Video: Comparing the Elecraft KH1 with Mountain Topper Series QRP Transceivers

A couple weeks ago, I posted a video where I compared the Elecraft KH1 and KX2;I mentioned that it was the most requested comparison I’d received after I started taking the Elecraft KH1 to the field.

The second most requested KH1 comparison focused on various Mountain Topper series models: the MTR-3B, MTR-4B and MTR-5B.

That’s what we’ll take a look at in the comparison video below!

Basic KH1 ($550)

So when folks have asked me how the KH1 compares with a Mountain Topper, I think of the basic KH1 ($550 US) package, not the ($1100 US) “Edgewood” package like I have.

Why?

Without the Edgewood package, the KH1 lacks the internal ATU, coils for the whip antenna, internal battery, internal battery charger, logging tray, whip antenna, counterpoise, case, and attachable paddles.

In short, the basic KH1 is a 5 band CW-only radio, much like Mountain Topper series radios–in fact, a lot like my 5 band Mountain Topper!

This is why, in my video below, I base the comparison on the basic KH1 package which includes the KH1, power cord, USB cable, and manual only.

Video

I should note that this video primarily focuses on making a purchase decision–it’s not a receiver comparison or in-depth reviews:

Click here to view on YouTube.

A few notes…

The video above contains a lot more detail, but at the end of the day, you can’t make a “bad” choice here. All of these are fantastic radios for someone who enjoys ultra-light operating.

The Elecraft KH1 is more a more feature-rich transceiver; it has adjustable filters, attenuation, CW encode/decode, mini pan/scan, general coverage, SWR/power meter, more message memories, internal logging options (soon), user upgradable firmware, an internal speaker, and much, much more. On top of that, the KH1 can be upgraded to become a complete shack-in-a-box radio with internal battery, charger, ATU, attachable whip antenna, and attachable paddles.

That said, even thought the Mountain Topper radios are spartan in terms of features compared with the Elecraft KH1, they get the job done effectively. Their feature set is laser-focused on providing a SOTA activator everything they need in order to complete an activation and not a lot else. They will also operate effectively on the smallest of batteries and consume a mere 20-17 mA in receive–proper battery misers! For more of my thoughts of the Mountain Topper, check out my MTR-4B review and my “Getting To Know You” report on the MTR-3B.

Again, you can’t go wrong with a Mountain Topper or a KH1: they’re both made by fantastic companies and have a loyal customer base for good reasons.

Price

The Elecraft KH1 base model (40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 Meters) is $550, the complete, fully-loaded, “Edgewood” package is $1,100. They are currently on backorder, but Elecraft does note that they intend to start shipping again mid-January 2024. Click here for the latest news about lead times.

The Mountain Topper MTR-4B V2.

The LnR Precision MTR-4B (80, 40, 30, and 20 Meters) is the latest Mountain Topper radio and the current model at time of publishing. You can purchase these new for $369 US. LnR Precision builds roughy 25 per month when they have the parts. You will need to follow LnR closely in order to be updated when a production run is shipping. Each time units are offered, they’re snatched up in a matter of hours. You can find used Mountain Toppers out there, but pricing tends to be within 10-20% of the new price.

Thank you

I hope you enjoyed this little comparison video and that it might help you make a purchase decision.

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.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

6 thoughts on “Video: Comparing the Elecraft KH1 with Mountain Topper Series QRP Transceivers”

  1. Great comparison Thomas! I’ve owned two MTR’s… the original MTR2b, and an older version of the MTR3b, which I traded to Adam. Both fine radios.

    I however, am a huge fan of the QCX Minis, and the new QMX transceivers from Hans Summers, QRP Labs. Paired with the 3aH 12v TalentCell, and a EFHW. Add earbuds & a key, and you have a great rig. For the price, ya can’t beat it.

    72! de W7UDT

    1. Rand, you sound like me. I have a mini 40m QCX and am waiting for my QMX kit to arrive. It would be nice to be able to afford every new Elecraft that comes along and I would probably enjoy having a 100 ft tower.

      I’m having lots of fun with what I can afford which is usually a used transceiver and homemade wire antennas. I get a kick out of having a 5000+ mile DX QSO using 5 watts and a wire antenna that I made, and I think it’s probably more fun than if I were using an Elecraft K4, a $3000 amp, and a huge tower that someone else manufactured.

      Just my 2 cents. Literally hihi.

      73 de NG9T

  2. QRP LABS now has a 5 band CW/Digital mode QRP transceiver called the QMX, which is the same size as the QCX MINI. The kit is $135 with shipping and the case. You can choose between a kit that has 80,60,40,30, & 20m or a kit that has 10,11,12,15,17, and 20m. The assembled QMX costs $50 extra.

    A transceiver that also has SSB is in the works.

    My experience with a QCX MINI 40m kit that cost me $95 two years ago has been very positive. It’s receiver is hands down better than my Yaesu FT-817ND for CW anyday.

    I recently sold my 817 for over $500 and bought a gently used FT-891 for same price. I only run it at 5 watts just because I’m a bit of a QRP CW addict and am enjoying the much more refined receiver as compared to the 817.

    I’ll have to win the lottery to be able to afford an Elecraft of any kind or an ICOM 705. I know they’re considered superior radios by many hams but some of us just don’t have the means to buy them or put up towers.

    But I’m having a lot of fun doing POTA with my $95 QCX MINI and a homemade dipole tossed up in a tree.

    I read and watch almost all of your posts Thomas and really enjoy them. Thanks for all the efforts that you put into them. POTA has really been one of the best things to hit Ham Radio in years and I do my best to promote it.

    73 and Merry Christmas to all!
    Gary NG9T

  3. Se agradece mucho tus comentarios y videos, nos da una idea clara de todos los equipos existentes en el mercado, solo una petición, podrías hablar de los radios QRP chinos? No hace mucho mis hijos me regalaron un uSDX con buenos resultados en fonia, lo siento no se telegráfia, aunque ya estoy trabajando en ello.
    Te agradezco tu atención
    Tu amigo
    Álvaro Gasga Cid del Prado
    XE3PNO
    12a. Poniente s/n. La Posta
    Pinotepa Nacional Oaxaca, México.

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