Ten Tec R4020 & HB-1B MK3

R4020 general info

I found this little rig to be a great compact portable radio. I liked it so much I purchased the newer YouKits HB-1B MK3, shown below. The R4020 radio will transmit on 20 and 40 meters CW only. You will find that most of the time, one of the two bands is open. As we all know, 20 meters is a great DX band, 40 meters is a great stateside band and this little rig covers both bands. The built in band pass filter works great. Being able to narrow the pass band down to 400 hz makes working CW nice in crowded band conditions. The filter is adjustable and the radio can also be used to listen to single side band from 5 to 16 mhz.

Receive current drain is only 55 ma, transmit current drain at its rated 5 watt output power level is only 950 ma. Inside of the R4020 are two each AA battery trays used to hold a total of eight size AA batteries for powering the radio.

CW paddles

To key the radio I use the Vibroplex Warrior Jr. paddles. These paddles are well built and do an excellent job. They use magnets instead of springs. At first I did not like how the paddles felt, they felt sloppy. With a little adjustment they now have a great feel to them. I chose them because of their size. For many years I always used Bencher paddles. Bencher paddles work great but are too large to carry around. The Vibroplex paddles are probably one third the size of the R4020 and in this case, "size does matter!"

Everything you see in the picture to the left fits inside of a very small camea bag.

External speaker

Shown to the right of the radio is the speaker. It has an internal battery that charges off of a USB port on your computer. Since the radio has no internal speaker I figured this would be a nice addition if you don't like using headphones. Again I chose this speaker because of its size. The wire connecting the speaker to the radio tucks inside of a little pocket on the bottom of the speaker for easy storage. It has plenty of volume, good audio quality, it's self contained and is very compact. Speakers like the one I use can be found on Amazon.

Tilt Stand

Ten Tec sold a tilt stand for these little rigs but I decided to make my own. The one downside of the Ten Tec stand is, it is not compact. It takes up too much space if one wants to carry the Ten Tec stand along for portable use.

My home brew stand cost me $3.00 for the wood from Lowe's. The small piece of wool used to tilt the stand is not glued in place, it is removable so the stand takes up very little space when stored. It will also fit inside of the camera bag along with the rig.

CW from my knee

I purchased the Pico Paddles, with the detachable magnetic base, from Morse Express. I wanted to use them mostly on my Elecraf KX3. Once I realized the enclosure of the You Kits / Ten Tec R4020 was metal I attached the Pico Paddles to the radio. Since the batteries are inside of the radio, I figured this would make for a neat little radio that can sit on my lap while I am in my back yard. I just hooked up my OCF40 to the radio and I am on the air.

I also operate from the same location with the KX3 in my lap.

I am sorry to say that the Pico Paddle series are no longer made. This is a tragic loss to hams. I really like these paddles.

YouKits HB-1B MK3

I liked the YouKits / Ten Tec R4020 so much I decided to purchase the new YouKits HB-1B MK3. I liked the idea of the newer model having a built in battery. Supplied with the radio is a battery charger designed to charge the battery while it remains inside of the radio. Another nice feature is the VFO steps. The R4020 tunes a 100 hz resolution rate while the MK3 tunes at a rate of 10 hz.

I consider this radio a 5 band radio. They state that the LPF for 15 meters is shared with the 17 meter band. First of all, I get the same amount of power out on 17 meters as I do on 15 meters. Next, I tuned in a weak 17 meter station, using my TS990S and then checked to see if I could hear it on the MK3. I was clearly able to copy the signal on both radios. I did not compare S meter readings, I was able to hear the signal and to me that's all that counts.

Another neat addition to the MK3 is the SWR meter. It's always nice to see if there's an issue with coupling the radio to the antenna.

The one thing I noticed on all of the YouKits radios that I have owned, and this is the third one, the nut that holds the BNC to the cabinet is not tight enough. On the first two radios both have come loose. If you get one of these radios, remove the bottom cover, put a male BNC on the connector and hold it fast with a pair of pliers. Now tighten the nut holding the BNC to the cabinet. You will probably be able to turn the nut about a quarter of a turn. Now it's tight and won't come loose.

Nickel Zinc batteries

The Youkits / Ten Tec R4020 did not come with batteries.

My batteries of choice are PowerGenix nickel zinc rechargeable batteries. I chose these because nickel metal hydride batteries, when fully charged, are only 1.2 volts per cell. This means eight cells only produce 9.6 volts. When powering the R4020 with 9.6 volts the radio will output only 2.5 watts of RF.

The PowerGenix batteries, fully charged, will product 1.6 volts per cell. Eight fully charged PowerGenix batteries have a peak voltage of 14 volts. This voltage will allow the radio to produce 5 watts of RF output power. You must use the PowerGenix charger, "Do Not use a nickel metal hydride charger to charge these batteries." If you plan on making just a few Q's while back packing, internal batteries are a good idea. Since the radio does not draw much current while sending, internal batteries can offer you a few hours of fun.

If you plan on working for an extended period of time, I'd suggest taking alone a 12 volt 4 amp hour, or better, gel cell. Even better, a good 3 cell LiPo battery will do the trick.

I purchased the Nizn batteries and charger off of Amazon.com.

These batteries are not needed with the HB-1B MK3.

A word on coaxial cable

It's always nice to be able to use low loss coaxial cable, like RG 213, but it is really not practical to use this type of coax when operating portable. I found the RG 8X is great cable for portable operations. RG 58 is a little smaller in diameter but I always had issues when using PL 259 connectors on this cable. It seemed they had a very high failure rate. The center conductor would always fail inside of the connector. Having a coax fail when in the field makes for a bad day. Since the R4020, HB-1B MK3 and my KX3 all use BNC's, I figured it’s time to make the change. Installing BNC's on RG 58 cable is not a fun job. First you must make sure your purchase the correct connector. I decided it would be a lot easier and, in this case, much better to look for assemblies already made. Amphenol Cables on Demand had just what I needed. They use low loss RG 58 cable and BNC's that are molded to the cable. I purchased two each pre made 25 foot lengths and one each pre made 50 foot length. You will also need to carry a BNC female coupler if longer lengths are needed.

Amphenol Cables on Demand. Cables on demand

You can use RG 174 coax cable if very short runs are used. I personally would not use RG 174 for runs over 35 feet.