Many thanks to Ron (KK1L) who asks the following question after reading my post from January 2021 regarding the decision to keep my Elecraft KXPA100 amp instead of selling it:
If after a year of opportunity to reevaluate have you changed your mind? I am looking for an opportunity to wrestle with the same dilemma.
73 es God Bless de KK1L, Ron
Thank you for your question, Ron!
It’s funny you should ask. Only a couple months ago, when I re-arranged my shack, I thought yet again about selling the KXPA100 because it gets so little use as I run QRP 99% of the time both in the field and at the QTH.
The thought occurred to me that I could sell it and easily afford a dedicated 100 watt radio for the shack–either a brand new Yeasu FT-891, or an Icom IC-7300. With a little extra money added, I could even purchase the new Yaesu FT-DX10. That was very tempting.
Possibly most tempting would be to get a used Elecraft K3 or possibly a K3S; more of these have been appearing on the used market after the introduction of the K4.
Also, I had an opportunity to purchase a used mint Icom IC-7200 with a full side rail kit; I’ve always loved both the receiver and look of this particular radio! It, too, was tempting.
I came very close to posting the XPA100 on the QTH classifieds.
But then I came to my senses
My main goal was to have one dedicated 100 watt, high-performance, general coverage radio in the shack that I could also take to the field when needed. Even though I’m a QRPer, I see the benefit of having 100 watts when needed.
The KXPA100 fits that bill perfectly.
There are a few reasons why I personally chose to keep my KXPA100…
1.) I already own it
I feel like I got a great deal when I purchased the KXPA100 a few years ago. I purchased it for $800 shipped from a seller here in the US. My KXPA100 came to me with the optional ATU, all connection cables, the original manual, and original boxes. It was mint.
I hadn’t done a lot of research regarding the price of used KXPA100s until after I made the purchase, but based on the new price (they’re currently $1600 via an Elecraft), I realized I got a good deal.
If I was staring at a new KXPA100 today? It would be a tougher decision. For the price of the amplifier I could purchase a brand new Yaesu FT-DX10.
With that said, I’m sure I could sell my KXPA100 and likely fetch enough to completely pay for a used FT-DX10 (for some reason, there have been a lot of used FT-DX10s on the market–which is curious).
2.) It is “optional” amplification
Fun fact: I operate almost exclusively off-grid at my QTH. When I’m running QRP, I’m using our home’s off-grid battery bank which is solar-powered.
When I run over 50 watts, I tend to supply power from a 12V power supply that’s connected to mains power. Why? Because 100 watt radios–even while idle in receive–can draw more than 1 amp.
The Icom IC-7300, for example, is a pretty modest current consumer in the 100W radio category. It only consumes 0.9A typical in standby mode and somewhere between 1.1 to 1.25A in receive mode depending on the audio volume level.
In contrast, my Elecraft KX3–which is tied to the KXPA100 in the shack–only uses 150 mA in receive (or 0.15 A).
I’ve always called receive current consumption the “phantom load” for those of us who operate from solar and battery power. It’ll silently deplete a battery, if not monitored carefully.
With the KXPA100, I can easily and completely bypass the whole 100 watt amplification stage and only engage it when needed. That’s huge for me.
3.) It offers remote head flexibility
My shack is also my home office and it’s small. Most of my organization and storage is vertical (meaning, shelves). I only have one main desk area–one half of it is reserved for radios I review and Beta test. Bulky permanent radios can be intrusive.
My KX3 takes up very little space on the corner of my desk and the KXPA100 sits on a shelf above it. Since I can completely control the KXPA100 from my KX3 (or KX2) I don’t even need access to the front panel if I don’t need it. It’s off the table but immediately available when I need it.
4.) My KX3 is already a high-performance radio; the KXPA100 makes it a 100W transceiver
If you check out the receiver specs on Rob Sherwoods Receiver Test Data table, you’ll see that the KX3 is still in the herd of top performers.
I have the CW roofing filter installed on my KX3 and I must say that it’s the best-performing radio I currently own. I can work weak CW signals that are parked next to blowtorch signals. The adjacent signal blocking is incredible. The FT-DX10 and K3 do have slightly better specs per Rob, but we’re talking very negligible differences–fairly undetectable outside the lab.
On top of this, I already know and love the KX3 interface. I’m so used to operating my KX3 and (especially) KX2, it’s second nature to make adjustments while operating.
5.) It pairs to all of my QRP radios
Being a guy with a fair amount of QRP radios, it’s icing on the cake that the KXPA100 easily pairs with almost all of them. I plan to set up my IC-705 so I can swap it out with the KX3 from time to time.
6.) It’s an Elecraft
This means that I know I’ll have
- excellent customer support,
- good resale value,
- solid performance,
- knowledgeable staff in the event of a future repair,
- and a healthy supply of spare parts that are super easy to order.
I can pick up the phone, call Elecraft, and get an incredibly knowledgeable person on the other end when I encounter a problem.
I’ve had such a positive experience with Elecraft and have been a customer since…what…2007? They have never let me down.
I don’t see ever selling the KXPA100 at this point.