G3VGR Wilderness Radio Sierra      

Sierra at home QTH The Sierra was originally a Norcal project designed by Wayne Burdick, N6KR. It was designed specifically as a low-current drain portable multiband transceiver and uses plug-in band modules, similar to the TenTec Scout.   Sierra kits are marketed by Bob Dyer, KD6VIO, through his company Wilderness Radio. I bought my Sierra from Peter, G3XJS in early October 1999.  It was originally built by G3TUX and is also fitted with the KC2 Display/Keyer option, Buzznot Noise Blanker and the DL-QRP-PA.  The rig was complete with modules for all bands except 12 and 160 metres.  I have now added the other two band modules and also a DL-SWR LED Indicator from QRPeter, DL2FI has been installed in the rig.  The tiny SWR indicator, which uses surface-mount components, reduces the number of accessories needed when operating portable.  I've also built various QRP accessories (Battery Charger, Z-Match ATU similar to the Emtech ZM2 and a W1FB design Resonant ATU).

The top photo shows the QRP station setup at the G3VGR home QTH.  An MFJ digital clock sits on top of the Sierra and a Bencher BY1 paddle is to the side.  On the shelf above is a Timewave DSP9+ filter, LDG QRP Tuner and some plug-in band modules. The LDG tuner has been modified to include an internal balun. I'm totally impressed with this little rig and for a while used it instead of my IC735 as the main station rig.  The receiver has a clean sound, however dynamic range is noticeably lacking at night on 40 metres due to the NE602 mixer. The DSP9+ really enhances the Sierra receiver performance, although the Sierra tuning rate is a little too fast when using the filter in the narrowest position. Click on the picture to see an internal view of the rig with the DL-QRP-PA & and DL-SWR-Meter. The DL-QRP-PA module gives a solid 10 watts outputs on all bands, although I had to change the original Sierra driver transistor from a 2N2222A to a 2N5109 to achieve full output on 15/12/10 metres. At the 5W level, the PA runs quite cool all day.

After building the Elecraft K2, another N6KR design, the little Sierra was packed away in a cupboard. As we were hoping to move house in 2016 (which hasn't materialized), I packed away my main station but wanted to get back on the air occasionally, so resurrected the Sierra for occasional CW QSOs. I rediscovered what a wonderful little rig this is. After two more years of total inactivity and the realization that it was unlikely that Amateur Radio would feature much in my retirement years, I sold the Sierra to Paul, G0WAT in October 2018.

Sierra in hotel room This photo shows the Sierra in some hotel room with a homemade Power Supply and a K8FF iambic paddle (another Norcal kit project).  Usually, when operating from hotel rooms, I used a half-wave end-fed wire with counterpoises for each band. This isn't always an ideal antenna and especially prone to all the electrical noise around the average hotel and I looked into using some form of Magnetic Loop for future hotel operating.

Links to resources on other Sierra Webpages
Wilderness Radio - Sierra Kits and modules from QRP Bob, KD6VIO
Funk-Amateur - DL-QRP-PA Kits
DL-QRP Club - DL-SWR Indicator Kits
New Jersey QRP Club - Summary of Sierra modifications
G3YCC's Web Site - Sierra modifications
Dave Ek, AB0GO - "Elmer 102" - Sierra Kit Construction Guide