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Reviews For: MFJ 9200 QRP Mini Multi Band Transceiver

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

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Review Summary For : MFJ 9200 QRP Mini Multi Band Transceiver
Reviews: 19MSRP: $250.00
MFJ-9200 is a bold new addition to MFJ`s legendary QRP transceiver line, delivering unmatched six-band CW performance in a compact pocket-sized package
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K3RTA Rating: 2020-10-20
Useable, cute, and light, though a bit deaf. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Overall, it's a nice radio in terms of weight, size, RF out, and band versatility. The CW note is solid and doesn't shift, and the RF appears nominally clean according to my palm-sized spectrum analyzer. It gives a nice 3-4 watts out on 9V, around 5 on 12V, and upwards of 7 watts out on 14V, all on around 85ma on TX. Clearly, this is easy on the batteries for plenty of power. I've worked a dozen states or so on 80, 40, 30, and 20 (the bands for which I have the daughter-board band -determining elements).

On the less than fantastic side, it just doesn't hear very well compared to other radios I have, a Kenwood TS140s and a uBitx V5 build. We all know different radios can react differently, though I've been doing this for a while (and professionally for a few years) and I can assert that this radio is hard of hearing, to the degree that I have to give it the rating I gave despite it's positive aspects.

Using the same antenna, stations that are nominally copyable on the 9200 come in around an S-5 S-7 on the 140. I can swap this rig and the uBitx, purposely tuned to 4-6 watts on 40, 30, and 20 meters, and again hear people at low but usable levels and not get a trace of them on the MFJ rig. Tuning a light but readable QRO station on the MFJ, swapping the antenna to the uBitx brings them in to respectable, typically moderate signal or better.

I have already netted the band-determining elements' two front-end transformers to the SKCC calling freqs, so it's the best it's going to be, where I use this. I'm not looking at selling this off just yet but it's a thought. Another is to try adding a small, broadband pre-amp to the RF path between the band module's front-end transformers and the rest of the receiver. We'll see how brave I am when that arrives, and it that works. I'll have to document and share the modification. If it doesn't, the rig's going on the block to someone for whom bare readability of stations that would register well up the meter on other radios - and where DX is missed because I can't hear it at all (but easily can with a simple antenna swap), is acceptable.

The YouKits have a similar but updated simile to this, while the MountainTopper series looks interesting. 80m on 5 watts is pretty cool, though I can lose that for three other bands that can hear.
AH7I Rating: 2017-10-05
update 11 months later Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I've taken it to the beach and used it at home.

Receiver: sensitive; works fine at urban QTH; filter bandwidth is just right; RF attenuator is nice for 80 and 40.

Transmitter: enough power to work the world with a dipole.

Documentation: KD1JV drew up a schematic and KL7KN put together a nice manual for this transceiver. Thank you!
It's nice to see how it goes together and have the docs should it need repair.

Radio was unavailable for a while but is back in stock at the time of this writing.
DL1AIW Rating: 2016-12-11
Happy for the price Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is my main SOTA or GMA rig these days - and the only one since I've sold my FT817. It does, what it should: transmitting a clear CW-signal with 5 W on all bands I use. Reception is good, far ahead of that of my old FT817, which was lacking an additional roofing filter, which costs half the price of this small transceiver. Size and weight are remarkably small, excellent for mountain walking or climbing. I never had any of the problems I've read about in the internet.

It only does CW which is not a problem for me, because I don't do anything else during SOTA activations. Lacking of VHF and 70 cm ist also not a severe case for me, because I've stopped 2m activities from summits. VHF seems to be more dead than ever here in Germany if you don't try during contests.

I did not perform any measurements but it seems that during reception the power consumption is lower than that of the FT817.

The only con is the fact that is that tis try is mechanically not as stable as the old FT817, which seemed to be mechanically nearly undestroyable. That is the reason for only 4 points here.

The price of a new one is much less compared to Elcraft rigs. Therefore it is unfair, to compare it with these transceivers forming another class.

Earlier 5-star review posted by DL1AIW on 2016-09-20

I use this transceiver only for SOTA and it has replaced the former FT 817 due to size (smaller), weight (much easier) and performance (comparable). I didn't have any of the troubles reported by few other OM's and I'm fully satisfied. It does, what it should: bringing solid 5 W in the air, doing satisfactory filtering in receive mode and keying really fine.

If sensitivity seems to be low (definitely not with my trx) one should try to re-align the filters, which should be easy with sufficient equipment. In my case sensitivity its definitely fine, also concerning the fact, that during SOTA activations antennas are far from optimized.

You will surely loose the screws used to fix the back of the trx while changing the filters. As always this will not happen in the lab, but in the field in a dense cover of grass without any chance to find them. That is the reason for me to carry a few spare-screws with me which cost only pennies.

I could recommend this small trx to everyone doing activations in the outback, especially if we talk about it's price!
KD8IIC Rating: 2016-10-12
Happy With My Two 9200's Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The MFJ9200 is about the best value in a QRP mini rig. Get the one with all the modules. The case screws can be kept from loss by adding a set of thin nylon washers. Cut to split and slide over the screws to the base, easy fix. Using mine with a Palm key.The magnetic base sticks well to the 9200's metal enclosure.
KD2JQG Rating: 2016-06-16
2 Radios, Both Worthless Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The short version - Received the first radio, it shows up with a sticky Mem-VFO button - every time I tried to toggle between vfo and mem, I would end up saving the current displayed frequency. Annoying. Returned it, they sent a new one. Operated it for a couple of hours on a 9V battery - while calling CQ it lets out a high pitched squeal and stops transmitting. Tried swapping out modules, new batteries - no luck, receive only no transmit. Returned it for refund.
KL7KN Rating: 2016-03-23
Much better Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
My earlier review highlighted the need for technical documentation.

I've written a technical manual and thanks to Steve Weber (KD1JV) - there is now a usable schematic for the radio. I will send both (as a .PDF documents) on request, gratis.

Several folks have managed to resolve a problem with their rigs using the document set.

The radio is quiet, has good coverage, RX sensitivity is .2 uV or better and is much smaller than other QRP rigs.

Earlier 3-star review posted by KL7KN on 2015-06-15

IMO, the MFJ 9200 QRP radio **IS NOT** something I would recommend for the new ham or one that has limited technical skills. Let me explain the why behind this statement.

1. Low power AND CW only.
With rare exception, not something a new ham is going to enjoy. I suspect that a lot of radios like this (Not just this make/model) will wind up on a dusty shelf.

1A. Lack of any real technical data!
There is NO schematic or parts list. I see this as an absolute killer for someone new to the hobby. I've been licensed since 1977 and I'm none too happy about the lack of data as well. The rig has a downloadable operator manual, but it is all but worthless for troubleshooting....

2. The VFO and volume controls are crazy delicate – and likely to be damaged unless the operator uses some serious care with packing and movement of the radio. No harsh, just the nature of the components used. These sit on a double sided board filled with SMD, not a robust situation. Real care must be exercised with the band modules – for storage, transport and when swapping them out. The headers can be damaged, and unless you recognize this need for care, you may be disappointed.

3. The VFO is flaky.
Multiple other reviewers have noted this. When you turn the control, the VFO jumps, goes both up and down or fails to change the frequency. The VFO control is also a push button used to change the VFO steps. Good engineering to reduce parts count, but as a former (20+ years) maintenance guy, I'll tell you now, this is, IMO, a bad choice. I'll wind up replacing this at some time, and knew that going it, so – no big.

4. Overall Quality – or lack thereof.
No worse than the average "China radio" and better than a lot on the market now. Just ensure you buy from a dealer that has a published return policy.

5. Service after the sale.
It's from MFJ – I'm not holding my breath. To be fair, expecting real technical/repair support from *any* ham dealer is, for the most part, expecting too much. This is a low budget, low volume hobby market. Take that into consideration before you harsh on anyone...

6. Technical stuff.
No RF gain. No variable B/W and the list could go on. This is a *basic* radio, CW only, that offers a chance to listen to SSB. The only real annoying issue is that at every Mhz - 7.0, 12,0 15.0 and so on for the entire range of the radio - there is a loud birdie. Every Mhz. I suspect it's from the DDS scheme, I'll keep digging to see if this can be cleared.

Bottom line – I'm not sending mine back.

Kits similar to this radio, with only 2 or 3 bands *start* at $200 and up – for a kit. It works, puts out a good, clean signal and the quirks - well, I think I can live with those.

Be warned, this rig is not for everyone, but it offers me a compact (not miniature) low current draw radio that enables me to use most of the HF hams bands.

Do I wish for a rig that fits into a mint tin, has a tuner and does both CW/sideband, runs off of AAA batteries and... Yeah, and the Communicator fell out of Capt. Kirk's pocket last week as well.

This is a sort of expensive toy for an expensive hobby and I fully expect to have a lot of fun working on and playing with it.
K8AI Rating: 2015-09-21
Excellent Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I bought the radio for portable ops and I would say after using it on a couple of backpacking trips, it was a good choice. Six bands and a solid 5+ watts out at even low supply voltage and weighing in at 3/4 of a pound makes it a winner. The encoder - controlled DDS is stable (not erratic at all), the RIT works fine and it has a nice, selective filter. I get constant reports of a nice keying note as well. I use it with a 12.6V, 3Ah Li-Ion battery and resonant dipole. A great radio for hiking, etc where the radio's weight matters.
WD4HLO Rating: 2015-09-04
Great little radio for the price Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have had the radio for about a week and am very pleased with it. I've had no problem making contacts to South America and Europe on 20 meters in marginal conditons. That is with a dipole at 15 feet. The receiver is very good. My only wish is that the filter bandwidth was a little narrower. It has a surprisingly clean sound. Can't wait to try it out in a park or in the woods.
WB2JIX Rating: 2015-03-01
Great Radio! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This should really not be in the 5W or less section. We tested mine with the 20M filter yesterday and the output was 8.36W and the receiver sensitivity was a nice, .2uv. I have yet to take it out in the field and use it. I have listened around the bands a lot, tried all the features and find it to be a perfect little rig for CW. I did email MFJ and suggested they use captive screws for the bottom thumbscrews and/or send a few extra with each radio. They are sure to be lost outdoors. Also, there is a mistake in the manual for the 6 band one as there is no standoff for securing the filter.
W4DST Rating: 2015-02-01
Great radio for the money Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I received my MFJ 9296 as a birthday present from my wife. After a month of use I've found it to be a lot of radio for the money. Granted, it's no K3 but for my QRP use it's the perfect radio. It appears to be designed by Yimin Zhao of Youkits judging from the programming of the microprocessor and the general physical looks of the radio. I have owned an HB1-B for over a year and the MFJ-9296 has the same quality and ease of operation which I've come to appreciate with the HB1-B. The only downside is that the MFJ lacks the adjustable crystal filter. Still, the filter in the MFJ does a very good job and by using the RIT, working DX splits is very easy.

There have obviously been improvements from earlier models looking back at comments on the rig. The receiver is quite sensitive and the audio output is excellent. The filter is easily 500Hz by comparing it to my other rigs and I hear no ringing.

The ability to store 8 memories per band is a big improvement over my HB1-B and the addition of 17 and 15 meters is another plus. To get 6 bands of coverage for $100 less than the price of an HB1-B makes it a real bargain for any QRPer or anyone wanting to explore QRP operation. How can you go wrong for about $250 including shipping?

I'm not sure how MFJ can sell this much radio for this low price, but I sure appreciate it.