Help building a general coverage QRP transceiver list

Over the past few weeks, I have been building curated lists of ham radio transceivers. It all started when I needed to learn about multimode VHF/UHF transceivers for my EME project. As I got deeper into the process, I decided to make my master list of VHF/UHF multimode transceivers public. The goal with the list was to familiarize myself with the makes/model numbers and have an easy way to check out any used gear deals.

Next, I started a list of QRP general coverage transceivers–something I had been meaning to do for ages because I get so many inquiries about these from readers.

To be clear, by “general coverage” I mean radios that can receive HF and possibly MW broadcast bands in addition to ham radio bands. By “QRP” I mean radios that have output power of about 20 watts or less–some define the term QRP more strictly, but since our list has less to do with the transmitting function, I’m a little more flexible.

I like QRP general coverage transceivers because they’re often portable, have modest power requirements, and some offer superb sensitivity and selectivity for broadcast listening.

Click here to view the list so far.

Please comment if you note a missing transceiver. I’m certain I’ve left some out. I’d appreciate model numbers and links if possible. If you’ve ever owned one, please consider sharing your thoughts on its performance from the point of view of an SWL as well.

I’ve already started working on a list including all general coverage transceivers. It’s massive so it could be a while before it’s published! I’ll certainly ask for your input then as well.

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16 thoughts on “Help building a general coverage QRP transceiver list

  1. Kostas

    I guess this is just a a commercial transceiver list, so it seems that homebrewing is out of question…
    If you are prepared to pay hundreds of $ for a qrp transceiver then why just don’t buy a commercial one from one of these big companies that just receive everything and transmit everywhere that is allowed?
    I don’t particularly like it Thomas cause it is not homebrew, sorry 🙁
    A homebrew list of transceivers that could be built easily and cheaply with mostly common parts would be much much more interesting.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Kostas,

      This list is not limited to commercially-available models. It is, however, a list of general coverage transceivers–meaning, QRP transceivers that can receive broadcast bands outside the ham bands. I made this list for shortwave listeners. At least one of the radios on the list (the KX1) is a surface-mount kit. The uBITX V6 and Elecraft KX3 are modular kits. I can’t think of any widely distributed homebrew transceiver plan that is designed around general coverage. If you know of one, please comment. I’d be happy to add it!


  2. Mark Smith

    Hi Thomas

    a note re the FT-818, for some reason Yaesu have inserted the attenuation function into the broadcast band, this makes the radio useless for MW, even local stations are down in the noise. There does not appear to be any way to override this.


    Mark Smith VK2XMB

    1. Kevin Cox

      Try turning ON the IPO function (IPO is the yaesu name for a pre-amp, and turning this option on actually turns the pre-amp OFF) , and turn OFF the ATT function. Turning OFF the pre-amp (IPO ON) seems counterintuitive, but the receiver is very sensitive and easily overloaded by strong signals nearby. I use my FT-818 for MW, AM, and FM broadcast bands all the time. It is actually a very capable receiver. Though if you already own the 817 or 817ND, I wouldn’t recommend upgrading to this, as there are very few differences for the cost…

    2. Kevin Cox

      Also, be sure on the 818 that you have the antenna connector set in the menu to the connector your antenna is physically connected to…. I’ve noticed sometimes when changing bands, the radio remembers the connector setting (if you’ve changed it before) and switches the connector silently (only an R on the display for the rear connector).

      1. Mark Smith

        Hi Kevin
        thanks for the tips, I tried them out but with no change. The specs state that the rig is much less sensitive on the broadcast band, I’ve read somewhere that this appears to be intentional to avoid QRM from local (MW) broadcast stations. It is otherwise quite sensitive and FM broadcast etc are fine. Maybe it is a Yaesu design decision for many/all of its transceivers as the 450D is the same.

  3. Neil

    don’t forget the the mcHF project and the “recent” RS-918 & RS-928 variations. They Rx from around 800khz to 32Mhz -10watts (ish) TX
    One I have works really well 🙂

    1. Rich, WD3C

      The mcHF has AM with a wide bandwidth and Sync. I have it turned off on mine so I can’t comment on how well the Sync function works but it does very well for AM shortwave.

      I suppose the RS series has it as well as they are all copies of work done by Chris, M0NKA and Clint, KA7OEI The software is open source so there have been others adding features regularly.

  4. Andrew

    I doubt this one may qualify

    since it’s 40 or 30 mt and it’s only a CW TX, yet it’s as simple as it goes and can be built from junkbox in minutes, and coupled with a receiver will turn into a shoestring QRP station 🙂

  5. Mitch

    Excellent list! I just picked up a Yaesu FT-897D for mobile & base. Quick question, which loop is that in the picture?

    Thank you



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