I simply love your videos – both your impressions of the gear and the activations themselves. Great stuff.
I’m curious – now that you’ve played with both the SW-3B and the Penntek TR-35, which is the favorite? Seems like they’re both roughly in the same price range.
Thanks for your fantastic channel and website
Thank you for the kind words, Pat, and great question! Several people have asked me variations of this very question recently.
I like both radios, so I’ll frame this in a way that might help others make a purchase decision.
Spoiler alert: You really can’t go wrong with either radio and I feel it’s more a question of operator preferences.
Both of these radios are affordable and perform better than I would expect from anything under $400.
We’ll start with the Venus SW-3B. Here are some of its advantages over the TR-35:
- Super compact. Both radios are handheld size, but the SW-3B must be one of the smallest multi-band transceivers currently on the market.
- Inexpensive. At $189 it’s also one of the least expensive multi-band transceivers on the market.
- Slightly wider input voltage range: 8-15V compared with the TR-35’s 9-14V
- The backlit display of the SW-3B is easier to read in full sunlight compared with the TR-35’s OLED display
So what advantages does the Penntek TR-35 have over the SW-3B? Here are a few:
- Available as a kit ($279) or assembled and tested ($378)
- Four bands: 40, 30, 20, and 17 (the SW-3B lacks 17M)
- Being a kit, it would be quite easy to fix if something broke
- Two CW Message memories via recent firmware updates (the SW-3B has only one message memory)
- Three bandwidth selections (CW narrow, CW wide, SSB)
- Dedicated variable power output control. The SW-3B power output is only adjustable by changing the input voltage.
- Dedicated keyer speed control. The SW-3B keyer speed is essentially impossible to adjust in the middle of a busy activation.
- Internal sidetone volume control. The SW-3B requires a modification to lower sidetone volume (default volume is perfectly fine for my use).
- Dedicated straight key and paddle inputs
- If fed 12-14 volts, power output can be pushed above 5 watts; even topping off at 10 watts on 30M with 14 volts.
Both radios are super portable, pack excellent performance for the field, and have quiet T/R switching. Both rigs are also designed and manufactured by real amateur radio operators and this shows in the performance and functionality. Both manufactures give excellent customer service based on messages I’ve received from readers.
No doubt, the SW-3B is the smallest, least expensive, and more bare-bones. If you want a super lightweight and effective CW transceiver, you can’t go wrong.
The TR-35, however, is still very compact and affords you one more band, one more CW message memory, two more filter widths, and control of sidetone volume and output power. The keyer speed is also at your fingertips–something I wish was more accessible on the SW-3B.
I hope this helps in your decision making process. Again, you can’t go wrong with either radio.
MTR-4B v TR-35?
In fact, while writing this, I realize that I should also compare the Penntek TR-35 with the Mountain Topper MTR-4B.