A bit over a year ago I built two MKARS-80 kits developed by Steve G6ALU – one for myself and one for a local ham. Not being a phone op, I sold mine, having ordered it just for the experience of building something different from all the CW kits that have found their way to my soldering iron over the years.
In my short time with each completed radio, I was duly impressed with the receiver. They reminded my of the OHR-100 series of CW kits in that there is little background noise while tuning between stations. Once tuned to a station, fidelity is fantastic and there is sufficient volume to drive a speaker to room-filling volume.
Five minutes or so of warm-up time is necessary to allow the rig to stabilize on freq.
Since my build, the MKARS-80 has gone through two generations of improvements, but even better, it can now be adapted to be a dual-mode rig with the addition of the CW Adaptor kit.
I’m not sure how practical this would be in actual use since the freq coverage of the rig is such that it will not cover both the phone and CW portions of the 80m band without internal adjustment. But at any rate, the option is there for you ti choose modes – just not “on the fly”.
To get around this problem, Ron PA0RCL developed a mod that divides the MKARS-80’s band coverage into three switchable segments. Other info describing his construction and mods can be found here. Check out the “photo” of his DRAKARS-80!
And Ron’s 40-watt amp for the MKARS-80 can be found here (with excellent photography, btw).
At the current exchange rate, the kit with the CW option goes for $160 delivered Stateside.