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Author Topic: Anybody Built the SWL Retro 75?  (Read 7400 times)

Posts: 2243

« on: June 25, 2011, 07:44:50 PM »


Has anyone here built the Small Wonder Labs "Retro-75" yet?

Looks like a lot of fun. It's a 75m AM QRP kit rig XCVR,
and Dave Benson is a heck of a QRP designer. Looks like a blast
for area communications with your friends......

Board size 3.5” x 5.27”
Tunable Receiver- 50 kHz, selectable, varicap-tuned
Crystal-controlled Transmit- 3880 and 3885 kHz supplied
4 kHz receiver crystal filter
Room-filling speaker volume  
Transmitter output power:  2.5W carrier/ 8W peak
Transmit and Receive ALCs
Uses readily-available and inexpensive dynamic mics
Built-in Alignment function

Assembly Manual:
Yahoo Users Group!

Board Kit: $69 (US/Canada), includes shipping-

73, Ken AD6KA

(I am not an employee of , seller of, or associated with Small Wonder Labds products)

Posts: 8

« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 09:48:13 PM »

   I built the Retro 75 several months ago and enjoyed building it as it is an excellent kit. Dave (and the newsgroup) provide great support if you run into difficulty. I recommend purchasing the enclosure kit for convenience as it contains all the controls, switches, and jacks you need as well as a drilled and labeled case. The only things you need to buy are a mic and a speaker. After using it for a while, I saw that Dave came out with the Retro Helper, a small add on board that frees you from xtal control of xmit. I added it to my kit and am happy with the results. So far I have less than $140 invested and I have a complete rig.
   I am located 12 mi north of Los Angeles and my farthest contact has been Arroyo Grande. Keep in mind that with 5 watts or so of power a good antenna is very important.

Posts: 2243

« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 11:20:33 PM »

Thanks Mike!

Especially for the info about the "Retro Helper".
I didn't see that the past time I visited his page.
Makes the decision a lot easier. (I was concerned about the
limited coverage, especially for AM). The enclosure kit is kinda
pricey, but then again aren't they all? At least Dave always gives
you the option of buying it "board & parts only", unlike the folks. (Although I DO like my BITX20A) Smiley

Nice QRP QSO, 75m AM Glendale to Arroyo Grande, congrats!
I'm in Chatsworth, maybe we'll run into each other on the band "Retro to Retro".

thanks again es 73, Ken   AD6KA

Posts: 159

« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2011, 05:19:04 AM »

Yes, I built one.
Very nice kit.
I have never been able to get mine working right (the receiver doesn't tune the range containing the transmit crystals), so I have never worked anyone with it. I can hear SSB  signals in the receiver and I have had a local guy listen to me on transmit: both worked fine, I just can't listen to the same frequencies I am transmitting on.

(I was concerned about the limited coverage, especially for AM).
I am not sure why this would be an issue. 99.9% of the AM activity I have listened to has been on one frequency (on 80 meters, there are obviously active freqs on other bands). It certainly is nice to have more than one transmit freq. and having the VFO is nicer, but IMO it is hardly mandatory.


I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT

Posts: 159

« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2011, 05:39:34 AM »

I got on the Yahoo Group shortly after my previous post and Mel walked me right though the fix. Then he got on the air and worked me. He is in central California and I am in Southern Nevada. After getting the rig up and running, I then built the Retro Helper which is a very nice addition.
I have worked a couple contacts on the rig and checked into the West Coast AMI net once also. Pretty much everybody had to struggle to hear me, but said the rig sounds great.

My opinion after having this rig up and working for a week or so is that it is an extremly high quality kit, the receiver is superb, the Retro Helper works flawlessly, and I get good audio reports on transmit. I hooked up a speaker to it and it indeed does have room filling volume. I would definitely recommend this kit,  if you are interested in a 75 meter AM kit that is.

Anybody that would like to try a Retro 75 to Retro 75 QSO, I would love to hear from you. For that matter, I would love to set up a sked with anyone so I can get more use out of the Retro 75. I assume it will be a little more effective in the winter.

I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT

Posts: 407

« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 05:06:47 AM »

Built my first one a few months after they came out . Built it in the morning , tried it that evening . Worked from north of Detroit to eastern Tennessee , Roanoke VA and a station in PA in a 4 way roundtable that night with good reports . The station in Tennesse was so impressed he ordered a couple of them .

  Since then I have built 4 more Retro 75 as well as a Retro 40 . All work well . The Retro Helper was built and added later , a good upgrade . The only other mod was a simple PTT relay to make the Retro work with my shack switching arrangement .


Posts: 38


« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2012, 02:59:19 PM »

I built one two weeks ago. It is a great kit. Just in time, because it seems like it is no longer available, though it has not been removed from Dave's web site.

See photo here:,106.0.html

You might be able to find one on the Yahoo group...
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