I had been using the Xiegu X5105 for almost a year, and for the money, it truly is a great radio! Overall I really had no complaints about it, but for it's size, it was quite heavy. As I started my journey into learning Morse code, I started paying more attention to POTA activators that did mostly CW. A few Youtube videos later, and I came across one of our regulars, Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL, along with his excellent blog QRPer https://qrper.com .
Thomas has reviewed a lot of QRP rigs, but it seemed to me the radio he preferred the most was the Elecraft KX2. I started researching the KX2 more and more, and finally decided that I needed one. Well, OK, I didn't NEED one. But I really wanted one now! About a month later, I came across the one I own now in the gear swap portion of the POTA Slack group. And I am so glad I did!
This really is an amazing little radio. It's foot print is just slightly smaller than my Samsung Galaxy S10, and weighs next to nothing, even with the internal 2.6Ah battery. It is an all mode radio from 80 through 10 meters. It's big brother the KX3 will also operate on 160 and 6 meters, but that wasn't a deal breaker for me at all as I rarely operate on those bands. Mostly due to a lack of an antenna for 160, and that I just don't get on 6 meters that often.
I would compare the receiver on this radio to that of my favored Kenwood TS-590S at home. Crystal clear SSB, but CW is where this receiver really shines. The ability to filter out adjacent signals is very easy to do. The built-in antenna tuner will find a match on just about anything. I carry a 4010 EFHW with this radio, but there are sometimes I either don't have room to set one up, or there are too many people to safely do so. In that case. I keep a simple vertical wire antenna just for that occasion: a 29' radiator and a 17' counterpoise. I can hoist this up on a mast, or hang it from a tree. With a 9:1 unun, this radio will get a match from 60 through 10 meters.
I also do a little digital with the KX2, and use a very slick little interface from Digirig https://digirig.net/ . Lately the propagation gods haven't been playing nicely with SSB, so on occasion FT4 and FT8 will save my activation! I just installed JS8 as well, as there are more and more POTA activators using it to self-spot when they do not have cell service to be able to do so. If you have even done POTA or SOTA before, you know how important it is to be spotted! So that is a trick I need to learn.
I keep this kit in a nice sized camera backpack I found on Amazon, and it has more than enough room to carry the radio kit with a mast, with room to spare for extras, snacks and fluids, and even a light jacket. It's so easy to grab and go when I want to do a quick activation after work.
BTW..... I do not make a dime from any of the links I post. If I find a product that I like, or a blog or other web site that I found to be helpful, I will post the link in case someone else might find the info useful too.
KX2 with Whiterook MK-44 paddles.
Left to right, top to bottom:
- Notepad and pen for logging
- USB C to USB 3.0 4 port hub
- HP Pro 608 Windows 10 tablet, refurbished, $99 on eBay
- iPazzPort wireless mini keyboard with touchpad mouse
- KX2 with Side KX siderail, heatsink, and cover
- Digirig Rev 1.6 digital interface with cables
- Whiterook MK-44 paddles with coiled cord
- Elecraft hand mic
- Home brewed 4010 EFHW with 49:1 transformer, ~66' 24ga SOTABeams wire, 17' counterpoise wire
- 5Ah Li-Ion polymer battery pack, made from 3 Ring doorbell batteries wired in series with a BMS
- 25' RG-174 coax w/BNC connectors
- Extra tape and miscellaneous connectors and adapters
- Aluminum tent stakes
- Velcro straps for lashing mast
- Guying ring
- Small bit of paracord
_ SOTABeams Tactical Mini mast, 19.6'
- Not shown: Seasky Warrior backpack for cameras or drones