I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.
Over the years, I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.
The Getting To Know You series gives me an opportunity to highlight one radio at a time and showcase what I love about it and why it’s a part of my permanent radio collection. After we spend a bit of time talking about the radio, we’ll do a park or summit activation with it!
The Mountain Topper MTR-3B
The fourth radio in my Getting To Know You series is the Mountain Topper MTR-3B by LnR Precision.
And, spoiler alert: I think the MTR-3B is one of the most ingenious little QRP transceivers ever made.
In truth, all of the Mountain Topper series radios are outstanding if you’re a CW operator and into truly portable, ultra-lightweight, field radio activities.
Steve Weber (KD1JV), the designer behind the ATS and Mountain Topper series, created a brilliant platform that has only been improved upon over time.
I’ve only ever operated the MTR-3B and MTR-4B. That said, I’d love to add a high band MTR-5B to my field radio collection someday.
I recently reviewed the MTR-4B (see photo above) and I absolutely love it, but in truth? I prefer the more compact MTR-3B simply because it’s rare that I operate 80 meters in the field and I like the even more compact from factor of the 3B. It’s literally the size of a pack of playing cards.
That said, I wish the 3B had some of the later model MTR-4B upgrades like easy-access sidetone adjustments and power/SWR metering, but I still prefer the MTR-3B.
What? A second MTR-3B?
Confession time: last month, a good friend and QRPer.com patron/supporter offered to sell me his MTR-3B for a very fair market price. He could have put this on eBay or in ham classifieds and surely commanded a much higher price, but he knows how much I love this radio and offered his never used MTR-3B to me.
It didn’t take long for me to accept his offer–like quicker than the blink of an eye quick.
I’ve been looking for a second MTR-3B because 1.) these radios are no longer manufactured and 2.) if something happened to my one and only MTR-3B, I would sob uncontrollably.
I should state here that I blame my buddy, Vince (VE6LK), for introducing the “Two is one, one is none” slogan. Over time, I’ve convinced myself to keep two copies of my favorite radios such as the KX1, FT-817, and MTR-3B.
Vince, by the way, is a card-carrying, certified enabler!
Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856)
The site was very quiet. The new school year had just started, so it was too early for school field trips at the park.
I had my pick of spots to set up, so I chose a new-to-me picnic table.
First thing I did was deploy my antenna: a 40 meter end-fed half-wave made by my buddy, Steve (MW0SAW). The 40M EFHW is resonant on two (40/20M) of the three bands (40/30/20M) the MTR-3B sports. Between 40 and 20 meters, I knew I’d be covered!
Next, I set up the Mountain Topper which is carried in my Tom Bihn HLT-2 pouch.
Time to hop on the air!
- LnR Precision Mountain Topper MTR-3B
- Anker Soundcore Mini Speaker
- Homemade 20′ RG-316 cable assembly
- MW0SAW end-fed half-wave
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- Bioenno 3 aH (9V) LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-0903W)
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag
- Zebra Mechanical Pencil, Del Guard, 0.7mm
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook (small 3×5 size)
- Tom Bihn HLT-2 EDC Pouch
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hopped on 20 meters and starting calling CQ POTA with my blowtorch three watts.
Within eight minutes, I worked the ten stations necessary to validate my POTA activation. Woo hoo!
I continued calling CQ and worked a nice string of stations (thanks, hunters!)
All-in-all, I worked a total of 20 stations in 20 minutes. If I didn’t have other plans, I would have stayed on the air much longer that day!
Here’s what this three watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
I named my first MTR-3B “Tuppence” after the Tommy and Tuppence books by the late, great Agatha Christie. I can’t take full credit for the name, because my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) made the suggestion and I immediately adopted it.
I thought it would only be fitting if my second MTR-3B was named Threepence.
So there we are!
Threepence isn’t going to sit on the sidelines. In fact, I’m thinking about building a super compact POTA kit around her that’ll fit in the EDC laptop bag (a Tom Bihn Stowaway for the pack geeks out there) I take with me on-the-go!
No doubt, there’ll be an article about this in the future!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me and have an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,