I recently earned a HARD FOUGHT promotion to Field Technician III at Spectrum Cable. It's hardly my dream job, but it's steady...and my bosses are great.
Since I would be getting a raise, I decided to pull the trigger on a new toy. Luckily, my tastes aren't that expensive and it would only run me $30, or so.
The 4SQRP (4 State QRP) Group produces some excellent quality gear, at insanely low prices for the performance that you get. The Cricket 40A is no exception.
What IS the 40A, exactly??
It's a minimalist transceiver, much like a Pixie, but with MUCH MUCH better performance characteristics and sensitivity.
What I find most appealing is that there are NO toroids to wind...in the tradition of the radio that started it all...the 4SQRP NS-40 transmitter.
The assembly was dash simple...all of the components have their proper place. And the manner in which they are shipped is in the Heathkit tradition: different components are isolated in plastic bags so as to not get mixed together. And EVERYTHING went well until I realized that a simple 39 pF capacitor was missing. A quick email to Johnny AB0BQ had the proper piece on its way...even though the radio worked without it.
The radio has a built-in straight key for self-contained portable operation. It has 9V battery snaps onboard for power, however, I haven't used a 9V for it YET. I don't know how well a 285 mAh battery will work for it, even though MANY have used 9V cells to power the larger LNR Precision "Mountain Topper" rigs.
But, I find that I have been using this radio almost exclusively since I finished it a week or so ago...and 3 nights ago on 16May2019, I had a mini-pileup on 7.053 going...working SKCC stations...all with approximately 900 mW.
(I find it amusing that I had said that I worked 7 in a row on the 4SQRP DMR net on TG31654, and many had said that they hadn't been so lucky as to work that many QSOs...I don't understand WHY! The power is ample...at 12V I can get in the neighborhood of 1W...and the receiver is excellent for a minimalist radio. It hears what my HW-7 can hear...my uBITX can hear...and my Yaesu FT-817ND can hear.)
As I make and confirm QSOs with the Cricket 40A, I will be posting my success stories here...
(From the 4SQRP website:)
Transceiver: Fully functional transceiver.
QSK: Yes! Full QSK with fast, high speed switching.
TR/RX Offset: Yes! Can hear a zero beat station, with no offset they wouldn't be heard.
Sidetone: Yes! Great keying aide, unusual in such a low parts count rig.
Low Part Count: Only 43 total electrical components (the Pixie has 34).
NO Toroids: NO toroids to wind, all inductors are etched on board spiral coils..
Reverse Voltage Protection: Battery clips prevent reverse connection.
Self Contained: Both the battery and a straight key are board mounted.
Keyer Adapter: An electronic keyer adapter is included - use your favorite keyer.
Single Bander: 40M only.
Crystal Controlled: 7.030 and 7.122 crystals are included in the kit.
Fast Assembly: Approx. 1 hour for an experienced builder.
No Alignment: None needed, put it on the air immediately after assembly.
Size: The board is 6" x 3.5" including a 1/2" snap off piece that becomes the board mounted key.
Power Supply: 9 volt on board battery.
Current requirements Receive: less than 10ma, Transmit: less than 80ma.
Direct Conversion: No 60 cycle hum or AM BCB interference at most locations.
Sensitivity: Minimum Discernible Signal (MDS) -110 dBm (~S3) well below the normal 80M noise level.
MOSFET Mixer: Far superior to the Pixie's NPN mixer - better immunity to AM broadcast interference and 60 Hz hum.
Current Requirement: Less than 10ma (!).
QSK: Full QSK.
Audio: Modern audio IC amplifier. Sounds good, and plenty of volume for headphones/earbuds.
Chirps NOT Included Most Crickets chirp :o) this one doesn't.
Power Output: ~.700 Watt
Final Amp: 2N7000 in Class E for cool efficiency. No heat sink needed.
Spectral Purity: All harmonics and spurs are 50dB or more below the carrier.
Current Requirement: Less than 80ma.
Robust: Will transmit into an open antenna jack with no damage.