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

Last week, Phil shared results from a survey he conducted on Facebook regarding the most popular radios used for POTA. The survey was informal and, of course, only open to those in the POTA Facebook community.

The survey confirmed my suspicions that both the Yaesu FT-891 and Xiegu G90 were among the top radios used by POTA activators. Heck…I hardly know a POTA op that doesn’t have one of these two rigs–!

The survey also made me realize that I live in the world of QRP and often forget that the vast majority of ham radio operators do not, necessarily.

QRP Radio Survey Series

I thought it might be fun to publish a series of surveys over the course of the next few weeks that specifically focus on QRP transceivers.  Each survey will contain only one question.

These will all be informal surveys, but I’d like to have a fairly specific question in mind with each and would ask that you think about that question and answer it as honestly as you can. Many of these are subjective, so this isn’t always an easy task.

This first question, though? It’s easier to base on fact…

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

At the end of the day, our “favorite” radio might not be the one we actually use the most in the field.

In this first survey, please select the QRP radio you use most often in the field


  • If you see a glaring omission in this list–a popular, mass-produced QRP radio I’ve overlooked–please comment and I’ll add it to the list.  Otherwise, simply select the “Other” choice and provide the manufacturer and model.
  • This list is pretty comprehensive, but I didn’t include some of the more obscure models, nor did I include vintage or Japanese Novice models simply because I see so few people using them as daily drivers in the field.
  • For this survey, I included radios with a maximum output power of roughly 20 watts.
  • The survey form has no place for comments, so if you’d like to tell us about your selection (even if it’s your only QRP radio), feel free to leave a comment on this post!

Thank you!

Survey 1:

31 thoughts on “Survey 1: What QRP HF transceiver do you turn to the most in the field?”

  1. Hi!

    I use my FT-818ND and in alternance, with my trusty Icom Ic-703 + . both with 500 and 250 Hertz cw filters.,
    for all of my portable expedition, and home operation as well.

    What’s next ? Another survey would be fun for various pôrtable antennas ?

    72/73 Mike VE2TH, The QRP’er FOR 60 YEARS in 2023.-

  2. 20 watts on the Xeigu G90 helps me in making contacts compared to the previous radio ft817nd.

  3. I use my Penntek TR-45L all the time. Its very quiet and is a QRP rig specifically designed for CW. Its a great rig. Made hundreds of contacts with it on 40 20 30 bands. I have no need for any other QRP rig. It simply does the job very well.

  4. I’m spoiled, my KX2 is my most used field radio, I run 5W CW and 10W SSB. I occasionally do RTTY, but have not played with FT# yet.

    I also use my KX3, especially for 6m. My MT-4 will get more use this summer, and I’ll soon build my dusty MT-3 kit for a vest pocket CW radio.

    So, I have a workhorse KX2, and will have a very light and compact MT-3 that will probably get used most. All others have to improve on these.

  5. Before I got a 705, I used my mighty 706mk2G. Thirsty on receive, but as I only go out for an hour or two, didn’t really make any difference. Sometimes where I live, it’s nice to be able to crank up the RF.

  6. I did some queries against my logbook and was somewhat surprised to see that the lab599 TX-500 leads both in total contacts made and total unique activations.

  7. For the past year or so my goto portable rig has been the Xiegu X5105. It is certainly not a perfect radio, especially on CW, but it works reasonably well and the big battery and excellent ATU make it a shack-in-a-box. I have used this radio outdoors over the winter in below freezing conditions for a number of CW POTA activations and it has performed quite well.

    I recently purchased a Xiegu X6100 and I am happy to report that with the latest firmware upgrades from Xiegu and the even more promising alternative firmware from R1CBU (my current choice), this is an excellent field radio for CW. It looks like it is going to displace my X5105 so my response in the poll was X6100. With smaller portable antennas (Alex Loop and JPC-7 PAC-12 vertical) I haven’t had any issues with front-end overload from AM BCI that some have reported but I have purchased an external AM BCI filter kit, just in case.

    Both of these radios are inexpensive enough to be treated as “somewhat expendable” IMHO, so I have no reservations in travelling with them and operating them under conditions that I wouldn’t expose my much more expensive IC-705 to.

    Michael VE3WMB

  8. I’m very interested to see the results of this poll. I haven’t done any POTA activations yet. I’m currently learning CW with the goal of being a CW only QRP operator.

  9. I answered “KX2” because up until now that was my only QRP radio. That recently changed when I stumbled upon an LNR LD-5 in pristine condition. That is a great little rig and pairs up nicely with the Tufteln 49:1 antenna and the SOTAbeams Carbon 6 mast. It will be my “vacation” kit when flying somewhere.

  10. I like others started with the FT891. I then bought the the G90. Liked the lower current draw. I have recently gotten a KX2 and now the others tend to sit at home.

  11. Thanks, Thomas, for starting such a survey and I look forward to the results. I also look forward to what is a favorite mode as well as a favorite antenna.

    Thanks for keeping it interesting.


  12. My favorite is the X6100, to the point that it has replaced the FTDX1200 in my base and I sold my X5105; when I want to go light I take the (tr)uSDX.
    And it caught my attention not to see the KX2 in the first places, and the 7300 as high as third place for its size…
    (translation errors are Google’s fault)

  13. Xiegu X-6100, for it’s size and big screen, and my Yaesu FT-891 for it’s very sensitive receiver and the extra RF power if needed. Of course it’s a marriage between the radio and antenna. But once you find the radio that you’re comfortable with and the best antenna for you? It’s a lot more fun!

    1. I use an Alex Loop. The X6100 is placed on top of the 891 and I use an antenna switch to share the mag loop. The X6100 is a perfect match for the mag loop and once tuned I can switch to the 891 to get to 25 watts on SSB. Of course I have to change antennae to use the 100watts, but from my living room it’s quite amazing at night on 40m.

  14. I will be using my FT 818 ND when my cw gets better (I have a 300hz filter installed). My KX3 for SSB and, if greater power is needed, I will use my FT 891.
    Since I’m not an active user yet I didn’t want to skew the actual results by participating in the survey.

  15. Here lately I have been taking QRO radios to the field to do long-term reviews (FTDX10 and now the FT-710). One of the nice things about a big radio is I can turn down the power to QRP levels but crank it up when I need to. When I do bring a QRP radio, it is most likely my IC-705 followed by my TR-45L. I have been thinking about a KX2, we shall see

  16. I listed my KX 2 because that’s what I have used the most often in the past but my new Penntek 45L is going to take its place I think this summer. I love the clean and crisp sound of the CW signal of the Penntek 35 and 45.

  17. So with all the elecraft talk and the popularity of the 891 and g90 dose anyone want to swap a g90 and ft891 for a kx2? Obviously there would be no takers but dam I want a kx2 with atu real bad just can’t afford one for the foreseeable future anyway love ur content de 2e0njk k………

  18. My days of qrp in the field at age 85 are about over. my first qrp radio was a bn1a, a kit from Kearney Nebraska. It was a dual triode, 1/2 was colpits xtal oscillator transmitter with other half a regen rcvr. That was in 1959!
    In 1999 I purchsaed my first Elecraft K2, and assembled it as 5 watt out only. It was used for quite few years in all my to the field operations.
    My next qrp radio was a KX1. That was a cute radio that traveled with me to many places. In 2021 I had an opertunity to purchase either a Kx2 or KX3, whichever my good friend did not want to keep. He kept the KX3 and I have been so happy with my KX2!!

  19. Well I have been using my KX2 for the most part. I had used a QCX Mini 20m, and my UBitx v6, however I have sold the UBitx, and have the QCX as a backup, however, again, I have acquired a FT 818ND and will try that one out soon in the field.

    Yes there are a couple of others I’d like to have, though, not much chance in the near future, but a dream of a Penntek and/or a Mnt Topper. Time will tell on those 2, maybe someday…… But the KX2 is my winner for now.

    Oh and I use an older Silvertip vertical most of the time, even to summits. I have used Hamsticks and may again. The Silvertip has been my go to field antenna. I do carry a 20/40 Packtenna EFHW though have never thrown it in a tree or bush. Again someday maybe, when I do not want to carry the vertical.

  20. I am sure those with larger rigs like the FT891 learn for POTA operations they need a large battery. If then get real interested in POTA do get something more portable like the KX3 or other rig made for QRP.

    I prefer my IC705, but can see why many dont have this rig, it’s high price. KX3 not far behind, TX500/LAB599 also.

    G90 is nice except for small display. X6100 would be next choice, IMHO.

    73, ron, n9ee

  21. I use my KX3 currently, although I intend to try my K2 at some point. I have a QCX but conditions have not been conducive to really low power here in the UK recently.

    I don’t have either of the rigs you mentioned 😉

    73 Ian (G0VGS)

  22. My field ops are primarily SOTA, using CW 99.9% of the time. The FT-818 is my radio of choice for most trips. The 818 is the Swiss Army Knife of radios. 160 to UHF in one package. Quick band changes for chasing S2S and such. I have MTRs, QCXs that I’ve built, a couple (tr)usdx radios I’ve built and several even simpler crystal rigs. Those go out occasionally, but when I’m serious it’s the FT-818 and good wire antennas.

  23. I know some will shun my FT-897 but it makes for a great field radio, and will run as low as 5 watts. Would love to get my hands on FT-817 or 818 but little chance of getting a new one, Thanks Yaesu .

  24. I haven’t found the perfect (for me) radio yet but my current favorite is the KX2. My old IC703 is great but It lacks modern features. My X 5105 is pretty close but I would prefer a color display. My IC705 has an odd form factor and lacks a tuner. My X6100 is a bit too quirky to top my list. I would probably like the G90 better but don’t own one, although the display is a bit small.

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