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Reviews For: Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m)

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

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Review Summary For : Hendricks PFR-3 Transceiver (40/30/20m)
Reviews: 34MSRP: 200
A threeband transceiver with integral manual antenna tuner
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
VA3YG Rating: 2020-12-11
An honest 5 stars! (PFR-3B) Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I own a lot of other QRP radios..... KX3, KX2, KX1, K2, K1, FT-817, FT-817ND, YouKits HB1B, Norcal 40A and a couple of QCX rigs. This rig sits on the top of the pile in terms of my personal preference and satisfaction. No, it's not a KX3 or KX2, but what it is is a reasonably price, self contained QRP rig you can build yourself with easy to follow instructions. What you get is a lot of radio for the money. I operate mine with either the internal AA batteries or more likely with an external 9V LIFE battery. With that 9 volts, it happily puts out 3 watts. I use a 41' wire and a 17' counterpoise and a couple different homebrew ladder fed antennas; the internal BLT easily tunes them. I enjoy the wonderful receive and I get fantastic signal reports. I bought my kit from Pacific Antennas and used the services of Dale Putnam to help me with the alignment. Pacific Antenna responded to my email enquiries (took them a while hihi) and Mr. Putnam is a wizard with this rig and that combined with his wonderful teaching style made him essential (for me). I would most definetly buy another Hendricks PFR-3B kit.
WB7VTY Rating: 2019-04-16
Most Radio Fun money can buy Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I felt I needed to revise my review of this gem. I gave it a 4 originally. The reasons for that 4 still stand and can be read in my prior review. HOWEVER... those minor issues are so eclipsed by the absolute fun and quality of this radio, that now after having done several SOTA activations with it, I would easily give it a 5. You cant buy more radio fun in a box than this radio. I use the PFR3B with a 35 foot wire and about a 17 foot counterpoise. That is literally all you need.. the PFR3B and antenna wire. Everything else is in the radio. The internal BLT tuner easily matches that antenna on all its bands. The internal batteries lasted for several activations. Even with not so great propagation, every time I have used it I have made contacts all over the lower 48 all the way to the east coast from here in Oregon. I never feel as though any performance is lacking. It works extremely well. After having used this radio for a while now I cant say enough good things about it. If you are thinking about buying one, do it. You wont regret it. I also bought the optional DCP paddles for it and they work great as well. Literally all you need to get on the air is this radio, 35 feet of wire, and a note pad. Oh, and some earbuds. If you want a speaker for it, pick up the MFJ382 amplified speaker and you have an external speaker. I have one and it makes an excellent accessory for the PFR3B. I cant imagine a bigger bang for the buck.

Earlier 4-star review posted by WB7VTY on 2017-10-27

I'll just say off the top, I would absolutely buy this kit again. Hendricks delivered the kit promptly, it was well packaged, and the parts are all good quality. The circuit board is remarkably good, and rugged. There are a few reasons I gave it a 4 not a 5. I felt the documentation could have been a little better. There are a couple small things that didnt match up with my kit, probably just an oversight holdover from the A version. I felt the capacitors could have been packaged better as they did not in some cases match the physical description in the instructions and it took some examination to figure out what was what. That exam was a little tricky as I am 55 years old and my vision is shall I say, not what it used to be even with glasses. Yes, I used a magnifying glass to read the markings on the capacitors :).
All of these things could be figured out if you have some electronics experience but they could easily trip up an inexperienced builder. My kit was missing the double sided sticky tape to mount the battery holders to the bottom of the clam shell, which was no big deal. A trip to the store fixed that. I cant stress enough how important it is to inventory the parts before you start building due to the capacitor issue, if you should have it with your kit. It would be possible to start installing the capacitors only to realize you installed the wrong ones. Its a double sided board with feed throughs and correcting incorrectly installed parts wouldnt be fun. Inventory the parts and sort them into a muffin tin or something so you can be certain you know whats what before you start building. Alignment of this radio after it is built is minimal and easy, BUT... In my case the optional steps were not optional as the instructions state. My rig worked great from the first time I powered it up, including a full, healthy 5 watts of transmit power on all bands, with one minor issue. I had to tune the RIT down 400 hz to get the other station within the filter pass band. Doing the optional alignments fixed that and it is now spot on with the proper cw offset between TX and RX. I didnt do the optional alignments at first because my only frequency counter is the one in the MFJ 259C antenna analyzer. It isnt what I would call accurate, but as it turns out, its good enough to do this job. These are all fairly minor issues to overcome if you have some kit building and electronics experience. It really is a great kit, overall the instructions are good and complete, and in terms of performance, it works very well. I have read of people having issues with transmit power output etc and so I was very careful to wind the toroids as instructed, paying attention to count turns as instructed and keeping the windings as tight to the core as I could. The result was worth the attention to detail as the output power is a solid 5 watts everywhere and the BLT tuner works great. I also bought the optional DCP paddles. Those went together easily and have worked well for me so far. Battery life on the internal batteries is surprising. I finished the kit a week ago and have done a lot of antenna tuning to play with the BLT, listening, called CQ a bunch with horrible propagation, held one good QSO and the rig still is putting out nearly 5 watts and shows no sign of week batteries otherwise. Im sure Im forgetting something. Glad to answer any questions to my email I really want to give this radio a 5 because the final product meets or exceeds my expectations so well, and over all so did the kit building experience. It really was a fun and easy kit to build after sorting through the minor issues. Unfortunately those issues are just a little too important to ignore and not cost a little on the score. If you are thinking about the kit and have a little experience, I highly recommend it. Pay attention to the details of building it, do the optional alignments, and you wont be disappointed. This rig seems as though it would be ideal for SOTA and Im going to find out! 73
WU6R Rating: 2017-11-23
Great Radio - Exceeded My Expectations! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This is a fantastic kit and a great QRP CW rig. It was very rewarding to build, not too hard, and all very, very high quality materials and workmanship. And it works great! I highly recommend this kit radio. I've since purchased the Pacific Antennas Survivor 75 QRP CW kit and I look forward to building and operating it.
AF4HL Rating: 2017-07-12
Best bang for the buck! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought the kit about five years ago and I'm still thrilled to have it.

The kit was fun to build and I had no problems getting it aligned with simple tools. The output signal is very clean at 5 watts on all bands - I'm sure I could tweak the power up a bit but there's really no need.

The receiver is a real gem! The AGC leaves a little to be desired - you have to be quick to the volume knob to protect against ruptured eardrums, but the filter makes it selective enough to work contests - I've worked two Field Days with it with excellent results.

The built-in manual tuner is great! Just throw a wire in a tree and it'll match it.

Honestly, if you compare price, features, and performance I don't think you can find a better deal than this. Load it with batteries, throw it in a bag with a pice of wire and a paddle, and take it with you anywhere. I really love this little rig!
HB9FIH Rating: 2016-05-29
fine radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I got them end 2013, build January 2014.
Used from TA3 most time. Out abt 7 Watts. Made different DX QSO. Suddently Q6 and Q5 (tx driver stage) broken. After replace all ok.
Now doing the CQWPX-CW contest with them (behind a PA for 100 Watts).
The receiver is very sensitive and the filter superior.
Soon have to replace the Tune-Down key (exessive used).
All overall very satified.
Also the Tuner - able to bring all things to transmit ;-)
- Q: option 80/40/20m possible?
W2CKL Rating: 2014-11-06
FB QRP TRAIL RIG Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
After reading all the reviews here, I placed my order on October 10th, expecting a bit of a wait. Much to my surprise, the package arrived the following week. After taking inventory of the parts, I found everything in-order, even a few extras on the caps and case screws. I was extremely happy to find the case decals were screen printed.
The construction manual was easy to follow, the only area that may give first time builder a problem, is the winding of toroids and transformers. My recommendation would be, download the Elecraft K1 or K2 manual, and look over the toroid section. They are not difficult or mysterious, you just need to have an understanding of the basics (ie. winding direction, number of turns etc.)Testing each stage after the build is key to trouble shooting. The only problems I ran into occurred in the TX stage. The first was tracked down to a bad led which was easily replaced with a common Radio Shack red led that was the same size as the original white led shipped with the kit. The second was in the BLT; I had used the wrong gauge wire when winding. After that it fired up and indicated tuning FB. The final output test showed abt 4 wts on 40, 5 wts on 30, and only 2.5 on 20. After spacing the windings, 40 came up to 5 wts, but 20 would not budge. I solved this by removing one coil from the 20m low pass toroid, resulting in just a bit under 5 wts. Another tip I would pass on is the instillation of the battery pack. Mine came with two (4 AA) holders. Verify the correct voltage and polarity (before cutting the wires HI), and place tight against the side of the case. The manual calls for a 1/4 inch spacing between the battery holder and the side of the case, but I found it to come in contact with the tuning cap. Placing it flush to the side of the case solved the problem.
On air experience:
So far I have abt 50 QSO's on the rig, both contest style and rag chew and all reports are favorable, no drift or chirps. The receiver is very nice, I would say it is on par with my FT-817 with 500kc filter. The K1 may have it beat, but not by much. Strong stations will have a bit of a pop or thump, this is easily solved by tuning off the RX peak. The tuning does take a bit of practice, but after a few times it becomes second nature. It reminds me of peaking and dipping tube gear. I really like this set, its very simple to operate, the tuner handles everything I have; coax to dipoles, 44' doublets, random wires, and on the last SOTA activation I used an EFHW cut for 40m with no counterpoise and good results (28 QSO's with CU3 and CT1 DX). I'm very happy with this purchase.
Other Kits experience:
Elecraft K1 & K2
VK5JST Arial analyzer
HB Tube gear (RX&TX), plus many AM/SW tube set restorations.
73-Bob W2CKL
DF2OF Rating: 2014-07-16
Tcvr good, but service.. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
In April I ordered my PFR via paypal and webinterface from Hendricks. Weeks passed and nothing happened, not even a confirmation, that the order has been received. Curious, if all went fine, I tried to get in contact with Hendricks using the different email I found on the website. No reply. In May I tried to call and reached Doug. Yes, order was received and is in process, Trvr would be shipped in a week.
Nothing arrived. 2 weeks later next call. Rig had been shipped he said and gave me his email, which is not present on the website. Doug promised to check one week later with me, if the kit did arrive in the meantime.
Result was it got lost, so a new one was sent and arrived finally in July..
The kit itself was not complete. 2 BS170 were missing, some resistors and washers. All was supplied by my junk box, no problem. Most probably Doug would have send the parts, I did not ask.
I was expecting that I had to attach the front labeling to the encloseure but was very positively surprised, that it came with silk screen front, all ready made. Very nice.
The kit itself is easy to assemble and worked immediately. 5W out on all bands.
First QSOs are made and it is a nice little portable rig!
I put a 3 because of the long delivery time and kind of poor service at the beginning.

VK2JOS Rating: 2014-07-12
What a Pain Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Well let me start with why I gave this radio only 1/5.....The PCB was damaged on arrival and some of the SMD components were missing and these needed to be repaired and replaced (NO HELP OR REPLY from Hendricks kits for the damaged and missing components ABSOLUTELY shocking customer service)

Once all this was dealt with and fixed it worked fine....and the radio is a good unit and performs well.....bummer Hendricks dont want to help or reply to emails...
ZL1KLP Rating: 2013-09-18
Great allrounder Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It's great little box to take along and I enjoy it hugely. I've added a speaker and rechargeable Li-Ion batteries inside - there is plenty of room for those inside.
YS1RS Rating: 2012-05-02
Fantastic Radio! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Bought mine in December 2011 directly from Hendricks, so mine has got to be a PFR-3A version.
Has got everything you may require for portability and field use in a CW only rig:
Internal antenna tuner (BLT), 3 bands, 5 Watts in all bands, digital frequency readout, uses batteries, full featured internal Iambic keyer with 2 memories, wonderful reception with good filter, very low power consumption, light weight, small size, strong construction and the yellow color will help you find it in case dropped on the trail; opposing to standard black radios: the yellow color keeps the radio cool under the sun for continuous operation (proved fact for me).
Not a 5/5 rating but a 4/5 due to this reason: Does not work well with CW straight keys (unless you are fast enough to send CW at 20 WPM or more with a straight key). Seems to be an internal software problem. Use paddles only and you will be OK.
The 2 memories are quite difficult to program correctly. There is a speed recording issue. Once set, will work perfectly.
Does not have a good AGC. Keep the radio at low volume always. You know that on HF, you have QRN from lightning and other causes. If you are listening to a faint signal and a stronger signal suddenly appears you will feel it for sure, or if you are tuning up or down the band keep low volume too for same reason. I use a portable mini-speaker (Genius Mini Portable Speaker SP-i150) with this radio in order to protect my ears. Do the same too or keep very low volume on your headphones.
Silk screened covers should be available at extra cost: The decals are quite delicate even with recommended protective spray and makes the radio look cheap once they start peeling off.
Apart from that... all small problems were easily solved: 1 resistor missing from the parts received and poor quality banana threads (damaged). Bought replacement for these parts locally.
This radio has proven to be a keeper for me. I am located in Central America. Shipping to return damaged equipment is not an option for me. So I must be careful with what I buy.

Was fun to build it. Instructions were OK for me, but had previous experience building kits.
Not a kit for beginners but, with the help of an Elmer, you will do OK.
For its price, it gets over all this little problems so I upgrade my rating to 5/5.

Good amazing DX has been made with it.
I know, this is free propaganda for the designer (Steve Weber) and for Hendricks too, but I believe in what personally have seen and what I've done with this kit; otherwise I wouldn't recommend it.
If you are in a tight budget and want a durable, functional, full featured QRP rig that won't let you down, then stop thinking too much and just go buy one.
You will love it too.

SKCC #8404