Need help making a purchasing choice

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W9BFZ, Sep 27, 2018.

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  1. W9BFZ

    W9BFZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm currently enrolled in the CW Ops Academy and it is going pretty good. My copy speed could be better, but I'm getting there.

    I'm looking for a transceiver to fit a very specific niche. I've got a fairly solid list of criteria I want to meet and have found a handful of transceivers that fit the list. I'm planning on doing lots of Parks On The Air and other portable operating with it.

    • Small. Something I can throw in a shoulder sling pack and go.
    • Inexpensive. It IS going to get beat to hell. I want something that if I break it, I'm not going to have to save up for 6 months to replace it. Money is super tight. Trying to stay under $300.
    • Minimal soldering/assembly.
    • Able to run off of small batteries like 18650 or a AA pack. Again, trying to keep size and weight down. I know this limits me to QRP, but it is CW... CW and QRP go together like peas and carrots.
    • Built in keyer a plus, but not necessary.
    • Multi band a plus but not necessary. I'm going to be operating during the day. That means I'm going to be spending most of my time on 20m. I wouldn't mind having other bands available, but I can make due.
    The list of transceivers I've narrowed it down to that fits my list:
    1. MFJ 9020
    2. Youkits EK-1C
    3. Ten Tech Rebel 506
    I am open to other suggestions, as long as they meet the above criteria.
     
    N2SUB likes this.
  2. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The MTR4B is $100 over your budget, but it does everything you want. It covers 80/40/30/20m, has a built-in keyer, works well with an (8)xAA battery pack if NiMH. The only limitation I've found with mine is the battery voltage has to be < 12v to protect the finals. I bought a dummy cell in case I have to use (8)xAA alkalines.

    https://www.lnrprecision.com/store/Transceivers-c10468544

    LNR Precision is doing an update on the -3B (better display), but this won't be available until October. It covers 40/30/20m and is $50 cheaper than the -4B.

    I thought the lack of a tuning knob would be a pain, but the up/down buttons have a slow and fast rate control which is fairly easy to use. So far, the lack of an AF gain control hasn't bothered me, but I've read that some use headphones with an in-line volume control.
     
  3. N6MST

    N6MST Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can you wait a little bit? Can you build a kit? If the answers to those questions are both "yes" then the radio you are looking for is the QSX.
     
    N2SUB likes this.
  4. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    MTR3B from LNR.

    https://www.lnrprecision.com/store/MTR3B-Mountain-Topper-p45010523


    They seem to come onto the used market, about 1 every week or two -- either on here, ebay, or eham. They go for $200 to $225. Sometimes about $275 to $300 with a paddle. They seem to see minimal use, as people buy them then don't actually get out and use them as much as they though they would.

    I'm still debating if I want one, but I am holding off, for now.
     
  5. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a You Kits HB1-b 5 bands, built in keyer and has an SWR meter which I don't yet use. I wouldn't throw it around in my rucksack so it is carried in a small store bought plastic food box packed with foam. Works a treat and the inbuilt lipo batteries last for hours and hours - I've never got them below 10v even when i've activated two SOTA summits in a row over two days. It can be operated at home with an external pwr supply or outside with a spare external battery too.. You can only use it for CW but for some reason it coves all the bandwidth including SSB. Its got memory channels too RIT and a few other bells and whistles. It might be available over your side of the pond for that price.
     
    W9BFZ likes this.
  6. N8TGQ

    N8TGQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    People have had a few threads on here telling of problems with the Youkits rig. No schematic and have to ship overseas for repair.
    I have 3 of the MFJ rigs and they have worked well for the last 20 years. I had problems with the 40m rig, sent it in for repair the day before Thanksgiving and had it back before Christmas. I don"t see 20m being very good for a couple of years yet.
    No experience with the TenTec rig.
    I also have the LNR MTR 3b. After 2 years it is the best QRP rig I've used! 3 bands, easy on batteries and the whole rig with 3 band EFHW and tuner fits in a fanny pack.
     
  7. W9BFZ

    W9BFZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That will give me plenty of time to really get my wheels under me :)
     
    N2SUB likes this.
  8. N6MST

    N6MST Ham Member QRZ Page

    Depends on where BFZ is hauling his radio. With my MTR3B I get multiple thousands of miles contacts on 20 meters, and that's with an EFHW on top of a nice California mountain.
     
  9. W9BFZ

    W9BFZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ebay made the decision for me. Ran across one of the MFJ's for a price I couldn't pass up. Comes with 700mhz filter and keyer board already installed.

    Thanks for the responses. If, or more likely when, I get ready to make another purchase, I'll keep the feedback received here in mind.
     
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think you'll like the MFJ.

    It's rugged, lightweight, just sips power (especially in RX), extremely easy to operate even in the dark, and uses zero proprietary components so it can be easily repaired should the need arise.
     
    W9BFZ likes this.

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