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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Youkits EK-1A/B QRP Transceiver Kit Help

Reviews Summary for Youkits EK-1A/B QRP Transceiver Kit
Youkits EK-1A/B QRP Transceiver Kit Reviews: 6 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $161
Description: HF CW QRP portable transceiver supplied
as a partially assembled kit. All SMD components are pre-installed
and the display module is fully built and display.
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Youkits EK-1A/B QRP Transceiver Kit.

W5GNB Rating: 4/5 Mar 12, 2016 18:47 Send this review to a friend
Cool little transceiver.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
East to build up since all the surface mount stuff is done for you. Mine had a bad DC Choke and not letting the final transistor receive B+, that kept me going for a while.

The Automat Keyer really needs some HELP. The dots are not self completing and takes a learning curve to get it to sound like your not tipping a few. I would suggest an EXTERNAL keyer on this one.

SV1RHL Rating: 5/5 Feb 20, 2016 14:40 Send this review to a friend
Best value for money for me (so far)  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Successful construction of EK1A left a nice feeling for me as a have little experience on soldering and a was afraid for the result. Assembled SMD components helped a lot.(Very Good Choice). Components and PCB seem so much larger at the assemble manual ::) No SWR meter but it a was awear of that.

Purchase: 4.7/5.0 . Very quick shipping, well packed, but no option for simple China Post (much cheaper).

Construction: 4.3/5.0 . Not very easy for first time soldering beginners but Not impossible. (If u try with a cheap Pixie first could be a good idea) One screw was useless and one was missing. I put of my own depot but I didn't like it. What if it was something worst..

Assemble Info: 4.2/5.0 . Not the best. A few mistakes ::)) Not critical but I waited something better from Youkits … Photos helped

RX: 4.3/5.0 . Audio weak but if u get use to it, its ok...After all it a QRP radio with limited qualifications ….

TX: 5.0/5.0 . Very good impressions so far..

Quality: Time will saw

BUT over all I give it 4.8/5.0 . Best Value for money. Because everything went ok at the end and I really like this tiny little QRP radio…..
AA1LL Rating: 4/5 Feb 12, 2016 20:08 Send this review to a friend
Radio Havana blasts IF  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you live far away from Cuba or don't operate at night from 0100Z to 0700Z this is a great design. But the lack of filtering ahead of the mixer in this radio results in a very strong detection of any signal at the IF, 6.000MHz. Actually it was not hard to assemble and mine worked right away. Puts out a solid clean 5 watts on 7, 10.1 (modded) and 14 MHz. I noticed NO DDS spurs or reciprocal mixing noise. Audio is a little weak. I even worked a guy on 40 with a 9v battery--it puts out 1 watt that way.
I intend to try and fix this IF feedthru issue myself because otherwise it's a great rig. The MFJ9030 has the same problem.
WD9F Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2015 05:09 Send this review to a friend
Nice Radio and Great Customer Service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I won the EK-1 two band version (20/40) as a door prize at Ozarkcon. It took me about three hours to mount the components including winding two simple toroids and one easy transformer. Everything worked perfectly when finished except no power out on transmit. Yimin, at Youkits, was very helpful. Through a two day exchange of e-mails, he helped me find my mistake (transformer mounted backwards). A quick fix and I was on the air. Great little rig for the money, and great customer service! I've made several Qs with it receiving good reports an both bands.
K9JP Rating: 5/5 Oct 29, 2013 16:36 Send this review to a friend
Fun Radio Easy Build  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Received my EK-1B kit within 10 days of purchase on eBay. For some reason, I was lucky to win a reduced price ($136.00 shipped) auction. The kit was packed well and arrived without damage.

The build was easy for me as I have built many different QRP transceiver kits. Assembly manual from YouKits website could be clearer or more detailed for newer builders. I did not have to adjust anything and side tone was calibrated to 700Hz.

The only negative thing for me is that audio output of the EK-1B seems low for my ears. I compared my KX3 side to side with the EK-1B listening to the same signal received on the same antenna. To my surprise, when the EK-1B received signal was loud, the same signal was about S-9 on the KX3. When the received signal was weak on the EK-1B, it was also weak on the KX3 with pre amp. off.

I think, I will look for an battery powered earphone amplifier to increase the audio output to my headphones, or wear my hearing aids with my current headphones.

First three QSOs this afternoon were CA, MO, and another CA station from this MI QTH with RST reports of 559 to 599. I was using a GAP vertical antenna on 20 meters. As with all QRP radios, using propagation is key to many wonderful QSO's.

72/73 de Jeff - K9JP

G3SQU Rating: 3/5 Oct 21, 2013 15:37 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio - question over kit!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a review of my experience of buying this kit on Ebay, it's construction, and initial experience of operation. My overall mark reflects it's marketing as a kit as well as the radio's technical performance. This is the first transceiver kit I have built, though I have built separates both from kits and from scratch over a period of 50 years.

SUMMARY: This radio performs extremely well and is easy to use. There is a concern about manufacturing QC and the attitude of the Youkits vendor on Ebay in expecting the kit-builder to either remedy defects with the pre-assembled, untested, product or pay for return to China for correction of defects. This not a kit for those unprepared to install SMD components or troubleshoot SMD populated component boards.

The kit was ordered from Youkits via Ebay (UK) and arrived from China in about a week (shipping charge $29). 

It was well packaged with individual items protected in bubble wrap:
1. the assembled and tested display module; 
2. the main PCB board populated with SMD components; 
3. a pack of discrete components including 3 toroids and 2 lengths of enamel insulated wire;
4. aluminium enclosure in 4 parts: front panel, rear panel, 2 part main die-cast enclosure slotted together as one.

The instructions, which have to be downloaded from the Youkits web-site, state that "EK-1B 3 Band CW QRP transceiver kit is easy to build, it has SMD finished by the factory. There are 2pcs of PCB, the main board and display board. To guarantee the building success, the display board and main board have been assembled and tested including the MCU, LCD and DDS." The web-site claims 2 hours to assemble. Hmmmm. Not if you're taking great care because you don't really get second chances with these miniaturised kits. 

As so common with Chinese products, the English in their instructions leaves something to be desired. If they can pay engineers to design build complex electronics equipment, why won't they employ technical translators who can write good technical English? I volunteer, and my rates are not exorbitant. 

Winding the toroids was straightforward, aided by the photographs. Only one of them is a transformer, and no taps are required on any of the windings.

The only problems I had with fitting the components to the main board were:
1. Installing the voltage regulator IC and the 2078 power amp. These 2 components have to be bolted to the rear panel and soldered to the main board. But they are also the sole means by which the rear panel is fixed to the main board! There are guide holes for the various sockets that pass through the rear panel - but no actual fixings. So the rear panel is only fixed in position by virtue of soldering these two components in place. Not my idea of rugged construction! I also found it impossible to apply a heat sink when soldering these two components as I would normally do, but fortunately it seems none is necessary. The English in the instruction for this part is poor, but it is possible to make sense of it.
2. The through-the-hole components are not pre-tinned and will not easily pass through the narrow gauge holes if they are tinned. This is especially true for the display-board's row of 10 pins, and on testing I found some of my soldered joints were not up to scratch. They should be cleaned and flux applied before soldering. No advice is given on soldering technique. I guess those with SMD experience will find it all second nature.

Setting up was esentially straightforward. On initial switch-on the current drawn was about 125mA, not far above the 120mA upper threshold given in the instructions. The adjustments to the 3 pre-fitted SMD trimmer capacitors were clear but I didn't find using my Tradiper dip-meter as a signal source worked particularly well, especially for setting the 700Hz sidetone. I must go back and try to repeat the process using my main station TX as a stable source - without overloading the EK-1B!

My real problem was revealed once I tried to test on air: no audible sidetone, just the clunking and clicking of an overloaded receiver. This was tracked down to the receiver mute circuit, where the (SMD) switching transistor had not been installed! An exchange of emails with the Ebay vendor of Youkits revealed a somewhat cavalier attitude: "the missing parts was a shipping damaged, also our kits need some soldering skill and trouble shooting for sure. You can not test the main board before all the parts soldering finished. So even we can smt all the parts correct, we still can not say there is no defeat (sic) parts there. But the soldering and tourbleshooting (sic) is the fun of kit building. If you just need a hands free not a single issue kits, you should go to semi kit or the kit that just need tight the screw". And also "We checked everyone before shipment for the soldering job we did, soldering line checked before we packed them. We have no reason to ship a defeat (sic) unit by purpose. The shipping damage happened couple time, our custom also need to ship it back at their own cost, I then send them exchange unit. That is the common custom service method".

So I have to pay to send the unit back for them to finish off their job of installing the SMT components? Another of the suggestions from my Ebay vendor was to install a through-the-hole transistor at the SMD pads. I don't think so, Youkits/Ebay vendor.

I am 64 years of age and unsurprisingly suffer the condition "age-related long-sightedness". I did not buy this kit to start learning to install SMD components. The Youkits web-site said that all the SMD parts were pre-installed.

Of course, I didn't send it back and instead put in a mod that involved connecting just a single wire to one of the 3 SMD pads intended for the 2N3904 switching transistor. I now probably have the only Youkits EK-1B in existence with a manual receiver mute switch on the back panel! Or have I? How many other kits have been sent out with missing SMD components?

The comment about the standard of the English also applies to the Operations manual. I suppose it's passable but I had to edit and print it out to make it usable as a learning tool.

The multifunction tuning knob (press to switch between 10Hz, 100Hz and 1KHz tuning increments) took getting used to for this analogue human, but works well. Tuning is continuous from 13.9 - 22Mhz and band-switching is best achieved by using the tuning control in memory mode. Fortunately this has been preset with frequencies in all 3 bands. The RIT/MOD button puts the rig into RIT mode and allows the RIT offset to be varied, again using the main tuning knob. Similarly, the RIT/MOD button is also used to put the rig into Keyer mode to use the tuning knob to adjust and set the keyer speed. As a straight-key man I have yet to try this feature. Straight key mode has to be auto-detected, and is set at switch-on with the key plugged in.

Armed with my receiver mute modification I went on the air last weekend (from NE England) and immediately worked Bulgaria on 20m and Ukraine on 15m , using my inverted V fishing pole doublet antenna (after the NORCAL design). In the evening I worked 5 stations on 20m in the New York QSO Party (5263km). The following day I worked 12 German stations on 20m in the Worked All Germany Contest plus a several other Europeans. I also had a QSO with a K8 in Ohio (5887km) on 17m. Brilliant, with barely 5W into the antenna. No complaints about the performance if you can attract the attention of contest stations. Well, OK, no chance with the pile-ups but that's QRP! The receiver is sensitive and pretty selective, but doesn't have enough output for me to use my passive narrow band AF filter, which it does need.

So, dear reader, I leave it to you to make your own judgement on Youkits, their customer care, and their quality control procedures. My judgement is not to buy a kit with allegedly pre-installed SMD components if you are not prepared to install those the manufacturer forgot.
Despite my manual mute modification I would say this is probably the best performing, though least serviceable, of my QRP rigs (I also have MFJ-9020 and TenTec1340) and it is a 3-bander which has given me my first ever 17m contact. It represents excellent value for money, on the assumption that you don't have to send it back to China first.

Caveat Emptor!

73, G3SQU

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