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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | KD1JV ATS-3B Help


Reviews Summary for KD1JV ATS-3B
KD1JV ATS-3B Reviews: 5 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $190 (US/Canada)
Description: The ATS-3B--the worlds smallest and lightest multi-band CW HF rig. This latest version of the popular AT Sprint CW transceiver now covers 80 through 15 meters, using plug in filter modules (not shown). Digital Mode transmission (PSK, RTTY and more) now possible by using external PC sound card interface (user built) and Pocketdigi PC software.
Product is not in production.
More info: http://kd1jv.qrpradio.com/
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K9JWV Rating: 5/5 Jun 27, 2009 05:36 Send this review to a friend
Awesum minimalist rig!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Acquired the ATS-3B two months ago; I didn't build it myself (debilitating disease prevents me from handling small objects) but a good friend offered to build it for me. I guess one could call it a minimalist rig - not dial, no knobs, no ATU, etc. However, once you get past any minimalist concerns, it is THE light weight QRP rig of all times with six bands (you change bands by changing band modules), 3 keyer memories, awesum rx filtering, 4 to 5 watts at 12 volts and 3 watts or so at 9 volts.

Once you become adept at changing the band modules (albeit I have some trouble due to my disease) it's not that difficult to manuver your way around 80, 40, 30, 20, 17 and 15 meters. I've used my ATS-3B in several contests and thorougly enjoy the approximately 500 hz bandwidth with no blowby from strong signals adjacent to my frequency.

The receiver is so quiet - the first time I turned it on I thought it wasn't working but...as I tuned across the band signals just start appearing (it takes some getting use to to not hear anything until you are within 1 khz or so of the received signal (you just start to hear the signal as you get with a khz or so but when you're inside that 500 hz passband you HEAR the signal).

Minimal current draw on rx (about 35 milliamps) and < 1 amp (around 800 milliamps) on transmit means 9 NiMH AA batteris with 2 amps of current storage last you a long time (9 fully charged batteries lasted just fine with room to spare during a 5 day trip with casual operating in the evening hours).

I sold my ICOM 703 and Ten Tec 1320 simply because I wanted to get back to the basics as far as my rig is concerned - CW, QRP, light weight, able to stash the rig, antenna tuner (I have an MFJ 971), wire for a dipole or end fed long wire, key, batteries and logging material in a small-sized package (I have a soft sided lunch box that holds it all) and head on out to the hills.

Whether at home or headed out for a hike and portable operations this rig is THE answer to my quest for minimalist, quality operations.
 
NI5X Rating: 5/5 Dec 20, 2007 19:34 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic QRP Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
From the easy to follow instructions to the actual building to the easy listening, a great experience all around. It is easy to forget your are using a homebuilt rig once you get it on the air and use if for awhile. The audio quality is very good and so is the filtering. I have owned several other qrp rigs, both factory built and homebrewed, few others have been as fun to operate. The QRP+ by Index Labs was maybe slightly more fun, but I would rather own this one, the portability of this rig gives it the edge even over the QRP+.
The only fault I can find, there are not enough of the ATS3B rigs to go around.

Bill, ni5x.

 
W1IN Rating: 5/5 Nov 24, 2007 06:39 Send this review to a friend
Fun Fun Fun  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Fun to build and a joy to operate! What more could you ask for a kit built rig that you can carry in your shirt pocket. Well you could ask for six band capability (without having to buy additional options). You could ask for a built in iambic keyer with two or three memories. While you are at it why not ask for a multifunction digital display that indicates frequency, supply voltage and rig status? Then, for simplicity and compactness put all of that into an easily understood single digit L.E.D. display. Oh yah! Then back up that with a cw indication of the same displayed data. I think if we could find a rig that can do all of that the only real improvement would be to have it make coffee and jump start your car on a cold morning. The final item on the wish list, supply that kit for under $200.

If this describes a rig that you would like to have take a look at Steve Webers ATS-3B (The Bee). Although currently sold out Steve promises another run of kits after his next walk about maybe next summer. You will find the kit, should you be fortunate enough to get one, a lot of fun to construct. Dont let the extensive use of surface mount components dissuade you if you can successfully solder the first component in place correctly the rest is easy, just do that again and again until all of the parts are used. While maybe not quite that easy it is certainly a project that anyone who can make solder melt can build. Since finishing mine a month or so ago my poor KX1 has been neglected I like my Bee more. Steve did fall just a bit short of the mark however, it makes lousy coffee.
 
KX0R Rating: 5/5 Nov 21, 2007 15:24 Send this review to a friend
Masterpiece of Design  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Steve Webers ATS-3B builds on the success of previous ATS designs. The B offers all the great performance of the A, with several major new features. Please read my review of the ATS-3A here, as this writeup addresses the changes incorporated in the B. More information and support from builders is available at the Yahoo group site for this rig:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AT_Sprint/

General:

Major changes from the A to the B model include:

6 bands instead of 4; rig now covers 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meters
Single digit LED display shows frequency, status, voltage, etc.
Improved shaping of CW keying envelope
PA overcurrent detector
Battery monitoring
Improved 4-button interface
Support for digital modes (Pocketdigi program)

The ATS-3B is designed for portable use, so its small, light, and efficient. It has a very functional 4-button interface, but theres no tuning knob.

Plug-in filter modules are used to change bands; there are six, so there are 19 toroids to wind.

Receiver Notes:

The ATS-3Bs receiver is almost identical to the circuit in the A. This single-conversion superhet is dedicated to CW and digital operation; the 4-crystal filter and audio filter give a passband width of about 450 hz at 30 db down. The DDS LO is clean and stable; the B operates on about 37 mA; its insensitive to variations in supply voltage.

The receiver tunes in single 50 Hz steps with the Up-Down buttons; it scans in 100 Hz steps at about 700 Hz/sec. It takes about a minute to tune 40 kHz.

The tuning range is restricted by firmware, so you cant tune outside the ham bands. Using sensitive headphones, I can hear a signal generator at 0.1 uV on several bands. It meets or beats the 0.2 uV MDS spec on all bands. There are few spurious responses, birdies, or SWBC problems.

Transmitter Notes:

The ATS-3B is designed to deliver about 4.5W on all bands when powered with 12.0V, and about 2.5W when running on 9.0V. It can be adjusted for slightly more than this, but the current drain goes up accordingly. If you tune the rig to deliver 5W on the higher-frequency bands, the current drain will be about 0.8A. This is close to the overload trip point for the PA current sensor. Running the rig into a tuner can cause the PA to trip out while making adjustments - using a lower supply voltage for tuning helps.

The rigs power output is adjusted by spreading or tightening the windings on the toroids in the filter modules. To get 5W at 12V on 40M, I needed to add a small capacitor on the 40M module. Efficiency is very high on the lower bands, and it falls slightly as the frequency rises; however, performance on 20M is better for the B than the A. The B does as well on 17 and 15M as the A does on 20M. The improvement is related to the stronger 74AC02 driver used in the B.

There is a minor thermal problem with the DDS filter that affects only some rigs on 15M, but Steve Weber provided an easy fix for this.

The ATS-3Bs key-shaping circuit has been improved; it delivers consistent 2 to 3 ms rise and fall times over the entire supply voltage range. This rig runs well from 5.5V to 12V; the only thing that changes much is the power output.

Digital Modes:

The ATS-3B is designed to support operation with some digital modes using supplied Pocketdigi software. The general idea is that you can operate PSK or some other modes using a pocket PC. I have not used these features hopefully someone else will review digital operation with the ATS-3B.

Construction:

Construction of the B is very similar to the A. This kit isnt appropriate for some builders, because most of the parts are tiny surface mount devices. There are many 0805 parts, plus some tricky ICs. The instructions in the manual and the parts preparation make assembly possible; many unmarked parts are color-coded.

The ATS rigs may be assembled one part at a time with a pointed soldering iron and tiny wire solder. Alternatively, the parts may be placed using tweezers and a syringe loaded with solder paste; the board is then reflowed with hot air. Many builders chose the hot air method for the ATS-3B, and most of us were successful and delighted.

My ATS-3B worked first try! The manual is the key - Steve Weber put a lot of work into this, and everything works out if you just read and follow the directions. Theres a lot of important information on the Yahoo group site. This is a group-facilitated project - please read my comments in the ATS-3A review.

Operation:

The ATS-3B is even more capable than its A predecessor its easy to use, operates smoothly, and makes contacts easily. The first time I used the B in the woods, I rag-chewed for over an hour on 20M. If you like operating QRP from remote sites, this is the radio to take in your pack. The ATS radios have redefined HF portable operation, because they offer so many features in a tiny package. Now the radio is the smallest component in a portable setup.

Steve Weber has created an even better ATS radio with the B model. The engineering is solid, the firmware manages the details nicely, and the radio performs well.

The ATS-3B is currently sold out, but Steve Weber has hinted that more kits may be available next year.

Heres Steves web site:

http://kd1jv.qrpradio.com/

George Carey Fuller
KX0R


 
K5MO Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2007 11:07 Send this review to a friend
Tiny, and excellent!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've finished this radio, and all but one band module, and I have to say, this is a really fun little box. It's Sweepstakes weekend and I can work just about everyone I hear with this thing (granted, contesters have good ears)... it's really amazing.

Now I'm generally a Boatanchors guy, but I love to build stuff, and having seen an earlier version of this at the Raleigh hamfest a couple years ago, I took the plunge. I've done just a little SMT assembly prior to this, and I was a little concerned about my capability to build this thing, given a fine pitch DDS chip, and numerous 0603 chip caps. I put the fine tip in my Metcal and armed with a lighted desk magnifier and a dropdown headset magnifier, it went easier than expected.

My biggest problems were losing things. Every once in a while, one of the parts got away from me, and its nearly impossible to find them once they've jumped off into the carpet. Steve was gracious enough to send replacements. Upon finishing, I was greeted with the CW "8" message, indicating all was well. I built the 20m band board and was on the air with about 4watts. Fantastic!

This will never take the place of my BA stuff, or my Omni VI, but it's a blast to build and use, and really works well. Comes with everything you need except an exclosure (Altoids compatible)...including solder.

Great job Steve!

John K5MO
 


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