Small CW Only Radio

I have a KX3 and I am looking for lighter options now for the more difficult hikes.

I know of the Mountain Topper radios and recently learned about the SW-3B radio. Is there any other radio I should look into that is CW only, multi-band, small and light?


Keep the KX3 and lighten up your pack in other ways would be my suggestion.
My pack is 8kg for long hikes and 6 kg for short walks.
Mostly less water and food on the shorter hikes.
The SW-3B looks a nice rig the HB-1B is a good rig I have 2 of them but cw only of course. I am not game to do CW only as I might not be able to round up enough chasers to qualify and even less chasers on VHF to fall back on to top up my numbers.
Good luck making a choice.
Ian vk5cz …


YouKits HB-1B.

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I built a Hendricks PFR3B a few years ago and love it. It works great, gets very good battery life and everything you need in one box. I’ll spare you the details as you can google that stuff and check out the reviews. I was careful in the assembly process and it works as advertised. Im not a prolific activator but Ive taken it on a few and its never failed to make plenty of contacts using just a 35’ piece of wire, which the built in manual tuner will match easily. If the radio meets your needs, highly recommended. If you have any questions feel free to email me at

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The KX2 is definitely lighter and more compact including a decent internal battery. Like your KX3 the ATU is great and possibly gives you more antenna options (as in a random wire) versus the LNR etc.

Lots of people are reaching out on the Elecraft reflector expressing interest in purchasing a used KX3 if you do in fact intend to part with it.


I have an Elecraft KX1 with the accessory antenna tuning unit and the 30m expansion board. I am very happy with it. I’m in the process of building the 80-30 expansion kit which will replace the 30m-only expansion, adding 80m and an improved front end for the receiver. The KX1 is a little heavier than the MTB but lighter than the combination of an MTB and separate tuner such as the Elecraft T1.

The KX1 is no longer in production but they show up used.


I have a KX2 and HB-1B for HF CW activations. Given the advantages of the KX2 (more bands, higher RF power, internal ATU for my non-all-bands EFHW antenna, etc) I would always take the KX2 despite its slight increase in weight and volume over the HB-1B.


My total radio gear weight is 127 ounces (3.6 kg). I am playing around with it a bit, such as leaving the mic home and an extra battery. I activated 4 summits this past weekend and my 4.5 amp hour battery was plenty (only used CW). This weight includes carrying a Kenwood TH-D74. My goal is to get under 5 pounds (2.26 kg), ideally I would like a 3 pound kit (1.36 kg), but then I would really need to compromise on the radio.

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This radio looks pretty neat, thanks for the suggestion. I like the idea of a tuner built to reduce the number of items to carry. Just not sure if it is worth the 12 ounces of weight saved by switching from the KX3.

I definitely want to keep my KX3 :slight_smile: it is my only HF rig. I was looking over the KX2, if I could afford it, that would be my first option to take hiking with me and use the KX3 at home or for 6m activations.

FYI: I use a 2.5AH battery with my KX3 and get three to four activations with that battery. For bigger climbs I often take an MTR2B as my only radio. It does the job. I don’t use tuners as I have resonant antenna solutions in the pack.


Good to know, I will swap my 4.5ah with my 3ah battery for the next trip. Reduces my weight by 5 ounces with this change.

My total pack weight is roughly 4 kg (8.8 lb) without the radio and without any water. The pack weights includes the pack itself, raincoat (1 lb), a chair (1 lb), antenna mast .75 lb, antenna bag (which includes feedline, wire, rope, transformer, winder, straps) and some safety gear (headlamp, bug spray, etc.). In the grand scheme of things, water is the biggest payload at (1 kg/liter) 2.2 lb / liter and can be a substantial weight in the pack. The KX2/battery/key (720g) versus MTR3B/battery/key (446g), the difference in weight is about 180g or roughly 1/2 lb. The tradeoff is in the versatility of the KX2 - runs SSB (even without a mic), has an ATU, runs 10w and will run all the amateur bands from 80m-10m with an EFHW whilst the MTR3B can only run 40-30-20, needs a resonant antenna and only CW and limited to 5W. On foot - always the KX2, since I can always carry more hiking. By bike, every ounce makes a difference and so I dispense with everything except for the radio and the antenna and everything radio related weighs-in at 2.5 lbs. You can weigh everything in your pack and rationalize:

Do I risk?
getting wet in a thunderstorm versus staying dry? - save 1 lb
risk a breakdown with my morse key? - backup key weighs 54g
being comfortable in light weight camp chair - versus sitting on the ground and cramping? - save 1 lb
do I risk being hungry and thirsty by not carrying enough food or water? - save ~3 lbs (1.5L + food)

One can save weight by taking some risks and certain risks can be prudent - i.e. save a 1lb and not take a rain jacket when the weather forecast has 0% chance of rain. I have used KX3/KX2/K1/MTR for activations, and I have been on foot 98% of the time and 98% of the time I have used a KX2.


Yeah I have been looking around and I think the KX2 is going to be my next radio, just need to save up bit more. I was planning on carrying a tuner with an mtr, so the weight of that is pretty much the same as a KX2. In the time being I will continue with the KX3 and try to lighten up my pack by leaving some stuff at home or upgrading gear.

I typically backpack in for a night or more and my base weight for backpacking gear (not counting food or water) is anywhere from 10-12 lbs depending on conditions.

I’ve been happy with my KX1 - 4 band, ATU and dedicated paddle - for years. No problems so far. With a waterproof case. Did not use it in heavy rain - but everything else. There are other options for sure but for me it’s the perfect sota rig. I’m missing some bands for QRP/p contesting. For sota activations I normally go for 40 m only. Always crowded in EU.
Would I get another one? Very likely.
My sota alternative would be a QCX (40 m) with a tuned antenna … and maybe additional keyer … homebrew housing … paddle … paddle mount … wait - now I can remember why I use the KX1 for sota. It’s all in one box.

Good luck, Martin

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The MTR3 is a superb radio for SOTA. It is small, light, uses little power (I average about 4 mAH per QSO), reliable, relatively immune to interference. Just finished three activations out of one 350 mAH LiPO battery. My entire 20/30/40 set-up is under one pound and has served now for 700+ activations. I have a KX2, rarely take it unless activation is a drive-up. KX3, very good radio, but, way over-kill for hiking/running up SOTA peaks.

73 Fred KT5X (aka wS0TA)


I’ll echo everything that KT5X said. If you want your radio weight to drop into the oz rather than lbs, then the MTR (the 3b is the size of a deck of cards) plus a tuned EFHW (ditch the tuner – look at @K6ARK youtube videos with the tetroid built onto the BNC) and a 350 mAH is the key. I run an MTR 5b so I can utilize 17 and 15m, but 99% of the time I only use 20m because of the tuned EFHW and always make contacts coast to coast and occasionally DX. The MTR sips power, and even with a 350 mAH, I’ve activated multiple summits and still had a ton of power leftover.

Summary: get a MTR and build yourself a @K6ARK EFHW and you’ll be ready to slay difficult SOTAs.


You might have better luck searching his current callsign, K6ARK.


Thanks, I forgot to put that in there :laughing:

I cannot argue with anything said here so far, but depending on the OP’s priorities and weight tolerance, a KX2 has 2 advantages that I value:

  • Ability to work 60M and 80M - I have several times gotten spotted requests that I QSY to 60M or 80M “for the locals”.
  • More WARC bands available for contest weekend activations.

A question for KT5X or KM3A: Can I ask whose 350 mAH battery you’re using and where to find it? I also have a MTR5B that I use when backpacking. You will laugh at me, but I use a KX3 for activations.
Paul - N1ZF

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