Are you tired of building pixie kits, rockmites, and other entry level ham radio transceivers that just end up sitting on the shelf or junk box in your ham shack collecting dust? Take your kit building up a notch with the KN-Q7A SSB Transceiver from CRKITS, and build a radio that you will actually want to use on the air.
The KN-Q7A is available in three bands: 80/75m (10W), 40m (10W), or 20m (5W). Between those three bands, there are 10 different frequency range options for you to choose from, thus allowing you to customize what part of the band your rig will be able to cover. Each of those frequency options will cover roughly 20KHz of the band, except for the 20m version, which covers about 30KHz.
If electronic kit building isn’t your thing but you still want to own this radio, then you are in luck. The KN-Q7A can also be purchased fully built and aligned from QRVTronics, which is the official distributor in America.
This review will cover the real world capabilities and performance of the 20m KN-Q7A SSB Transceiver. This will not be a walkthrough on how to build the kit as it was provided to me already fully built.
The 20m KN-Q7A comes with a frequency range of 14.300 – 14.330 MHz, which is controlled by a single tuning knob (sorry, no fine tuning control here). Initially, I was concerned about this rig not having a fine tuning control knob. Luckily, my fears were quickly abated. Within minutes of hooking up the KN-Q7A to a power supply and antenna, I was already making contacts and checking into nets all over the United States including Alaska and even multiple contacts into Canada.
Most of these contacts were made using a Carolina Windom 40, and a Alpha EzMilitary vertical. I even made a few local/regional QSO’s while using a short Wonder Wand telescopic vertical and a MFJ-1820T short telescopic vertical while operating from the beach.
During most of my contacts while using the KN-Q7A, I received great signal reports and most were quite impressed with the quality/clarity of my signal and audio. Many of the hams I made contact with were especially impressed after being informed that I was operating portable QRP. I did experience a little bit of frequency drift during my testing but nothing that couldn’t easily be compensated for.
One thing I really liked about the KN-Q7A was that it doesn’t require you to use an external speaker or headphones since the microphone houses a nice little speaker. This really comes in handy when compared to other kits on the market that don’t have any built in speaker and require an external one or headphones. I even prefer the speaker mic feature over kits that have a speaker built into the enclosure of the radio. My reasoning is that if you are in a loud environment, and you forgot your headphones, then at least with the speaker mic you can hold it up to your ear to listen. On the other hand, the transceivers that only have a built in speaker (but no speaker in the mic) would require you to stick your head down near the radio if you forgot your headphones when operating in a loud environment.
Something you will have to get used to when operating the KN-Q7A is not having any frequency display. All you get is a dial numbered 0-9, but that’s the price you pay to keep the stock version of the kit simple and inexpensive. The solution I came up with was a quick low tech fix. I made a simple little hand written (then later computer printed) paper chart of what frequencies corresponded to which dial markings. Then, I just used packing tape to stick the little chart to the top of radios enclosure. Problem solved.
The good news is that there is a more sophisticated (albeit more complicated) solution of adding a DDS VFO frequency display mounted through the top/front of the enclosure where there is plenty of unused real-estate. This and other modifications such as adding an internal RF amplifier, TX indicator LED, internal batteries, 10 turn pot (instead of the included single turn pot), on/off switch, and expanded frequency coverage of the band are easily found with a simple search online. Luckily for you, I have already done that leg work and have listed a couple links to mods below. Please note that the manufacture and distributors of this kit do not sell any of the components required for these modifications, so you will have to source your own parts.
I decided to open up the KN-Q7A to get an idea of the level of complexity of the circuit board layout. What I found inside was a kit that has decent spacing between components. There are 5 toroids that looked easy enough to wrap, 8 crystals, 4 relays, 4 IC chips all with sockets, as well as your standard assortment of capacitors, resistors, diodes, and transistors. There are also 5 variable inductors, a variable capacitor, and a variable resistor, all of which are presumably used to align the receiver and transmitter after you finish building the kit. Luckily, all these components are through hole type with just one exception. There is a single medium sized SMD transistor that is user installed. If you haven’t worked with SMD components before, I suggest you practice up or get a local elmer to help you with installing this part.
All in all, I think this kit can easily be built by any patient ham radio operator who has a basic understanding of electronics and intermediate level soldering skills. It would definitely make for an awesome group project for your local ham club meetings. It’s also a great option for those who just earned their general class ticket and want an affordable way to get on the HF airwaves.
I know there are lot of hams out there that are big into emergency preparedness, but unfortunately it can get pretty expensive buying redundant ham gear from the big name manufactures just to turn around and stick that expensive gear in a waterproof box where it will sit unused for months, if not years, on end. It’s radios like the 20 meter KN-Q7A SSB transceiver that can really help you reduce your emergency prepping expenses from thousands of dollars down to just hundreds.
More importantly, this radio just plain works and is a joy to operate. When I take the KN-Q7A out for a hike, it’s downright relaxing to use when compared to most other QRP rigs used for portable ops. No endless menu systems to shuffle though, no user manual to memorize or carry around, and literally not a single button on the entire radio save for the microphone PTT switch. You can’t get much simpler than that. When compared to nearly all the big name HF rigs on the market that seem to just keep pushing more and more complicated features, the KN-Q7A is like a breath of fresh air. Its sturdy aluminum case and straightforward, easy-to-use two knob interface make me feel like I am using a good old fashioned radio again. This rig is definitely a winner in my book, and I highly recommend it.
73! from James Hannibal – KH2SR
Made in USA (When purchased pre-built from USA Distributor)
(If you build the kit yourself then its “made in” wherever you are located!)
QRVTronics USA Distributor Pricing:
• Kit: $125
• Fully Built: $175
For more info, please visit the following links: