Tag Archives: Evan (K2EJT)

Field Kit Gallery: K2EJT’s Utra-Compact Venus SW-3B Field Kit

Many thanks to Evan (K2EJT) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post

K2EJT’s Venus SW-3B Field Kit

by Evan (K2EJT)

I’m big on small.  When it comes to field radios, especially ones I’m going to have to carry any distance, I prefer them to be small and light.  I don’t mind lugging a big heavy rig around if I’m going to be 20 feet from my truck, but if I’m hiking five miles into the woods, I want to measure my kit weight in grams, not pounds.  That’s where this little kit comes in.  Weighing in at only 733g, this kit fits the bill perfectly:

The stuff sack is from Dutchwear Gear.  It’s crazy light, and the entire kit fits in the palm of your hand.  Inside you’ll find everything you need to do a field activation.

The rig is a Venus SW-3B.  I really like this radio, especially for what it costs.  While it’s not as nice a radio as say my MTR-4B, you can get two of them for the price of one LNR radio, and get them in half the time!  The one thing that you need to be careful with on this radio are the rotary encoder and the gain knobs.  They protrude from the face of the radio, and I’m not sure how robust they are. Because I was concerned about how much abuse they’d handle, I 3D printed a set of side rails and a cover for the radio to protect them.

The key is a cwmorse.us N0SA paddle.  I have two of these keys.  One lives in this kit, and the other lives with my KX1.  They’re really nice keys for their size and weight.  There are downsides (like the sides being open), but aside from that I really enjoy sending on them.

As for an antenna, I’m running a Spark Plug Antennas 64:1 EFHW.  The wire is cut for 40, 20, 15, and 10, and is made of 24ga silicone jacketed wire with a tiny plastic clip on the end to attach to the throw line.  I really like this antenna.  It’s a great combination of small size, low weight, and good durability.  It works very well.  In fact, I like it so much I own two.

The coax is 15’ of RG316 from Amazon.  I don’t generally like to drag expensive coax into the woods.  I’ve killed enough of it to know it’s not worth spending a fortune on something that’s likely to get destroyed.

The throw bag and line are the same setup I run with my KX1.  It consists of a ripstop nylon bag with a paracord loop sewn in at the open end, and velcro across the top to close it.  Fill the bag with rocks, close the velcro, and you’re ready to go.  The line is 65’ of high viz, reflective 1.8mm cord.  The throw bag doubles as a stuff sack for the cord when not in use.

The headphones are a set of old Skullcandy earbuds I’ve had forever.  The kit also includes a Rite in the Rain pad and a pencil for logging, the power cable for the rig, and the radio instruction manual.

Powering the whole thing is a set of four AA size LiFePO4 batteries in a 4 cell holder.  The four batteries combined are a little over 13V fully charged, and are about 2600mAh.  They can power this little radio for a LONG time.  I get multiple activations out of a single charge.  I threw a set of Anderson Powerpoles on it to connect to the power cable on the radio.

This is the kit I carry when I want to go light.  As always, I could go lighter, but then I’d have to make compromises I’m not willing to make.  I’ve done plenty of activations with this kit, and it never lets me down.  You can see a description of the kit here:

And the kit in use here:

Gear list:

Evan (K2EJT)

Field Radio Kit Gallery: K2EJT’s FX-4CR Field Radio Kit

Many thanks to Evan (K2EJT) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post. Check out Evan’s field kit:

FX-4CR Field Activation Kit

by Evan (K2EJT)

I have a lot of QRP field radios (more than I need and then some).  Some of them are one trick ponies, and some of them can do several things very well. One radio, however, does everything well, and ticks every box for me.  It’s tiny, well built, runs all modes very well, has 20w output, a color waterfall, and doesn’t break the bank.

That radio is the FX-4CR from BG2FX.  Now, before I sing the praises of this little radio, I need you to know that it wasn’t always great.  In fact, when I first got it it was pretty painful to use.  I’m primarily a CW operator, so if a radio is lousy for CW, it doesn’t get used.

This radio was pretty atrocious on CW when I first got it.  Keying was strange.  It would miss dits and dahs.  It had all sorts of popping and artifacts when you sent.  It was fine on receive……but sending was pretty much unusable.  I got it, used it for one activation in May, and then put it away in my gear closet, disgusted at how bad it was for CW.

Fast forward to the August 2023 firmware update, and Yu fixed all of the weird CW bugs, and now I can wholeheartedly sing the praises of this radio.

This kit lives in a Pelican case I’ve had forever.  I forget which model it is (it’s so old the label fell off years ago), but it fits the kit nicely.

Inside the case you’ll find everything you need for a field activation.  Notice I didn’t say a CW activation……ANY activation.

CW?  Absolutely. In fact, with the latest firmware this radio is an absolute pleasure to send on.

SSB?  Heck yeah.  The audio from this radio is very good. The external hand mic is tiny but well built, and the radio even has an internal mic which is quite good as well.

Digital?  Ah….digital.  Now THAT’S what sets this radio apart from pretty much any other QRP field radio out there aside from the IC705.  This thing has a built in sound card, so digital is a breeze.  Wait….you forgot your USB cable you say?  Not a problem, because this thing has Bluetooth digital as well, and it works flawlessly. You’ll notice a cell phone in the pictures.  I run FT8 on that via Bluetooth using an Android application called FT8CN.  All you need is the rig and your phone, and you’re in business.

Aside from the rig itself and the Pelican case, this kit contains the following:

  • Bioenno 3ah battery
  • The hand mic
  • Power cable
  • cwmorse.us key
  • Retractable 3.5mm cable
  • Rite in the Rain notepad for logging
  • Pentel mechanical pencil
  • Weaver 8oz throw weight and 65’ of hi viz reflective cordage
  • 15’ of RG316 coax
  • Spark Plug Antennas EFHW and a homebrew wire for the antenna
  • The user manual
  • My phone for FT8

(Gear links below)

There are also a set of flip down laptop legs on the radio from Amazon to get the viewing angle correct.

Now, this radio isn’t perfect (no radio is).  There are a few things to keep in mind.

First, it’s small, but it’s heavy (530g or almost 19oz).  Second, because it’s a 20w radio and it’s as small as it is, it can get hot…..very hot if you’re running digital.

Third, the firmware update process is a little nerve wracking.  Aside from that, it’s a pretty sweet little radio for $550.  It would be nice if it had an internal battery and a tuner, but I can live without those considering how much functionality is packed into this little rig.

Out of every field radio I own (and as I said, I own a ton), this one is probably the most capable.  It’s amazing for CW (finally), SSB, and digital.  It’s tiny.  It’s 20w.  It isn’t crazy expensive.  If I’m doing anything other than just CW in the field, this is one of the radios I grab most often.  Is it the best radio I own?  No.  Is it awesome for what it is?  Absolutely!



Gear Links:

Readers: Check out Evan’s YouTube channel for more field radio goodness.

Field Kit Gallery: K2EJT’s Self-Sufficient Elecraft KX1 Field kit

Many thanks to Evan (K2EJT) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post. Check out Evan’s field kit:

KX1 Field Activation Kit

by Evan (K2EJT)

I take a minimalist approach to most of my gear.  I don’t like to carry anything I don’t need.  Whether it’s what I pack in my daypack, an overnight pack, or my radio kit…..If I don’t need it, it’s probably not coming along.

That’s where this kit comes in.

This is the absolute minimum radio kit to do a field activation.  While it’s not the lightest kit I have, it still comes in at only 1008 grams (2.25lbs), and that’s including the Pelican case which makes this kit rugged and waterproof (I have an SW-3B kit that weighs 700g, but it’s in an ultralight stuff sack).

This kit contains EVERYTHING (and I mean everything) to do an activation.  The radio is an Elecraft KX1.  It’s a four band radio with the internal ATU.  Powering it are six AA Lithium Ion batteries.  I love this radio, and I wish it was still in production, but these days they’re unobtanium unless you’re willing to spend a ton of money and get lucky and find one for sale.

The CW key is a cwmorse.us N0SA paddle.  The headphones are a pair of old SkullCandy earbuds I’ve had forever, but sound great.

For an antenna I’m running a 41’ random wire antenna, with a 17’ counterpoise, constructed of 24ga silicone jacketed wire.  That’s attached to the radio via a BNC binding post.  While this setup isn’t the most efficient, it’s definitely the most compact and agile.  Normally I run resonant antennas, but having the tuner allows me to run the absolute minimum antenna, and swap bands quickly, and that was the idea behind this kit.

The throw bag is rip-stop nylon with a paracord loop sewn in the top and a velcro closure across the opening.  I fill that bag with rocks, seal it shut with the velcro, and it’s ready to go. The throw line is 65’ of 1.8mm high vis reflective cord.  The throw bag doubles as a stuff sack for the cordage, so it’s all contained in one neat little unit that rolls up tiny.

Also included in the kit are a pencil and a logging sheet, as well as the KX1 cheat sheet.

I have lots of other field kits, but I wanted to showcase just how little you can actually get away with and still get the job done. Yes, I know you could build a Pixie kit and a tiny home made key and stuff and make the kit smaller and lighter, but I wanted a kit with no major compromises or downsides.  This fits the bill.   There’s nothing like a 100% complete kit that contains literally everything you need to do an activation that fits in the palm of your hand!  Thanks for reading and 73!




Everything else is either generic, home made, or ancient.

Readers: Check out Evan’s YouTube channel for more field radio goodness.