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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | KD1JV Appalachian Trail Sprint-III Help

Reviews Summary for KD1JV Appalachian Trail Sprint-III
KD1JV Appalachian Trail Sprint-III Reviews: 20 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $155
Description: Shirt-pocket-sized, DDS-based, four-band CW rig
Product is not in production.
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N7SR Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2005 19:42 Send this review to a friend
Even better now!!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
There have been a number of reviews here concerning the ATS III, They well and accurately describe the diminutive little powerhouse, which has become one of my favorite QRP rigs. It packs more performance per ounce than any transceiver available to date. There isn’t much I can say here that hasn’t already been said. But sometimes it is possible to improve on an excellent rig, like the ATS III, with firmware.

Mike, W1MT, has written some pretty fancy code for the firmware in the ATS II and ATS III, that provides significant performance and convenience enhancements. In my opinion it makes a fantastic rig even better. The features I enjoy the most, in order, include: Programmable command speed. It can be set as fast or slow as you like, and it remembers the setting. Now when you QSY with the up or down buttons, you hear a brief beep as you pass each Khz. This allows you to keep track of where you are without even needing the frequency enunciator. If all that wasn’t enough, how about dual, switchable VFO’s, Or the ability to set frequency scanning steps at either 1 Mhz (for fast QSY’s into the general coverage portion of the band (for the ATS III) or 50 Hz, or even 10 Hz. And the frequency enunciator will read it out to 10 Hz, so you will know you are on 14.061.95 Mhz. Not only that but he has managed to increase memory capacity to 124 characters, which can be divided among three memory locations.

The former RIT button is now called the VFO button, enabling the menu that controls the playing of the messages, switching between VFO’s, synchronizing the two VFO’s to the same frequency, selecting normal or split, or changing the tuning step size.

The main menu, accessed from the menu button, now changes sending speed by pressing either the up button for faster, or down button for slower speeds. The direct frequency enter option is still there, as is the tune mode, keyer memory, wide band reception, command speed, and user preferences for selecting iambic A or B.

From what I see, nothing has been given up to gain these features. Mike programs for a living and he is very good at it. He has provided the code on his web site for those who wish to do their own programming. If you are having trouble programming the rig yourself, he has been helpful to many of us who are “programming challenged.” Check out his web site at:

WA3FAE Rating: 5/5 Mar 18, 2005 11:23 Send this review to a friend
Great. Just what the doctor ordered.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I downloaded the manual ahead of time to be sure I could handle this project, having built the KX1 about a year ago. I found myself needing a QRP rig for 80m and this was priced too attractively to pass up. The software upgrade that Steve offered was nice along with the ability to use other contributor's software and "roll your own".

I downloaded hints that others had contributed, notably AL7FS and N5ESE. These advance preparations were germaine to finishing this project with no mishaps (well, a small one).

You must have a "container" work surface. I used a brand new rectangular 3 inch cake pan, as the wife wisely held onto hers. I created a doofus to hold the parts down. Several are described in other articles and I created one from circuit board standoffs, large nuts for weights and a toothpick hold-down point, like others.

Another suggestion that was critical was to mount all topside components first. I used 2 pieces of double-sided tape (about 3-4 inches long) on the bottom of the pan to hold the board while soldering the SMT parts. The board is easily un-stuck for closer visual inspection. I also purchased a roll of 0.010 diameter solder and a spare small tip for my Weller solder station. The other small work tools listed in the manual are also necessary.

I tried the trick one other gentleman used, a digital camera photo, to examine my solder joints closer but my macro setting didn't do the job and is wasn't clear enough or magnified enough. I resorted to using a 10x jewelers loupe and my circle-line magnifying lamp. The initial soldering was done under this lamp, which was the bare minimum of necessary magnification for me.

I had trouble getting all of the turns on the 80m toroids and they aren't pretty but they work. I couldn't get the 30m module to work and Steve remotely diagnosed (via email) that I had soldered the resistor pack in backwards. It was a little delicate de-soldering that without lifting board traces, so go very slow and check twice and solder once.

The first contact was on 80m, with the ones on the other bands following as time permitted. I did use it in the Monday night March Sprints and worked 27 stations, most on 80m with 3 on 40m. I forgot to start with a fresh 9v battery and ran out of transmit power about 20 minutes before the end. I haven't used 12v with it yet, finding the 9v battery too convenient to pass up.

This isn't a beginner's project but is definitely a keeper for the serious QRP or backpack operator.
K3ESE Rating: 5/5 Mar 9, 2005 13:04 Send this review to a friend
all reviews are true!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This radio is in a class by itself. While on the air, I can still glance down and be amazed anew that all that performance is coming out of that little Altoids tin. Construction was fun, challenging, (and I had to ask Steven to find some bad joints)...but once that was handled, it's a breeze to operate...and I love to describe it in ragchews.
The RIT works well, and it easy to use. I really enjoy the keyer, and it's gotten a lot of comments about how nice it sounds on the air. The DDS VFO is dead-steady, and you can just zoom to a selected frequency, or scan the band, or poke along slowly. Just an amazing rig. I hope that when Steven's made the last of them, that he licenses it to some group, so it can continue to be kitted.
WJ2V Rating: 5/5 Feb 21, 2005 10:23 Send this review to a friend
Stunning  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
While construction is hard on the eyes and requires serious magnification equipment (a magnifying glass is NOT enough), the result is amazing. I used a headset with tip-down compound magnification--very short focal length. But oh the result: A one ounce board that fits in an Altoids tin that will hold its own with anything out there. Awesome. Here, finally, is the rig to throw in a suitcase or computer case with a couple of 9V. batteries. (One for a spare.) (You heard me, it puts out 2Watts on a 9V battery--or five watts on 8 AAA cells.) Add some wire and a small tuner and you can operate CW anywhere, anytime.
KC1TS Rating: 5/5 Feb 13, 2005 04:43 Send this review to a friend
Great little rig!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For something that fits inside an altoids tin, this rig is a sleeper! Looking forward to trying it camping. Have built a Rock-Mite and a Small Wonder SW-30 in the last couple years but I'm not an 'experienced builder'.

Check out other builder experiences. I didn't need to build a surface mounted part holder but did need a bright light, magnifying glass and circuit board holder. Patience was also important.

Steve was very accessible via email troubleshooting some of my mistakes.

Have made a couple contacts so far and am happy with the results!
N8NM Rating: 5/5 Feb 3, 2005 18:29 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I can only second what the others have said. This is a REAL radio, not (just) a cute toy. DDS VFO, four bands, a decent crystal filter, all of this in a radio that fits into an Altoids box! Then there's the price: Only $130 postage included. Remarkable!
N4QA Rating: 5/5 Dec 29, 2004 09:28 Send this review to a friend
Not just for CW anymore!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Finally 'finished' building the rig on 28 DEC 04.
The rcvr compares favorably with that in my IC-703. Excellent reception of CHU, WWV, AMBC, SSB, plus digital modes, including RTTY, CW etc.
Have made several RTTY and CW contacts using this versatile little rig. Mine looks a mite different from the one pictured in the review summary photo. To see the current status of N4QA's 'Appalachian Trail Sprint-III to go RTTY' project, please visit:

Love this rig!

AB1DR Rating: 5/5 Dec 12, 2004 15:38 Send this review to a friend
WOW What a rig!!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
AT Sprint 3
WOW What a rig!!!!
I love this rig!!! I LOVE this rig.
BTW, did I mention I LOVE this rig.

What weighs an ounce, has FULL band tuning capabilities on 80, 40, 30 and 20 meters, 5 Watt output with a 12 Volt power supply, 2.5 Watt output with 9 Volts, fits into an Altiods tin, has a built in keyer, direct entry for desired frequency, RIT, frequency counter and Much, Much, MORE? ANSWER: The ATS III, a mix of SMT technology and the vision and genius of KD1JV. Yup, you read that right...CW on four bands...but wait there is even more....tune around and voila...listen to wider coverage, SSB and BC.

Don't let the small size of this QRP rig fool you. This little gem puts the “big boys” of QRP rigs in the dust. Coming from a non-technical background and being a fairly new ham, I can't spew forth theorys or stats or explain away how the supply isolation and miniscule operating current work to make the audio on this rig CRYSTAL CLEAR. All I can tell you that the clarity and selectivity of the audio on this rig will simply blow you away. The link for all the technical detail on the inner workings of this engineering marvel are available at KD1JV's site: (be advised it takes awhile to down load this PDF file, even if you have high speed internet access)

Ease of use:
You don't need to slog through a 100 page manuel before using this rig. It took me less than 5 minutes to find my way around all the controls. The thought that went into positions of the controls makes it easy, Steve has made operation of this rig very intuitive.
Rating this rig on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest score, I have to give it a 100.
Right now KD1JV has sold out of thes marvelous kits, gee, I'm not surprised, BUT, his website has a message that there will be more available in February 2005. They sell out quickly.
BTW...did I say: I LOVE THIS RIG!!!!
More info and availability at Steve's (Mr. Melt Solder) site:
W1MT Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2004 08:53 Send this review to a friend
Superb qrp rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For those looking for a minimalist rig or something to run the Spartan Sprints with, look no further. Took me 6 hours (includes running kids to school and picking them up and making lunches...) to get the boards built. Used just a 15w iron and my fingernail to hold the parts to board. Much longer to think about and decide how to package, much fun. With a 9v lithum battery I have the weight down to 0.255 pounds (includes homebrew key mounted to the case, earphones and battery. I have a few ideas about lowering the weight even more, they will have to wait. I used this rig during CQ WW a couple weekends ago and using an indoor attic doublet hit many central america and caribbean stations. Even Finland and New Zealand!

Only warning is it has lots of SMT parts. One sneeze and you could lose half the parts.

73 de w1mt/mike
N4QA Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2004 04:26 Send this review to a friend
Much rig. Not much real estate  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Taking my sweet time building this puppy. Ya really oughta take a look at this one, folks. Steve(KD1JV) has outdone himself. About all I can say right now is...superb printed wiring boards and components... excellent form factor... a real joy to build! Several persons have their ATS-3s on the air already...
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