I just finished watching your video on resonant/non-resonant antennas and ATUs. I enjoyed it a lot.
For context, I got my ticket in 2020 and got on the air at the end of July 2020. Since that time I have only worked QRP CW using a QCX (the original) on 20 meters and then after September 2021, I got a Venus SW-3B so I have done a bit of work on 40m and 30m now as well.
I really enjoy the challenge of QRP and in a bit over a year, I worked all states, as well as Japan, Canada, several Europe countries, etc, so with good band conditions, QRP really does work and is a lot of fun. My experience working /P stated when I got the SW-3B but I only got out 3 times as the weather up in the hills west of Denver got too chilly very fast; this spring I’ll get back to more /P.
You can see my setup [above]; it is very minimalistic. My three antennas for 40, 30 and 20m are all EFHWs, each about 24 feet above ground. I use the Pacific Antenna SOTA tuner to match impedance both at home and in the field; its very small and packable and with its bridge circuit, I can get a good match at various deployments.
I thought I would share with you my experience and comments about the SW-3B radio; not a boring list of its features. Specifically, what my QCX lacked as AGC and an RF gain control. After way too many ear blasts from the QCX from strong signals, I absolutely love having AGC on the SW-3B. Perhaps more important though is that SW-3B has an RF gain control. While it certainly helps with strong nearby stations, it really shines in boosting the S/N of very weak stations by dialing down the RF gain and compensating by raising the AF gain. I am astounded how well this works and wonder how many more stations I might have worked on the QCX had it had this ability.
One other point that you will not discover on the Venus website or in the radio’s outdated documentation: the radio now can store a message for sending (with limitations), not just a callsign. Also, the radio now displays a power bar graph when transmitting. Both of these features became available in September 2020. I am guessing that the new Firmware that enables this is similar to the SW-3C model.
The one issue that I have had with the SW-3B is that the variable encoder became faulty after 3 months of operation. Specifically, rotations of the encoder resulted in unpredictable frequency changes so this messed up band scanning, zero-beating and tuning in off-frequency replies. I’ve read on QRZ that at least one other person had this issue.
My radio is now on its way back to China for repair and I hope that the radio lasts longer after the fix. Other than this issue, I love the SW-3B and wanted to pass this information on to you in case you were interested.
Thanks again for the nice website, articles and videos!
Dan – KE0ZAR
Thank you for sharing this, Dan. Very impressed that not only did your journey start with QRP and CW, but you built your first radio! Wow! And then to grab your WAS and log DX? Most impressive.
Thank you for sharing your experience with the SW-3B as well. I’ve heard that Venus customer service is responsive and helpful. I see one of these transceivers in my future.