QRP Club

QRP Station => Builder's Corner => Topic started by: AG6QR on May 06, 2015, 05:46:15 UTC

Title: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: AG6QR on May 06, 2015, 05:46:15 UTC
I'm getting the itch to build a radio.

I already have a KX3 and a Rockmite.  I'm looking for something in between those two -- more frequency-agile than the Rockmite, but cheaper, simpler, and smaller than the KX3.  CW only.  Simple and rugged.  I realize I'm not going to beat the performance of the KX3, but I'm looking for a very portable backup rig that will get me on a band or two with a watt or two.

I want a kit, with a decent enclosure.  It needs to be a kit that is currently available (there are many discontinued kits, sadly).  I want to get the soldering iron hot.  I'm happy to solder through hole or SMD.  I'm an experienced kit builder, and have a suite of test gear including oscilloscope and various meters and signal generators.

I've considered the Elecraft K1 and KX1, but they seem a bit expensive once they're well equipped.  They're a little too close to my existing KX3 in price and performance.  Right now, I'm leaning toward a KX1JV Weber Tri-bander: http://www.qrpkits.com/tribander.html (http://www.qrpkits.com/tribander.html)

I have also considered the MFJ Cub: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9340K (http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9340K)

The Cub is cheaper and very simple.  It has some little flaws that I would have to remedy, which might be fun in itself.  I'd build a keyer into it (I already have a spare picokeyer kit).  I've seen suggestions on the web to improve QSK, reduce key clicks, and improve linearity of tuning, and perhaps improve stability of the VFO.

The Weber tri-bander has a stable DDS VFO, a frequency display, and more frequency coverage.  The keyer is already built in.  It seems like an all-around better performing radio, and that seems to be the direction I'm leaning.

Does the group have any other suggestions for currently available radio kits in this class that I've overlooked?

If I go for the Tri-bander, I know I'll want 20m and 40m.  I'm not sure which other band to pick, maybe 30m?  Maybe 17m?  I'll probably operate it a bit during the day with portable antennas, which argues for higher bands, but I may play with it at night at my home.  It doesn't have to do everything, though.

Thanks for any advice.
Title: Re: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: DF5WW on May 06, 2015, 16:31:32 UTC
Hi Rich,
you´re looking for a kit but i need the youkits HB1B .... Full 40/30/20m range in CW and SSB RX from 5-16 MHz. Very low current needed for RX (55 mA for RX if no signal at the antenna). I love this rig. Not really a "kit" but nice to use.

Nice /P rig i think .... here´s a video on youtube ... Sorry... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAsk8U-LIDA#)
Only my 2 cts  ;) ;)
Title: Re: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: VE2TH on May 06, 2015, 21:30:13 UTC
Hello Rich,

If you go for a tri-bander, Yes 40 and 20, and 30 meters also, this one is very productive, especially late in the evening and at night. It is also a very good band during the Grayline propagation.

Grayline is a very good way to work some rare places while QRP.

Let us know your choice, and may be we can QSO one of these day,

Yes the Weber is a real good one, but I would prefer the K1 Elecraft as you can have 4 bands.
and you can choose the ones you want.- Just my opinion, Hi!

72 Michel VE2TH

Title: Re: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: AG6QR on May 07, 2015, 19:58:50 UTC
Thanks for the suggestions.  Yes, I'm aware of the HB-1B (and similar 2-band HB-1A), and it does look nice, but right now I'm more interested in building something.  And yes, the K1 is tempting.  I'm sure it's an excellent performer.  But it's just a little too much like my KX3.  Being like the KX3 isn't bad, though -- I really like my KX3, and it will probably remain my favorite general purpose HF radio for a long time to come.  If I had to sell my KX3 and buy a small CW-only QRP rig, I'd probably want a K1.  But I'll keep my KX3.  For this project right now, I want something basic with few buttons and few menus, even if that means few features. 

It's always a compromise, though, isn't it?

I think I'll be getting a Weber Tri-bander for 20m, 30m, and 40m this time. 

I'm sure it won't be my last radio, though, and I may revisit some of the other options in the future. 
Title: Re: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: in3eqz on May 18, 2015, 10:59:53 UTC
I'm leaning toward a KX1JV Weber Tri-bander
I Use this kit (30-20-17  meters) and it's great. Be careful to verify all the components when you receive the kit; never received an answer to my e-mail ... Rig: +9, assistance -2.
Title: Re: CW Kit suggestions?
Post by: AG6QR on July 14, 2015, 22:47:10 UTC
This is a slightly old thread, but I thought I'd report back with results.

I ended up getting the KD1JV Tri-Bander, for 20, 30, and 40 meter bands.

The qrpkits business has been taken over by Pacific Antenna, and Doug Hendricks is no longer running it.  I ordered from them, and received my kit promptly.  It was straightforward to assemble, until it came time to apply power for the first test.  The first test, with all the IC's out of their sockets, is a basic check to make sure the voltage regulators are putting out 5V.  One of mine was at about 3V and falling, and it was getting hot.  Seems like thermal limiting due to too much current being pulled through it.  Time to double-check my soldering.

After a frustrating amount of diagnosis, I tracked the problem down to a pre-installed surface mount crystal oscillator (60.000 MHz reference for the DDS) being installed backwards on the board before I got the kit.  I contacted Pacific Antenna to confirm the diagnosis.  They were apologetic, and offered to fix the kit and finish the assembly and alignment for me.  But I preferred to fix it myself, now that I understood the problem.  They sent me a new oscillator, in case the old one had been damaged by being powered up backwards.  I borrowed a SMT rework station from a friend, removed the old oscillator, installed the new one in the correct orientation, and everything else went smoothly.  The folks at Pacific Antenna were really good about things -- customer support was excellent.  But of course I'd prefer not to have needed that sort of support.

The radio works well now.  Tuning is easy with the DDS synthesizer and digital frequency display.  The receiver's crystal filter is not adjustable, but a nice width for general CW operating.  I'm happy with my choice.  It's a good, simple, rugged, portable, CW radio.

But I'm still pondering a K1.  Maybe some day...