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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | SoftRock QRP Kit Radio Help

Reviews Summary for SoftRock QRP Kit Radio
SoftRock QRP Kit Radio Reviews: 16 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $$31 to $38
Description: Excellent receiver, 1 watt QRP Software Defined Radio in kit form, single and dual banders, outstanding radio!
Product is in production.
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AE5YP Rating: 1/5 May 20, 2016 12:48 Send this review to a friend
Not as Advertised  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After trading several emails waiting on the enclosure for the kit build I was informed it was in stock. I ordered the RXTX kit and enclosure to match as advertised. The kit went together ok using another source as the only information from FiveDash was only the schematic and no test procedures. Before final testing I fitted the board into the enclosure and it did not match. I was informed that I could drill a hole next to the power hole already there or remove the power socket and place it beside the current position. Either of the recommendations would be a compromise and would weaken the word or look like a botched job on the enclosure.

I did specifically say I wanted the RXTX as well as the enclosure prior to ordering and did wait several weeks prior to placing my order. I have since returned the entire setup to FiveDash.

If you buy a kit you should expect it to be correct.

Waiting on Tony now to make it right.
KD7RDZI2 Rating: 4/5 Mar 28, 2014 16:41 Send this review to a friend
revised review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Buying a built unit from Fivedash I could focus on the settings of the software. I had previous experience with the Ensemble receiver and related software but still was not trivial to figure out how to transmit. First I expected lower output levels from the soundcard to the radio. The key was transmitting in FM mode: the average cross needle power meter slightly moved! Bingo, I then adjusted the output level of HDSDR to reach 1 full watt. The file in the Softrock40 yahoo group by Wes Hartman, "Using Fldigi with HDSDR and Softrock RXTX Radios", was then extremely helpful to choose the right settings and interface HDSDR with Fldigi.
For the price now I should rate it with a 5. However my expectations were higher in the frontend filter for 10-12-15m bands. Using a wideband antenna it receives quite some intermodulations and tends to overload during the evening.
AH6GE Rating: 5/5 Feb 7, 2014 02:15 Send this review to a friend
Great Little Rig At Excellent Price  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have built several of these great little rigs and highly recommend them. Have been using this one for at least a year now and had no trouble. Using the flex PowerSDR software for the SDR-1000 along with the software by SV1EIA for homemade rigs and by adjusting the sound card voltage, the rig puts out a solid 2 watts. I built mine for 40m, 30m, and 20m but it works very well on both 80 and 60 meters with a little less output. I built a 40 watt solid state amp for everyday use and the softrock also drives my home brew amp using a pair of 8560A tubes to over 800 watts out on 40 mtrs if I need it. It works better than I ever expected and I seldom fire up my Icom anymore. Great on all the digital modes using fldigi. You can see mine at my QRZ page for AH6GE.......Aloha
VA3SQ Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2013 16:27 Send this review to a friend
Nice Kit  Time owned: more than 12 months
I found putting this kit together was very challenging as this was my first attempt with Surface Mounted Technology. All went well, and took me about 10 hrs to put the kit together. Instructions and info on the web was very helpful. Added a 5W PA and now I have a complete QRP rig for digital. I use Rocky 3.7 on XP and system works great. Setting up the IQ signals was a little tricky due to the on board sound card, but once we got card working with the software all has turned out very well. I would recommend this radio to others but this is not a beginners kit. I found as long as you have a magnifying light and good soldering station and kit building experience, there should be no problems putting this kit together. I have enjoyed building and operating this SDR and made it my main QRP rig for Digital.
PD0ZZ Rating: 5/5 Aug 30, 2013 09:12 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding kit!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own a Ensemble RX/TX kit with the bands 40/30/20mtr. Building it takes some time, fiddling with the small SMD-parts, but all in all, it turns out to be possible for a moderate experienced HAMoperator with steady hands.

Installing the software on an XP-machine however takes some nerves and reading on the internet.

First there is the USBdriver which can become a nightmare... If you download the PowerSDR 2.4.4 software-installation [AND READ THE INSTALL pdf!] you will notice that installation is much easier. By the way: The older 1.9.2 PowerSDR supplies use of the built-in CW-iambic-keyer... (But beware of the high resources drawn from your computer in CW-mode, a single core will not do the job!)

I made lots of connections last year with just 1 W pep, but am building a 10W PA just to get over some higher QRM-levels near other HAM-operators...
AC2Y Rating: 3/5 Aug 25, 2013 16:08 Send this review to a friend
I Give Up !!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built it no problem. Although I don't share the glowing reviews on build instructions. I did manage to get it built. Little did I know that was only the start.

I have tried several different programs.
WSPR 2.11

And just for fun

Argo and Spectran

I've tried 2 different soundcards. to go along with the one already in my computer. (you need 2 to be able to receive and transmit)

All this for nothing but frustration. Although I'll admit most of the troubles were with the software. They all seem to have the same Freeware problems. Documentation. 2 of the programs when you click help says something like coming soon. Well not soon enough

I agree the receiver is great. If that's all you want. But trying to get my computer, SDR software, and the softrock to all play along nicely with 2 soundcards at the same time is beyond me.

I Give Up.

Today the softrock went on the shelf. I'm going back to my FT-847 with HDR.
GM4WCE Rating: 4/5 Apr 17, 2013 05:22 Send this review to a friend
Softrock Ensemble RX/TX  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I would rate this as an advanced level kit and would certainly not recommend it to anyone without considerable electronic experience. I found the on-line instructions to be comprehensive and easy to follow but some of the soldering is challenging, especially around the Si570. Winding the inductors is fiddly too. Some of the components are very small and I managed to loose the Si570 which was unfortunate as it is the single most expensive part of the kit. Testing each stage as suggested is vital and I had quite a few issues along the way, particularly with the final stage of the RX section, but I now finally have the RX/TX operating. No QSO's as yet but the RX performance is frankly awesome. Setting up software is also a little tricky, I think HDSDR is a good choice, although here again I ran into some trouble with soundcard issues.

It has taken me many, many hours to get this far but I have learnt a great deal along the way, and to me that is an important part of the hobby.

As value for money goes it is a clear 5/5 but it really is an enthusiasts project and you will find it handy to have a good 'scope if you run into trouble, as I did. You also need good eyesight as well.

Overall - good.
W2JAZ Rating: 4/5 Jan 28, 2013 08:33 Send this review to a friend
SoftRock Ensemble RXTX  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
In all fairness let me begin with a brief summary of my own background. I have been an on and off kit builder since before getting my ticket in 1965. Builder of Knight Kits, HeathKits, A&A Engineering and even a few from scratch from articles, etching my own boards and such. I recently retired and as a Flex Radio PowerSDR user I've become very impressed with this new technology. With the new found time on my hands I decided to accept the challenge of building a SoftRock kit. This was my first experience with tiny SMD components. I've learned how much kit building an radio in general have changed and how my limited expertise as a technician has not kept up with the times. As a result I became very frustrated getting this kit to work, despite the great online community of "elmers" and the fairly good instructions provided. But if you are not savvy with trouble shooting techniques or working with winding toroids and small SMD components you may get as frustrated as I've become. SO I guess I'm saying this is a great kit for the money but buyers beware of the potential for frustrating problems along the way. And if you are lucky enough to get it working then of course there is the software that presents its own challenges. At the moment I'm looking for someone to trouble shoot up to stage 6 of the build which should yield a working rcvr and it did for about 3 min!
K1QN Rating: 5/5 Dec 17, 2011 16:22 Send this review to a friend
Ensemble RXTX The Best!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my first sdr, and my first assembly with smt components. Can't be happier. I'm an old Heathkitter from the sixties, and was terrified of the smt components.

Assembly precautions: use magnifying lamp, non-magnetic tweezers, and mini soldering iron. Check each component several times before soldering. Stay away from lead-free solder. If a test fails, go no further.

It is a riot on the air. 1 Watt is enough that you're not wasting your time, but, if I want to crack a pile-up, I'll go to the KW.

Support on the yahoo interest group is excellent. I had a problem at one point, and the kit manufacturer identified the exact pin I had to re-solder.

Keep in mind, I work *only* digital modes these days. I'm having minor issues with WSPR and JT65, but I expect those to be resolved soon.
WA3YAY Rating: 4/5 Jan 15, 2011 14:38 Send this review to a friend
Need to steady handed  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is great little kit. I had trouble simply because the SMT parts are tough for us older Hams to see and deal with. Soldering is a pain, as the parts are TINY! It was near impossible to get them into place properly.

Now this is not SoftRock specific issue, but if you're thinking this will be an easy build, for me at least is was tough.

If all kits go SMT, I'll have to give up building. Just too hard to manage these little things.
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