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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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K2QPN Rating: 5/5 Aug 16, 2005 18:13 Send this review to a friend
Small Wonderful  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just finished a 20 meter kit today. It was easy to assemble and the instructions were clear. Worked the first time. Alignment was easy. The receiver was so quit that I didn't think it was working until I tuned over a signal.

The radio is easy to use. Frequency readout is via morse. RIT works fine and the keyer is great.

My first contact was Martinique using a vertical. He was listening up. I tuned up 1 Kc. and then RIT'd down to the station.
PA5BAS Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2005 15:52 Send this review to a friend
Small wonder indeed  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After waiting for months for the kit to arrive, it took me about 10 hours to build it. On a rainy day in the Belgian Ardennes I finished the little radio on the same day. So much fun, just couldn't stop! At 6 o'clock in the morning I made my first DSW-II qso on 20m, with a Russian station! Great report!

This is a truly remarkable radio. I love the design and the enclosure. It worked the first time after applying power. The internal software is great, smart use of menu's in the keyer. I specially like the tuning function. Could be a very smart radio for visually handicapped Hams!

This is a real radio on the go! The enclosure is very rugged, and the receiver uses little current.
It would be nice the use the same enclosure for battery pack and a small tuner. Brand of the enclosure is not documented, I will ask Dave.

Keying is very smooth, same is the QSK. Building it was great fun, and the documentation is good.
My advice: make sure you get one! Its long delivery time is worth waiting for!

Dave: keep up the good work! Tnx!

Bas PA5BAS, Gorinchem, Netherlands
VK6AV Rating: 5/5 Apr 12, 2005 04:47 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Service  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Decided to check for mods and found I needed mod pack C. Sent Dave an email on April 4, he responded the same day. He mailed the package on the 4th. Today, April 12 his package arrives in Perth Australia! What great service! Thanks you Dave! Rig works great too but I need more sunspots :-)
Harris VK6AV VE6DK
N9FZX Rating: 5/5 Feb 16, 2005 15:47 Send this review to a friend
Great little rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A few months back, I was looking for the proverbial good camp radio -- something to do at night while out in the woods. I looked around at the various QRP rig kits, and thanks to the reviews here at, finally settled on the 40m version of the DSW-II. I ordered one in early December, and it finally showed up in late January -- Dave's order pipeline takes some time, but he's very good about updating his website with progress reports.

Dave has really done an excellent job on the board layout, packaging and documentation, leaving nothing to question. I put the kit together in five two-hour long sessions. Electronic assembly is one of the few things in life where perfection really pays off, and so I took my time, made perfectly clean joints, counted and recounted coil turns, checked each resistor before installing, washed off the rosin, checked each pad for solder bridges, everything neat and clean. I'm aware that some folks view kitbuilding as some kind of competition, with time spent as the score, but I wanted my product to work the first time, and work reliably when away out in the woods. The payoff was that the rig has worked from the moment I applied power.

After alignment and casing, I've had the opportunity to operate for a few days. It is one amazing little rig, puts out about 5w @ 13.8 VDC. Receiver works nicely, too. Not exactly my IC-781, but then I won't be lugging that rig through the mud anytime soon!
NC3S Rating: 5/5 Jan 23, 2005 19:41 Send this review to a friend
Great Little Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built the DSW2 for 40m 1 week ago and used it exclusively for a week. It does everything expected of it, well. The receiver audio is clean, the QSK is as good as any, and the built in keyer performs flawlessly. I did not have any trouble making QSOs even on the worst of nights. It is packaged in a solid feeling metal case, with professional lettering for the controls. It is rock solid stable, and I like the feature that sends the frequency in CW. I do have a few recommendations that would improve the operating pleasure of this rig, 1) a pot to allow adjustment of the sidetone volume. It is slightly too loud for my taste. 2) a noise blanker (like on the K1) to cut out spikey electrical noise. 3) wording on the outside of the case indicating which band the rig is for. I would find it confusing if I had more than 1 band. I forgot to mention, the surface mounted components are relatively large and was not an issue.
N0XE Rating: 5/5 Jan 12, 2005 11:25 Send this review to a friend
What a radio!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The radio rocks, and so does Dave, what a great guy, great rig and of course great products. I made my first contact with only about 3 watts out and the band fading but was able to hold the Qso and make a full exchange, the little rig never missed a beat. I had the 20 meter model and sold it awhile back and now regret it, will be looking for another one soon. Dave's service is super and when I had a problem he sent me some parts for free even though I was not the original owner who bought the kit. That is service and as far as I am concerned he sets the standard. I can't wait to see what comes out next. 73 Jim N0XE
K7VBY Rating: 5/5 Jan 12, 2005 10:50 Send this review to a friend
Superior Engineering  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently completed the DSW-II-20 (20 Meter version). Dave had to send me 3 parts that needed replacement and the response was excellent. The rig is compact and has a number of small parts. I completed the kit in about 8 hours, taking care to find the correct part in the instructions. The transceiver is a joy to use and has a hot receiver with the capability of listening to WWV on 15 MHz. The frequency readout is sent in code with the flick of a switch and has two tuning rates. The rig also has a built in keyer that is adjustable from 5 - 50 WPM. This is a first class transceiver for the QRP community!
YO4HGX Rating: 5/5 Nov 21, 2004 04:00 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've seen the other reviews and... not too much to add.
Just one word - WONDERFUL!
I've got the 20m version, it works great using my home maritime rig's automatic antennna tuner and 4 bands gp (homebrewed) but will test it from my ship as /MM/QRP.
Sure will have good news.
Maybe a 40m version in the future? (as the 20m falls
down night time for winter)
W1MU Rating: 5/5 Sep 21, 2004 19:02 Send this review to a friend
Buy it, build it, use it.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built a DSW-II for 40M and am very impressed with it. This extraodinary design, by Small Wonder Labsís proprietor Dave Benson, is a masterpiece of simplicity and economy. He has packed an awful lot into a very little package. The kit is fun to build and the alignment process is simple and straightforward. I made my first QSO within minutes of first applying power. The only problem I had with the radio was due to a dumb error I made and Dave patiently coached me through the de-bug process. If you like QRP, and you like kits, this is a no-brainer. You should go out and buy one, build it, and see for yourself. I do have 1-2 pieces of advice. First, do not make this your first kit experience. Dave expects you to be able to read schematics and component layout diagrams and has not simplified the process as far as (for example) Elecraft. Unless you are comfortable with the basics of component identification and circuit board assembly this may not be the best kit for you. The kit requires you to install a small number of surface-mount components (which are pretty easy) but you would likely prefer not to do that the first time out. Second, I suggest that you allocate the time to do this and build it in 3-4 sessions of 1-2 hours apiece. I let the construction process stretch out over the summer and each time I sat back down to do a little more I had to go back and remind myself of where I was. The bottom line here is that Dave Benson is a genius, and if you like kits this is one you should build.
W1MT Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2004 16:03 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic kit and service  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have built a 20m and 40m DSW-II so far. The 20 was first about a year ago. It went together without a hitch and has worked FB ever since. Great radio. Just recently put the 40m together and had only 40mW output. Dave was most kind and gracious in trying to lead me through troubleshooting. Problem was found and it was totally my fault. Switched two resistors and had full power out. Wonderful service and I learned a lot about the DDS, LT1252 and power amp during the troubleshoot time. Even thinking about some modifications.....
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