If you’ve been reading QRPer.com for long, you’ll no doubt have gathered that I’m [understatement alert] a big fan of the Elecraft KX1.
A couple months ago, a good friend and supporter of this site/channel, reached out to me because he planned to sell his pristine Elecraft KX1. He’s in the process of downsizing his radio inventory in preparation of a move.
He wanted me to have first dibs at his KX1 and I couldn’t refuse. I knew it would be a great unit and I wanted two fully-functioning KX1s.
You might ask, “But wait Thomas, don’t you have three KX1s???”
Yes, this is true.
With this latest addition, I have now have two fully-functioning KX1s (a 3 and a 4 band version) and one other in need of repair. After I make the repair, I plan to give this radio to a friend (one who doesn’t read QRPer regularly) so will be back to two KX1s.
Since Elecraft has discontinued the KX1, they’ve become difficult to find on the market and when they do appear, they often demand a very high price.
That said, if you’ve been looking for a KX1, you will eventually find one. All of my friends who’ve wanted one have put out word and found willing sellers in due time. Elecraft sold quite a few of these back in the day, so there are units floating around out there.
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
On Sunday, August 27, 2023, I had an opening to play a little radio and fit in a hike at Tuttle Educational State Forest.
At the time, I needed a little radio therapy and outdoor break: my mom had been admitted to the hospital the previous day (they released her a few days later and at time of posting she’s doing much better).
Tuttle was only a 30 minute drive from the hospital and, as I suspected, I was the only visitor there that Sunday–educational forests aren’t nearly as busy as other NC state parks.
After a nice 3-ish mile hike, I grabbed my radio backpack from the car and started recording an activation video.
My goal was to test this new KX1 and to set up CW message memories.
First, though, I needed to deploy an antenna. I chose my MM0OPX EFHW because it was in my pack from a previous activation. This antenna has never let me down.
I fed the EFHW with RG-316 and set up my station under the roof of the picnic shelter at Tuttle. I did this mainly because it was a very hot and humid day–the picnic shelter provided some reliable shade from the sun.
Since I was the only guest at the park and there was no notice that the shelter was reserved, I had free reign.
Configuring the KX1 message memories
I’m not sure if it was a good or bad idea, but I actually filmed the whole process of sorting out how to set up KX1 message memories.
It’s not a difficult process, but radios like the KX1 that have limited digit displays almost require a small cheat sheet if you don’t use them constantly. I actually printed and laminated a KX1 cheat sheet–I just didn’t have it with me that day.
No worries, though! I had internet service on my phone, so I pulled up a PDF of the KX1 Quick Reference sheet [PDF] and quickly sorted out how to set up the memories–easy peasy once you know the procedure.
With the CW message memories in order and the radio hooked up to the EFHW, it was time to hit the air and see what I could do with this little radio!
- Elecraft KX1
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- MM0OPX QRP EFHW (Contact Colin for Availability)
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- Tufteln 5 Ah Lipo Battery Pack (Not Yet in Production)
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and Folding Arborist Throw Line Cube
- Zebra Mechanical Pencil, Del Guard, 0.7mm
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook (small 3×5 size)
- Anker Soundcore Mini Speaker
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
Within ten minutes, I logged my first 10 contacts thus validating the activation. I then worked one more station making a total of 11 on the 20 meter band. I then QSY’d to the 30 meter band.
I had hoped that the KX1 ATU might match my EFHW on 30 meters, but it could not. The KX1 ATU isn’t of the same caliber as the one that’s in the KX2 and KX3: it’s much more limited in matching range. Still, I believe my three band KX1 could have matched this, so I may check out the ATU module and see if the windings were counted correctly. Not a big deal, though, as I suspect this ATU will still match proper random wire antennas per the KX1 manual.
I QSY’d to the 40 meter band and bypassed the internal ATU again.
On 40 meters, I logged an additional 20 contacts all within the space of 18 minutes. Pretty exceptional especially for an early afternoon activation!
All in all, I logged 31 contacts with my new KX1. Woo hoo!
Here’s what this three 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 will I name this one–?
I name my radios after 1930s and 40s actresses. (I’m a hopeless fan of this era of film.)
Any suggestions? Please comment!
In the meantime, I’m thinking about building a small self-contained field kit around this KX1. Well, either it or my MTR-3B. I’d like the kit to be small enough to slip into my EDC pack that I take everywhere.
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. Creating these is a true labor of love and allows me to relive these fun activations a second time.
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.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me!
Have an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,