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Author Topic: LNR MTR-5B Mountain Topper  (Read 7047 times)
WB4YDY
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« on: January 12, 2018, 03:30:51 PM »

I decided a while back that it would be fun to play with a battery operated CW rig for portable work. After looking at reviews and asking some questions of you guys a few months ago, I settled in on the YouKits HB1B. I wasn't aware when I placed my order with Vibroplex 7 weeks ago that the rig was out of stock. After following up myself a couple of times, I found out today that there is an updated model coming, possibly in February, but no one really knows when. I cancelled my order.

I still want a small, battery operated CW only rig, with multiple bands. I would like 40, 30, and 20, and 17 & 15 would be nice. A built in keyer, for sure. And in stock, or very short lead time.

After more research today, I am thinking seriously about the LNR MTR-5B Mountain Topper. One thing that seems odd to me for a radio with the features and price of this rig, is it doesn't appear to have a audio volume adjustment. Is that right? While acquiring some accessories for the HB1B, I purchased a rechargeable speaker that connects with either Bluetooth or an Aux cable. It does not have a volume control. If I'm right about this, I may be looking for another audio solution if I get this radio. Other than this, it seems like a very nice little rig.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this before I pull the trigger on another rig purchase.

Thanks,
Pete, WB4YDY

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KL7KN
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 06:59:41 PM »

There are major differences between the NG1B and the Mt Topper.

With the Mt Topper - you get complete technical documentation, after sales support and a real North American delivered warranty.  HB-1B - none of the above.

The Mt Topper audio filer setup is superior.  Much tighter and doesn't ring.  The HB-1B filter, when you tightened up will reduce the already marginal audio output.    As for no volume control - just purchase a set of earbuds with a volume control in line. 

The Mt Topper Keyer is superior - with message memory.   HB-1B - not so much.

The Mt Topper uses less current in RX.  

The Mt Topperr and the HB-1B do have different tune rates - and the little buttons will take some getting used to for operations.

For the price difference, the Mt Topper, (MTR5B 5 bands for $409) vs the HB-1B (at $399) is $1`00 or about 25% - but the difence in the intangibles (support, mostly made in USA etc)  would make it IMO worth the higher cost.


As with everything, you can make up your own mind - just thought I'd mention the major differences....

Good luck!
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K5LXP
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 07:40:45 PM »

I am thinking seriously about the LNR MTR-5B Mountain Topper.

I have a predecessor to one of these, an ATS3 in an altoids tin.  I've had it over 10 years now and have traveled with it a lot. 

Nope - no volume control.  It's "comfortable" with typical earbuds.  On a windy mountaintop or otherwise noisy location it does come up short.

I also have a small amplified speaker I've used but what I've learned over time is the more junk you bring, the easier it is to justify taking a rig that doesn't need it.  When portable I find it easier to have one big rig than 4 small boxes and interconnect cables.  So in "travel form" I went spartan, with just the rig, band modules, earbuds, battery and Palm mini paddles.    Later I added an elecraft T1 tuner, which offers matching and power/SWR in one box (bigger than the rig).  I also have a manual EFHWA tuner which is a tad smaller and lighter, plus a bag of half wave wires which works well if I know I have a place to hang them from.

Not sure about the mountain topper version but mine has menu-selectable wide/narrow filter and by direct frequency entry, I can use the rig for monitoring SSB or a bit of SWL.  It is actually a CW contender, and connected to a logging computer I have used my ATS for Field Day numerous times.  You can't beat how thrifty it is on batteries.

The advantage of the mountain topper is not having to mess with plugging in band modules, at the cost of a bigger box.  Bigger price tag too, the ATS3 kit was around $150 I recall.  Probably one of the best fun per dollar rigs I've had.

Lately I'm just as inclined to grab my K2 and T1 tuner for portable ops, as it's self contained, has more bands, modes and power.  But it's tough to beat the fun factor and portability of a good performing rig that can fit in your shirt pocket.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


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WB4YDY
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2018, 08:16:31 AM »

Thanks very much, Mark and KN for your thoughts. I will give the MTR-5B a try. Looks like it will be fun to play with and take to the mountains or beach, or just on the backyard deck!

I already have a good set of earbuds with a volume control, I just don't enjoy using headphones/earbuds unless it's necessary. Although, I have several of them. I'm sure it won't be a problem.

Thanks again and 73,
Pete, WB4YDY
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KL7KN
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2018, 12:13:23 PM »

Hey, Pete

How about dropping back by with a review of the rig?   Lots of stuff on line covering  the MTR3, very little on the 5 band version. 

Best of luck

Don//KL7KN
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WB4YDY
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 08:53:39 AM »

Hi Don,

I will be happy to reply here with my thoughts on the MTR-5B once I have received it and have a chance to play with it some. I hope to have it by the end of this week, but who knows? It is coming by USPS.

I have also ordered a couple of 8x AA battery holders, rechargeable 2000mAh AA batteries, and a 8 station charger. After all these years as a ham (46 yrs), this is my first effort with a battery operated portable HF rig, or QRP. I'm pretty pumped about it! I will get back to you.

Thanks & 73,
Pete, WB4YDY
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KG4NEL
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2018, 01:11:53 PM »

I use rechargeable Eneloops for a lot of things, but give LiFePO4 cells a look. Bioenno batteries have the perfect discharge curve for portable stuff - very, very flat, and weigh next to nothing. You can get 6Ah for what 2Ah used to weigh in AGM cells.
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W4FID
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2018, 03:42:22 AM »

Don't have experience with the mt topper. But I do have the LNR/W4OP loop to use with my IC-703. LNR and Dale (W4OP) are top notch to deal with. The loop is a great product. Picnic table portable or from the RV I have a ton of fun. If the QRP rig is as good -- likely it is since it's from the same "family" of designers and manufacturers -- it will be a lot of fun.
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N6KD
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2018, 11:25:10 AM »

Don't waste your time with these inexpensive, simple radios.  Buy an Elecraft KX3 or KX2 and you will never regret the price.  They are fantastic radio and great technical support.
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N6MST
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2018, 09:47:28 PM »

Don't waste your time with these inexpensive, simple radios.  Buy an Elecraft KX3 or KX2 and you will never regret the price.  They are fantastic radio and great technical support.
With a statement like that I find it hard to believe you've ever laid eyes on an MTR in person. They're actually pretty incredible radios and they also have great technical support. I do love my KX2, of course, but I still regret selling my MTR.
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WB4YDY
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2018, 04:04:08 PM »

I've been playing with my new MTR-5B for a few days in my spare time, and my thought continues to be - WOW! I am very impressed. I haven't taken it outside yet truly portable, I'm using the home station antennas. But I am running it on a 8x AA battery pack. It started at 10.5 volts, and is at 10.3 volts after several hours of total operation; TX and RX. I like that!

This is my first HF QRP rig, but I am very impressed with the RX. I can switch antennas immediately between 2 rigs. I made comparisons on a few signals switching between the MTR-5B and my IC-756 Pro 3. I was amazed at the MTR-5B.

I can't be sure of the accuracy of my Welz SP-10X watt meter, but at 10.5 volts, the MTR-5B is putting out 3.0 to 4.2 watts into a 50 ohm dummy load, depending on the band - 40/30/20/17/15 meters.

Adjusting the keyer speed is quick and easy. And entering and saving a CQ message was very easy once I started. Changing bands and frequency is simple and quick.

I mentioned before that I don't use headphones unless I have to. I ordered a Sony XB10 rechargeable speaker with volume control. It connects with Bluetooth or an AUX input. It works very well with the MTR-5B and sounds great on CW.

I guess distance doesn't mean much, since I'm using the "big" antennas with the rig now. However, I've worked stations in OH, MI, and IL on 40 mtrs, Cayman Islands on 20 mtrs, and Guatemala on 30 mtrs. I'm located in middle TN. I actually got a little excited on a couple of these QSO's and my fist got worse than normal :-)

Based on my limited experience with this rig and QRP, I highly recommend the MTR-5B to anyone considering it or something similar. I hope this is helpful.

73,
Pete, WB4YDY

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KA0USE
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2018, 09:52:26 PM »

Don't waste your time with these inexpensive, simple radios.  Buy an Elecraft KX3 or KX2 and you will never regret the price.  They are fantastic radio and great technical support.

i dunno. how much would the replacement cost be if the elly jumped, fell, or was pushed off a high cliff? better get life insurance on it.
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KL7KN
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2018, 11:34:01 PM »

WB4YDY - thank for leaving some notes on the rig.


N6KD - ditto the earlier comments on you not having had a chance to use the Mt Topper.

I have a 'cheap" MFJ-9200 and a KX2.  Both radios have a MDS of .2Uv, -- pretty damn good and better than most large rigs.
Both have digital displays. Both have the display backlight  that can be cut off to save ion RX current draw.  Both offer full band coverage and then some.

Where the KX2 is vastly superior is in the filtering/IF.  The 9200 puts out over 5 watts @12.8 VDC and the KS2, up to 10 watts @ 12.8 VDC.  The KX2 supports SSB/PSK-31 RTTY etc that the -9200 does not.
The 9200 lacks a good memory keyer - the KX2 really shine shines as well.. Still - for the nearly 800$ difference, I can live with that.  The KX2 is for use in the RV - the -9200 is for use with the backpack.   

I once owned a PFR-3, designed by the same fellow (STeve KD1JV)who designed the ATS series rigs and the variation - Mt Topper.

The PFR-3 RX had a MDS of .2UV - note that in all cases that is POINT 2 micro volts for a readable signal.   The rigs tune in 50 hz or 200 hz increments and have an extremely tight filter.  The CW note seems to pop up out of the background.  The MT Topper has full band coverage, but is a CW only radio owing to the limited audio B/W.

If the My Topper had been offered with full band coverage and a SSB/CW filter setup - I would have that and not a -9200.

Cheap is cheap - however, inexpensive in not always an indicator of poor quality.  It may only indicate fewer/limited functions features...
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