Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ideal Portable QRP Radio

Over the decades, I've built and/or operated a good number of radios from a variety of locations. Oak Hills OHR-20 from a picnic table, Small Wonder Labs from a campsite, Elecraft KX1 from a tent on the Appalachian Trail, etc, etc.

Every few years a new rig comes along that offers more features than any of its predecessors. Sometimes these features are in the form of a greater number of bands, modes, better filtering or, in the case of the KX2/3, integration of battery, tuner and paddles that make these radios so much more easily portable than those requiring such necessities to be packed separately.

But I believe operating trends are changing and IMHO radios designed for portable use are lagging behind.

More and more ops are embracing digital modes for a variety of reasons: interest/activity in Morse is declining, phone is "CB-ish" in many parts of the spectrum (in regard to behavior) and increasing restrictions on antennas result in a steady migration to the more efficient digital modes. FT8 now makes digital outdoor QRP QSO's not only possible, but fun and fast-paced.

Whereas the brilliant series of kits developed by KD1JV serve as very specialized CW rigs, the Ideal Portable QRP Radio will be just as ideal for digital operation with no compromises on CW or phone. To do this they will have a single ethernet connection to host computer with all required signals (digital TX audio, digital RX audio, T/R, CAT) on that one connection that keeps everything in the digital realm. For operating without an attached computer on CW & SSB, the LCD will continue to provide the traditional user interface.

New digital modes will be introduced with capabilities that will make converts out of old CW dinosaurs like myself. Bluetooth connectivity from the Ideal Portable QRP Radio to your smartphone will allow uploading of spots to, PSKReporter, etc.

And of course this unicorn of a radio will produce 10 watts, be no larger than a KX2 and will contain a 4AH battery and autotuner. At home, it will allow any computer monitor to function as a panadapter.

It will consist of functionality currently existing in a combination of the Elecraft KX2 and Flex 6XXX rigs. The KX2 currently provides many of the features mentioned above while the Flex rigs contain the required SDR and digital interfacing necessary for the remaining features. I hope one or both of these excellent companies will see the need for a hybrid of what they each currently produce that will make portable digital operation as convenient as CW.


  1. Perhaps it would also do full duplex VHF/UHF for satellites with built in Doppler correction and satellite tracking. N4KGL

  2. Would be great to see how amateur radio is evolving in the next future.

    "Bluetooth connectivity from the Ideal Portable QRP Radio to your smartphone will allow uploading of spots to, PSKReporter, etc."

    Ever thought about WiFi connectivity? Most smartphones have a WiFi hotspot ability. It is faster as BT in my opinion and at least my laptop and tablet are connecting automatically once you setup everything. I already use it at portable activations to sync time and upload spots.

    73, Bas

  3. WiFi or BT - either would accomplish the task and I know that purists will argue that it moves the concept of ham radio away from what it's always been...they're right, maybe, but so what? V/UHF for satellite work and tracking would be neat - I've only briefly dabbled with the "easySATs" so not much knowledge of that here.

    My main point is that I see the recent new offerings from Hamvention - the K3S and the new rigs from Flex and others - and initially get excited and then realize that mainly they all do the same thing as their predecessors, only just a bit better. The K3S has better specs than the K3, but only by an amount measurable by instruments (and dollars!!!). The new Flex rigs essentially incorporate a Maestro onto a 6300/6500. Nice but hardly innovative stuff from either company...and yet they both have the know-how and resources to make something unique.

    As I said, the hardware for this hobby isn't keeping up with the software.

  4. Call me a dinosaur, John ........ but I sit in front of a computer all day for work. The last thing I want to do when I play radio is use another computer to communicate. That may be the trend, but I guess I'll remain "counter-cultural".

    72 de W2LJ