Choosing the right QRP radios for an extended road trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, if all goes according to plan (and we never take that for granted anymore) our family is plotting an extended road trip into Canada this summer. We’ve got most things lined up: a brilliant house sitter, an  home base in Québec, a doggy “summer camp” for Hazel (my kind father-in-law), and, oh yes, a list of parks and summits I hope to activate.

What I’m still sorting out is the radio gear.

Let me be the first to admit that I’m blessed with a number of field radios (so be warned: this is going to sound very much like a first world problem) and there are aspects of each one that I appreciate. On a road trip like this, though, space will be at a premium.  I can really only justify two compact HF radios and their associated accessories. I plan to bring at least one of my Bioenno 3Ah 12V batteries and charger as well.

Fortunately, I can take a few antennas. We have a roof top Thule cargo box that is actually perfect for my CHA MPAS 2.0, MPAS Lite, and TDL–they’ll fit on the floor of the box and essentially take up no room in it. Otherwise, the cargo box will be dedicated to all of our bulky camping gear.

My HF radios will have to fit in the car trunk/boot along with food, clothes and other supplies.

I already made a decision about one of the radios that will come with me. In fact, it was a bit of a no-brainer:

The Elecraft KX2

I’ve taken the KX2 on all of my major road trips since 2016. It’s incredibly compact, feature-rich, and can handle any situation I throw at it.

In fact, as with two previous years in Québec, I’ll use it to do a little shortwave radio listening (always an important aspect of my travels) and record the BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica.

Indeed, recording this particular broadcast has become an annual event over at the SWLing Post. It’s one of the highlights of my summer and always falls on my birthday.

The other thing about the KX2 is since it has an internal ATU, I can pair it with any antenna: resonant or not. If the need arises, I can also build an antenna from speaker wire, computer/phone cable, or pretty much anything that conducts.

And, of course, if I pair the KX2 with my low-profile AX1 antenna, I can operate anywhere. I do have a number of urban parks in Ottawa and Québec City that I plan to operate super low-profile and on foot.

The KX2 batteries require that I bring the rapid battery charger and that does take up a little more space (almost the same amount of space as the radio itself!).

As for a second radio…

I think I can get away with packing one more radio. That way, in the unlikely even I have an issue with the KX2, I would have a backup. Plus…hey…variety, right?

I don’t have the room to take my Mission RGO One, Icom IC-703 Plus, or Ten-Tec Argonaut.

I’ve even excluded the KX3 from the list because it wouldn’t offer me much more than the KX2 (just 160 & 6 meters, plus a little extra power output if needed it). The radio I choose needs to be one of my more compact, lightweight, and efficient models.

I’ve also left out the QCX-Mini because I want more than a mono band radio.

Hmmm…then again, the QCX-Mini is so extremely small, I could throw it in my glove compartment and no one would be the wiser [shhhh…let’s keep this between us, shall we?].

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the radios I’m considering and why:

The Icom IC-705

Though this is chunkier than some of my other radios, the IC-705 has an insane amount of functionality, covers HF, VHF, UHF and even D-Star (with a built-in database of local D-Star repeaters). It would be brilliant for the Midwinter Broadcast too since it has built-in digital audio recording.

Another big plus is that I can charge its battery pack with a common 5V MicroUSB charger. While it lacks an internal ATU, I have paired my AX1 directly to it using a homemade capacity hat and, of course, I’ll be bringing a couple resonant antennas too.

One big negative, if I’m being honest, is that it’s one of my priciest radios. I’d feel a bit nervous leaving it in the car at city car parks or remote trail heads for lengthy periods of time (the KX2, on the other hand, is so small I can literally take it with me everywhere).

lab599 Discovery TX-500

This one is very tempting. It’s super rugged, super compact, and if I’m doing a summit activation in wet weather, I’ll be happy I packed it. It’s also one of the most efficient general coverage HF transceivers I own, only needing 100-100 mA in receive. Since its input voltage range is DC 9-15V, I could actually power it with my KX2 battery packs.

It does lack an internal antenna tuner, though, and none of its accessories (due to the GX12 connectors) can be shared with the KX2. That means it’ll be a bulkier package even though the radio is so low-profile. I know it would be a superb choice, though, and I’d enjoy giving it heavy use.

Yaesu FT-817ND

I love the FT-817ND and it would do a fine job on this trip. Like the IC-705, it also opens up the world of VHF and UHF. It also sports both a BNC and SO-239 antenna port. It is a little heavier than some of the other contenders, lacks an internal ATU, is a little more power hungry, and lacks a CW or voice message memory function, though. Still, it is a rugged and reliable radio. That and I find it a pure joy to use.

Xiegu X5105

Update: I forgot to include the X5105–thanks for the reminder, Marshall!

The X5105 is a serious contender for a lot of reasons. Like the KX2, it’s a proper shack-in-a-box. It covers all of HF (more than the KX2), has a built-in ATU, built-in rechargeable battery, and a built-in microphone. Unlike the X6100 (which I haven’t included for this very reason) it has excellent battery life.

In addition, the X5105 is relatively compact, rugged, and is one of my least expensive general coverage radios.

My only gripe with the X5105 is the audio which I find a bit harsh when using earphones. It’s fatiguing when listening over long periods of time.  Also, it only has one easily accessible CW message memory and no beacon mode.  Still, a lot of pros with this radio!

Mountain Topper MTR-3B Field Kit

One easy addition would be the Mountain Topper MTR-3B. Not only is it one of the smallest radios I own, but I’ve also built an ultra- compact field kit for it that includes everything I’d need to hop on the air. All I’d have to do is grab the MTR-3B kit and throw it in the car. It’s so compact, in fact, I could take it on pretty much any family hikes.

The negatives are that it only covers the 40, 30, and 20 meters and is CW only. Also, I’d need an ATU if I wanted to use non-resonant antenna. To film activation videos (since the SW-3B lacks an internal speaker) I’d need to take my Sony digital recorder along for the ride which also complicates post-production.

On the plus side, the MTR-3B is the most efficient CW radio I own, only needing 15 mA in receive. Another bonus is I can power the MTR-3B with my KX2 battery packs, the 11.1 VDC is nearly a perfect match and keeps me the better part of a volt below the max. Plus I find the MTR-3B an amazingly fun radio to operate.

Mountain Topper MTR-4B

When the kind soul who has lent me the MTR-4B for review learned that I was going on this trip, he encouraged me to take it along for the ride. That is also very tempting!

I believe I could simply pull the MTR-3B from its field kit and replace it with the MTR-4B and its power cable (the coaxial power port is a size or two larger than that of the MTR-3B). I’m not sure if I’d ever use the 80 meter band with this radio on this trip, however. At this point, I’m not planning to take a resonant 80 meter antenna which would mean that I’d have to bring my Elecraft T1 or Emtech ZM-2 external ATU to use that band.

On the plus side, as with the MTR-3B, the 4B is insanely efficient and could also use my KX2 battery packs for power.

Venus SW-3B

As with the MTR-3B, I’ve a dedicated ultra-compact field kit built around the SW-3B. I do plan to add KN6EZE’s side rails and cover to my SW-3B although I do worry it might make for a tight fit in the mesh pocket of my Tom Bihn HLT2 pouch.

The SW-3B has many of the advantages/disadvantages of the MTR-3B and 4B. It does have a dedicated RF and AF gain control, but only one CW message memory and I suspect I’ll be using message memories a lot on this trip for calling CQ. Then again, this is such a low-cost radio, if something happened to it during the trip, I’d quickly recover. It, too, could use my KX2 battery pack.

Penntek TR-35

This one is a real wild card. First of all, I’d need to buy this from WA3RNC or ask for permission to keep it on loan for a longer period.

Again, the TR-35 has many of the same pros/cons as the MTR-3B, MTR-4B, and SW-3B. Only downsides compared with those three is that the TR-35 is slightly larger and its current consumption is around 100 mA which is low by pretty much any standard, but higher than the MTR series and SW-3B.

Then again, the TR-35 has a superb receiver, and four bands I use a lot in the field: 40, 30, 20, and 17 meters. With the new firmware, it also has two programmable CW message memories; less than the Mountain Toppers, but more than the SW-3B. Ergonomically, it’s a leader among super compact CW only field radios.

Elecraft KX1

I have a very strong inclination to take the KX1. It has four bands (the same as the MTR-4B: 80, 40, 30, and 20) and a built-in ATU. Also, the paddles can be attached directly to the radio; a huge plus in field operations. The internal batteries (AA cells) don’t power it for very long, but I could run it for ages on one of my KX2 battery packs (externally). In other respects, the KX1 has many of the same pros/cons as the MTR-3B/4B, SW-3B, and TR-35 (no speaker, CW only, and limited frequency range compared with my KX2, IC-705, and TX-500).

The KX1 is one of my favorite all-time radios, so it’s incredibly tempting to take it. Then again, it’s also my oldest field radio and has already had a couple of issues that needed addressing. Indeed, I’m sorting out another small issue with it at present. I’d hate for a problem to arise so far from home.

(tr)uSDX

Since my first activation with the (tr)uSDX, I’ve been tinkering with it in the shack. It is such a capable and fascinating little radio and I’ve warmed up to it a bit more. The audio is harsh, though, and I know I won’t reach for it as often as I would my KX2 for this reason alone. Then again, it is incredibly compact, efficient, and even sports SSB with a built-in mic. It might be fun to connect it to my AX1 or 17 meter MFJ telescopic whip and use it like an HT.

Perhaps I could fit it in the glove compartment, too? I don’t want to press my luck. I’m imagining my wife opening the glove compartment in route and radios falling out of it like a horn of plenty. My family knows me as a champion of one-bag travel–even for car trips. I coerce them into taking the least amount of luggage as possible. If they see that I’ve stashed contraband it might harm my already dubious reputation with them even further. They know I’m a hypocrite when it comes to this radio stuff.

Your opinion?

Again, I’ll fully admit that I’m spoiled for choice as I’ve such a compliment of QRP radios at present. I’d be happy with any one of these (save the (tr)uSDX, perhaps) as my only radio for this trip.

I am seriously undecided.

If you were in my shoes and wanted to include an extra radio to compliment the KX2, which one would you pick and why? Please comment!

69 thoughts on “Choosing the right QRP radios for an extended road trip”

  1. Sounds like a great trip Thomas! My choice would be the IC-705. The main reason would be all the extra capabilities and bands which would allow you to enjoy other things that the KX2 does not offer. Safe travels and I hope to work you on your trip.

    God Bless,

    Dave KN4OK

    1. I just went through something similar for our NC trip though I only had three radios to chose from. I had pieces of kit stuffed into every available space. And I surprised myself. One bag for radios and one for the antenna stuff plus’s three hamsticks velcroed together.

      Throw a $25 Baofeng in and any of the smaller radios. I would be afraid to take the 705 for the reasons you stated. The 817 is too heavy and bulky to be a prime candidate. Get creative. Take a bag of parts and build a radio in the field. LOL

      I did notice that you excluded both of your Xiegu radios. Why?

      W4MKH
      https://w4mkh-qrp.com/

      1. Wow! I didn’t realize I’d left them out. great point.

        So the X6100’s battery life is a little on the low side for me for a trip like this. That and I have it in a dedicated kit that I use when doing caregiving for my parents at their home.

        The X5105 is a proper contender, though, in my book. It has excellent battery life and I could get away with only bringing a small charger to charge the internal battery. Plus, it has a built-in mic. Hmmm…

        Might add this into the post.

        Cheers,
        Thomas

        1. With an adapter cable you could power the 6100 with the KX2 battery packs. The 11V battery packs would work with the X6100 also. Some powerpoles to connect to the battery pack and you are in business.

          But with all the options you have it would just be easier to choose one of the other radios.

          1. Very true. So another factor is that the X6100 is in a field kit at my parents’ home. I keep it there as a radio that’s always ready for an activation. I don’t think I’ll be stopping by there again before we leave, so the X6100 is really out of the picture for this trip.

  2. The KX2 also has my vote, fully loaded options from the factory and you can’t go wrong. 73 72 44 AI5DD Joe

      1. I’ve taken my Iom IC-703 on allow my outdoor trips. 10 watts; SSB, CW, AM & FM. Cut the power back to 5 watts, kill the lighted dial & a 7 ah 12 volt battery will last all day

  3. Go with the 705. That way you have the best from 2 great companies. Maybe pack an Icom ID-52 so you would have a spare battery pack for the 705.

  4. Lab599 Tx500 but then I’m biased as I don’t have access to some of the others so don’t know their capabilities.
    Obviously redundancy would tend to compatability with the KX2 to keep weight down.

  5. Without hesitation the TX500. It is compact even with an Elecraft T1 type tuner. It consumes very little (I power mine with cordless drill batteries). For voice and CW, with its reception qualities including SWL, it’s the ideal configuration for me.

  6. Oh. Don’t forget to throw in the MFJ 1984LP. It is great to have a resonant antenna on 40 & 20m with a little more gain than the verticals. Also throw in the T-1 so you can get on the WARC bands when there are contests going. Have a great trip and we will be looking for your SPOTS.

    1. So I gave my MFJ-1984LP to a new ham who is absolutely loving it! No worries, though, as I have a number of EFHW antennas I can take along for the ride.

  7. Although I don’t have one, if I did I would take the 705 and the T1. This will allow another chance to check all the functions of the 705.

  8. KX2. For backup: KX3, grin. I’d take a 6m antenna, 2 or 3 ele arrow style yagi. Summer? Perhaps not.

    A nice tight deep hard case with room for the KX3, PX3, KXPA100, power supply and connectors and I’m ready for SOTA, POTA and light contesting. Laptop will be coming, right? Grin. Does have the “left in car” worry. 73

    1. Yeah, for me, there is definitely no room for a Pelican case of any sort. Space will be super tight. That field kit you’ve put together, though, would be able to work any contest!

  9. Thomas- you’d consider missing a potentially exciting 6 meter opening in a possibly rare grid square? I’d go 817 or 705 (you can study the 705 for hours if the bands are dead). Re the 705, perhaps your auto or home insurance covers it could cover some of that risk? Have a blast!

    1. 6 meters would be awfully fun!

      In truth, I don’t worry about theft too much. It’s not typically a major concern where we go. I just feel funny about bringing two of my most expensive radios. 🙂

  10. No Xiegu G-90? I got this radio before the KX-3. When they say it will tune a wet noodle, they are right. Fantastic ATU. Love the radio even though I have not had it out since receiving my KX-3.

    1. I had a G90 for about 5-6 months. Great little radio, but I sold it a few months after doing a review for TSM. I so rarely do anything above 5 watts, that I found I wasn’t reaching for it in the field a lot. Good little radio and an insane value for sure.

  11. Well most definitely a first world problem. First off, KX2 for sure. Second ask yourself what the purpose of the second rig would be? Purely backup, field radio for day hikes when weight a premium, are you planning any SOTA / POTA w 2m? Do you “need” a panadapter or plan to do digital? If I were to do it and plan to compliment the KX2:
    1) Day hike radio: MTR 3 or 4/ T1; maybe the Venus though not as confident w that radio yet. Penntek fits here as well and not much bigger than MTR4 plus you can do SWL.
    2) Purely back up SHTF radio: Lab599 for sure, but more likely to misplace cable then you are up the creek.
    3) 2m capable and EMCOMM w 2m/440MHz Ft817/818, just big weight penalty…maybe have one of you harmonics carry “daddy’s radio” as a special treat in their backpack 🙂
    4) car camping only and minimal back pack IC705– covers everything, just big, plus you can use it around the campfire for ambient music from broadcast stations. Kids always like to see pretty colors too.
    5) Xiegu x6100 nice but not confident on battery life. The 5100 ok but doesn’t really do much more than the smaller rigs noted above.

    Sounds like you are off on a great family adventure! Enjoy and hope to work you on your trip!

  12. I do not own a KX2 so my two choices would be the IC-705 and the TX-500. The 705 is my goto POTA radio. I use an AH-705 tuner but can also use a T1. A couple of wire antennas and I am good to go. I can fit my hole kit in an 8 liter Bucket Boss bag. I also made a paddle adapter to attach my N0SA SOTA Paddles to the 705. Have fun choosing.

  13. I’m biased, so I say take the DiscoveryTX-500. I’m spoiled by mine. The receiver’s great, and I gave mine the ultimate acid (though not field) test for RF this weekend – a contest! It worked great for the CQ WPX CW, with the filters, and keyer doing a great job. It’ll be a blast to use in the field!

    73,
    Ellen – AF9J

  14. Difficult decision, I know because I also have most of those radios!

    My suggestion would be KX2 for general and POTA and SW-3B for lightweight hike outs or…..

    TX-500 and MTR3B for lightweight hike outs.

    Antennas: packtenna/ other EHFW and your speaker wire as a throw up/back up.

    Also a dual-band handie for good measure.

    Enjoy….

    Richard M0RGM

  15. I hope you have a fabulous time “up here” Thomas. Safe travels my friend…

    My suggestions are the KX2 and the FT 817ND (mostly because the Yaesu will open up VHF/UHF for you). The chances of you needing a backup rig are slim to none. While coming down the Bruce Peninsula, there’s opportunity for working some VHF ssb in the early morning/evening across Lake Huron to the east shore of the Michigan peninsula. If you have a handheld vhf/uhf beam, that works superb.

    Brent VA3YG

  16. Kx2 for sure. Probably the 705 or the labs 599 with the t1. With sporadic E season I would lean towards the 705. Poor hazel. She’s going to miss you all

    1. She will miss us, but on the flip side she gets to hang with her doggy uncle an her grandad’s place. 🙂

      Access to 6 meters may very well sway me.

  17. IC-705 unless you are going to be doing some serious SOTA climbing. The IC-705 is my SOTA rig (I used to have a KX3), but I am not doing 14’ers with it. You can leave the HT at home which saves some volume and weight. For the record, a KX2 with the antenna tuner and a real-time clock is $1230 compared to $1349 for the IC-705. Not really that much difference. Lock it in the trunk when you are not taking it with you. For a CW-only rig, I’d probably take the MTR-3B, only because it seems like the most compact and power efficient option. I don’t have any real-world experience with any of those CW-only rigs.

  18. It’s really easy for me,!!!! KX3 as it’s all I have for HF portable. Plus a HT is a must.

    Have fun

    73 de M0AZE

    1. I’m still tempted to take the KX3. I do love that radio! I’ll also have my FT-60R HT.

  19. If we assume KX2 will be the go-to then it’s really a question, I think, of what to use in the highly unlikely event that your KX2 malfunctions. With all its flaws the (tr)uSDX fits the profile. SSB/CW backup for the KX2, as long as you have a resonant antenna you don’t need to worry about bringing a tuner. I wouldn’t plan an activation with just the (tr)uSDX (not without packing my QCXMini as a backup!) but if this is a “what if my KX2 breaks” question then I think this fits. It’s pretty unlikely that you would have two radios die on the same trip.

    Also – you mentioned the charger for the KX2, one thing I’ve done is charge the internal battery and my spare battery but skip the charger. When they run down I’ll switch to one of my Bioenno external batteries – which I’d need to power the other backup radio anyway. I’ll bring a charger for that radio but not for the KX2 to save space.

    David

    1. If I’m being honest, it has much less to do with any worries about the KX2 since it’s been such a solid radio for me over the years. It’s more about having a little variety. You might notice in my field reports that I rotate out radios all the time. I find that SO much fun to do. On a trip like this, I’ll be more limited. The KX2 will more than serve me but…hey! Some of my other radios would like to have fun in Canada too! Ha ha! Thanks for the input, David!

      1. Totally get that, a little variety is a good thing! In that case, if space is at a premium, maybe truSdx for multimode backup and the QCXMini since it’s fun to use and so blasted small. More easily hidden with the rest of the stuff.

        um, I mean, it has an excellent form factor for travel…

        a side note – love the TinyPaddle as a backup to the KX2 paddles. Thanks for reviewing that and making me buy two of them 😉

  20. Hi Thomas,

    KX2 should be mandatory, but I’m totally biased being very lucky to own one.

    I like the idea of the tr sdx, I took the plunge and ordered an assembled one from the DL2MAN recommended vendor a couple of days ago.

    Maybe take a quality EFHW too lol!

    Have a great trip
    Steve

  21. Hi Thomas,

    First, have a great trip. Relax and enjoy the family time!

    Second, I would go with the TX-500. It gives you 6m (and 160m), and it gives you a choice if the weather is too dicey for the KX2.

    Third, I would throw the Penntek TR-35 and its power cord in the glovebox. It doesn’t take up much room, and it works with the Bioenno and accessories (key and earbuds) that you are proably already carrying for the other radios. Think light and ergonomic.

    OK, so I am getting used to taking all three rigs along with me when I’m away from home, and each one has its own go-kit. But hey, I really do enjoy each of them in its own right.

    Best 73

  22. It’s difficult for me to decide but then I don’t have the same choice.
    I love my KX3 but kind of wish it was a KX2 for the smaller size and battery packs.
    Fantastic tuner and receiver so it’s no.1 choice.
    Don’t have any of the others so it’s a personal thing, but I’m really interested in the (tr)uSDX. So much so I am about to order one! So from your tests so far thats no.2
    The most important item is your camera. Keep putting up the activations they are a real help for a relatively new POTA SOTA CW operator.

  23. I would take the KX2 and the IC-705. Probably be the most versatile setup although the IC 705 is heavy. Since I have a KX 3 with the VHF transverter, I would be tempted to just take that one.

    Truth be told, I would most likely end up taking all three. I would also pack all of my PackTennas – random wire, linked halfwave, and the linked dipole. I would also take my Buddistick pro. Had a lot of luck with that one although it can be time consuming to setup and adjust.

    73

  24. Hi Thomas, sounds like a great trip in the making. We are headed to FL in Oct-Nov and I will be taking my TX-500 as it has all of the features/bands/coverages that I feel that I need plus it’s a rugged little radio and will take a few bumps and wet spots. My T-1 tuner does not take up much room and will be ideal for matching any odd non-resonant antenna that I may have but the WRC vertical and resonant efhw will rule the antenna choices. For my back-up I will use my old YouKits HB1B, it has served me well for many years! Have fun!!

    72,
    Mike KG4MTN

  25. Put all your alternates in paper bags and then have your wife come in and grab one! Who’s gonna argue with the wife’s pick ?

  26. Tom,
    At risk of not fully explaining how I came to this conclusion, here are the rankings based on my VERY limited understanding of most of the radios on your list. I tried to give scores for each radio against these weighted criteria:

    1. Compact/Lightweight (weighted 10)
    2. Efficient (weighted 5)
    3. Needs ATU (weighted 3)
    4. Vacation FUN factor (weighted 10)

    Here are my ranking…taking into account you’ll have your do-it-all KX2:

    Group 1..all with the same overall score:
    ——————————————————-
    TR35
    MTR3b
    MTR4b
    SW3b
    KX1 (one of two with an ATU)
    (Tr)uSDX

    Group 2…so very very close to Group 1
    —————————————————–
    TX500
    X5105 (one of two with an ATU)

    Group3:
    ————–
    IC-705
    FT-817

    To me…it comes down to TR35, one of the Mountain Topper Radios or x5105

    TR-35 – comes with one more likely-to-use-band (17m vs 80m on MTR4b), more and easier to use controls.

    MTR’s – most of your POTA seems to be 40/30/20….and size.

    X5105 – includes ATU and speaker

    My vote in spite of needing an ATU and Speaker….is TR35. Second choice is X5105 due to less ‘stuff’ needed (ATU/speaker), 3rd choice is of course the MTR’s…probably 4b given it’s upgraded features over the 3b.

    73…happy holiday in Ohhhh Ca-na-da!
    Jim / AC3B

  27. I don’t want to hijack the thread but a number of you have mentioned the TX-500 which I gave a serious look to before going KX2. Great form factor and feature set and built like a little tank, seems like.

    Looks like they are direct-shipping them from Lab599 via DHL (places like HRO that had carried them no longer even show them on the website).

    1100 USD direct shipped. Ouch!! Should have gotten one when I had the chance.

    1. I got the LAST TX-500 from HRO before they were boycotted. I paid $1100 total and I consider it a great deal!

      1. Timing is everything! That platform has a lot going for it. I’m hoping when things “simmer down” that we’ll see more robust updates / accessories for it.

    2. YES David. It’s a great QRP transceiver. I even find that its reception is better than that of the IC-7300.
      73

  28. My first choice would also be my KX2.

    As for a second radio, I would take my MTR-3B or MTR-4B. Probably pack a linked dipole for those. The main reason for this is the size of those two radios. I’d also take some sort of adapter so I could power the one I chose from the 3Ah Bioenno and the KX2 batteries.

    You know the Navy Seal motto — “Two is one, one is none”

    Tim N9PUZ

  29. Elecraft KX2
    Lab 599 TX-500
    Elecraft T-1A
    A few of your thousands of antennas 😉
    Batteries
    Something you probably don’t have:
    Wouxun KG-UV9D Mate 10W handheld with a Signal Stuff Signal Stick BNC. I have two of these, and they test at 9.5W and 1.1-1.3 SWR.
    Since QRP guys like you love to hang stuff from trees, get the Ed Fong DBJ-2 . That antenna has a superb 1.1-1.2 SWR. Compact, and rollable.
    Leave the 705 (which I have) learning for another trip. Enjoy the outdoors and Canada.

  30. Thomas – You’re going about this all wrong – upgrade the car to a larger SUV and take all the radios! Haha – just kidding.

    My shiny new KX2 is getting delivered this week (so excited!) and I have a IC-705 so I’m biased for those.

    But I’d love to see the TX-500 get more “air-time” on your channel. I miss seeing that radio and they are impossible to buy right now.

    Have a great trip and looking forward to new videos!

    1. Ha ha ha! You’re right! Why didn’t I think about that? Just buy a bigger vehicle and haul more radio! 🙂

      I’ve got a TX-500 video in the pipeline now actually. Should be my next published video. I do love that radio.

  31. Maybe I’m missing something here.
    I would expect that your wife and daughters would argue each day over which one gets the pleasure of holding Daddy’s radio bag in their laps. You’ll have to set a rotation sked just to appease each. In this case, just take a third radio, knowing that your fam would love to help you out by carrying your gear.
    Right ??
    (HaHaHaHa)
    Dave, N8LBF
    PS – publish a schedule of your activations in advance, please; it would give me in Mid-Michigan my best chance to Hunt/Chase you, Thomas. Good luck.

  32. I would take the QCX-Mini, although you eliminated that radio already. The way I figure it, when you know you are going to actually do radio, you have your KX-2. You really can’t beat that radio and you love that radio. You should use that radio as much as possible. If, however, you don’t know whether you will have the opportunity to activate during a day trip, the QCX-Mini with a resonant antenna and a small battery, some small earphones and a key will allow you to get on the air if the opportunity arises. The cost of the QCX is not high, so that if you have to leave it in the car or at a picnic spot, your loss is limited if it is stolen. While the QCX is only one band, it really works well on that one band. It has memories and is very efficient powerwise. You can leave the antenna tuner behind because you only have one band to build an antenna for. With the sunspots on the way up, 14 meters will get you somewhere at almost anytime of the day. Plus, the QCX-mini is really small. If you are worried about it, you can always slip the radio in your pocket.

  33. Thomas,

    Fun reading! Hope you have a great time! What an agonizing choice (but one we’d all like to have to make, eh?).

    I’d go with the MTR-3B… ya’ gotta have something for hiking! Plus, you can get a 9V battery anywhere if (when) you run out of juice.

    72, Kevin KI4DEF

    Wait a minute! Did you say you need more than CW? GASP! 🙂

    BTW, what WILL you use to tune your non-resonant wire? (Do you still use the PackTenna in your MTR-3B kit?) I use a KK5PY TeNeTuner (an LC match in a film can), along with a ‘Tenna Dipper (KD1JV), both ~20 y.o., along with a 20m wire (Wireman 534). I recently acquired a SOTA Tuner from Pacific Antenna to use as a backup/eventual replacement, but I haven’t had a chance to build it yet, so I can’t yet report how well it performs. Enjoy!

  34. Wow. Hard decision. I think I’d go with the KX1, but with the Penntek being a very close second (I love that it has 17M). There is nothing that compares to the KX1 for space if you factor in an ATU and internal batteries.

  35. I use my KX2 and the IC 705 almost every day (even at home). I love both radios and they are good companions. Since my KX2 is without battery or ATU, both radios share the Elecraft T1 ATU and external LiFePo batteries (both lightweight). All my rigs, 2 shacks, batteries, solar controllers, photovoltaic modules and the car is equipped with powerpole connectors. So I can decide which gear will be used. The sort of expedition leads to a perfect combination of gear. Don’t want to fiddle around with too many batteries and on the antenna side EFHW, G5RV and monobanders for the car are my favorites.
    Just my 50 cents…
    vy 73 de Alex OE9DAI

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