|Customer Reviews for the MFJ-9380K.|
|From: John WA6L|
|I have completed many kits from Heathkit, Elecraft, and Ten-Tec, and the 9380 is by far the easiest kit I ever built. The majority of the components on the board are pre-mounted SMT, so you are left with just a couple of dozen "through the hole"" items to finish the radio. My total construction time was about 3 hours, including alignment.|
You can say what you want about MFJ quality, but this kit was top-notch. All the parts were there, the instructions are clear and complete, and the alignment went without a hitch. The little cub worked the first time power was applied to it and has not had a single problem.
If I was going to pick a nit about the kit-building process, it would be that the instructions are not detailed enough concerning winding and installing toroids. This kit is geared toward the first-time builder, and they are probably going to need more help with toroids than anything else. The instructions were complete, but it would have been helpful to provide more information on stripping and tinning the coils.
Once the kit is complete and aligned, you have one nifty little $99 radio. You have to keep that figure in mind, and it is unfair to compare the cub with radios costing much more.
The receiver is impressive for a rig with this parts count. It appears to be very sensitive and the bandwidth is quite narrow. On transmit, my 9380 puts out a solid 2.5 watts and the signal is clear and clean.
The VFO is varactor-based and the drift is considerable when you first apply power. It takes a good 15 minutes for everything to stabilize; after which it is steady enough. This is just an operating hint and not a complaint.
The one complaint I do have concerns the tuning range of the cub. On my 9380, I have a range of approximately 70 kHz. The problem with that is the tuning control is a single-turn 10K potentiometer. With a large range and a single turn, it is difficult to accurately tune in signals. You can go right past a strong signal without hearing it, and once you find it, it takes a very, very sensitive touch to get it centered in the receiver bandwidth.
I don't see the need for that wide of a tuning range for a QRP rig. Half of that would be fine. I think that an easy mod would be to put a 10K resistor in parallel with the pot and reduce the tuning range in half. I will give that a try as time permits.
With that aside, the little cub is a fun project and well within the capabilities of the first-time kit builder. Once completed, you have a very serviceable QRP rig that can be a lot of fun to operate.
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