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Author Topic: Building skill question about kits  (Read 3274 times)
KB4UHK
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« on: April 04, 2011, 09:47:34 AM »

Hello,

I wonder if you all could share your thoughts with a question I got.

I'd like to get a small 20 meter transceiver that I can take to the state parks and work (I'm an apartment dweller, and my operations are just limited right now, plus getting a good walk in is good for me).

I'm kind of on the fence between the SWL SW series, the MFJ Cub, and the Ten-Tec 1300 series.

My limited experience buidling consists of a few homebrew items, a Ten Tec regen kit, some mods to radios and a code practice oscillator, so I don't have a lot of experience.

I'm leaning towards the SW20 just because of the good reviews I have seen. I've heard the Ten-Tec is somewhat difficult to put together. I have to keep the price down below $150 for the transciever or tx/rx combo.

Would anyone have recommendations of those three?
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WB8YYY
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 04:38:00 PM »

Jonathan, it sounds like you have built and gotten enough stuff to work that you can proceed into building a rig.  I am very familiar with the SW-series and 1300-series (I own one of the latter). 

The SW-series was originally published in QST as the 40-40  (the author had a different call back then).  Its an excellent value - the design works very well.  The rig has a VFO and outputs a couple watts (the difference to 4-5 watts is not that noticeable on the air).  The rig lacks RIT which isn't essential for casual operating (and you could add it later).  Supplying your own enclosure isn't that dreadful. 

The TenTec 1300-series takes more effort to fix the bugs in it.  When done its a nice rig but its an exercise in patience.  They have a reputation for drift, but mine isn't that bad.  Also the crystals are NOT matched to each other like the SW-series - meaning it will have a slightly better filter. 

Outside of your price range maybe is the PFR-3.  This rig covers 3 bands and has a manual antenna tuner, and even room inside for batteries.  This is my favorite travel rig. 

There are hams who take their QRP rigs to a park, erect a wire antenna (or a simple vertical which can be homebrewed) and operate.  The QRP-list is a good resource, as are the QRP clubs on line websites. 

73 Curt
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VE3WMB
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 04:51:15 PM »

I think that the SW20+ is a good first radio kit. I have built both an SW40+ and an SW80+
and they are excellent little radios for $55.

The instruction manual has some good reminders of how to properly solder, including pictures and if you have built a few kits before you should be fine. The key to building any kit is to be well organized and to take your time and ensure that you have the right component in the right hole before you solder it in.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the SW+ series and Dave is a great guy to deal with.

Cheers,

Michael VE3WMB / VA2NB
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KB4UHK
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2011, 03:44:57 PM »

Thanks very much for the information on all of these.
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KC8LTL
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Posts: 38




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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2011, 04:11:55 PM »

MFJ Cub - cute little radio.  Weird antenna connector, although it is easy to add a BNC.  But I wasn't really impressed with the kit...

TenTec 1300 - most complex kit to build.  Some bugs have cause parasitic oscillation for some, although there are fixes for this out there now.  Once totally debugged, it is the most full featured radio on your list.  It is also the heaviest.

SW+ is a qrp classic and the basic build looks pretty simple.  I have built a DSW, an older fancier version based on the SW design.  Anyway SWL does great work with kits.  The disadvantage is that you will have to figure out your own case for it, and it doesn't have RIT built in, although this is a common mod.

You know how Ten-tec does their kits, so don't fear their radio.  Take a look at the SWL manual (available on their web page) and also try to figure out what you can do for an enclosure for the circuit board.  Both can be very good radios, the question is which fits your operating style better and how comfortable you would be with improvising the case for the SWL kit.

Ken
KC8LTL
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KB4UHK
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2011, 10:23:49 AM »

Thanks. I was on the ARRL website, and ended up ordering the MFJ Cub. The antenna connector is indeed wierd. I need to make some kind of adaptor.

Finishing it up tonight. After that, I'll have it alligned, throw it, my key, a dipole and a couple of lantern batteries in the backpack, and I am ready to go.
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WB8YYY
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 07:26:07 PM »

Nice progress!  Yes the connector is an RCA, which was used on the vintage HW8 and some Heath receivers - ok all probably before your time!  It is actually an OK HF connector for QRP levels.  As I have QRP rigs with 3 different kind of RF connectors I keep an appropriate jumper cable for each around.  You might run into a RCA to SO239 adaptor at a hamfest, but I suspect they are scarce - so you may need to scrounge stuff to make an adaptor cable.  Someday once you decide on a standard RF connector for your QRP rigs you might change it.  BNC is today's defacto standard for QRP, but some QRP rigs use SO-239 and believe it or not some homebrew builders use the RCA because of its low cost. 

Here's a nice website on the Cub FYI.  http://www.g4ilo.com/mfjcub.html

Enjoy your rig.  73 Curt
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W1JKA
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2011, 08:44:27 AM »

    Glad to hear that you are getting into QRP radio.You can't go wrong with the CUB,it was my first kit after being qrt for 43 years.No problem building it and with my homebrew carolina windom antenna worked europe and most states with it.In the past two years since getting back on the air I have built a MFJ 9020/9040,SWL30 and a K-1 which is my base station. I use my 20m cub frequently with a PAR endfed 20 ant. camping and MM from my kayak.Any qrp kit will get you all the contacts you will want,the (secret)! to qrp & qrp dx is not power but your antenna and knowing your day/night propagation on your operating band.   73 Jim
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