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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Small Wonder Labs DSW-II Help

Reviews Summary for Small Wonder Labs DSW-II
Small Wonder Labs DSW-II Reviews: 36 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $150
Description: DSW-II- Series Transceiver Kit, CW, single-band. Currently under development. Beta testers of the DSW-II 20M version are thrilled. The great heritage of DSW continues with the DSW-II. Dave introduced the new rig to very excited crowds at both the 'Atlanticon' and 'Arkiecon' QRP forums where it received rave reviews. The DSW-II uses a PIC microcontroller and an AD9835 Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) chip to achieve crystal-based stability and full-band tuning range. The rig features RIT, AFA (morse freq readout in headphones) selectable FAST and SLOW VFO tuning rates, remarkably sensitive RX, power from QRPp to 4W, built in keyer, and of course it is battery and trail friendly. The DSW-II building experience is truly entertaining and a joy. The DSW-II builds on the success of the original DSW and adds a beautiful front panel daughter card wired to the main PCB with a ribbon cable. The rear panel has connectors soldered to the PCB so that everything is neat and clean.. The new design ensures greater reliability, easier construction, and a radio that will stand up to field use . When you plug in the 12VDC power you will be amazed at the RX GAIN. One transformer to peak, one tone to match (BFO/VFO) and you are making contacts. No test equipment required! The style of Dave Benson kits have only been matched by those costing hundreds of dollars more. If you enjoy melting solder you will love this new offering from Small Wonder Labs. Stay tuned for loads of great reviews as this exciting little rig comes online.
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KSAVES2 Rating: 5/5 Aug 20, 2007 18:37 Send this review to a friend
Out of production  Time owned: more than 12 months
Nice radio but unfortunately out of production.
It was cited that some parts were unavailable
and seller had other things going. Too bad.
N4OI Rating: 5/5 May 16, 2007 06:06 Send this review to a friend
Should be in Smithsonian  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have DSW-II "twins" for 20m and 40m -- always work perfectly! Over 100 QSOs on field day at the beach with a lightweight dipole on a telescoping fishing lure retriever pole (BassPro). Dave Benson should get an award for his incredible customer service and rock-bottom prices for his kits. The DSW-II should be in the Smithsonian! 73 de Ken N4OI
KD5OM Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2007 14:37 Send this review to a friend
Super-Duper QRP Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I just love this little radio. DDS vfo, built-in Iambic Keyer, RIT, and 4 watts (I have the 20 meter version). I couldn't believe this radio didn't get a perfect 5/5 rating! I saw where some guy doesn't have a Tenna-Dipper to tune his antennas instead he uses his radio so he gave this radio a low rating. :( - I've owned this radio for several years and taken it camping with me a lot. I have used my PAC-12 antenna many times with this radio and now I have a Buddipole. Never needed a tuner. Dave Benson of Small Wonder Labs gives great personal support. I think I've built every kit he puts out starting with the Rock Mite. 73 & 72 es gud dx! de Jerry KD5OM
LA1TV Rating: 5/5 Jul 3, 2006 05:30 Send this review to a friend
A great little radio ! Worth waiting for !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Im not a very experienced kit builder , but I just completed Dave Benson's DSW2 for 80M without any problems! The radio fired up at the first attempt.Did the simple tuning procedure and thats it ! The receiver is sensitive , audio sounds fine with my walkman type earplugs , keyer works great and I actually get answers on my cqs !
My only concern is that Dave has taken the DSW II out of his range of kits.... :-( I hope its not discontinued for good.... Dave?
N9ESH Rating: 5/5 Jun 17, 2006 12:43 Send this review to a friend
Awesome little radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
What can I say that has not already been said about this wonderful gem of a radio?

I got the 40-meter version. It went together really well. No snags in construction. Everything was there. No extra or missing parts. Powered up perfectly the first time.

Suggestions for construction:
Be careful to READ the instructions. Everything you need to know is there.
I would suggest some sort of lead bender or lead forming tool. I used a special long nose pliers that has one side round and the other side flat. Its used to make rounded bends near the body of components.
Also, consider a magnifying glass or eye loupe for reading that tiny print on some components.

Enjoy this well working and well-designed product of Dave Benson, K1SWL. Dave, you out did yourself!
HB9GAA Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2006 05:50 Send this review to a friend
DSW-II-XX PRO  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The QRP Transceiver DSW II XX from Small Wonder is outstanding! Unfortunately some helpfull functions, which are important in a contest, were missing to the devices e.g. memorys, TIT etc. We Europeans work usually with IAMBIC A. I wrote a new software with many new functions. No changes of hardware, only the exchange micro controller chip is necessary. If you are interrested in you can download the operating manuals e.g. for the DSW-II-20 Pro under the following address The chip unit price is incl. shipping charges $50. Payment must be made via wire transfer.
73 de Roland
K2JF Rating: 5/5 Mar 7, 2006 11:28 Send this review to a friend
great fun!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Not having the time or the expertise to build one I was fortunate to find someone to build it for me - the DSW-II 20. I travel to Europe a number of times a year and stay 10 days on average for each trip. I've been anxious to find a rig to take with me to add a new dimension to my travels. It has done this for sure!

From my hotel room in Paris using a small gel Super Antennas MP-1 I was able to make contacts throughout Europe and into Russia. What a blast! I'm going to Portugal end of March and am staying 10 days in a hotel right by the sea. Anyone want to try a sked?
AB8CJ Rating: 5/5 Jan 26, 2006 17:49 Send this review to a friend
Superb!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just completed Dave Benson's DSW2 and it was the best organized, most enjoyable kit I have ever assembled, encompassing almost 40 years of Knight, Heath, and many others.
The parts count was exact, instructions clear, and kit performance was exactly as advertised. Menu functions are easily accessed and very practical. The digital synthesis removes that "warm up" time found on VCO type QRP rigs. Planning the next backpack expedition now!
Doug Bowling AB8CJ
N4TD Rating: 5/5 Dec 4, 2005 16:57 Send this review to a friend
Best in its class  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Small Wonder Labs DSW-II is the best in its class of small, single-band QRP transceivers. This rig is elegant in its simplicity but delivers surprising performance. Just to see what it would do and as a personal challenge, I ran my DSW-II 20 meter version in last years and this years CQWW contest. My DXCC country total for the two contest weekends was 108. Pretty neat, DXCC in two weekends running 3 watts out. The DSW-II receiver performed much better than I initially expected for such a simple design in a very crowded band. The top ten things that make the DSW-II best in its class:

1. Easy to build.
2. Easy to align.
3. Small size.
4. Low current drain for battery operation.
5. DDS local oscillator provides great stability.
6. Excellent built in keyer and morse frequency readout is standard.
7. Pleasant sounding receiver.
8. Nice keying, QSK with no clacking relays.
9. Wide tuning range.
10. RIT feature.
KA7OEI Rating: 5/5 Oct 18, 2005 12:28 Send this review to a friend
Great little QRP rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had no trouble getting my 40 meter version of the DSW running: It tuned right up as it was supposed to, putting out the rated power and with the expected sensitivity.

As noted in other reviews, it's pretty easy to pop the protection zener on the output transistor: I ended up using two series 15 volt zeners to be able to handle such conditions without popping them. When I built my homebrew QRP antenna tuner, I included a balance bridge (the one where you "tune" for minimum LED brightness) and that circuit, when switched in, prevents the final from ever seeing a bad VSWR in the first place, even while tuning.

One thing that I have done and that I would *strongly* recommend: Using one of those self-resetting thermal fuses. I have one wired into the power cord (but it should have been included in the radio itself) and it prevents any serious "oopses" should the center lead of the coaxial power connector accidentally contact ground (if in the power cord) and it prevents damage to the circuit board should the protection zener (or final) short out!

Operation is very nice, although I wish it could detect the straight key (detecting the "shorted to ground" sleeve conductor when a 2-conductor plug is inserted) like the rock mite, but that's very minor. Another very minor quibble is that it would be nice to be able to tune to CHU more easily to check propagation and time: One of these days I may get one of those "aftermarket" PICs for it, or simply write my own.

On the air it has a very good keying waveform and the T/R turnaround is to my liking. When operating from home I usually use the SSB filter on my "big" rig, kicking in the CW filter only if QRM warrants it and when using this radio it has taken a bit of getting use to not having the option to to do this. The RX filtering itself is more than adequate for all but the most crowded band conditions or where you might have someone next door that is 20+ dB stronger than the one you are in QSO with - but moving the strong station off into the filter skirts using the RIT usually works.

I haven't done so yet, but I'm thinking of getting one for another band - but I haven't decided which one...
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