading_face::sob:

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I find it extremely exciting to work with minimalist transceivers.

There is an interest group that creates a minimal art contest. Here, TRXs are allowed that consist of less than 100 components (no IC !). I have a MA 12 for 40m.
73 Armin

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I quite like my HB1A, but haven’t had the nerve to take it up a hill yet - goodness knows why. I’ve used it for casual WWFF activations where it hasn’t really mattered as I have been able to go back to get my 44 contacts. With much more time, effort and money invested in SOTA, I have always used a rig from one of the “Big 3”, as if that guarantees anything.

Having full break-in with the HB1A takes me a couple of QSOs to get into the swing of things. :grinning:

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I really like features of QCX (mini). Had one for 40m but gave it to a friend recently. Ordered one more on 20m and going to assemble soon. I also had sw-3b in my short list but after discussion with Comparison SW 3B vs QCXmini - YouTube in comments decided to postpone purchase. sw-3b is great rig but QCX uses low noise amplifiers thus it has much lower noise floor than sw-3b.
If you need two bands, just use 2 QCX mini =) it’s still small pack.
Or just wait a little for final version of uSDX from Manuel (DL2MAN): https://groups.io/g/ucx/message/10153

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