The lab599 Discovery TX-500 ruggedized portable QRP transceiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Vlad, who shares some images and a video of a new QRP transceiver in development: the Discovery TX-500 by a company called lab599.

Specifications have not been published yet, but we have confirmed a few details from the manufacturer:

  • 10 watts PEP
  • HF plus 6 meters
  • Weight 570 grams (1.25 pounds)
  • Voltage 9 – 14 VDC
  • 105 milliamps at 13.8 VDC and with backlit display on
  • CAT control via USB and using Kenwood codes
  • I/Q outputs
  • Weatherized
  • Expected availability autumn 2019
  • Target retail price is $700 US
  • Product website is forthcoming

All of the following images came from the Discovery TX-500 gallery on Instagram:

Here are a few videos:

Click here to view on Instagram.

Click here to view on Instagram.

Click here to view on Instagram.

For someone, like me, who loves playing radio in the field (Parks On The Air and Summits On The Air) this looks like an ideal rig. It’s one of the only ham radio transceivers I’ve seen that is weatherized to some degree (how much, we don’t know yet).

I don’t see a speaker on the TX-500, so I’m guessing it might require a mic/speaker combo or an external speaker of some sort? I also don’t see a built-in ATU, but at $700, I certainly wouldn’t expect one.

With a power consumption of 110 milliamps at 13.8 VDC, this little transceiver should run for ages on a modest battery pack.

This is certainly a fascinating prototype QRP transceiver. If the Discovery TX-500 transceiver can be produced and marketed at $700 with all of the features mentioned so far, it should certainly fly off the shelves. They can certainly take my money!

Of course, I will plan to grab one of these for review. I’m also eager to see how this little SDR transceiver might perform on the broadcast bands.

We will post post TX-500 updates and details as they become available. Bookmark the tag Discovery TX-500 and stay tuned!

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23 thoughts on “The lab599 Discovery TX-500 ruggedized portable QRP transceiver

    1. Thomas Post author

      Not a thing. I’ve been checking in with the company regularly, but they’re not answering inquiries at the moment. I’m very eager to check out this radio, too. lab599 has posted a few new videos on YouTube and almost all of the comments are about availability and price. No replies to those.

      I guess when it’s ready, we’ll hear something.


  1. Bob Truitt

    Great! Another new QRP goodie! At 700 USD, the TX-500 appears to be priced right. The video lets you hear the awsome CW filtering (no ringing) and panadapter display. I was thinking of replacing my aging FT817nd but the Elecraft rigs are pricey and don’t look as “high tech” as the TX-500 snd the Chinese QRP rigs seem like toys compared to this offering. Just looking at those power and audio connectors and the weather proof construction makes me think “mil spec”
    but we will see! I’m still waiting for an SDR QRP portable rig that will do 160 to 6 with additional coverage of 4, 2, 1.25 and .7 Meter bands, all modes, but nobody seems interested. My “Go-Box” awaits a next generation transceiver…Hope this might be it!
    73, DE WA4A

  2. Dale

    This is a knockoff of the Elecraft KX-3. Once again the USA does the engineering only to have it stolen. In order to accommodate the smaller size, they have left out the ATU and the opportunity to add the 2M transverter- likely lots more I have not deduced. An unproved design.
    Caveat Emptor.
    Dale W4OP

  3. james

    High, I have another comment.
    What about offering another color option?
    I do not like black radios.
    What aboout a dark green like the older icom radios, 751, 751a, 745 etc.
    I am almost ready to buy.

    1. Bob Truitt WA4A

      Just do what I do…get a rattle can of spray paint the color you want and change the look of the thing! My favorite is making my rigs look military in OD green!

      73! Bob WA4A

  4. Steve W2SWA

    Interesting and looks nice!

    Dan VR2HF: You would think they wouldn’t sell, but with Summits on the Air, Parks on the Air, disaster preparedness, people going more portable, and all, QRP radio sales seem to be strong. I mean Elecraft seems to be doing quite well with the KX2 and KX3. The Chinese HF QRP radios like the Xeigu seem to be getting better and selling well. So, as stated, if this performs as well as it looks, it could be another good contender. I am not a circuits expert by any means, but it does look like there is an onboard tuner there.

    Since the specs are (at least at face value) on par with the Elecraft KX3, $700 is about half of what a nicely outfitted KX3 would go for. Of course, time and performance will tell if that is a fair comparison or not.

    Oh, and the “weatherized” angle is very interesting. I do SOTA as well and you dont always get a nice sunny day. 😀

    My 2 cents.

  5. Dan VR2HF

    Looks like a beautifully designed HF QRP transceiver. I hope it works as well as it looks. I admire anyone who has the talent, resources and vision to develop this kind of product, especially with all the new competition from China manufacturers.

    But I wonder about the timing. Who is going to spend $700 on a QRP radio at the bottom of the sunspot cycle with continuing poor HF propagation and no relief in sight? SSB is almost unusable at low power levels now most of the time on most bands and CW is only marginally better. Will this rig be limited to FT8 or other digital operation only?

    I’m interested to know what others think on this topic.

    1. riccardo

      I go QRP only, most of times SSB, digital only rx. I like desert bands, WARC, 60m. When cycle is at its low, there are many interesting things. WSPR, PSKreport to check antenna experiments. Line of sight in from mountain peaks in bright sunny days are great, in winter and summer. 6m will be interesting for e-sporadic openings.

  6. Braden

    Is Vlad the Retailer?
    Does anyone know who lab599 is, or where they are located? USA? Europe? Just curious.

    1. Thomas Post author

      No–the Vlad that sent in this tip is not the manufacturer or retailer. He does live in Europe (I believe–correct me if I’m wrong, Vlad) and speaks Russian. I believe he originally discovered this radio on a Ukrainian or Russian email list.

  7. Jason

    Neat. Happy to see the voltage tolerance would make 3s LiPo work as well as the typical lead-acid voltage range. That’s a must nowadays in my book for anything portable.

  8. Rob

    Thanks for posting this Thomas. I saw a brief mention of it elsewhere last week, but there’s been almost nothing out there on it. Eagerly await your review.


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