I’m very fortunate in that over the past few years I’ve accumulated a number of QRP radios that I use in rotation when I do park and summit activations.
I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.
I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection over the years. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–I try to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators: field operators, DXers, summit activators, contesters, rag-chewers, casual operators, SWLs, travelers, outdoor adventurers, mobile operators, etc. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.
On that note, I’ve had an idea bubbling around in my head for quite a while.
I thought it might be fun to take a radio out for a field activation and spend a bit of time explaining why I enjoy using that particular radio and why it’s a part of my permanent field radio collection. Instead of taking that wide-angle view of a radio like I do in magazine reviews, I would share my own personal thoughts based on long-term experience.
Getting To Know You
Each new video in the Getting To Know You series will highlight one of the field radios from my field radio collection. I’ll spend time in each video explaining what I personally appreciate about each radio, then we’ll do a park or summit activation with the radio.
I’ll release these every few weeks or so–when the notion strikes me. They will not be on a regular schedule, but I hope to include each of my radios in this series over the the next year.
The Elecraft KX2
The first radio in the Getting To Know You series is my Elecraft KX2.
Without a doubt, I’ve put more time in with the Elecraft KX2 than any other radio I’ve ever owned. As a field radio op, it’s one of my all-time favorite transceivers.
I originally purchased and reviewed the KX2 in 2016 (click here to read my review).
In the activation video (below) I’ll tell you about how I acquired my KX2, why I think it’s one of the best portable HF field radios ever made, what makes it so unique, and why I turn to it more than any other radio I own. Then, we’ll perform a POTA activation.
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
On Friday, June 23, 2023, I pulled into Tuttle Educational State Forest knowing it could rain on me at any point. We’d just come out of nearly a solid week of rain (after a very long dry spell). I had packed my ENO rain fly in the car, but my hope was that the Tuttle picnic shelter would be unoccupied.
Not only was it unoccupied, but the iffy weather meant that I was the only park guest there at the time.
First thing I did on site was film the Getting To Know You portion of the video, then I moved to the other side of the shelter to set up for an activation.
I launched my arborist line in a nearby tree and deployed my PackTenna 9:1 End-Fed Random Wire antenna. I didn’t include the antenna deployment in this particular video since I had used up so much of my available time talking about the KX2. If you want to see this antenna deployed, check out this recent field report and video.
I then ran my RG-316 line into the shelter and set up the KX2.
Time to hit the air!
- Elecraft KX2
- Elecraft ES60 Pack (Note that mine is a discontinued LowePro CS60 pack, the ES60 is identical and Elecraft branded)
- Packtenna 9:1 UNUN Random Wire Antenna
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Part# 23316-BM-25-3FERRITE)
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- BaMaKeY TP-III Ultra-Compact Twin Paddle
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Black Metal Clicker Pen
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters not knowing what the bands were like that particular day.
Fortunately, I didn’t wait long before I started logging POTA hunters.
I logged my first ten contacts in 13 minutes which validated the POTA activation. Woo hoo! (These days, we can’t take those 10 contacts as a given!)
Unfortunately, I had to cut this activation pretty short. The Getting To Know You portion of the video had really eaten into my on-the-air time.
Here’s what this 5 watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
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 them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
What’s your take on the KX2?
As much as I love this radio, I know several people who simply didn’t like it and sold it after only a few weeks/months of owning it. Again, so much has to do with our own personal preferences.
Note that new Elecraft KX2 orders have a lead time of 12-16 weeks at time of posting (10 July 2023). That number could change for the better or worse over time, so I recommend checking the shipping status page at Elecraft before ordering.
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. I also hope you appreciate this new radio series. I’ve another one in the pipeline to post in the next couple of weeks.
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.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have an amazing week!
Cheers & 72,