The Index Labs QRP Plus: Any fans out there?

I recently acquired an Index Labs QRP Plus transceiver (more on that in a future post!).

This little rig was produced in the mid to late nineties and, to my knowledge, was one of the first 160-10 meter, field-portable, general coverage QRP transceivers on the market. The only other one I can think of was the Ten-Tec Argonaut II, but please correct me if I’m wrong on this point.

QST ad from 1995 courtesy of WD8RIF.

I’m just curious if anyone here ever owned one and what they thought of it? Please comment!

29 thoughts on “The Index Labs QRP Plus: Any fans out there?”

  1. Ive had one a while back… if I remember correctly, the variable filtering and receiver was pretty good! The points that made me sell it was the poor AGC, weight, size, and the clicking while tuning up and down the bands. You didn’t have that smooth receive tuning. check out Eham reviews 73 Mike

  2. I was lucky enough to get one and the matching power supply/antenna tuner. It was a fun rig, but I was so spoiled by my various Elecraft radios beginning with the KX1 and everyone since then that it sat there more as a shelf queen. I eventually sold it to a friend and he had owned one previously and knew quite a bit about it. He has now become experienced enough to service other Index Lab units. The one he had now belongs to another friend of mine, but is little used.

    If someone has one that needs repair they can contact me via QRZ and I can see if my friend is willing to take on another repair project. He gets a challenge out of some of these ancient radios and even keeps a small parts stash for them.

    The Index Labs xcvr was a pioneering effort at the time and was a fun radio, but I think the FT 817 surpassed it in ability and size. I enjoyed both of them and still have my 817. But it too is a shelf queen now also.

    1. I am a real friend is these rigs. I have owned several and have fixed a given to other hams a working unit. It is a wonderful rig. Working on it can be a challenge as the boards are stacked. There are many modifications and the unit is a joy to work on. I have several pictures that I can share if you like. Or is a well designed rig. Parts are still available if you look.
      Best. N1GMM

      1. Guy, anytime you’d like to have info or pics of the QRP PLus series you’d like to share, just send in an article with photos! I’d love to share that here on

  3. Hi Thomas, I had one of these neat little rigs for several years, finally sold it to pare down the number of rigs I have. Mine was an earlier model that had been converted to ++ version, I had the original manual and paperwork from the original owner.
    I did not have a microphone so I used mine for cw only. As you cane see with your, it is a solid little rig, perhaps a bit too heavy for backpacking. Cw was nice and clean. The only problem I had was audio pumping from a strong adjacent signal, which was not too bad unless you went contesting with it. I used mine as a base station for several years and had great results. You can read the reviews on eHam but I suggest that you use it for a while and form your own opinions. Overall I enjoyed mine very much, hope you do the same!!
    72 and God bless!

  4. I have 2 of these — one working and one for spares.
    Its a great little rig. I use it at least once a month and its quite impressive.

    I also have an Argo II – and that’s a more impressive transceiver!
    its beautifully designed an built rig.
    I had to do some restoration but now it works flawlessly.

    Last year I restored and Argo 509. It’s also a great little rig. I’m now in the process of restoring it’s companion 50W amplifier (Not QRP but the combo is quite impressive!)

  5. I bought a new QRP Plus when they first came out and two years later I sold it to another HAM. Well here about four months ago I had the chance to buy another QRP Plus but this one is the Plus ++ model. I can tell you I am not sorry for buying it as it does what I want in a QRP Radio and I use it with a Kenwood AT-130 tuner into a Horizontal loop antenna and a Hustler 5BTV ground mounted vertical. These are very simple radio’s to operate. I also own an MFJ 15 Meter Cub which I never use and tried to sell but no takers.

  6. I picked one up recently to add to my rogue’s gallery of older QRP rigs and also because I live in the small town that was the home to Index Labs, Gig Harbor in Washington. So far I have only used it to make sure it works and what I noticed was it’s fine sounding and sensitive receiver. I intend to mainly use it for backyard operating; but now that I think about it, I could have fun operating with it out in a public park to see what kind of reaction people have to the rig’s very funky looks!

  7. hello Thomas!
    yes, I bought one of these when they first came out. I wanted to get the SGC-2020 qrp rig but they (SGC) were back ordered up the wazoo, so I went with the QRP plus. I’ve used the QRP + rig in many contests (cw & ssb) and found it to be a great little rig. the only thing I’ve had to do down through the years is change out the memory battery, which is an easy chore.
    I’m sure you’ll have a great time using it!

  8. I too bought one new in the 90’s. Early units had some limitations. AGC & overload among them.. The ++ model solved many but not all. I used my QRP+ + on many camping and Field Day outings. A friend gave one to me years ago, which I still have. The 1990’s were an era of great innovation in QRP. NorCal QRP Club radios designed by Wayne and joined by Eric were leaders. NorCal 40, Sierra, K2…What a great era!

  9. I was lucky enough to get one and the matching power supply/antenna tuner. I really got a workout back in the 90’s but it is resting on the shelf right in front of me. Do not hesitate to buy one if you ever see one. Pure history…

    1. Not an SDR. Super Het with 50 mHz IF filter. No RF amp ahead of the mixer.

      I have two and use them in the field for 20+ years.

      Sam AE4GX
      Aiken SC

  10. A blast from the past!
    I remember reading 73 magazine and seeing this cool radio. I always thought it would be perfect with my Power Pocket battery.

    Its rare and I never see them at the hamfests

    Its reviewed in the 1996 Sept QST with a complete Lab report

    “To many QRPers, the Index QRP Plus is the Cadillac of low-power transceivers,”

    1. Periodically I see them offered on Last one was going for something like $250, which I thought was a steal.

      I believe a lot of hams are spoiled with bells and whistles. My first rig, which I used exclusively for a couple of years was an Atlas 210X. (No CW filter or side tone) I waited 1 1/2 years after getting my Novice before I managed to get a rig and that Atlas made me feel rich. I hooked up an oscillator and had a field day on CW! Now, most rigs, including the QRP Plus out perform the Atlas 210X!

  11. Several years ago I purchased one and just happened to purchase it a week before the Plus was introduced. Asked if they would upgrade mine at a reduced cost, if I agreed to installing the upgrades myself and was told that was not an option. I purchased it a week too early. New unit was the same price as the old one. I sent the unit back for the upgrade. That left a very bad taste in my mouth. The radio performed fine but nothing compared to my Elecraft KX3. I sold the transceiver several months later at a big loss and bought an Elecraft K2 which also performed much better.

  12. I have two INDEX Labs rigs. Been using them in the field for 20+ years.

    Great variable bandwidth audio filter.

    Sam AE4GX
    Aiken SC

  13. The SGC SG-2020 was based on the index labs QRP plus design. I own a 2020 and the receiver in it is very prone to overload distortion. Anything above S-8 is distorted so you are constantly riding the RF gain control. Kind of a pain. I understand the QRP plus is similar. What is your experience??

    1. Owned both, noticed the SGC 2020 distortion mostly on LSB but loved both radios especially the green ugly frog built like a tank and with a vogad circuit I’ve done serious dx in the field with a LW or Mag loop, still had the QRP ++ till a few years back when I chopped it and a 817nd plus a Tentec ARGONAUT VI out for a full loaded KX2. It was a very enjoyable qrp radio at home but not really for the field.

  14. Hi Thomas. I had a chance to play with one for a while back in the’90’s that belonged to QRP legend Russ Carpenter AA7QU. Russ was promoting outdoor portable QRP and established the Adventure Radio Society,which started the Bumblebee QRP contest and the Spartan Sprint, which are still running (as far as I know!). Richard Fisher KI6SN took them over. But I digress..Russ and I used his QRP plus and my Wilderness Sierra in some outings. The Index was kind of a battery hog as I recall and a couple of times when Russ had to do some repairs it was tricky as there were multiple stacked boards inside. It was an early attempt at making an all in one rig as compact as possible. I think the biggest issue was the company wasn’t really geared up to handle the service issues that popped up. Somehow I ended up with a manual with schematics for the rig and I’d be happy to mail it to you as I have no use for it. I sure do miss my Sierra-did some mods to it and had to sell it to finance the K2 #1010 from 2000, ( which I still have and love).

    1. Hi, Dan,

      I measured the Index yesterday and it pulls about 120-130 ma in receive.

      The Wilderness Sierra? Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted one of those. A classic for sure!

      If you honestly don’t need the Index Labs manual, I’d love it. The one I received for this radio is a bit roughed up. Still very usable, but I wouldn’t mind another copy if it’s really in excess of your needs.


  15. I hear those radios are horrible! Nearly as bad as the Tentec R4020. Both of which I am willing to support the channel by purchasing from you. What would be cool would be a POTA contact with you and the QRP Plus and my Argo 556. All that horizontal meter action would be epic!

    1. You, Jeff, are are true gentleman! Offering to take these rigs off my hands so I don’t have to experience their horribleness? Wow! ????
      I 100% agree about the horizontal meter contact! That would be brilliant!

  16. Owned both the Index and the plus. Heavy radio which had poor selectivity and RF getting into the audio due to the ssb generation method ( forgot the name ) which required RF chokes etc. and well tuned antenna. For CW, nice sounding rig when the bands were quiet – not so hot on contest modes for CW with overloading and annoying clicks. As I recall the same designer produced the SGC2020 a much better radio but both were heavy and well built. The favorite of this period radio would be the TenTec model 516 ( with 20 watt output and way better receiver. This is a way better radio. I still have the QRP Plus manual here in my files as I dumped the radio after about a year of ownership back in the late 1999’s or so. Contact me if you want the manual we can arrange shipping costs to you
    Best 73

  17. I obtained a QRP Plus about two years ago and have used it a lot since that time. For about a year it was my #1 most used rig. I love it. One of the features I enjoy is the variable bandwidth adjustment, which really helps me to zero beat a station (something, which for some reason I find challenging with my ear alone). The same feature is very useful when dealing with QRM.

    My only complaint with the rig is that it has some difficulty handling loud QRN during summer storm season.

    Currently I’m using an OHR-400 more, so the QRP Plus is resting a bit. I would comment, however, that I could be happy with this radio as an “only rig” if I had to. It’s quite adequate for my needs.

    I do CW only, so I have never used it with a mike. Mine didn’t come with a mike.

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