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Author Topic: Next QRP CW Rig?  (Read 6866 times)

vwflyer

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Next QRP CW Rig?
« on: April 22, 2015, 02:01:39 AM »
The rockmite is really fun. Every QSO with it is exciting. The other day I tried to have a QSO with KK0G but the rock's freq was in use and stayed in use for a long time. It would have been nice to have the option of moving up or down the band a little to a clear spot. I did eventually make a contact that day but not with KK0G. This summer I will be going to my home state of Washington. I hope to try being an activator of summits with SOTA. there is a four point summit that has not been activated yet and I will be staying with my in laws who live halfway up the hill. It will take me 20 minutes to hike to the top from the door of the house. There are lots of 6 and 8 point summits within a half hour drive radius so I will enjoy having an excuse to hike up some of them that I have seen all my life but never hiked up. 
All this to say, I'm already anxious to get another QRP rig. One that is a little more flexible than the rockmite and will give me a better chance of having successful activations (4 QSOs minimum for summit activation). So which to get?
I'm into building them but don't know if I'll have time to do it before this June when I leave. I'm sure I will eventually build something but probably not before this winter. In the meantime I want to buy something ready to go for this summer.
LNR has the mountain topper prefabbed. It's supper small and has low power consumption. Youkits HB1A and EK1A are cheaper, have a real tuning knob, a wide range receiver and veriable width IF filter for listening to SSB QSOs anywhere on the band, and an optional internal battery. It's a bit bigger and heavier but that's about the only downside I can see. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me? Is there another option that is in this $250 ballpark that I'm going to kick myself for overlooking?  I've actually already ordered the mountain topper (grabbed one before the limited run ran out) but they take a long time in processing the order so after looking at the youkits I'm tempted to cancel my order and get one of those.

gil

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 02:29:31 AM »
Hello,

I'd definitely suggest waiting for the MTR. There is nothing available around that size and price that can even touch it.

Gil.

KK0G

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 08:56:47 AM »

Unfortunately that's the problem with being rock bound - where you are is where you are and if someone else is already there.......

I agree with Gil, you'll regret cancelling that order, the MTR is an ideal rig for your SOTA plans and just an all around trail rig. Maybe if you hinted to LNR of your time sensitive plight in activating a summit that has yet to be activated they could possibly streamline the process. 8)
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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cockpitbob

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 09:26:54 AM »
I've had a few QRP rigs, one of which was a R4020 (precursor to the 2 band HB1A.  I really liked it, mainly because of the internal battery pack, tuning knob and the display has all the useful information I could want, including a poor-man's SWR indication.  The variable bandwidth worked fairly well too.

I've got an MTR_V2 (40/30/20) and I did KK0G's trick of putting a touch-keyer inside which makes for a rediculously small CW package.  I like the feel of the touch keyer, but I can still just plug in a regular key too.  The down sides of the MTR are the one digit display, no tuning knob and external battery pack (more boxes and wires).  Still, it's a wicket cool and very capable radio that I will never sell.  With my SOTA tuner and 63' wire I think the whole rig weighs about a pound.

vwflyer

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 11:09:29 AM »
Thanks for your free opinions guys! What got me looking at the HB1A in the first place is that I had a QSO with a guy who was using one and I asked him about it. He used to own a Weber PFR3 and he preferred his HB1A over the PFR3 for the reasons previously mentioned and he felt that it had a much more sensitive receiver. Can anybody comment on the performance aspect of weber radios compared to others? In another thread I saw that cockpitbob was talking about an upgrade to the MTR that improves its recieve sensitivity. Perhaps that helps to close any gap between it and the HB1A. Then again, the MTR is a different radio than Weber's PFR3 so maybe there was no performance gap to begin with.
Thanks for the idea about nudging the shipment of the MTR along KK0G. It's worth a shot.

KK0G

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 01:29:00 PM »
Thanks for your free opinions guys! What got me looking at the HB1A in the first place is that I had a QSO with a guy who was using one and I asked him about it. He used to own a Weber PFR3 and he preferred his HB1A over the PFR3 for the reasons previously mentioned and he felt that it had a much more sensitive receiver. Can anybody comment on the performance aspect of weber radios compared to others? In another thread I saw that cockpitbob was talking about an upgrade to the MTR that improves its recieve sensitivity. Perhaps that helps to close any gap between it and the HB1A. Then again, the MTR is a different radio than Weber's PFR3 so maybe there was no performance gap to begin with.
Thanks for the idea about nudging the shipment of the MTR along KK0G. It's worth a shot.


Probably most receivers made within the last 30, if not 40-50 years have far more sensitivity than they actually need, not that that's a bad thing, it's just that the sensitivity to pick up extremely weak signals is not a very good indicator of receiver performance - they're all more than sensitive enough. What you really want is excellent selectivity to weed out all the other signals, noise, etc, that you don't want to hear and home in on the one you do. I've never operated the PFR3 but I do own a Weber Dual Band in 20/40 meter and I'd venture to guess that it's receiver design is very similar to the PFR3 since they're both designed by the same guy. I forget now what the filter width is on my Dual Band but suffice it to say it performs quite well in noisy conditions. No, it's not on par with my Elecraft K2 but that's not a very fair comparison either. Receiver performance on my MTR is about the same as my Dual Band as well. Having never operated any of the You Kits/Ten-Tec series, I can't comment on them but I'd be surprised if their performance differs much from the Weber stuff.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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gil

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 08:12:57 PM »
I think the filter(s) is/are more important than excellent sensitivity. Like Chris mentions, any recent radio is going to be sensitive enough for any practical use. The MTR if I remember well has a 400Hz filter, which is great. It certainly is a great improvement over the Rock-Mite! I used to listen to commercial AM radio mixed with Morse code on my RM40! While not as sensitive as say, my K1, the MTR is really close. It is hard to differentiate the two, though the K1 has a slight edge.

I think the top QRP rigs out there today are the MTR and the KX1. 40 and 20m are all you need. The MTR gives you 30m and the KX1 adds 80m to that, with the appropriate module. The MTR though is much cheaper. Let's not forget the MTR5 coming out as soon as Steve comes back from his walkabout, and for around $165 for the kit. Only 100 will be sold, you know what that means...

Bottom line is, I wouldn't trade my MTR for anything.

Gil.

cockpitbob

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 10:01:09 PM »
My QRP philosophy is that fabulous sensitivity is of no use and you could consider it a minus.  You'll be hearing a lot of stations that won't hear your 5W.

vwflyer

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 10:44:50 PM »
Everybody seems pretty pleased with the MTR. I've read pretty high praise of it from others as well, like WG0AT who has used a lot of different QRP rigs on sota activations. I'm thinking I'll get it and try it on for size this summer. I don't think I'll have any trouble selling it if I eventually decide to go with something else or if I'm lucky enough to grab one of the new MTR5 kits.
For some reason the Weber tribander has really caught my eye. It just seems like a good next-level kit to build after the rockmite. QRPKITS has been down for a while with its change of ownership which has put me in this place where now I don't have time to build a kit before this summer. I'm thinking I'll still get the tribander when QRPKITS comes back  and make it this winter even though I'll already have the MTR. Might order the tribander in bands the MTR doesn't have to round out my band selection like 10, 15, and 17. Then again, like Gil says, I might find that 20 and 40 are all I ever want.

KK0G

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 10:51:06 PM »
My QRP philosophy is that fabulous sensitivity is of no use and you could consider it a minus.  You'll be hearing a lot of stations that won't hear your 5W.
True, there's many stations that I can hear who can't hear me, but I don't consider excellent sensitivity a negative in my QRP rigs, just not a high priority. Although there have been many times I've heard a weak DX station that is just above the noise floor with a signal strength that barely registers on my s-meter - if at all - but yet we make contact and I receive maybe a 449 report. Don't know until you try. ;)
« Last Edit: April 22, 2015, 10:52:48 PM by KK0G »
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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vwflyer

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Re: Next QRP CW Rig?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2015, 12:56:13 PM »
MTR is on its way ;D