QRP Transceiver Comparison

Do you have a question about choosing a radio, installing an antenna, or are you simply seeking advice about getting started in QRP and field radio? This is a place where you can ask your questions and seek guidance from a wide variety of radio enthusiasts. No questions are too simple. You will be treated with respect here.
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QRP Transceiver Comparison

Post by harterja »

I just got back into ham radio after 40 years or so. Needless to say things have changed a bit, but that's a subject for another day. I'm looking at setting up a station on a fairly low budget as I now have more time than money, and intend to build/kit everything I can. I'll likely put most of my effort on QRP, both home and portable. CW has always been my weapon of choice, and I still remember a bit of code.

This great board and others seem to have a large amount of info on the TR-35, which looks like a solid option. I also like what I've seen on the QCX+ from QRP Labs. Has anyone out there had experience using both? If so, which turned out to be your favorite? Do any differences stand out that you found important? Any comparative info you would be kind enough to share would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance for your patience. I will likely provide ample reason for you to question the old "no such thing as a stupid question" adage before I finally get on the air...

KD9VGR (68 year old newby)
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Re: QRP Transceiver Comparison

Post by M0RGM »

Morning Jay,

I have the TR-35, QCX-mini (20m) and QCX (30m). All were purchased built as, due to professional commitments, I don't have the time to build these days.

Firstly, they are all great radios and work very well. The QCXs are perhaps more robust for field work and operate via an easy to use menu system. The TR-35 is a "traditional knob controlled" radio and is perhaps the easier one to drive if you grew up on analogue radios.

The TR-35 is lightweight and perhaps most importantly a 4 band radio (40m, 30m, 20m, 17m).

At the end of the day I use these little radios all the time, my favorite by a small margin is the TR-35. But, a fully loaded QCX is a fine monobander.

Spoilt for choice!

Richard M0RGM
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Re: QRP Transceiver Comparison

Post by wg4z »

I have the Elecraft KX3 and the TR-35. Both are multi-band and have CW Message memories. While the KX3 may be the better radio, I like the simplicity of the TR-35. There are no embedded menus on the TR-35 and the functions most used are are controlled with knobs or switches. I sometimes get lost on the KX3. The person I bought the KX3 from sold it because he had to continually learn the menu system every time he used it. I think you will enjoy the TR-35. The only missing feature that would be good to have on the TR-35 would be a beacon mode to repeat the CW message memory when calling CQ POTA.
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Re: QRP Transceiver Comparison

Post by KB4VU »

I have seven QRP radios including a KX3,Tr35,40 meter QCX, 20 meter QCX mini, CR Kits HT-1,Four States QRP 40 meter Hilltopper and a Four States
QRP 20meter Hilltopper.
They were all, except the KX3,built from kits and were fun to build and operate and I have used most of them on POTA activations
Of course the KX3 is the best of the bunch with it's first class receiver and all of it's filters, message memories and an antenna tuner that will tune
just about anything. If you need , it puts out a solid 10 watts on a 12v battery, but I normally run 5 watts and get good reports. I find it easy to use in
the field as I normally only adjust the passband, notch and audio pass filters and that is just a push and twist of of the relevant knob.
The TR35 is a great little radio and I would recommend it for portable operations. It is any easy build, the toroids are already wound and it goes
together quickly. It is very easy to operate and I get good signal reports and the receiver works well. My only complaint is the sidetone volume is not
able to be set at a constant volume, but is not really a big problem.
The QCX's are a very good value and fun to build and operate. I really like the Mini for it's size and features. It's a little harder to build than the QCX
or the QCX+ , but not that bad. They both have decent receivers and lots of neat features that make them very versatile to operate.
The CR Kits HT-1 is two bands , 20 and 40 meters. It has a 5 watt output on both bands and a decent receiver , built in keyer and sixteen frequency
memories. I don't think it is available anymore but I would not hesitate to by a used one if available. To me it seems to have some similarities to the
SW3B, maybe the same designer.
The Four State QRP group Hilltoppers are as basic as you can get , a gain , keyer speed , and tuner pots and a function button. There is no display ,
the operating frequency is annunciated by CW with a push of the function button. There are two different tuning rates available by a short push of the tune button , while long push keys the transmitter for five seconds to tune with a external tuner.
I have another gadget that really like , the QRP Works Sidekar Exterme. It is a keyer, logger and memory unit that was designed for the KX2 and KX3, but can be used with most any radio. It fastens on the top of a KX2 or the side of a KX3 , has a built in Winkeyer , 20 message memory , will
display information such as decoded CW from the KX2 or KX3 display , 1000 QSO memory with all neccessary parameters and output an ADIF file to
download to a computer. This is a great tool and saved me a lot of time logging activations.
Jay, I hope you have a good time picking out a rig getting back into CW , be patient. I was out for many years and the code comes back pretty
slowly for old brains , but it will come with practice.

73's Frank KB4VU
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Re: QRP Transceiver Comparison

Post by N8TGQ »

Welcome back to the hobby, Jay! QRP and CW are a great way to relax and enjoy the day.

I'm also 68, and find building these little radios with their teeny tiny parts a bit of a problem. I just cant see stuff like I used to, even with glasses, and getting my fat fingers to go exactly where needed in cramped areas is hard also. I get it done, but it's a hassle and takes much longer than it should!

You may want to try a simpler kit to start, unless you have been keeping up with your consrtuction skills during your time away. I just do easy projects, like tuners or antennas anymore, and let the pros handle the small stuff!

Both the radios you mentioned are available already wired, but the cost goes up. You may want to check the ubitx at HF signals, and the Venus SW-3b. The ubitx is an easy build and the SW-3b is ready to go.

Good luck, and welcome back whatever you decide!

Rick N8TGQ
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