Side KX Cover for IC-705 Review

There are still 2 weeks until Christmas, but Santa came early and left me something this morning.

Okay, I guess if I’m paying for something, it technically isn’t Christmas for me, but exciting nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, Scott (AK6Q) from posted a comment on my review of the Peovi IC-705 Carry Cage letting me know about an upcoming product offering.

You might know as Side KX – a company that produces protective side panels and polycarbonate face coverings for Elecraft and other radios. I have both for my Elecraft KX3 and think they are the perfect addition to that fine radio.

I’ve added the Peovi Carry Cage for my IC-705 and have enjoyed the additional peace of mind it provides me, but have constantly worried about the front face and how to protect it when placing the radio into a pack for mobile operations.

Knowing Peovi makes products for cameras, I took a cue from that world and had been using a camera wrap such as this one. Camera wraps are great ways to quickly add another layer of protection to just about anything and they come in multiple sizes. Note that they provide soft protection only – they are wraps after all.

Still though, the face of this radio is where all the magic happens.

Having already decided that the Peovi Carry Cage is a worthwhile addition both in cost and weight to protect a significant investment, seeing the new offering from Gems Products got me excited and I promptly ordered one.

Note that you must have the Peovi Carry Cage in order to use this cover – it uses the side pieces to secure itself to the radio and will not work without it.

The Side KX Cover for the IC-705 is built very much like the one for the KX3. It fully encloses the face and controls of the radio along all 4 edges with about 1.4mm thick polycarbonate (as my calipers measured it – they’re cheap so it might be accurate 😉 ). The edges have raised sections that fit securely into the openings on the side panels of the Peovi Carry Cage.

It is very lightweight, coming in at 85 grams or about 3 ounces.

All lines and edges are clean and well constructed.

One slight concern is that the tuning knob is fairly close to the right edge of the radio, and when removing the cover it tilts and can touch during the process. Probably not a big deal, but I’ve taken to putting the left edge in before setting the right in place, and doing the reverse when removing to avoid hitting it. This is more of an issue of the design of the radio and how close to the edges the knob is and not about the cover itself.

All edges mate up with the body of the radio and the cage perfectly.

I’ve had this cover for only a few hours, but my previous experience with their KX3 cover leads me to believe that this will be just as durable and protective. As such, I certainly recommend this cover to anyone who has both an IC-705 and the Peovi Carry Cage. It is another layer of protection for this excellent transceiver.

The whole setup does come at a cost that isn’t just monetary – the radio (plus battery), Peovi Carry Cage, and Side KX cover come in at a whopping 1636 grams, or 3lbs 9.5oz! Not lightweight by any means, but this is not a Rockmite or Mountain Topper. 🙂

Pick yours up here. As noted at the beginning, I purchased this item at full price with my own money and have not been influenced in any way to post this review. I have benefited from many other hams and their honest opinions about products, and I hope that this benefits you as well.

On a side note, they have also started selling side panels for the Icom IC-7300 which I also purchased. I might put a quick review of those as well if there is any interest.

Additional photos:

The side pieces are molded to fit just inside the handles, creating enough tension to stay firmly in place but not too hard to remove
Another view of the sides interlocking with the handles
There is a lot of clearance between the back of the cover’s face and the knobs/buttons

Kit Build – Penntek TR-25 CW Radio

I first saw this kit online this last summer and was immediately intrigued. Fast forward to obtaining the December 2021 edition of QST where they did a review of the radio, and I knew I needed to get one.

The kit arrived in a well packed box about 1 week after placing my order. Unpacking it I have the following contents:

The PCBs are packed inside the radio case, and all the individual parts are packed together based on which part of the radio is being assembled.

For example, all the lower PCB parts are packed together and separate from the upper PCB parts. Even more convenient is that within each set of parts, each one is organized in the order of assembly. A welcome usability improvement over other kits I’ve done where parts arrive loose in a single plastic bag.

Also included are print outs of the assembly manuals, which are likewise separate pages for each section

Installation of all components is very straight forward. If you can solder, you can install all the parts.

There are 6 toroids that need winding. None are overly difficult (I still have flashbacks of T1 on the QCX mini ;)). The directions are very easy to follow and there are picture to validate your windings against.

I’m not going to go through a step-by-step of the assembly – the manuals do that for you. K0SSK also has a great post showing assembly and testing of the kit.

Assembled minus the bottom half of the case – need access to the pots to perform final checks and adjustments. Nice clear OLED screen. Always makes me smile to see things work as expected, even more so that I didn’t let the magic smoke out. 🙂

Quick Comparison

Looking at my other radios, the size lends itself to being compared with my Mountain Topper from LnR Precision.

Both come in at roughly the same dimensions. The Mountain Topper is 4 bands (80/40/30/20) compared to the TR-25’s 2 bands (20/40). While both radios offer QRP portability for commonly used bands, you can see that the tradeoff is either usability (a control for everything) vs breadth of capabilities (more bands, memory slots, etc.).

It is a little of an apple and orange comparison when putting a commercially built radio up against a kit given that the MTR comes assembled, but it is the only multi-band radio that is close to the TR-25 in my collection.

Minor Nits

There are a few things missing from this radio that others have, such as:

  • No memory slots for recorded SOTA/POTA/CQ messages
  • No visual indication of WPM for the Iambic-B (there is no Iambic-A support) keyer, the dial simply has Min/Max markers
  • The design is intuitive and having a dial/knob/toggle for all settings is actually nice thing given how many radios use menu and sub-menus to death, but they do stick up from the radio and might be subject to being broken in the field – time will tell

These are minor nits in my opinion as not everybody needs every bell and whistle to enjoy SOTA/POTA/QRP operations.


This post is focused on the quality of the kit and what I received for my money. I have not yet gotten in on the air and will follow up with my impressions there. For now, keeping things focused on the kit building side.

The TR-25 is easy to assemble, with 4-9 watts of output depending on band and power input, no hideous menu structures to memorize (everything has a switch or knob on the face). A great little radio that can be put together and be on the air quickly and easily.

Pick yours up for $199 USD at their online store.

NOTE: Penntek is coming out with the TR-45L 4 band transceiver that is currently in beta testing. It looks a bit “old school” and I’m definitely intrigued.