I’ve been interested in getting into QRP portable operating. Recently I took a trip to Lake Champlain to do a bike ride, and decided I wanted to bring a radio. I decided on the 4 State QRP Group Hilltopper 20. It’s a 5w 20m only cw transceiver kit. It comes with 2 pre soldered SMD components and the rest are through hole, so it was an easy build. It took about 3 hours total. It’s controlled by an ATMEGA328 and an si5351 for the oscillator. It has a built in keyer for paddles, and will automatically detect what kind of key you have. It is very portable as well, weighing 8 oz and drawing 64ma on rx, 700ma on tx(at 12v). I was able to power it off of 9 AA batteries or my 12v 12Ah SLA battery.
The radio is very easy to operate, having 4 controls. Gain, speed, function button, and tuning. The function button simply sounds the frequency in morse code, as the radio has no display.
I’d recommend this radio to anyone looking to build a simple kit or looking for a basic single band cw portable rig.
I was operating from the shore at the tip of Alburgh, right on the lake. The antenna was a resonant dipole, a few feet above the edge of a ~30ft or so “cliff”. Apparently this was not high enough. I made a grand total of zero contacts, and saw no spots on the reverse beacon network. The only way I know it was working is that K1LOL in Swanton VT heard me at about s3(not bad for 5w ground wave at 10 miles really). I think next time I will set up a wire vertical, since that uses only one tree anyway. (I did end up bringing a tuner to check swr and power, and the radio and antenna were fine)