I’ve been wanting to get a good CW-only lightweight rig since I started really getting into SOTA. Especially trying to do HF summit activations while trail running! I saw a good deal for this used Mountain Topper QRP transceiver, and I went out of my way to get it! I actually even sold my LDG Z-817 tuner to help provide the funds, making my home station temporarily non-functional.
The MTR / Mountain Topper series is a very small, very light group of QRP transceivers designed by Steve Weber, KD1JV. I don’t think I’d be overstating it to say he’s a legend in the QRP world. He’s designed lots of amazing QRP radios and continues to do so. They’re all really power-efficient, with excellent transmit and receive qualities. The MTR-3B consumes about 30mA on receive, and a maximum of about 550mA on transmit (putting out about 4-5 watts at 12v). There are numbers on the sensitivity and all that, but let’s just say it’s amazing. Perhaps I’ll do a side-by-side sometime, with my FT-817.
I paid for the MTR-3B via Paypal and the seller had it in the mail the same day. I received it just a few days later (this Monday). Picking it up from the post office, I couldn’t resist taking it to the local park immediately, to test it out.
I drove over to a local park with nice, tall trees and threw my antenna up over a high branch. I plugged in the Mountain Topper using a 9-volt battery and adjusted the antenna matcher. I threw out a test call on each of the bands and got spotted on RBN (Reverse Beacon Network). It works!
While I was sitting there, I got notification of a SOTA activator—George KX0R—on a mountain up in Colorado. I tuned to his frequency and heard him finishing a QSO. I wasn’t quite ready to make contact, so I waited through one more of his QSOs, then I threw my call out there. He answered someone else. At this point, I decided to switch to my Li-Ion battery to give myself the best chance of reaching him. When I got the battery plugged back in, I heard him calling CQ and I answered. He came right back and we exchanged reports. We had no trouble hearing each other. Great!
There’s nothing like the feeling of making that first contact on a new setup. I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun operating this great little rig.