Survey #1 Results: What QRP transceiver do you turn to the most in the field?

This past weekend, I posted the first of several surveys on asking:

What QRP radio do you tend to use the most in the field?

The responses started flowing in immediately and within the first day we had already accumulated over 400 votes.

I turned off the survey this morning at 5:00 EDT with a total of 696 responses.

Survey Results

Here’s a pie chart showing the top 26 results in the survey. To see detail, you will need to click on the image below (or click this link) to enlarge it in a new window:

The top choice was the Elecraft KX2 which received 131 votes. I’ll admit, this was my top choice, too.

The KX2 is the most compact, full-featured radio currently on the market. I know of no other radio that weighs less and is smaller in size that also sports options for an internal battery and internal ATU. It’s also one of only about five radio models on the market that has a built-in microphone.

The KX2 is one of the pricier QRP transceivers on the market, so in that sense, it did surprise me that it was number 1.

The Yaesu FT-817 and FT-818 series transceivers took second place with 105 votes.

Since this radio enjoyed one of the longest production runs in the history of amateur radio–and the price floated around $650 US new–we shouldn’t be surprised. It has so many good things going for it; click here if you want a deep dive into why I think the 817/818 is a fantastic field radio.

The Icom IC-705 took third place with 101 votes.

The IC-705 is an incredibly versatile radio as well and it packs some serious performance! It’s also one of the priciest QRP radio on the market at around $1,400 US. Click here to read my full review of the IC-705.

These are only the top three radios–check out the full results below to see how the top ten ranked among a total of 48 entrants.

Full Results…

If you would like to see the actual number of votes for each of the 48 radios in this survey, click the link below to load the rest of the page:

#1 The Elecraft KX2: 131 votes

#2 The Yaesu FT-817 or FT-818: 105 votes

#3 The Icom IC-705: 101 votes

#4 The Elecraft KX3: 80 votes

#5 The Xiegu X6100: 40 votes

#6 The lab599 Discovery TX-500: 38 votes

#7 The (tr)uSDX: 29 votes

#8 The Xiegu G90: 27 votes

#9 The  QRP Labs QCX-Mini: 15 votes

#10 Tie Between the Mountain Topper MTR-4 series and Venus SW-3B: 13 votes

The following were all below 1.7%

  • Penntek TR-35: 12 votes
  • Pentek TR-45L: 11 votes
  • Elecraft K2: 9 votes
  • Elecraft KX1: 8 votes
  • Xiegu X5105: 7 votes
  • Mountain Topper MTR-3 series: 6 votes
  • YouKits or Ten-Tec Branded 2-4 band CW QRP Transceiver: 5 votes
  • QRP Labs QCX: 4 votes
  • QRP Labs QDX: 4 votes
  • FX-4C, FX-4CR or FX-4L: 3 votes
  • Icom IC-703: 3 votes
  • M0NKA mcHF: 3 votes
  • Xiegu G1M: 3 votes
  • Xiegu G106: 3 votes
  • Elecraft K1: 2 votes
  • Flex Radio Flex 1500: 2 votes
  • SGC SG-2020: 2 votes
  • Ten-Tec Argonaut series: 2 votes
  • uBITX transceiver (any model): 2 votes
  • Midnight Design SDR Cube: 2 votes
  • CommRadio CTX-10: 1 response
  • Homebrew QRP Transceiver: 1 response
  • Penntek TR-25: 1 response
  • uSDX (not DL2MAN design): 1 response
  • MFF 9200 with all plugins: 1 response
  • Radio-Kits MKARS80: 1 response
  • AT Sprint II: 1 response
  • Wilderness Radio Sierra: 1 response
  • The Mountain Toppper 20/40: 1 response
  • The ATS-3B (a 6 Band Mountain Topper Precursor) : 1 response
  • The Mountain Topper MTR-5B: 1 response

More QRP radio surveys on the way!

Stay tuned as I have quite a few QRP radio survey questions in the works.

30 thoughts on “Survey #1 Results: What QRP transceiver do you turn to the most in the field?”

    1. I’m guessing “QRP Transceiver” disqualified it, despite the ability to turn it down to QRP.

      1. Correct. As I noted in the survey request: “For this survey, I included radios with a maximum output power of roughly 20 watts.”
        There are loads of wonderful 100W radios that are field-capable and able to be turned down to 5-10 watts, but I wanted this to focus specifically on QRP radios.

    2. So, this radio survey was limited to radios with a total output power of 20 watts or less. A couple of people actually manually entered the FT-891, IC-7300, and FT-897, but I removed them to keep the data set clean.

    3. QRP was what kept it out. I bet it would have been up at the top along with the 7300 and 991A otherwise.

  1. Great to have such a survey…. I’m now wondering about antennas & keys.

    As well, a survey of wanted equipment; one pick for a transceiver, antenna, and key…

    Thanks Thomas!

    de W7UDT

  2. Interesting results and I am surprised that some the top spots are populated with some of the most expensive radios out there. I would have thought the 817/8 would have won hands down! Great survey – now how about the antennas?

    Thanks 73 Mike

    1. I’m also interested in what everyone’s running for antennas. Not necessarily brands and models as much as type – EFRW, EFHW, verticals, etc. I’m new to this, so the EFRW seemed the easiest to make and have work on as many bands as possible with an ATU, but Thomas is making me want a Chelegance MC-750 pretty badly. Maybe once I meet a couple of goals I’ll treat myself.

      1. It’s a great aspect to the hobby that I enjoy immensely. I use a 10meter pole and that supports various EFHW resonant wires for 20, 17 and 10. I use a combination of drive on mast supports or guy the pole when away from the vehicle. It does mean changing the wires when changing bands but that takes minutes. Should I use ¼ wave verticals radials become an issue as I guarantee they become a magnet for people to walk on. I do have a Buddistick which I haven’t used yet that uses an elevated 1/4 wave radial and I intend to experiment with that soon. Enjoy the hobby there are no real hard and fast rules just use what works for you.

  3. Very interesting. I agree that given the comparatively high cost of the KX2 and KX3, their placement is both a little surprising and says something about your readership. Although maybe not so surprising after all … every one of the serious POTA guys I know has a KX2 or KX3. Anyway, I am looking forward to the next survey — especially one on antennas. 73 Skip K4EAK

  4. Thanks Thomas for being out there and supporting all of us. An excellent survey, and I am glad I have a few of those QRP radios. Eventually I will all get a QRO radio, probably the 991A or similar.

  5. Hi Thomas,
    Great idea to do this survey. Sort of confirms my ideas about my next radio and how I had them ranked. I only really do SOTA and my first and only HF radio is a secondhand Icom 703 which does everything I expect of it well. A radio with 2m SSB would be nice though.
    Andrew VK2ZRK

  6. Good survey. I myself consider QRP as 7 watts or less, mostly less. Another survey could be on antennas for field use , ie. the one antenna design most likely to be used for field use. 73

  7. Thanks for the survey. Interesting! The big four are KX2, KX3, FT-817/8 & IC-705. I wonder if Yaesu will produce a replacement for the FT-818.

  8. Running through that list proves I am a QRP addict, possessing a significant number of the radios apart from the IC-705. The KX series (1, 2 and 3) followed by the TR-45 and TR-35 are my most used and loved; that said, my little Venus SW-3B certainly pulls its weight on spontaneous activations/operation.

    Antennas, keys and power sources would be really interesting topics for next surveys….

    Interesting to see what others are using and proof that field activation does not have to be expensive. Some of the most fun I have had has been from the cheapest radios (tr)uSDX, QCX-mini and SW-3B!

    Richard M0RGM

  9. Definitely I think the IC 705 is in the first place, outperforming all other QRP rigs in commerce .

  10. Not only did the KX2 get my vote, I think that if you told me that I could keep only one ham radio that it would still be the KX2. I also use it extensively at home.

    Mike W5RST

  11. I missed the survey, but I would have been another KX2 person. I have lots of great options, but if I could pick only one… It is easily what I grab most often and I would certainly replace if I lost it.

  12. I’m surprised that the Xiegu 6100 got so many votes, I don’t own one, but a friend just bought one and I want to check it out. I own a 705 and a G90, so it wouldn’t make much sense for me to buy one.

  13. Just for the fun of it, I asked ChapGPT “What is the best QRP radio for Parks on the Air.” The response is below. I can’t tell if it simply used the survey as its source, or came to essentially the same conclusion on its own:

    When it comes to selecting the best QRP (low power) radio for Parks on the Air (POTA) operations, there are several excellent options available. Here are a few popular choices among amateur radio operators for portable operations like POTA:

    Elecraft KX2: The Elecraft KX2 is a highly regarded portable transceiver known for its compact size, low power consumption, and excellent performance. It covers multiple HF bands and offers features such as built-in antenna tuner, internal battery, and a robust receiver.

    Yaesu FT-817ND: The Yaesu FT-817ND is a versatile QRP transceiver that covers HF, VHF, and UHF bands. It is lightweight, portable, and has a built-in battery, making it suitable for field operations. The FT-817ND has a loyal following and is known for its reliability and decent performance.

    Icom IC-705: The Icom IC-705 is a relatively new addition to the QRP radio market. It is a multi-mode, all-band transceiver that covers HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies. The IC-705 is compact, includes a built-in battery, and offers features such as a touch screen display and built-in GPS.

    Xiegu G90: The Xiegu G90 is an affordable QRP transceiver that provides good performance for its price range. It covers HF bands and has features like an integrated automatic antenna tuner, detachable display unit, and built-in sound card for digital modes.

    Elecraft KX3: The Elecraft KX3 is a highly regarded QRP transceiver known for its exceptional performance and versatility. It covers HF and 6-meter bands, and its modular design allows for expansion and customization. The KX3 offers features like a built-in antenna tuner, internal battery option, and a wide range of optional accessories.

    These are just a few examples, and the best choice ultimately depends on your specific requirements, preferences, and budget. It is advisable to research and compare different models to determine which one suits your needs for POTA operations. Additionally, considering factors such as power efficiency, antenna options, and overall durability can further assist in selecting the best QRP radio for your needs.

  14. This is a fascinating survey. I must confess my QRP radio addiction, I own most of the major radios on the list and enjoy all of them. The relatively low ranking of the Xiegu X6100 is interesting. The X6100 seems like a bargain given its low price and inclusion of an antenna tuner, but I find it inferior as a receiver to all of the the other popular transceivers. Moreover, I have found the Lab599 Discovery to be a superb receiver, surpassing the KX2 in a few situations.
    Just my 2 cents…

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