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Author Topic: Rig Recommendations for QRP CW and DATA  (Read 1397 times)
KK4FGF
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Posts: 53




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« on: July 03, 2019, 10:53:18 AM »

I'm looking for a good, portal, QRP rig for supporting data modes (primarily the ones implemented in WSJT-X) and CW. It should be pretty frugal in terms of power requirements and preferably cover 80-10m. While I want to give portable digital a try, I would probably only go portable once a quarter or so. Also, I would like the radio to not lose a lot of value in resale as long as its in good shape. I'd love to get an Elecraft KX2, but I'm having this internal battle between just wanting to play around with such a nice looking rig and the fact that I'm not sure if portable operations would be something I would do regularly.

Anyone have a good suggestion?

--
JoAnn Peeler
KK4FGF
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K7MEM
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2019, 03:54:15 PM »

I'm looking for a good, portal, QRP rig for supporting data modes (primarily the ones implemented in WSJT-X) and CW. It should be pretty frugal in terms of power requirements and preferably cover 80-10m. While I want to give portable digital a try, I would probably only go portable once a quarter or so. Also, I would like the radio to not lose a lot of value in resale as long as its in good shape. I'd love to get an Elecraft KX2, but I'm having this internal battle between just wanting to play around with such a nice looking rig and the fact that I'm not sure if portable operations would be something I would do regularly.

Anyone have a good suggestion?

--
JoAnn Peeler
KK4FGF

I would get a FT-817ND. Five watts on all HF bands, plus the 50 MHz, 144 MHz, and 430 MHz bands, on all popular operating modes: USB/LSB/CW/AM/FM/Packet/PSK-31/RTTY.

Several years ago a friend let me borrow his FT-817, so I could get a home brew digital interface operational. Getting it to work was easy. I ran PSK-31 at 1 watt and it worked great. Everyone was very surprised that I was only running 1 watt.
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Martin - K7MEM
http://www.k7mem.com
G4AON
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Posts: 1376




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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2019, 11:24:46 PM »

I bought a second user KX3, it came with the additional filter board. It works great on data modes, I use mine with an external data interface with a Raspberry Pi. I also use it on CW with a Hardrock 50 amp from an EA5 holiday QTH.

There is a fairly easy to run temperature vs frequency routine described in an Elecraft paper, basically you cool the radio in a refrigerator, then set the built-in routine auto calibrating against an external carrier while heating the KX3 with a hair dryer. When used in hot climates, it gives excellent frequency accuracy and stability.

The diode change over and excellent receive capability make the KX3 probably the best small HF transceiver around, although it isn’t cheap.

73 Dave
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N8AUC
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Posts: 583




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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 10:06:06 AM »

I have to agree with Martin.
Find yourself a used FT-817, and add a filter to it.
Doesn't even have to be an ND model, unless you need 60 meters.
That's what I did. Picked up a nice one (pre-ND) used at Dayton a few years back for $350.
I added a 500Hz CW filter to it, and have had a lot of fun with that little radio.
I doubt I'll ever part with it. Love that little rig! And if it ever dies a horrible death, I'd buy
another or an FT-818 to replace it quickly.

The 6 pin data port on the radio works great with a SignalLink USB for digital modes.
And it works nicely on CW too. I've even worked a few SSB QSOs with it, although
CW is my favorite, with digital a distant second favorite.

It's not great at anything, but it's good at everything.
Bang for the buck, I don't think you can beat it.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 10:09:34 AM by N8AUC » Logged
WB0FDJ
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Posts: 196




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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2019, 11:14:56 AM »

Overall I have to agree with the recommendations for the FT-817. I got my first one (ND model) in 2004 and used it portable while living in an apartment. Once I moved into my present home it was for a while my primary rig. Over time I got a CW filter, a SignaLink USB, a much better internal battery (2400 mAh) and did the "speaker mod". (Replace stock speaker with an $8 lexan speaker-really made a difference!) When it developed enough problems last year I got another new one. No regrets.

I've checked into MIDCARS 40 M net with it several times, done a lot of CW and it is my WSPR rig. One day last summer I noticed 6 meters was open so fired up JT-8, connected my indoor slinky antenna and made contacts in three states in about 15 minutes. As N8AUC says, it's not great at anything but it is the swiss army knife of QRP radios. If the zombies ever show up at my door I can grab this radio and the bag I keep my MP-1 antenna in and be in business. It's a very durable radio. If I threw all my rigs out the window of my upstairs shack it would be the one that would keep on ticking.

73 Doc WB0FDJ
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KK4FGF
Member

Posts: 53




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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2019, 06:07:56 PM »

After looking at several QRP transceivers, I agree with a lot of you guys that a used Yaesu FT-817 or FT-818 would probably be the best rig for me. It is such a versatile rig! Hopefully I can find a used one with a 500 Hz CW filter for less than $500. I think I've decided that $500 is ceiling that I'm prepared to pay at the moment. This way if after a year I don't find myself using it too much I won't feel too guilty about how much I paid. Although if a see an incredible deal for a KX2 or KX3 I'll probably consider those as well.

--
JoAnn Peeler
KK4FGF
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KA0LDG
Member

Posts: 24




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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2019, 09:08:10 AM »

I highly recommend the Icom IC- 703 / 703+.  I too own the Yaesu FT-817 which is a good radio, but find the 703 superior in many ways.   I have used both for SSB, CW, and digital modes and find the receiver better in the 703.  The receive current draw is also less,  couple that with an internal antenna tuner , DSP, and 10 watts of output power seals the deal.  You can find 703s for sale periodically for about the same as used 817s.  If you need VHF/UHF capabilities then only the 817 has that, but when I operate portable, I have never needed those bands.  As always, your mileage may vary!

73
Kent
KAØLDG
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AE5X
Member

Posts: 1422




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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2019, 07:02:40 AM »

This may be a fantastic rig though not available for a few more months:
https://lab599.com/
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WB8VLC
Member

Posts: 627




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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 12:02:56 PM »

If you only wanted to try out QRP data modes, FT8 etc,  then the single band  CRkits xcvrs for 80, 40, 30 and 20 would only put you out ~$45 dollars each radio plus one USB sound card and one interconnect Y cable ( only need one cable for all 4 rigs) is another 15 dollars with shipping, 195 dollars total for 4 data Xcvrs.   

Although they are Crystal controlled they aren't really suitable for CW but qrp cw during this solar season is a pain anyway.

I don't think the DSB mode would be an issue to adjacent channel users either but since I never tried one of these rigs I could be wrong and I'm not sure about 30 meters DSB mode operation but since it isn't voice and if the bandwidth meets the FCC requirements then 30 meters should be legal.

http://crkits.com/
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VA7CPC
Member

Posts: 2828




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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2019, 06:52:38 PM »

This may be a fantastic rig though not available for a few more months:
https://lab599.com/

I wonder what the target price is . . . it makes a lot of "old technology" rigs obsolete.

I've had an FT-817 for 15 years or so, and love it.  One box, all bands, all modes, about 400 mA on receive.  But it's getting old.  Using an IC-7300 has shown me what's possible for a receiver.  But for transmit, 5 watts is 5 watts.

The FT-817 now has a new LiPo battery -- 11.4 volts (3 cells), 36 watt-hours, 630 grams.  Very nice. Venom 3300 35C, if anyone is interested.

.    Charles
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AE5X
Member

Posts: 1422




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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2019, 06:06:45 AM »

This may be a fantastic rig though not available for a few more months:
https://lab599.com/
I wonder what the target price is . . . it makes a lot of "old technology" rigs obsolete.

I'm wondering the same thing. If it's "reasonable" I hope to be the first kid on my block to have one.
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KB1GMX
Member

Posts: 1794




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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2019, 09:55:37 AM »

If you only wanted to try out QRP data modes, FT8 etc,  then the single band  CRkits xcvrs for 80, 40, 30 and 20 would only put you out ~$45 dollars each radio plus one USB sound card and one interconnect Y cable ( only need one cable for all 4 rigs) is another 15 dollars with shipping, 195 dollars total for 4 data Xcvrs.   

Although they are Crystal controlled they aren't really suitable for CW but qrp cw during this solar season is a pain anyway.

I don't think the DSB mode would be an issue to adjacent channel users either but since I never tried one of these rigs I could be wrong and I'm not sure about 30 meters DSB mode operation but since it isn't voice and if the bandwidth meets the FCC requirements then 30 meters should be legal.

http://crkits.com/


The CR radio kits are also available with a DDS VFO that makes SSB and CW
frequency ranges available.

I have the 40M with VXO and its a good SSB radio and later I modded it for a DDS
and it covers the full 40M well enough.  CW however requires a mod to the old radio
to get a carrier out of it and when done is has about 5-7W.

The big deal is for CW only there are a raft of low cost kits.  Most are mono band
but for the 3 most common bands they are cheap enough to have each.

SSB/digital there are a few and again some are low nough cost to consider as
a specific monobander.

It all does not have to be in one radio.

Allison
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WB4M
Member

Posts: 326




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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2019, 09:13:16 PM »

I'm looking for a good, portal, QRP rig for supporting data modes (primarily the ones implemented in WSJT-X) and CW. It should be pretty frugal in terms of power requirements and preferably cover 80-10m. While I want to give portable digital a try, I would probably only go portable once a quarter or so. Also, I would like the radio to not lose a lot of value in resale as long as its in good shape. I'd love to get an Elecraft KX2, but I'm having this internal battle between just wanting to play around with such a nice looking rig and the fact that I'm not sure if portable operations would be something I would do regularly.

Anyone have a good suggestion?

--
JoAnn Peeler
KK4FGF

I don't recommend a KX2.  I tried one portable using PSK31 and it would heat up and shut down.  I'd call CQ and watch the temp quickly go up, and I"m running 2-3 watts out.  I also used a FT-817ND and never had a problem with it even at 5 watt setting.
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AD5X
Member

Posts: 1619




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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2019, 08:50:03 AM »

The Xiegu XG-90 looks interesting:
https://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=XG-90

Phil - AD5X
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N5PG
Member

Posts: 1294




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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2019, 11:30:32 PM »

Are today's FT-817 more robust ?

I had one from 2003 to about 2007, it was easy to blow the finals which I eventually did too,
so I sold it after getting it repaired. Nice rig once you got the cw filter in it.
73
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