AT Sprint III

A high performance Trail Friendly Radio from noted designer Steve Weber, KD1JV - the AT Sprint III needs no introduction to the QRP community. It is a very nice rig to use. It's also very innovative in that it has switches for all it's functions - no knobs! I had built Steve's AT Sprint II and really liked it. It was my second SMD project. I liked it so well, I thought I'd try its little brother the ATS3. The -3 re-defines the acronym TFR. Four bands, 3-5 watts out, built-in memory keyer, RIT, XIT, frequency annunciator - and a total weight of less than 3 ounces! I sold the ATS-2 and now use the ATS3 for just about all of my portable ops. Along with a Norcal BLT, and an AZ ScQRPion's mini paddle, it makes a nearly ideal portable station.
Free label offers for ATS3 or ATS3B
Tips on Mounting in Altoids Tin
Tips on Applying Labels to Altoids Tins
I've condensed some of KD1JV's operating instructions and placed them in a Word documwent. I printed it out, had it laminated and have it on the desk when I use the rig. A plain paper version is in my "go" bag to use for portable ops. It has been very useful, please feel free to download a copy for yourself, click link below..
Click Here to Download the ATS3 Operating Instructions Handy Guide


I will make a FREE Altoids or Whitmans label for you similar to the one above. I'm happy to do this for ATS3 owners. Labels have been sent all over the US, including AK and HI, and some have been sent to Europe as well. I'm gratified by the demand, and happy to provide them. If you would like one please send me an email at wa0itp at wa0itp dot com.

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Mounting the ATS3 in an Altoids

1. For the 4 switch holes, I used the label as a drill template, centering it on the tin and marking the hole locations. I drilled with a drill press and very small bits (#69 I think). I spin them as fast as the drill press will go and they dont need a center punch to start. Then I used the Harbor Freight hand punch to punch 3/16" holes. Use the the "nib" on the punch to find the small hole before squeezing the handle.

2. Mark and drill the location of the 3 jack holes on the end, small bit again. . They should be just shy of 3/8" above the bottom of the tin, maybe a 1/64 under. Punch a 1/4" hole. I found that 1/4 wasnt quite large enough to clear a shoulder on my headphone plug, so I carefully hand reamed it a little larger.

3. Mark, drill, and punch the antenna connector location. The label places it in a good position along the side and it should also be 3/8" above the bottom of the tin. I used an RCA phono jack and it takes a 1/4" hole

4. This time I decided to epoxy the standoffs to the inside of the tin. This gives some time to "wiggle" the board into postion. I prepared the stand offs by grinding off the plating off the bottom, and cutting a 1/16 deep slot across the bottom, like a screwdriver slot, to give the epoxy some purchase to resist the torque of inserting and removing the screws.

5. Install the standoffs on the board (not too tight). Trial fit the board in the enclosure. I bumped the jacks up against the inside of the end. If it fits ok, put a dollop of epoxy on the bottom of each stand off and place the board in position. Wiggle it around until the switches are centered in their holes. Put it aside and let it cure overnight. I used JB Weld, Devcon 2 ton would be anopther good choice. The hold down screws wound up being 1/8 long. Enough length to get thru the board but not so long as to get into the epoxy.

6. Putting the holes in the label was interesting. I used a bulletin board push pin and punched a pilot hole with it for each switch location. Taping the label to a piece of thin dense cardboard (the JB Weld package) provided enough stiffness to use the punch on it. I used a 5/32 punch to cover up the raw edges of the holes in the tin and still provide enough clearance for the push buttons.

7. When I installed the label, I centered it as best I could making sure the pushbuttons had no interference. Placing a couple pieces of "magic tape" on the top and over the side of the tin holds it in place. Then I lift the bottom half and remove the protective covering on the double sided tape and smooth down the label. Remove the "magic tape" and do the same for the top half..That's it!

Please read the label application tips for more detail.

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Label Application Suggestions

1. After printing it out, cover the face with Clear Shipping Tape.  Three inch wide tape is available and is ideal for an Altoids® label. Make a bow in it, so as not to trap air bubbles, when you place it on the label, and smooth it down, working from the center out. Then rub out any imperfections in the tape with a soft cloth. You should obtain a nice smooth tape surface. Dont cut out the label yet.

2. Apply double stick tape, often sold as Carpet Tape,to the backside in as many strips as neccessary to cover the whole backside. I use 1.5" wide tape. Just butt the strips against each other running in the long direction. Some of my labels have had 3 strips on them. The joints wont show through.

3. Turn the label over and cut the whole sandwich out, carefully. I like to go fairly slow with sharp scissors, and use strong lighting. Photo scrapbookers use a corner rounding cutter which works well on the corners. I use a medium corner cutter, and it matches the radius on the corners well.

4. I always pass a marker around the edge of the sandwich at this point. I use a black Sharpie® marker to match the black edges of the label, and they disappear when applied to the tin. When you look at the label from the top, you see the sharp printed border, minor edge imperfections dont show..

5. Position the label on the enclosure panel and using "magic" or "scotch" tape to attach it in two places on the long side to hold it in place. Lift it up and remove the protective covering from the tape strip next to the "hinged" side. Lay it back down, smoothing the top of the label from the center out. Do the same for the remaining tape strip(s).

There, you're done! It takes much more time to read this than it will to do it after you do a few. I'd try it out on 1 or 2 samples before tackling the real panel..Just stick 'em down on a piece of cardboard for practice.

Tip: Tighten jacks, pots, and switches from the backside of the panel, it prevents the clear covering from wrinkling as the nuts rotate.

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