Tag Archives: Steve Weber KD1JV

Getting To Know You Series: The Mountain Topper MTR-3B — My thoughts, notes, and a POTA activation!

I’m very fortunate in that in the past few years I’ve accumulated a number of QRP radios that I use in rotation when I do park and summit activations.

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.

The Mountain Topper MTR-4B V2. Read the review here.

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)

On Friday, August 25, 2023, I made my way to Holmes Educational State Forest to play a little POTA with the MTR-3B.

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. Continue reading Getting To Know You Series: The Mountain Topper MTR-3B — My thoughts, notes, and a POTA activation!

Guest Post: Steve builds a DC30B QRP Transceiver

DC30B QRP Transceiver ProjectMany thanks to Steve (KZ4TN) who shares the following guest post:

DC30B QRP Transceiver Project

by Steve Allen, KZ4TN

I wanted to build a lightweight backpackable transceiver I could take hiking and camping. I chose the 30 meter band as it is specific to CW and the digital modes. I am also in the process of building Dave Benson’s (K1SWL) Phaser Digital Mode QRP Transceiver kit for the 30 meter band. Also, a 30 meter antenna is a bit smaller than one for 40 meters and the band is open most anytime of the day.

I sourced the DC30B transceiver kit, designed by Steve Weber KD1JV, from Pacific Antennas, http://www.qrpkits.com. It appears that they are now (10-11-20) only offering the kit for the 40 meter band. The following information can be used for the assembly of most any kit that lacks an enclosure.

Lately I have been finding extruded aluminum enclosures on Amazon.com and eBay.com. They come in many sizes and configurations. I like to use the versions with the split case which allows you to access the internal enclosure with the front and rear panels attached to the lower half of the enclosure. Most of these enclosures have a slot cut into the sides that allow a PCB to slide into the slots keeping it above the bottom of the enclosure without having to use standoffs. The one requirement for assembly is that the PCB needs to be attached to either the front or rear panel to hold it in place.

DC30B QRP Transceiver Project

As the enclosure is anodized, I didn’t want to rely on the enclosure for common ground. I used a piece of copper clad board that I cut to fit the slot width of the enclosure and attached it to the back panel. I was then able to mount the transceiver PCB to the copper clad board with standoffs. This basic platform of the enclosure with the copper clad PCB provides a good foundation for any number of projects. All you have to do is mount the wired PCB on the board, install the components on the front and rear panel, then wire it up.

DC30B QRP Transceiver Project

I wanted to have the choice of a few frequencies to operate on so I searched eBay for 30 meter crystals and found a source for 4 different popular frequencies. I installed a rotary switch on the front panel and added a small auxiliary PCB with two, 4 pin machined IC sockets. This allowed me to plug the crystals into the sockets. I wired the bottom of the socket PCB first using wire pairs stripped from computer ribbon cable leaving extra length. I marked the wires with dots to indicate which sockets each wire pair went to so I could solder them onto the rotary switch in the correct order. It was tight but I always work with optical magnification so I can see exactly what I’m doing. I have used this crystal switching method in the past with good success.

DC30B QRP Transceiver Project

DC30B QRP Transceiver ProjectThe rest of the assembly was straight forward. I find that most kits are well designed and documented, and if you take your time and follow the directions carefully all should go well. The two most common speed bumps seem to be soldering in the wrong component or bad soldering technique. I double check all component values and placements prior to soldering, and I always use optical magnification while working. I inspect each solder joint and look for good flow through in the plated through holes, and make sure there are no solder bridges.

DC30B QRP Transceiver Project

DC30B QRP Transceiver ProjectThe finished product. I bought a Dymo label maker and it works very well for projects like this. I love using these enclosures and they are a leap forward from the old folded aluminum clam shells I used in the past. I could stand on this without causing any damage. Power out is 1-3 watts depending on the DC power in. The receiver is sensitive and the ability to choose from four frequencies is a real plus.

73 de KZ4TN

Steve Allen
Elizabethton, TN

Wow, Steve! What a top-shelf job on this build! I’ll have to look for those aluminum enclosures as well. Beautiful little rig you’ve made there and I think it’s fantastic you’ve a few crystal frequency options! Thank you for sharing!

Fully-assembled Mountain Topper rigs soon available from LnR

MountainTopperMany thanks to Chris (K4RCH) for passing along this message from Steve (KD1JV) at LnR Precision:

I am pleased to announce that the 3 band Mountain Topper will be commercially available as a fully assembled product from LnR Precision. They should be available for purchuse around the end of January and will cost $250.00

Steve KD1JV

If you’d like a peek at The Mountain Topper manual, click here to download (PDF).

Steve (KD1JV) is well-known for his brilliant QRP transceivers–$250 is a true bargain. Check out AE5X’s blog for more info about the MTR.