Introducing the new Elecraft KH1 handheld-portable CW QRP transceiver

WG0AT holding the Elecraft KH1

From Elecraft:  something BIG, in an incredibly small package…!

Just this morning, Elecraft introduced the new Elecraft KH1.

In brief, the KH1 is a five-band (40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meter) handheld QRP CW transceiver with options for an internal battery, internal ATU, whip antenna, and fold-out logging pad.

Exciting!  And if you’d like to get the scoop on this new handheld radio–– along with photos––we’ve got it here.

Q: What is the Elecraft KH1?

WG0AT with the KH1 making contacts pedestrian mobile.

A:  The Elecraft KH1 is a compact, five-band CW QRP transceiver designed for both handheld and tabletop operation. Indeed, the “H” in the model number signifies “Handheld.”

To be clear, although it is quite small, the KH1 isn’t just a tiny radio:  it’s ergonomically purpose-designed, to be a pedestrian-mobile CW station.  It’s lightweight, easy to hold and use, and will fit both right and left-handed operators. With the optional “Edgewood Package,” it also includes a fold-out logging pad.

Q: How much does the Elecraft KH1 weigh?

A: With all options (ATU, Antenna, Battery, and logging pad) the KH1 weighs in at a featherweight 13 oz.

Q: What features does the Elecraft KH1 offer?

A:  Here’s a feature list from the Elecraft brochure:

KH1 features:

  • 40-15 meter ham bands
  • 6-22 MHz for shortwave broadcast band listening
  • CW mode; 5 watts, all bands
  • ATU includes whip & high-Q inductor for 20/17/15 m
  • 2.5 AH Li-Ion battery & internal charger
  • CW decode & 32K TX log
  • Scan/mini-pan feature
  • RTC [Real-Time Clock]
  • Full remote control
  • Speaker
  • RIT, XIT, & VFO lock
  • Light gray case stays cool even in bright sunlight
  • Three CW message memories with chain and repeat functions

Like nothing else on the market…

The KH1 design is all Elecraft and built on several years worth of design iterations. It is, no doubt, fueled by Wayne’s passion for handheld portable HF.

Again, the KH1 focuses on ergonomics that would make handheld operation not only easy, but enjoyable.

The two main multi-function controls (the AF Gain and Encoder), for example, are located on the bottom of the radio. This gives the operator easy and ergonomic access to the controls while the radio is in-hand.

The four buttons on the top of the radio default to the most useful functions one would need while operating portable. Using them to dig deeper into the menu levels, however, is also intuitive and well thought-through.

While the KH1 menus and features are naturally not as deep as those of the KX2 and KX3, it’s impressively well-equipped for a radio this size. At the end of the day, it’s a much more simple field radio––by design––than its KX2 and KX3 predecessors. If anything, it’s more akin to the venerable KX1!

(Source: Elecraft)

The KH1’s paddles (KHPD1) are located at the bottom of the radio––they flip down for transport, and up during use, so your fingers are well away from the AF and Encoder knobs.

The KH1 has an optional internal ATU that is not as wide-range as that of the KX3, KX2, or T1, but is much better than that of the KX1. I understand that it’ll match most of what you throw at it.

Wayne told me that one of the most complicated parts of the KH1 design was the fold-out logging pad. He wanted the logging pad to be functional for one-handed operation. The indents around the loose-leaf logging sheets allow you to pull out a completed sheet and slip it behind the others in the stack.

The logging sheets are available as a PDF download; simply print and cut. No doubt, the format would be easy to modify.


This is the part I love: the KH1 is designed to operate with a telescoping whip antenna.

Basically, you unclip the whip from the side of the radio (assuming you have the ATU/whip option) and screw it on the top of the top. The ATU will match the whip antenna––there’s a mechanical slide switch that selects 15/17 m or 20 m high-Q inductance for whip––or an external antenna on the BNC port.

If you’ve been reading my field reports and watching my videos, you know I’m a huge fan of the Elecraft AX1 antenna. The KH1 basically has the option of a built-in AX1 antenna…Just take my money!

Speed…and stealth

If the counterpoise is already attached and wrapped around the body of the KH1, you will be able to deploy the station and be on the air in about 20 seconds.

As many of you know, I’ve always said that the secret power of the AX1 and AX2 antennas is speed of deployment. The KH1 allows for an even speedier deployment.

This will be most especially appreciated when activating summits in the winter where exposure to the elements from simply setting up the antenna and station will often make your hands go numb.

Also, the KH1 is so low-impact and low-profile, you’ll be able to activate parks that might otherwise be off limits to an HF field installation. I know of one urban park that, with permission, I’ll definitely use the KH1 to activate; it has no park benches and no trees, just a strip of grass around a historic building in the middle of a city. Perfect for the KH1!

KH1 versus KX2?

The KH1 and KX2 are very different animals. Elecraft actually produced this comparison chart to help potential customers make a purchase decision.

KX2 & KH1 Comparison Chart (PDF)

My advice? If you have a KX2 on order, don’t cancel it.

The KH1 is not a KX2 replacement. The KX2 is a much more capable radio. The KH1, however, is a radio focused on ultra lightweight, low-profile, pedestrian-portable, CW HF field operation.

A KH1 review?

Yes, it’s coming! I will purchase and review the KH1 “Edgewood” package. My unit should ship next week, so look for updates and photos, and I will push those field reports and videos to the front of the line.

To be completely transparent:  I have been in a volunteer group of testers for the KH1. Other than this, the only real affiliation I have with Elecraft––besides knowing Wayne, Eric, and some of their staff––is being a long-time customer. I own, or have owned, every radio they’ve ever made, save the K3 and K4 lines. And it’s Elecraft that makes my favorite field radios.

Product Brochure

Click here to download the KH1 product brochure.

Pricing & Availability

As with all Elecraft products, you’ve many options in terms of pricing.

Basic KH1 ($549.95 US):  Including the KH1, power cable, USB cable, manual

KH1 Edgewood Package ($1,099.95): Includes all BASIC KH1 items, plus all options (KHATU1 Antenna Tuner, KHPD1 Keyer Paddle, KHLOG1 Logbook Tray w/mini-ballpoint pen, KXBT2 rechargeable Li-Ion battery, KHIBC1 Internal Battery Charger,  and ES20 Custom zippered carrying case)

Click here to view the Elecraft KH1 on the Elecraft website.

74 thoughts on “Introducing the new Elecraft KH1 handheld-portable CW QRP transceiver”

  1. This is incredible! I bet the demand is going to be astronomical, especially at that price point. Please update us as soon as availability has been announced. I would like to get my place in line as soon as they have opened up pre-orders. Do you know if the KH1 will be available in kit form or fully assembled only? Either way I can’t wait!

  2. “While I know what the target pricing is for the KH1 and Edgewood packages, I’ll have to wait to share the exact pricing until Elecraft has confirmed it.”

    You “leaked” the price in the comparison chart, didn’t you? 🙂

    1. Ha ha! That wasn’t leaked. I mainly wanted to make sure I understood the other module pricing before posting. Plus, I was waiting for the Elecraft product page to go live. It is now. 🙂

      1. Been watching your videos and your enjoyment in opera.ting the little fellow . As like others I don’t need another radio. Sooo I now have my order in for one

  3. Lutz prices it at 1400 Swiss Francs, aka 1480 euro, aka 1570 US dollar. Errr, I’ll stick with my KX2, thanks 🙂

  4. My KX2 is my business travel radio. My MTR3B is my backpacking rig. This MAY be a radio that does both well. Of course I would still find a use for the others…

  5. Gosh, they don’t stay still for long do they? This is a great idea for a new Elecraft rig. I’ll be looking out for your reviews and, undoubtedly, activation videos, in the near future Thomas!

  6. QRP/PM For the win!
    At first I thought the logging pad was a silly gimmick, but then I realized that logging /PM is one of my biggest challenges. (I currently use a digital recorder and transcribe my log from that.) It sounds like a great solution to a real-world problem.

    1. I have had the K2 #35 as an FT, Kx1, Kx2 and Kx3. My K4D is of course the ultimate but not so portable. As a FT for the KX1, I am all over Waynes new KH1 and have ordered it. I have recently moved into an AZ QTH which isn’t great for antennas, so this will allow me to get out of the car and get on the air while hiking. The KX2 will do all of this, but the simple, small size of the KH1 is perfect to carry anywhere, vs the KX2 which is larger.

    1. Richard – I just looked at the Elecraft website, and they are quoting $549.95 for the KH1 alone, and $1,099.65 for the Edgewood package. Not sure if those are confirmed final prices.

    2. Hi Richard,

      You are right it is the same for me, I’m retired and it is worst, as I’m Canadian.

      Imagine 1099.95 USD = 1508.80 CAD for Currency exchange!!!!!! if I want the accessories, Plus Provincial & fédéral taxes, 226.32$ CAD plus shipping fees in Canadian dollars ??? $$$$ nearly 1800.00 USD…

      De VE2TH 72/73

  7. While it’s intriguing…..and I’ll probably buy one eventually, I suspect it’ll have an eye watering price and an availability measured in quarters, if not years. Now, if it’s sub $600, and you can get it in a reasonable amount of time, we can talk. If it’s $1300 with a 16 week (or more realistically 52 week) wait, I’ll pass for a while LOL

    1. The order page is live now and the prices are up.$549 for the base radio or $1099 for the Edgewood package. There is no disclaimer for lead time or back order like they usually put on items not in stock such as the KX2, AX1, etc. Also, after placing my order for the Edgewood package I received an email saying that my order was being prepared to ship – so I would say if you plan on getting one, like ever, I would do it now as I’m sure the lead time will only increase from here.

      1. Ordering @ 6:00 EST is showing my order is being prepared to ship. I’m very doubtful it will be shipping anytime in the next month.

        1. I spoke to Madelyn at Elecraft, early on Saturday, and she said the shipping window was 4-6 weeks, depending on when additional boards are delivered. Of course, Wayne said during his lunch talk at PacifiCon that you’re looking at January for new orders. Sounds like they had a batch of a few hundred made up initially and they have already received orders that exceed the number of units they currently have on hand. A placed my order about 20 minutes after the order page went live, so fingers crossed that I’m in that first batch.

          1. Oh I’m sure if you got in that early it won’t be too long.

            I hemmed and hawed about the configuration. I wanted the radio, ATU, and key only. I ordered it not realizing it had to have a fast charger. When I started to purchase the fast charger alone, the shipping was $35… unreal.

            I didn’t care for the log tray at all, no way I can write legibly on something attached to the radio, nor did I need or want the case.

            I placed another order including the in-radio charger, which is a better set up for me. I’m cancelling the other order.

  8. Well I certainly didn’t wake up this morning thinking I would be purchasing a new radio today, let alone an Elecraft, but I just placed my order for the Edgewood package! Thomas you are such an enabler. 🙂 lol.
    Tell Margaret they owe you some commission!

  9. Interesting product — but its VERY expensive for those of us in the UK.
    Over $1000 with necessary options plus $79 shipping plus 20% VAT plus the UK ‘delivery charge’ once it gets through Customs.
    That will probably total up to close to £1100 by the time I get my hands on it.

    I shan’t be buying one any time soon 🙁
    I’ll stick with my KX2 🙂

  10. Just bought one…….what other radio has built in antenna, key, tuner, battery, logging pad, 5 bands, general receive, and a case? (And sort of water proof……..:))

  11. Thomas! Please stop it! I just bought an SW-3B to take with me to Japan, Korea and Taiwan and thought I was done spending money. I pulled up your site as a random after supper distraction on my iPhone and five minutes later I had spent $1,200. Thanks a bunch! LOL. I’m hoping that my unit ships in time for me to take it to Korea. And if it does arrive, I plan on gifting HL1KKC my SW-3B. I’m sure he can put it to good use. Assuming I can keep him from holding my new KH-1 hostage. Seriously, I’ve never hesitated less to pull the trigger. A small confession: it was the can of Torpedo IPA in the photo that sold me. I had one myself tonight, and I figured if the op in the picture was drinking Torpedo IPA that was all I needed to know. And away went my money. 72 WD4EWZ

  12. “With all options (ATU, Antenna, Battery, and logging pad) the KH1 weighs in at a featherweight 13 oz.”

    Typo – KX2 is 13 0z and KH1 is 6 oz.

  13. You know as much as I really really REALLY want to buy this radio, I can’t really justify spending $1200 on a CW radio when I have a KX2 that I got for the exact same price.
    I think this is something I’m gonna have to wait on instead of immediately buying. I also need to take a chill pill on buying radio gear for a while.

    1. Jokes on me. I bought one anyways. The folks on the POTA discord server are a bad influence on me.
      And yes, I will be doing a video on it for anyone who is interested.

  14. I wonder how it compares with a KX1 plus AX1 whip antenna. I have had trouble getting the AX1 to tune on a KX1.

  15. I want to preface this by saying I am totally an Elecraft fanboy. My KX2 is just about my favorite radio.

    I’m a bit confused on this, though – in part because it’s just hit the market the spec sheets and such may not be quite as updated as Elecraft would like (I didn’t know they sold an AX1 “Anenna” for instance 🙂 ). The base model, though, before we go to the “package” – is the ATU included? They show it as an optional accessory. Likewise the AX antenna, battery, keyer paddles – it has the look of a number of things included which I believe are just part of the Edgewood package. The base model looks like a very capable radio but it’s in a field of field-proven QRP CW radios.

    As an integrated package that has ease of carry and deployment, it looks terrific and I certainly may snag one down the road. But I am a bit curious about a 5W CW only rig that in many ways, in the base configuration, doesn’t appear to offer significant advantages over many competitor CW rigs.

    1. The base radio does not include any of the optional components such as the ATU, log book tray, internal battery, battery charger, paddles, carrying case, etc. Those items are a la carte or all included with the Edgewood package with $100 savings, which is basically the price of having the factory installed ATU option waved. It seems obvious that many years of work has gone into this product behind the scenes, building on the success of the KX line of radios, as well as the AX line antennas. What I love about Elecraft is the passion behind their business model. They are always striving for the ultimate in ultra portable high-quality and extremely capable field radios. There are lots of QRP CW radios out there, more than I can list. That being said I don’t know of anything similar to the KH1. It’s truly a unique piece of kit and in my opinion Elecraft may have just created a completely new niche in the portable radio market with this concept. Sure there are lots of battery operated, compact CW radios but nothing in this form factor. That’s my $0.02 anyway. At the end of the day the best radio is the one that you enjoy using! 73!

      1. It’s becoming difficult to operate in some park areas without drawing unwanted attention. The Edgewood package makes for a near clandestine setup….cue up the Mission Impossible theme.

        I think the design is also pretty cool, something retro about it.

        1. I’m loving the Blue and Grey aesthetic. Reminds me of my PK-88 Packet TNC. I like seeing a step away from black everything

      2. The Chinese manufacturers no doubt took notice and I guess within a year, maybe less, we see similar clones, far cheaper. But they probably don’t have the Elecraft quality for a while.

  16. The idea of sitting in a lawn chair making a few CW contacts without taking an hour to set up is appealing. With 15 heating up it should be much easier over the next few years. I ran an Argonaut as my only radio in the 80’s. It’s only money….

  17. I’m VERY happy the logging pad can be mounted on right or left side! That is a subtle piece of ergonomics that shows the thought and experience that went into the design.

    1. Jealous maybe, but not lonely. That radio has a special place in my heart and will still get regular use! 🙂

  18. Wayne said he would have had a batch here at Pacificon today for sale but a firmware update was needed so they will be a few more days. 73 de w6akb.

  19. My current portable radio is a KX1 and there is something special about using gear that I built myself, but this KH1 looks amazing and I’m giving it some serious consideration. I’m really looking forward to seeing actual in-the-field reviews and videos. My one hesitation is over the fact that the whip can only be used in a hand-held mode unless a right-angle connector or some sort of stand could be fabricated.

    1. My understanding is that the loading coils for the whip are built into the radio. I have no idea if a 45° or 90° adapter would affect it or not.

      The tuner also works on the BNC side though.

      1. Something I am considering is designing a 3d printed clip that allows you to attach the radio to a tripod for tabletop deployment. Might make turning the VFO awkward though.

  20. Who knew that I would wake up this morning and be contemplating a 1000$+ purchase before my first cup of coffee cools off?
    New radio, woohoo! And what a design! And under a pound!
    Thanks for the news, Thomas!

    1. You said what we were all thinking….I certainly did not know I would be contemplating spending this cash either. Lol

  21. Just noticed the 32K log feature. This thing seems ripe for an Arduino based log file dumper. A small, coin-cell powered ATtiny85 or similar MCU with an SD card module. Plug it into the data port, press a button, and a few serial commands later the electronic log is dumped onto an SD card for post activation logging or for double verifying/rectifying paper logs for callsigns and QSO times, since there is an RTC after all. Same thing could even be accomplished using a BLE module or ESP-32 I guess. It’s got my gears turning anyway.

  22. For non-US customers with adding VAT it is almost in price with LAB599 TX500.
    There is should be very strong reason for purchasing KH1 =(
    Also missing 10m band with solar maximum disappointing =)

  23. Thomas, I look forward to reading your experience with the new transceiver and in particular any comparisons with the LNR Mountain Topper .

  24. Well damn, I just spent more money on another radio. I wouldn’t get away with this if I was married ? Looking forward to my latest toy, thanks for the heads up Thomas. 73 de N8EYF

  25. I cannot wait for your review Thomas. I am really curios about the ATUs ability to tune being that it is not as good as say the tuner in the KX2 or KX3. I understand this is a quick on the air CW radio, small packaged unit, no table needed for POTA, SOTA or just because. I am so tempted to just buy one, but to be honest I have practicing CW for sometime and just am not there yet, plus I have a KX2 with paddle which makes it harder for me to justify right now. Since you are such a fan of CW and Elecraft products your perspective is going to hold a lot of weight. Thank again. Really enjoy your activations!

  26. Although this a great little rig, it is focused only on cw. I wish Elecraft had spent some time redesigning the kx3 to be a new kx4 to compete with the icon 705. The kx3 is over 12 years old and needs some updating. Us SSB guys always miss out on nifty portable radios like this one.

  27. Man am I tempted….the “cool factor” is most appealing…..maybe your review will change my mind…but…I don’t think (hope?) it’s for me…

    One obvious strength is for ‘walking about’ and making a quick contact(s)….but a whole POTA/SOTA activation?…..I am not so sure….

    When I watch your activations (THANK YOU AGAIN & AGAIN for them) there is more of a ‘Zen thing’ sitting and truly ‘enjoying’ the activation rather than an ‘eat and run’ capability of the KH1.  

    I like the whole activation process I do with a KX2 and 40′-70′ wire end-fed antennas…see my QRZ page for my 4 skyhooks used.  I even enjoy activating standing up which is, if so desired, a similar capability to the KH1…

    I feel like 25% or more of the time you need to go to lower bands on your activations…which means the KH1 would need a wire antenna or AXE1 for 40m…so the benefit of the ‘all in one’ form factor just became a little less so…

    An exception you’ve mentioned…NPOTA sites with no trees or very little grass type of scenario (I think for me…maybe 1% chance of that requirement coming up)….

    KX2 / MTR remain the radios for me….(for now )

    72, Jim / AC3B

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