If you roam around the internet, you’ll see it’s easy to find negative comments about Index’s old QRP+ and relatively difficult to do so for the KX1.
Experienced QRPers know that each radio represents a different genre within the field of QRP; others, however, may have a tendency to lump all sub-100 watt radios together and judge them comparitively, regardless of the validity of that comparison.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate and do exactly that – look at the pros and cons of each of these radios in the application that QRP now finds its most common usage in my circumstances: business travel.
I own both of the radios pictured above and will never sell either of them. I bought the KX1 years ago, when I lived near the Appalachian Trail and did a fair amount of backpacking – solo and with other QRPers. Hands down, it was (and remains) the perfect rig for that application. There are smaller choices – most notably the ATS-3/4 series – but the KX1 is a self-contained radio/tuner/power supply in-a-box and that gives it the edge, IMO.
The QRP+ was purchased 2 years ago because, when they were new, I was little more than a kid and couldn’t afford one. The ads in QST caught my eye though and I really, really wanted one. So, finally…
Over time, my list of desired attributes in a QRP rig have changed: my backpacking days are over, my business trip days are on the wane and my interest in QRP DXing is increasing with each new country that I work QRO.
Put another way, the advantages of the KX1 are yeilding to those of the QRP+.
For a while, I used the KX1 as my travel radio, bringing it with me on my trips and putting it into service from hotel rooms, Wildlife Refuges and wherever else its small form would be advantageous. I thought it made a perfect transition from trail rig to travel rig, but that’s where the QRP+ sends it packing.
And here’s why:
Full HF (and 160m) coverage. The KX1 only covers 4 bands, none of which include 10, 12 or 15 meters that are frequently in such great condition. Not only are these bands good for DXing but antennas for them are small, easily lending themselves to portability…from an apartment balconey or a park.
Higher power out. Except during QRP contests, I don’t restrict myself to the 5 watt rule and the QRP+ is good for 9 watts. I’m an opportunistic QRPer, favoring that mode due to what it offers me rather than what sacrifices I must make for it – smaller power supply, smaller antenna tuner and less expense compared to QRO equivelents. So if I can get 9 watts instead of the KX1’s four, the QRP+ is the better rig.
Of course any day now, Elecraft’s KX3 will render all these arguments mute!