A nice QRP surprise this morning

We’re getting ready to hit the road for vacation.  It’s been a whole year since KD2CHE and I tied the knot on a cliff overlooking Lake Tahoe.

Xiegu X1M

Xiegu X1M

We’re not going to be heading back there yet, but wandering through New York’s North Country a bit.  I’m expecting to get a little portable QRP operation in as we poke around up there.  In anticipation of the trip, I picked up a spare power supply from my brother a few weeks ago to use with the Xiegu X1M, and any other 12V items I have or may acquire when I’m not near my main setup.  I decided to assemble the “motel room” version of my QRP setup here to see how it works.  I have the Xiegu, my Emtech ZM2 tuner, mic, the spare PS, and a small amplified speaker sitting here on the couch.  A string of 2 alligator leads is running from the ZM2 to the feed-thru from my random wire up near the window.  Everything powered up, and tuned up, so I decided to answer a couple of calls on 15M.


I made USB contacts with UT7UJ in Kiev, and S51ZZ in Slovenia from my test station on the couch here in Long Island.  Not bad for 5 Watts.  This little rig is full of surprises.  I also just found out from Ed at Import Communications through a post to the Xiegu X1M Yahoo group that he is going to be offering upgrade kits for the earlier X1M to upgrade the front panel and display to the newer version, as well as a strong possibility of a firmware upgrade that will cure many of this rig’s little issues.  The firmware upgrade has already been released for the newer model.


Now, time to pack it back up, and hit the road.  73s de Neil, W2NDG

RadioKitGuide.com ch-ch-ch-changes

Here are the changes at RadioKitGuide.com so far:

  • -Coming Soon- TJ4A MK II 4 Band SSB Transceiver.  No other info yet
  • New- TJ2B MK II SSB Handheld Transceiver.  YouKits combined the A and B models into one with a good choice of bands.  So far only available assembled.
  • New- EK1A and EK1B 3 band QRP CW kits.  Power output 4-5 Watts.  Built in Keyer.  SMD parts all finished.  Assemble in about 2 hours.  A model: 40, 30, and 20 Meters.  B model: 20, 17 and 15 Meters.  $179 + S&H


  • The 1254 Superhet SW receiver has been discontinued.


  • Juha tells me that they are in the process of transferring logistics to a new company.  They hope to have kits available again by the end of the year

-Small Wonder Labs

  • As many of you have heard, Dave Benson has retired from kit production.  The famous RockMite transceiver is supposed to be moving to QRPme.com.  You can also check out the Super RockMite from AliExpress further down this listing.

-Wilderness Radio

  • Bob from Wilderness Radio informed me that the SST and Sierra have been officially discontinued due to a parts availability issue.

-Dan’s Small Parts and Kits

  • Dan doesn’t seem to have any kits listed on the website anymore, but is selling some of them on eBay.  See the listing at radiokitguide.com for more info


  • As stated above, QRP.me is rumored to be the new source for RockMite kits.  Stay tuned.

-Walford Electronics

  •   -NEW- The Lydford SSB Phone Transceiver.
  •  -NEW-  The FiveFET Simple Regen TRF Receiver.

-Kanga Products UK

  • -NEW- Open QRP Transceiver.  Similar to the Ten-Tec 506 Rebel.  Based on the OPen QRP design from Steve K1EL.

-Kits By EA3GCY

  •  -NEW- EGV-40 CW QRP 40M Transceiver.  40M CW Band.


  •   -NEW- Micro 40S QRP 30 Watt SSB Kit.

-The Ham QRP DIY Kit Shack on AliExpress. 

  • -NEW-Pixie Kit (Improved).
  • -NEW-Frog QRP Kit.
  • -NEW-Super RockMite Kit.

See RadioKitGuide.com for all details on these, and many more!

Please leave any additions you may have in the comments.




RadioKitGuide.com is being updated, and you can help!

Hi all,

The Lydford from Walford

The Lydford from Walford

I am in the process of updating radiokitguide.com.  If you can think of any new kit sources that I haven’t covered yet, please leave a comment here.  I am looking for RECEIVER, TRANSMITTER, and TRANSCEIVER  kits.  I will cover accessories at a later date.  If you know of a spectacular source of accessory kits though, send it along anyway.  I am adding a couple of new sources, and making changes to YouKits, Small Wonder Labs (goodbye), TenTec, and several others.  Thanks in advance for your help!

QRP: More fun than a barrel of microphones

This is an article I wrote for LIMARC here on Long Island, and also posted at my blog Fofio!.  Some of it is targeted to beginners in the hobby, so I apologize for the elementary nature of some of it.  Many of the kit references can also be found at my list of radio-related kits RadioKitGuide.com

I have been slowly getting into QRP these days (low-power for you beginners).  Being an outdoorsy kind of guy, it mixes well with my outings.  What has really surprised me latelyIler 20 (or 40) kit from EA3GCY though, is how well you can do with some inexpensive equipment, and a simple antenna.

Most of my portable setup is relatively Read the rest of this entry »

Nissequogue River State Park

I’ve been to this creepy state park several times since moving to Long Island.  Why creepy?  Mostly the abandoned buildings from the previous tenant on

Nissequogue River State Park

Nissequogue River State Park

this property; The Kings Park Psychiatric Center.  So, crumbling scary buildings, and a great view of the Nissequogue River Inlet?  Is there a better place for a Sunday afternoon QRP outing?  I think not!

While I was here last time, I spotted a great spot for a QRP setup.  At the top of the long hill, and past the courtyards is a nice grassy area that terminates at a fence at the top of a Read the rest of this entry »

Amateur Radio Kit Roundup (radiokitguide.com) Update

YouKits TJ2B

YouKits TJ2B

Some post-Dayton additions have been made to the RadioKitGuide.  Rather than continue to paste the entire thing here I will link to it and list the changes only.

Changes  in Hendricks (2 new kits!), YouKits (1 new kit!), TenTec (New QRP rig coming soon), Four States QRP (1 kit retired, 1 coming soon), CR Kits (1 new kit!).

You can see the guide here:  RadioKitGuide.com

Your first rig

Bob KK4DPN commented on my X1M review, and in addition to asking some questions about the issues I’ve had on some of the bands he states:  I’m looking to get into HF and this seems like a good thing to start out with, just to get a feel for it.

The Rocketeer, flickr

The Rocketeer, flickr

As a relatively new Ham myself, I went through what I have started to refer to as the standard Technician progression, or STP.  As a newly licensed Tech, I purchased an inexpensive HT.  Then, as I got a taste of being able to talk to people, but constant bad-signal reports, I got a mobile antenna for the HT.  More repeaters were now within my range, but I was still getting bad signal reports.  Next, came a mobile VHF rig, followed by a dual band one.  On the HF side, I purchased a 10 Meter mobile, and then a vintage Atlas 210X (as a General).

So many new Hams go through this same progression.  There’s a reluctance for some of us to invest $300 in equipment for a new hobby, until we play a bit.  For those of us that fit the hobby well, the HTs give us a taste of something better.  It’s the same with the HF side.  I bought the 10 Meter mobile used for about $100, because it was the only band I could use with my license.  Once I had some success with that (my first contact was trans-Atlantic!), I was motivated to get my General ticket.

I’ve mentioned before too, that I like to write about the frugal side of Ham Radio.  This is mostly because at this point in my life, I have collected several dependents  and obligations that take priority, and partly because, I’m Frugal! (There, I said it).  KD2 CHE is the same way with her sewing though.

Thinking along these lines, I’d like to explain why I bought an old Atlas 210X as my first multi-band HF rig.  After reading about them, it seemed like a good combination of size, power, cost, and ease-of-use.  A good working 210X can go for less than $200, and has a pretty small footprint.  Output is 200 Watts PEP (120 on 10M) on sideband.  People universally complain about the CW performance, but for now, I’m not using CW.  I’ve logged contacts all over Eastern, and Western Europe on the thing, as well as South America, and Western US.  Operation is VERY simple, and pretty forgiving of someone with little antenna tuning experience.

My recommendations for an HF rig for a new ham, who doesn’t want to spend a ton of dollars are as follows:

  • Don’t buy a QRP rig as your first rig.  QRP operation requires some skill, and can be frustrating if you’re just looking to rag-chew, or even just log some interesting stations.  Wait until you have a more powerful rig first, and get a little more familiar with HF.  I think a QRP rig as your first rig may give you a bad taste of what it’s all about.  Don’t get me wrong though.  The challenge of QRP is great fun.  I guess the analogy is that it would be like going off on a wilderness survival weekend as a first camping trip.
  • Go with a decent used rig.  There’s lots of great rigs in the $300-500 range at hamfests.  If you have some friends with more experience, ask around for recommendations, and look at the eHam reviews.  Plan on spending a little extra for a tune-up, and accessories (like a good antenna tuner).  100 Watts will get you started with enough power to talk all over the world.  My record so far is Namibia from Long Island.
  • If you really want a new rig, there are a few sub-$1000 rigs that get decent reviews.  The Alinco DX-SR8T can be picked up for just over $500 from several of the online Ham retailers.  The Icom IC-718  runs in the low to mid $700 range, and the Yaesu FT-857D is in the mid $800 range.
  • You CAN go even lower than $300 as I did, but your choices are limited.  In my case, I have a rig that doesn’t do the WARC bands, and is missing quite a few features that even the lowest priced radios have.  I love the simplicity of it though.   I can see continuing to use it even after I get something more sophisticated.

As more and more people discover this old pastime, I hope they discover all of the aspects of it.  Next for me is digital modes.  I’m really looking forward to getting that up and running on the Xiegu X1M, and a Raspberry Pi.  More to follow…


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