Amazing POTA Fun: Pairing the Elecraft KX1 and AX1…but first, a little lunch!

I was speaking with my buddy Joshua (N5FY) in mid September. He’d recently acquired an Elecraft KX1 and the topic came up about pairing the KX1 with the AX1 antenna. I realized that in all of my experimenting with the AX1, I’d never paired those two. What!?!

Time to fix that!

On Thursday, September 28, 2023, I had a nice midday window to play radio. After dropping my daughters off at their classes, I stopped by the French Broad Food Co-op and grabbed a container of their chicken noodle soup from the refrigerator section.

I then made my way up the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378) to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area at Bearpin Gap–one of my favorite spots on the BRP.

Despite stunning weather and the beginnings of fall foliage, the parking lot was pretty empty. After all, it was a Thursday and a good week or two before leaf-lookers descend upon western North Carolina.

I pretty much had the picnic area to myself (there was one other person there). I picked a picnic table at the top of the hill under the trees.


When my wife and I lived and worked in Munich, the salutation I learned before any other was “Mahlzeit!” At Siemens, I remember walking through the hallways and people I’d never met before exclaimed “Mahlzeit!” as I passed by.

I quickly learned that Mahlzeit essentially meant “Lunch Time!” and I still say it today to my family when I’m about to make or grab some lunch. Funny how these things stick with you.

Now where was I–? Oh yes…

First thing I did at Craggy was set up my stove to start heating the soup. I show this in my activation video below.

If interested, here are the components of my stove kit:

Quick continuity check!

Next, it dawned on me that I would need to attach the AX1 counterpoise to the KX1. I didn’t bring one of my copper clamps to attach to the outside of the AX1’s BNC connector, so I needed to find another grounding point on the KX1.

I then remembered that the KX1 has two thumb screws on the bottom of the radio. Knowing Elecraft, I assumed that these screws could be used as an attachment point for a counterpoise, but I wanted to confirm that the screw itself had a direct connection to ground.

Fortunately, I keep a small multimeter in my supplemental gear bag in my car. It’s an inexpensive Allosun Pocket Multimeter. I use it for things like this: testing.

I set the multimeter to read continuity and then placed one probe on the outside of the KX1’s female BNC and the other on one of the thumb screws. Sure enough, there was a direct connection to ground. I didn’t need to worry about the KX1 chassis paint insulating the connection to ground because the thumb screw had a direct connection. Perfect!

By the time I finished checking the KX1, my soup was ready.

I ate it (off-camera) then prepared the KX1 and AX1!

Setup was simple and easy. Since the KX1 doesn’t prop up at an angle like the KX2 and KX3–it sits flat on a surface–I spread the AX1 Bi-pod legs out wide, then tightened them. This gave the antenna plenty of stability.

Of course, the KX1 internal ATU needs to be engaged because the AX1 and all compromised antennas like it have a high Q (thus narrow bandwidth) and need a little extra help to finish off the impedance match.

Oh yes, this was also the first time I’d ever used my new-to-me Begali Adventure paddles on the KX1. When I purchased these paddles from a friend recently, he actually included the KX1 mount.

Time to hit the air and see what this combo could do!


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On The Air

I planned in advance to keep this activation pretty short. My main goal was to see if I could load up the AX1 with the KX1 and make some contacts with my (roughly) 3 watts of output power.

I started calling CQ POTA and was pretty quickly rewarded with hunters calling me back.

I worked my first 10 contacts–thus validating the activation–in 12 minutes! Can’t ask for much better than that!

Next, I moved down to the 40 meter band (after adding the 40M coil and counterpoise to the KX1). I worked three more stations, then called QRT as it was time to pack up and head back into town.

I was incredibly pleased with the results and this experiment confirmed that the AX1 and KX1 do pair nicely. I might build another capacity hat to keep in the KX1 pack just to help if I have difficulty finding a match on 30 meters.


Here’s what this three watt 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 them 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 view on YouTube.

Amazing fun!

I mention in the video (multiple times, likely) just how much I love this time of year. It’s the perfect season to play radio outdoors and I take every opportunity I can get!

I’m also loving these Begali Adventure paddles. In the video, you might have noted that they were moving a bit on the KX1 mount. I didn’t tighten them up enough before attaching them and with the AX1 antenna attached, I didn’t want to shift the radio to tighten it while I was running the activation. Next time, I’ll make sure the connection is snug.

It’s such a wonderful paddle!

Thank you

All packed up and ready to go!

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.

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! I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

8 thoughts on “Amazing POTA Fun: Pairing the Elecraft KX1 and AX1…but first, a little lunch!”

  1. Thomas,

    Another excellent field report but I must admit I was equally intrigued with the soup report as well.

    Thanks for posting as always…

    Conrad, N2YCH

  2. I love these posts and they are at the front of the line of websites I tune in to every morning. I also think it is great to include lunch/cooking with pota/sota, because who doesnt go out playing radio without some form of refreshment!
    On another note, I have seen many posts involving Elecraft products and although I don’t own one I would love to get my hands on a KX1, such a shame that they are not in production now. I am a big fan of QRP portable radios.
    Keep up the great work Thomas and friends!
    Vic, VE6VIC

  3. Very fun video, Tom. POTA is getting more chilly here in the PNW, and your videos prompted me to go to REI and get a Snow Peak stove…great idea and a nice way to keep warm! Still haven’t gotten out to try out the AX1 on my KX3, but soon. — Vic, KB7GL

    1. I think you’ll love that little stove. I think it does a brilliant job making coffee and heating up meals like this.

  4. Funny you should mention lunch, POTA and N5FY in the same blog… Today, on my drive home from MD to NJ, I made the decision to *not* get lunch in MD so that I would have time to stop by and activate a “new-to-me” park in south Jersey. And, lo and behold, N5FY was one of folks that I worked from there.

    Still hungry, but at least I got in a little bit of POTA therapy…

  5. Oh my – what a beauty combo 🙂 I just realized I never paired KX1 & AX1. Good plan for the weekend.

    – vy 73 de Leo DL2COM

  6. Hello, Thomas. I notice that in your videos so far featuring the Begali Adventure key that you have it on some sort of base. Is it able to be operated easily by being held in the hand? Or does the design make that difficult?

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