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Author Topic: QRP Rigs  (Read 2259 times)
KJ7OT
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« on: October 06, 2003, 03:44:56 PM »

Hi Everyone,
I'm looking for a qrp rig. I'm considering a K-1, Yaesu FT-817 or an Icom IC-703. What are your opinions and experiences with these radios?
Thanks,
Ryan KJ7OT
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W3JJH
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2003, 11:58:54 AM »

Well, the K1 is a CW-only rig.  The Icom and Yaesu rigs are multimode.  They both use mechanical relays for T/R switching, so QSK operation is iffy.  I haven't used the 703 very much on CW, but the 817 sounds like an old fashioned telegraph sounder when used on CW.

Both the Japanese rigs are relative power hogs compared to the K1.  I have a pair of FT-817s that I use while camping with Boy Scouts.  I can keep one going indefinitely with a 32-W solar panel and a 17-Ah battery.

If you're looking for a simple CW rig, get the K1.  If you're looking for a good multimode rig, you should consider the K2 or the TenTec Argonaut V.  The K2 is one of the best performing amateur transceiver ever offered.  The only new radio available today that is in the same performance range is the TenTec Orion.  

The Argonaut V is priced in between the 703/817 and the K2.  My Argonaut is definitely a superior radio to either the 703 or the 817.

Ranking the radios for backpacking/field use:
K2
K1
817
703
Argonaut V

Ranking the radios for fixed use in a home shack:
K2
Argonaut V
703
817
K1

Note that there are a lot of good used 817s on the market.  If you get one, make sure that it has the 500 Hz filters if you're going to use it for CQ.
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W3JJH
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2003, 12:00:31 PM »

Say, the Q and W keys are adjacent ... CQ should be CW.  Opps.
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KD6NXI
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2003, 03:09:02 PM »

The elecrafts may be nice but they are overpriced.  For the cost of one of those you could buy a full blown used hf rig , granted an older one with regards to the k1's price range but in the case of the moreexpensive k2 hell you could just about buy a brand new hf transceiver. I like the ten tec kits myself.
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K7VO
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2003, 03:26:50 PM »

I am a big fan of the FT-817.  There simply is nothing smaller.  The fact that Yaesu put so much in such a small box is truly a feat of engineering.  The rig covers not only HF, but 6, 2m, and 70cm, all modes. None of the other rigs do that and all the others cost more.

I had zero complaints about my CW tone with an FT-817.  I do agree that the optional filter (either the Collins mechanical filter sold by Yaesu or the Inrad filter) is a must for CW.  The SSB filter is equally important for SSB.  W4RT does offer a dual filter option which costs less installed that the two filters by themselves.  If you do both CW and SSB I do recommend that as a way to go.

The FT-817 is power hungry.  To me the best rig for true field operation is the triband Tokyo Hy-Power HT-750, which covers 6, 15, and 40 meters in a true handheld. That rig is in it's final production run now and needs to be ordered directly from the factory if you want one.

The FT-817 to me is simply the best QRP all-arounder out there, and has sold in amazing numbers for good reason.

I was intrigued by the Icom IC-703.  I have no doubt that the receiver outperforms that in the FT-817, but it's much bigger, has an auto tuner that doesn't tune anything far from resonance, and doesn't cover 2m and 70cm.  Worse, the IC-703 has been suffering from premature driver failures.  The IC-703 may be a great choice in the long run for someone who wants really good receiver performance but wait until Inoue-san and company get the bugs out.

The Ten Tec Argonaut V has had good reviews but is larger still and only does HF.  It doesn't need optional filters, though, so the price is very reasonable if you're not looking for VHF/UHF coverage.     A software controlled radio is a big plus because upgrades are so easy to make.  I have no personal experience with the Argonaut V but it is a radio I am seriously thinking about for base SSB/CW QRP operation.  It, too, is power hungry.

The Elecraft K1 doesn't interest me because it's CW only.  I have Mizuho P series rigs for that and don't plan on replacing them.  The K2 scares me because it's a *very* expensive kit.  I don't trust myself to build it right and you never can be sure what you're getting when someone else builds it.  It has a great reputation but I'm going to avoid it.

Good luck, whatever you choose!

72/73,
Caity
K7VO
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WD8DKB
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Posts: 190




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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2003, 12:03:09 AM »

Just to put my 2 cents in the mix ; You didn't specify if you required the rig to be on the small side or not. For example, I have no desire to run portable or take a rig on the trail even though I really enjoy hiking. So I have been using full size rigs to operate QRP for some time now. For the money spent on a Ft-817 or an IC-703 you can pickup a very nice used full size rig that can be cranked down to QRP levels with ease. That way I have the luxury of a great receiver plus the larger weighted tuning knob and all the slick items that go along with a full size rig with fewer memories to haggle with. I use a Kenwood TS-940SAT right now for QRP at 1 to 5 watts and like it very much. Depends on what your plans of activity are. Just another opinion. Have fun. 73   Max
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HFHAM2
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2003, 02:57:04 AM »

Two others you might want to consider are the SGC SG-2020 and the Patcomm PC-500 (if Patcomm are still in business).
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WD8DKB
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2003, 05:11:34 PM »

Sorry, I mean Menus' not memories. Max
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KD7KGX
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2003, 05:58:09 AM »

Elecraft has a new 3-band KX1 QRP rig out that is smaller than the K1 and less expensive to boot.

If you're looking for maximum flexibility (modes/frequencies) then the FT-817 and IC-703 are worth considering.  However, these are better for SSB and HF digital mode use than for CW.  These are also a good choice if you want one box to work VHF and UHF, i.e., repeaters and/or IRLP/Echolink nodes.

If you're looking for outstanding receiver performance as well as one rig that can work in your station or out in the field, then the K2 is a good choice.  The reason Elecraft has sold more than 3,000 of these kits is because they work and work well, and they're relatively easy to build.  You can't compare them to the FT-817/IC-703, because they are designed for a different purpose.  I'd rather have this rig on a desert island than anything else because I could rig up an antenna, run it off its internal battery for a couple of days, and call around the world for help.

The K1 is designed solely for CW usage, but is very small and runs a long time off of 8 AA batteries.  I would think that the new kit will eventually run this one off the market since their feature sets overlap considerably.  Nevertheless, the K1 is perhaps the ultimate small multi-band QRP CW rig.

If you are into CW and want the smallest and lightest rig for trail use, consider the Wilderness Radio SST or the Small Wonder Labs DSW or Rock-Mite, or Elecraft KX1 (slightly larger, more expensive, multi-band capability).
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ON4MGY
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2003, 12:36:26 PM »

Hi,

I'm using a FT-817 and it's a great QRP radio.
Unfortunately, if you want to run it on internal batteries, you won't have fun for long time. The FT-817 is using a lot current while in the receive mode, so it is recommended to use a bigger external battery when you're portable. If you're using the rig as a base station with an external powersupply, there's no problem.
The biggest advantage of the ft-817 is that you can use it also on 6m (as with the IC-703), 2m and 70cm.
If you wan't to participate in some VHF-contests from a hilltop or just want to use it also for the local 2m-repeater, that's a nice bonus.
I haven't worked with another QRP-rig, but am very happy with my FT-817!!

Best 72/73 de ON4MGY Nic
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WB4TJH
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2003, 11:48:29 PM »

I have had an Icom 703 for several months now and am for the most part very satisfied with it. I have the 250hz cw filter and it is like a straight razor on qrm. My primary station antenna is an Alpha Delta 40/80 meter combo dipole up 35 feet fed with 100 feet of radio shack 300 ohm twinlead. With a small 4:1 qrp balun in the shack connected to a couple of feet of coax to the rig, the built in antenna tuner in the 703 will work all bands 80 thru 10. I have worked VE7SL while he was running 100 milliwatts cw on 20 meters. He was in British Columbia, Canada, and I am in Sarasota, Florida. That speaks highly of the Icom receiver. I also have a Kenwood TS570SG which is a better all around cw radio, but I use the Icom more because it is so much fun on qrp.I have found the Icom's receiver vastly superior to the FT-817, at least on cw. But everyone has his own opinion, after all, this is just a hobby and discussing and comparing equipment is one of the more fun aspects of it. WB4TJH
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KD5MBZ
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2003, 04:22:48 PM »

Sounds like you are looking at some nice radios, but you might also want to consider the SGC2020.
I think mine is a great radio, and I am comparing it with my FT-817 and ICOM706MK2G with is the same as the 703 but with more power.
That is where the 2020 is nice it is a small compact QRP rig that is capable of 20w if and when it is needed. Just my thought to help muddy the waters of decision.
Most important, get one, and get it on the air!
QRP 73  Tom
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SERGEANT
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2004, 05:58:26 PM »

Overpriced? $600 for just about the BEST receiver & QSK on the market?

Not overpriced at all, in my opinion.

K0BHC
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VE3DPC
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2004, 04:57:39 PM »

What is better for a first QRP rig a Rockmite or SW+Series.
I was planning on putting the extra audio filter into the ROCKmite as well.
But now I might even look at the KX1
Confused or what!
The KX1 is of course more exspensive.
NEW CW FrEAK!
Dave
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XE1UFO
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2004, 05:22:15 PM »

Travelling much of Mexico and the world, my goal was reliable HF communications in a small package.  I needed omething I could also backpack into Mexico's mountanaous ountry with.

After reading all the reports about failed finals on both the Yaesu FT817 and the Icom 703, I decided to choose the SG2020 with ADSP2.  Wow!  What a radio! Sure, you don’t get 2 or 6 meters.  But this radio could survive a tornado!
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