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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m) Help

Reviews Summary for Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m)
Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m) Reviews: 32 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $200
Description: A threeband transceiver with integral manual antenna tuner
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m).

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W8IJN Rating: 4/5 Dec 23, 2011 16:48 Send this review to a friend
Built one of the first ones  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my PRF3 from Doug at the first Dayton Hamvention that he had 'em up for sale, something like three years ago. I spent the next month or so putting the kit together. I was slowed down by some misunderstanding of the instructions winding the input coil set for the receiver and by essential tremor. The former was a documentation/instruction clarity problem (at least as I saw it) and the latter was evolutionary. Suffice it to say that it took me quite a while to get the receiver up beyond damn near stone deaf and pretty good for a small box I built myself.

After I had it up and running and could hear signals on 40m on it, I put some batteries in it and handed it to Frank, a co-worker at the university & friend of mine. It stayed on his bench for the next couple years, until I asked if I might take another look at it just before this last Thanksgiving. I was working on a homebrew 40m receiver at the time and I wanted to compare my worst case scenario against what I felt was an ok receiver. In the end I ended up with a pretty sensitive home brew rig and a huge improvement in the PFR3.

Tonight, just before sitting down to write this review, I had a QSO with KB1VEN in New Hampshire so I could at least say that I'd had a contact on it.

So . . . The rig as I bought it in 2008 was pretty easy to build. The more recent instruction manual (which is available as a PDF from Doug's site) is much improved over the first edition, although the receiver input coil winding info is still a bit too much this side of foggy. The revised instructions make it much easier to get the receiver running. For folks with ET or other hand tremor/manual dexterity problems this is probably one of the more easy radio kits to build. Bless Doug & his crew for soldering in the SMD parts so the builder doesn't have to worry about that.

The transmitter section – which came up operational right off the bat – kicks. I get about 4W out with a good set of alkaline AA batteries in the box and more that 6W running the radio off a 13.8VDC supply. The keyer is very flexible, although I haven't tried using the memory function yet. There is a slight tick in the AF between transmit and receive but it's not a thump or a scratch or some other noise that might annoy someone with fancy ears.

The receiver, however, is or can be problematic. From previous reviews and knowing that my radio is an “A” version of the box and that more recent versions are improved in some respects, I suspect that me being one of the first to get this kit put me in a bit of a beta test situation. And once I figured out just what the instructions were supposed to mean in winding L1 & T1, I was able to hear some signals on 40m. And after working on the radio the last couple weeks – and making some homebrew style modifications to the receiver input set up – I have to admit now that the PRF3 has a pretty good receiver. It is selective. Very selective actually.

The trick I used to get the receiver “hotted up” was to replace the polyvaricon capacitor in the receiver input circuit with a similar cap with equal values in both sections. This allowed me to use smaller inductances & make the peaks for tuning across the bands a little more selective without sacrificing sensitivity. The only improvement I'd shoot for beyond that would be a three position switch with fixed-value bandpass filters between antenna & the NE602/SA612 mixer.

That said, I give this radio a 4. It is monstrously flexible with the built in antenna tuner, keyer & digital dial. It has a reasonably sensitive receiver on 30m and 40m. (I was never much on 20m and never was satisfied with the 20m receiver, although all my problems in that regard could be my fault or that of my antenna set up.) The transmitter kicks and the size and portability make it a perfect beach side with a beer and sunscreen radio. And for folks with ET or any such tremors of the pinkies, it is mercifully through-hole technology, a definite plus on my planet.

I may not give it back to Frank after Christmas break is over. He'll have to build his own, which would be easy for him 'cause his hands don't shake. Yet.
ON4CCU Rating: 4/5 Oct 14, 2011 02:24 Send this review to a friend
Exceeds expectations  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Let me start by saying that the only reason I didn't give a "5" is the less than optimal service received from the Hendrickx company. My kit arrived with one of the pre-installed components wrongly soldered, which resulted in a damaged clock IC when running the group 1 smoke test. There were also a couple of other parts missing (battery holder for instance). To cut a long story short: after several months of waiting for replacement parts and Doug claiming three times that he had put them in the mail, I gave up and purchased the parts locally...

Anyway, let's proceed with the good news:

Although it's not really a beginners kit, I had no significant problems putting it together. The instructions are very clear, so if you work methodically there's not a whole lot that can go wrong. Also, there's a great community on the Yahoo group, including Steve Weber, the designer of this little gem. There's always someone to give you some advise in case you get stuck.

How does it perform? Well beyond expectations!

Output power is 5 watts on all three bands and the built-in keyer works well. But what's really shining is the receiver: very sensitive and with razor sharp filters. Much better selectivity than my FT-817 (with CW filter) for instance. I really didn't expect such good receiver performance from a $200 kit!

Very useful is also the built-in Balanced Line Tuner (BLT). Before I completed the kit I looked at this feature more like a gadget than anything else. Wrong!
After I got used to the tuning procedures, I found out that the BLT will effectively tune about any length of wire. I have experimented with 44' dipoles, all kinds of end fed wires including vertical fishing rod antennas, a bike frame (hihi)... This confirms that the PFR-3 truly is a complete HF station in one box!

So, really pleased with this nice portable rig. My FT-817 is going to get a lot less fresh air I'm afraid...the PFR-3 performs well and is very robust, much fitter for rough outdoors conditions than the Yaesu.

Highly recommended! Just be prepared to source any missing components yourself should this be required...

73 de ON4CCU
AC0OW Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2011 11:29 Send this review to a friend
A Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Picked mine up via e-bay. This one great radio. Has all the capability for great QRP fun. Very good receiver. Excellent narrow filter BW for working in crowds and good S/N. RIT for DX ops. Built in SWR and Antenna tuner for Balanced and UnBal loads. Works off 8 AA cells down to 8 volts.

Using a Inverted V on 20m up only 17 feet I have worked ZL, RU, OH and ZP with good reports. If there is a better radio out there for the price, buy it. But this seems to be best of breed
KD0MEQ Rating: 5/5 Jun 12, 2011 22:25 Send this review to a friend
Fun kit, good value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am a new builder, and this was my first "big" kit. The instructions were clear enough for a new guy to follow, and by taking my time and checking everything twice it worked first time. I like the fact that there are "smoke tests" that you do as you progress through the kit to check your progress.

Alignment only took 15min or so, and all tests were right on the money.

The Yahoo PFR-3 group is a wealth of knowledge and encouragement to a new builder.

There were only a few "cons" to the build. There were a few minor parts missing (resistors and capacitors), and one of the capacitors listed is a different color than the ones provided. not a big deal, but enough to make a new builder scratch their head for a while.

I'll do an updated review after field day, when I hope to have some CW pros put the radio through its paces.

AF2DX Rating: 5/5 Apr 12, 2011 04:51 Send this review to a friend
SUPER 3 BANDER RIG 5+++  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the rig used.
Then I had problems.
I had it packed and ready to send back.
I did this 3 times:-)
Well the Seller Dale Putman didn't send any papers and I did not know the manual could be down loaded.He sent me the link and it was just what I needed.

Well It wouldn't tune right then I was told the tuning is very touchy.
I then read the tuning instructions but I still had problems with the rig dropping power and even shutting down.
Then A ham STEVE on the pfr3 site told me there were issues with the battery holder.
I had new batteries in but no power.
However all was well on external power so I looked at that internal battery tray and I sanded the springs down,added a bit on tension and after that all was well.
It took some time to get used to the tuning and sharp ATU but after a few days I was knocking out several contacts a day and already have 5 Countries.
The radio I find is very,very, hot,and selective and the band width seems more like my big rig with a 250Hz CW filter in it.
I tuned it to the W1AW FREQ. and when they came on it was spot on.
If there is any drift from a cold start it wasn't enough to use the RIT.
I now just keep it in a tubber ware box with ear buds,small paddles and the 65 foot wire.
When I operate I just plug it into the cigarette lighter socket and pull in my end fed that I always leave and i'm on the air.
The highest WR I get is a 1.2 to 1 on 30 meters.
Steve Weber did a super job designing this rig.
5+ watts on all 3 bands and I like the idea of a final for each band
An all in 1 true field radio.
Very happy with it and no it is not for sale:-)
N7BAV Rating: 5/5 Mar 12, 2011 19:10 Send this review to a friend
N7BAV  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The PFR-3 is not my first kit and is a bit more complex than the NORCAL 40 and similar stuff I had built previously. I enjoyed the build and had a friend who helped me out when I had questions, tnxs Tom. I fired it up today for the first time and find the receiver sensitive and pleasant to listen to. I made two QSO in a few minutes, the most distant being Oregon to Georgia on 20 meters. The PFR-3 is a good deal when you look at price vs features. I look forward to taking it into the mountains this summer.

W2LJ Rating: 4/5 Oct 20, 2010 10:25 Send this review to a friend
Very, very good!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a great radio; and I have grown to like it more amd more since I built mine. I had a little problem with the build, as one of the "pre-installed" parts was mounted upside down, resulting in a totally deaf receiver. Steve Weber and Dan Tayloe were both immensely helpful in getting that rectified.

In practice, I find the receiver to be very good and the transmitter and tuning sections work as advertised. This is a very lightweight unit and is ideal for backpacking, camping, etc. I find the loudness of the audio output can vary depending on what you use to listen to the radio. With a pair of cheapie headphones, the audio output seems light; but yet with a good pair of Sony earbuds, I get plenty of volume. An outboard audio amplifier, such as a Booster-oo, might be in order if your ears are getting a lil' bit older, like mine.

Two things which I don't like; and these are personally my opinion and do not degrade the radio's performance whatsoever, but they're the reason I gave a "4" rating instead of a "5".

The LED frequency display is very difficult to read in a sunny operating position. Since this radio was meant to be used in the field, this is a pain. Yes, you can shield the display with your hand or something else; but that is a bother. A LCD display or an accompanying audio readout would be nice; but I am sure that would have jacked up the very reasonable price of this kit. I have learned to make do.

The other totally subjective thing - the original PFR3 came with a silk screened enclosure. The newer PFR3A (which I have) comes with a set of decals for the indicator markings. I would have paid the extra 10 or 12 bucks to have a screened enclosure.

But those two nitpicks aside, this is a really, really good radio. The build is not hard if you already have a kit or two under your belt. It will serve you well out in the field.
WA6MOW Rating: 5/5 Aug 28, 2010 08:06 Send this review to a friend
Oh the fun is back!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was ready to place an order for the kit when I stumbled across one on eBay, built and ready to go for the same price. What a gem. Very well engineered. My first night with it, I worked ZL and KH, using my invisible doublet. The current drain is very low, perfect for sitting on a rock out in the boonies. It has a very good receiver. With its built in antenna tuner, internal battery holder and keyer, it makes for a very compact travel package. I'm not selling my K2, my 10 watt QRO rig, but the Hendricks is a very good value for a unique QRP radio. I think this radio will end up with a cult following. Grab one if you can.
NE7AA Rating: 5/5 Aug 10, 2010 22:03 Send this review to a friend
This radio ROCKS!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Current version is the PFR-3A which is the one I have.
I was slow building it, but man what a radio.
great receiver. I wish it was not yellow.
If your thinking about getting this radio just quit thinking and do it. There is a excellent support group on Yahoo, pfr3_group · PFR-3 Group .
I have had several contacts on a dipole.
This is a well made radio, I really like the matching key.
73 NF8V Rich in Toledo, OH
NG9D Rating: 5/5 Jun 22, 2010 19:08 Send this review to a friend
Appreciated Technology and Portable QRP Functionality  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Steven Weber's PFR-3A design is a solid performer and a pleasure to build. It produces 5 Watts on three bands 40/30/20 meters with 8 internal Ni-M-H AA rechargeable batteries. Those batteries are still on their first charge after about a half dozen contacts over the past few days.

My first QSO was a good one -- a QRP ragchew. Pete, AA2AD, Erie, PA was using a KX-1 with double Zepp. I recorded the first part of the QSO when I answered Pete's CQ on 40m and you can listen to it at

The internal tuner and SWR bridge with LED tuning indicator work very well. I have used it with a couple different antennas, high-Z and low-Z. The internal keyer works well but I have yet to store messages in its memory.

You can see the microprocessor, display and receiver assembled here: and the transmitter, low pass filters, SWR bridge and balanced line tuner assembled and tested here:

I appreciated the technology and portable QRP functionality available in this reasonably priced kit ($280 with keyer 5/5/10)

73 DE NG9D . .
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