quick kit comparison

Quick Summary of Kits


This page will move anytime now. Don’t rely on it being here the day after tomorrow.

Motivated to try and find a good field radio that I could throw into a backpack along with minimal other components, for example a battery, an antenna, and possibly a DC-DC converter and ATU to comprise a complete radio system that I could talk walking, camping, or for SOTA I developed the set of requirements listed below. This page primarily exists to provide a quick summary of how well the kits that have been found fulfill those requirements. As you always seem to find other things of interest while looking for another. The secondary purpose of this page is to list those other kits, that while not fitting those requirements, that might be fun to purchase and built anyway. This is not a rushed exercise as I already have a radio which I can use however I’d like to build something and to increase the output power that can be delivered into the ether above QRP levels when the need arises.

Requirements with comment in parentheses:

  • Transceiver
  • Easily portable (think DIN size or better).
  • Low weight (It won’t be the only this being carried).
  • External battery (Allows the use of any availbale power source and in the case of batteries the possibilty to quickly change once the one being used goes flat.
  • CW operation
  • LSB/USB SSB operation
  • DSB operation
  • FM operation (Would be nice but not a must have)
  • Various power output settings selectable during operation. ie no need to power down and take it apart on a bench. from low QRP to greater than 10W would be nice.
  • Multi-band preferably all HF bands plus 6m ( use of removal modules alright if easy to change in the field.)
  • Able to withstand high SWR antenna set ups. (ie should be able to throw an antenna out and not worry about damaging the output stage)
  • Operates from a wide voltage range efficiently. (I’ll be using lipo packs in the field)
  • Rugged case for radio and all associated equipment. (Alright may have to add this one on later).
  • SMT is alright
  • Not going to break the bank. If it gets that expensive I’m better off buying a ready built unit and having something guaranteed to work.
  • High frequency stability
  • Accurate frequeny display (Always handy to know what frequency your trying to transmit or recieve on).
  • Low surious emitions (This is a legal requirement)

The Kits

Elecraft KX3


Starting at the high end there is the Elecraft KX3. This get good reviews all over the place and is well respected with a price tag to match. It fulfills the requirement prima facie. As a bonus it’s possible to add a 2m module and the ATU internally. Assembly of the kit seems to mostly comprise of srewing things together. The following table give a price breakdown on the kx3 kit to meet the above requirement (it includes the ATU, but leave out the 2m module). In reality, you’d add this and a few other options as well.

Modes: SSB/CW/Data/AM/FM Bands: 160-6m plus 2m Power: 10W PEP Weight: 700g

Module Price (USB)
KX3-K KX3 160-6 M Xcvr (Modular Kit) 899.95
MH3 Hand Microphone for the KX3 with Up/Dn Buttons 59.95
KXAT3 Internal, 20-W Automatic Antenna Tuner 179.95
UPS Worldwide Expedited Shipping 195.82
Total 1335.67



Modes: SSB/CW Bands: 160m - 10m (1.8MHz to 30MHz) Power: 10W Weight: 1.2kg

Module Price (EUR)
JUMA TRX2A 499.00
Freight ??.??



A Kick Starter project. Campaign closed. Lacks output filters. Includes Vector Network Analysis and GPS receiver.

Modes: SSB Bands: up to 30MHz Power: low (10mW according to http://www.reddit.com/r/amateurradio/comments/2j6zjv/portablesdr_fully_open_source_sdr_handheld/cl9vhsr ) Weight: ?

Module Price (USD)
PSDR 475.00
Freight ??.??



Kit is made up ow two boards: RF board and UI board. A complete parts pack is only available for the UI board at the time of writing.

Modes: USB/LSB/AM/CW Bands: 3-30MHz Power: 10W Weight: ?

Module Price (GBP)
UI PCB 8.00
UI Board Conponents Pack 69.00
RF PCB 8.00
RF parts (estimate see below) ??.??
Freight (Non UK Shipping) 6.00
Total ??.?? + 91.00

The RF parts currently have to be sourced from Farnell, Digikey, and Ebay based on the provided BoM.

Supplier Parts Cost (AUD) Feight (AUD) Comment
Farnell/Element 14 $339.98 : $0.00 : 217.05 before adjusting for minimum quantities
DigiKey $37.50 : $34.00 :
Ebay $107.27 : $38.85 : The quantities sold means your buying 50 or 100 of each ferrirte

This is the spreadsheet used for the above calculations: http://mcHF_QRP_transceiver_RF_board_BoM_by_supplier.ods

Total from other suppliers is 557.60 and you still don’t have the enamel wire and a few other components.

All up, using a conversion rate of 1 GBP is 1.98 AUD, it cost about $737.80 AUD.

This is a very promising kit. If there is ever a full featured order option it will be worth buying.

Other Interesting Kits

Kits in this section don’t come close to meeting the requirements above, but are intersting for some other reasion, sush as, being simple and quick to build, or unique functionality.

Rock Mite


Mostly of interest as a simple kit that’s described as “a one-evening CW transceiver kit” meaning this could be just the thing for a quiet day at home when you don’t have time for a more involved kit.


There are many Pixie derivations out there such as those that can be bought for about $7 on ebay.com or aliexpress.com ( search for pixie qrp).