Field Report: Giving the Elecraft KX1 a thorough post-operation POTA test!

After returning from Canada this summer, I had a number of projects on the table including three radios to evaluate and a number of DIY projects on our investment house. The home projects took priority, so for the month of August, I did very little in terms of POTA activating.

In September, there was one radio in particular I was very eager to take to the field (besides the Penntek TR-45L). That was my Elecraft KX1, “Ruby.”

Before leaving for Canada, Ruby went into surgery once again under the care of my good friend “Dr.” Vlado (N3CZ).

I couldn’t figure out why she kept dropping power output to nil after being on the air for 20-25 minutes. I knew Vlado would sort out the issue.

Vlado discovered the source was a cold solder joint that was failing when the radio would become warm from operating. He fixed this and checked a number of other spots on the board.

He then tested the KX1 on a dummy load for and hour and she performed flawlessly after the surgery.

He fixed Ruby in early June and then we went to Canada for two months. I never put Ruby on the air in Canada.

After our return to the States, I was eager to take Ruby out to the field again and that’s exactly what I did on Sunday, September 11, 2022.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

Lake James State Park–along with South Mountains State Park–are the easiest parks for me to hit during my nearly weekly travels on Interstate 40. I feel so fortunate that both are superb POTA sites with loads of spots to operate.

I arrived in the late afternoon and to my surprise there was hardly anyone at the park (I think it was a little too close to evening mealtime for families).

I set up my station at a table close to the parking area just to keep things simple. I was looking forward to enjoying at least 30 minutes on the air and seeing just how well Ruby might hold up.

I decided to use the Tufteln End-Fed Random Wire antenna knowing it would be a quick to deploy and frequency agile.

I tried to use the KX1 ATU to tune the random wire, but I wasn’t pleased with the SWR. Frankly, it was doable (1.9:1 on 20 meters), but I wanted something much closer to 1:1 since I was already only pushing 2.5-3 watts output.

Keep in mind, the KX1’s internal ATU is not in the same league as the ones in the Elecraft KX2, KX3, or T1–the KX1 ATU has a much smaller matching range.

Also, I suspect Ruby’s ATU wasn’t built for optimal performance by the original builder. I do plan to re-work her ATU as best I can at some point in the future.

I pulled out the Elecraft T1, put the KX1 ATU in bypass mode, and hooked it up to the antenna. The T1 had no problem at all finding 1:1 matches across 40, 30, and 20 meters, of course.


On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters hoping to catch a few west coast stations as the sun started setting.

Within 13 minutes, I worked the ten stations needed to validate this activation. I worked an additional four stations in 6 minutes on 20 meters, then QSYed to the 30 meter band.

30 meters was hopping! I worked station after station–15 stations in fourteen minutes. I was very pleased.

I would liked to have continued the activation, but I needed to grab dinner and move on to my next destination.

Here are my (somewhat legible) logs:


Here’s what this 3 watts or less activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time.

In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop YouTube from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Good check up

I was very pleased that my little KX1 held up during this activation. I took Ruby on another activation in September, so you’ll see that activation and field report soon, too.

As I’ve said before, I have a small obsession with the KX1 and really do want to have one in full working order at all times. I suspect tweaking and repairing Ruby will be a pretty constant thing, though, as more cold solder joints and other issues potentially appear. I do plan to completely re-work all of the solder points that I can this winter.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this short activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund.

While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

Thank you so very much!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

10 thoughts on “Field Report: Giving the Elecraft KX1 a thorough post-operation POTA test!”

  1. What mapping tool do you use for your QSO maps please? I’d like to start making these myself, and while I have some familiarity with GoogleMaps and its pins and layers, I’m wondering if that’s what you use or something else. Thanks!

    1. I use
      It’s super simple to use. Simply create an account, then upload your logs in .adi format. There are numerous map options you can generate under the MAPS menu!
      Good luck!

      1. Thank you Thomas! I love your site, your reviews, your clarity. I’m just getting into QRP, but feel very aligned with the way you go about it and really appreciate your efforts!

  2. Thomas,

    I have had two instances of cold solder joints or no solder in a joint on rigs I have purchased from other hams. One was on the RIT pot for my a K2 and the other was on the frequency determining lever on my TR – 35. They both worked intermittently but upon closer inspection with high magnification and my old cataract replaced plastic lenses in my eyes I could see that there was minimal solder or no solder and so touching them up with a soldering pencil and extra solder fixed the issue. Oh, I forgot a recently purchased 20–40 m dipole that I purchased from a very high-quality company had a very high SWR no matter what length I cut it to. I cut off the shrink wrap on the Toroid and touched the center lead of the 316 coax with a soldering pencil and again I was back in business. Sometimes it just takes a rest and time to look and see and Bob (Vlad) was your sisters brother (or your mothers uncle, I can’t remember which ) once again. Thank you Thomas and thank you Vlad.

    1. Thank you, David. Yes, just one faulty solder joint can cause all kinds of problems. This winter, I’m going to use a magnifying glass and systematically check all joints on Ruby. I suspect I’ll be able to deiscover the source of the problem with a little patience. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Great to see the KX1 out in the wild. Mine (4 band plus atu) is a prized possession and is reserved for special occasions! Have to say the KXPD1 paddle has never performed as it should, otherwise the radio is so cool!

    I’m always surprised that Elecraft never brought out a successor model.

    Richard M0RGM

    1. It’s funny because customers are urging Elecraft to design a KX4–a portable radio to rival the IC-705 with a color display, etc. Me? I want a KX1.5. Something between the KX1 and KX2: super compact, super simple, with a built in ATU and battery option. Something with a price point slightly less than that of the KX2, actually. I prefer simple rigs for most of my field work and I’m sure that’s why I love the KX1 so.


      1. Ditto to that. A KX1.5 as you described would be a very attractive radio. I don’t know that I would be interested in Elecrafts answer to the 705.


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