RaDAR – 49er vs QCX vs HB1A

I had all three rigs at my disposal this weekend and it was a good test. I made a few QSO’s and here is an extract from the log.

It tells a story. I had just repaired T1 on the QCX the night before, or at least found a workaround for it. It worked as expected and although I must still peak the band pass filter by removing a few turns from T1 again, it worked well.

The QCX Pro’s

It has a good CW receiver with 200 Hz audio filtering and a good Class E transmitter. It has an automatic facility for sending pre-programmed messages although it needs a firmware upgrade because mine only sends the first of sixteen choices – not serious though. The on board micro switch can be used as a hand key. The rig is VFO controlled adjustable to a resolution of 10Hz. Power consumption appears to be acceptable.

It has a built in keyer.

Advanced technology design. Low cost (Kit) in the region of R950.00

The QCX Con’s

It’s very difficult to make changes once built. If you’re lucky enough to have everything working perfectly and you don’t need to touch it then it’s fine. I wanted to rewind T1 and caused slight damage to a track or two on the PCB and had to find a workaround so mine no longer looks so pretty but fortunately still works! If you can build it, you can repair it!

I had audio problems and built in an external LM386 audio amp. It alleviates the only problems I ever had. The possibility of further PCB damage trying to fix the audio is just too great. My “Ugly duckling” will stay an ugly duckling for the time being, at least my duck is still kicking!!!

There is a CW decoder which is quite nice but if you’re going to rely on it you’re going to lose one QSO after another as it sometimes decides to go deaf when you most need it …. that missed comment! Your brain is still the best morse coder reader there is 🙂

The biggest con ……. The QCX is a CW ONLY rig. It cannot be used to listen to SSB transmissions without some innovative intervention like I did with the audio amp.

No AGC.

No container.

40m Only.

The 49er is a fun rig but certainly stands it’s ground against the competition! It’s a straightforward no nonsense radio.

49er Pro’s

Very good power consumption for it’s odd 1.3 Watts output. Very easy to repair if you must and uses standard components. Simple analogue design using easy to get components. It has a good receiver with sufficient CRYSTAL filtering.

Low cost, in the region of R130.00 An IDEAL entry level radio.

49er Con’s

Single frequency, 7.023 MHz for receiving and transmitting. This frequency is not a “watering hole” either and skeds are usually made to meet at appropriate times. The audio side tone is great but there is “thumping” at times, exaggerated by using cell phone earphones. It can be unpleasant sometimes while sending.

No AGC and no volume control 🙂 You need to adjust the distance of your earphones from your ears, more than enough audio though!

No container.

40m Only.

The HB1A. I had to repair this one but it’s also a reasonably straightforward design but does have some firmware much like the QCX. A lot of the components are surface mounted.

HB1A Pro’s

Well it has a sturdy container. An overkill really 🙂 Power consumption is acceptable. Very good audio and side tone with volume control. It has four levels of filtering for CW and SSB. Yes it can receive SSB transmissions and is also capable of cross mode (CW / SSB)  QSO’s. It also receives AM stations with reasonable audio quality.

It has a built in keyer.

This particular model can operate on 40m, 30m and 20m

Price unknown as I swopped it for my immaculate 50W 2m FM Alinco DR135 with optional built in APRS / Packet TNC but like I said it needed a simple repair on the LCD display.

HB1A Con’s

I can’t think of any? It is a CW only transmitter but all three under discussion are. Power output the same as the QCX at around 3W.

Overall comments.

Obviously all options are lightweight if one needed to take a radio with you on the trail. Certainly you don’t want to limit your contact base to CW only. There may be a SSB station in range and the operator able to send and receive morse code. VFO control is a must when doing some serious amateur radio communications.

This brings the HB1A to the top of the list, the QCX second and the 49er third. The QCX even with it’s modern design has only an advantage over the 49er with a little more power out (Typically 3W) and is VFO controlled. If they were to be used only on 7.023 MHz then the filtering may be an advantage with the QCX but the 49er’s receiver is surprisingly good!

So, my CW only trail friendly radio I’d take with me on serious hikes would definitely be the YouKits HB1A.

About a year ago, I bought a Rossi battery and it has proved to be an absolute gem as far as a power supply is concerned! It serves as a decent torch too and if you really needed to, a cell phone charger although I’d steer away from that option from past experiences!!!

I have an end fed antenna which is adjustable to a certain extent for working on 40m, 30m and 20m (Pushing it). I have a tuning indicator which has proved invaluable for peaking the capacitor setting once deployed and the deployment of an end fed is usually the fastest and easiest of all antennas. Use a tree branch and if there are no trees then certainly the RaDAR Painters pole mast is the optimum solution. This one has a one meter length “counterpoise” but simply used to tie down the rig end of the antenna.

 

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

 

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