Youkits QRP 4-band HB1B (Ten Tec R4040) "Go pack"
I finally put the little HB1B on the air today while /PM (pedestrian mobile) at a state park. I try to write fair reviews and not "Five stars!" just because I own it. If I had to rate this little rig (star-wise) I'd put it at a 3.5 to 4 out of 5.
Summary: Works well for its niche; value packed. Could use some refinements.
-Currently best bang for buck (band-wise)
-5 watts out (with proper power)
-Dedicated IF Filter knob and AF gain knob (simply awesome)
-4 bands TX 80, 40, 30, 20
-General RX 3.2-16mhz
-Can RX CW and SSB
-Can accept variety of pwr options 9-14VDC
-Solidly built and SMALL
-Can record and save your callsign for automatic CQ sending (though I never used this yet)
-No "band switching control" outside of spinning that VFO (even then it is maximum 100khz at a time). Needless to say, it can take quite some time to go from 80m to 20m.
-The Ten-Tec lithium battery pack (sold separately) does not nicely fit into HB1B enclosure. After inserting battery pack, there is a noticeable gap and screws do not go all the way in. Also, battery pack must sit directly on circuit board w/ no gap (I worry about heat issues here).
-Which leads to..have to buy the battery pack separately...yet they ship the HB1B with a lithium charger? This seems backwards to me, somehow..
-My "go pack" contained a small ziplock with 2 stakes but only 1 tie-down rope. Not sure if this was a mistake or if standard. Needless to say, I had to cut it in half but the 2 halves were too short if I wanted to put the included dipole at any height.
At any rate, I must admit that I did not put the unit through its paces, as it were. My main goal was to spend time with my family. My only goal with the new rig was to make one contact and then disassemble the setup. I accomplished that feat in very short order (perhaps 2 minutes of sending CQ). Since I couldn't put the dipole at very much height, I knew that I would be limited to NVIS range. I was operating in NE Ohio and netted a contact in West Virginia. We both exchanged 599 as our RST.
The receiver on this tiny rig is exceptional. I couldn't believe not only how many signals I was hearing but the fidelity of them. The coaxial-fed (/w balun) dipole works great that comes with this go-pack. The only antenna-tuner that I used was my ears. Right out of the bag, I could tell that the insulators were properly setup for about mid-way in the CW portions of 80, 40 and 20. Speaking of the go-pack itself I will say that it is a nice value. The small tote easily fits everything that I needed to operate with plenty of room to spare. It is well built, includes a water-proof interior and has LOTS of pockets including one for a bottle of water.
At the end of the day, I am very pleased with my purchase. I can easily over look most of those "minuses" above, except for the battery-pack not fitting issue. I may simply opt to use the included battery-holder and put in separate lithiums. The problem with that is...less voltage supplied...which means less watts out. I never intended this to be a QRP shack rig. I purchased with intent to get out there in the woods with it. It fills that role very nicely. It is small, portable, feature-packed and above all WORKS! I love the go-pack that includes the antenna and tote. I needed to only supply my key and power. I am pretty excited with this little rig and look forward to actually putting it through its paces at a later time, probably this summer. And when I do I will append to this review.
I've read some reviews elsewhere that say they will opt for the elecraft unit instead because you can have a tuner inside. I say "meh". To me, if you're operating QRP OUTSIDE then you tune the antenna itself to a frequency and stay on it. With 5 watts, I don't want to introduce additional loss with an antenna tuner. Also, do a price comparison.. If you have any questions, ask away. Would definitely recommend.
Quick Band QSY for HB-1B
I've found the best way to QSY from band to band is by using the memories in the HB-1B. There are pre programed memories that cover areas throughout the 4 bands. Put the rig in memory mode
and jump thru the memories/bands until you find a memory that's close to where you want to be. Then put the rig in VFO mode (by pressing the V/M/Sav button or by changing the tuning resolution by pressing the tuning knob) and tune to where you want to be. I've gone thru and programmed memory "markers" that are close to the areas I like to operate that make QSYing from band to band a snap.
I Love this little rig, my favorite backpack QRP rig by far.