Field Radio Kit Gallery: N5FY’S Elecraft KX1 Minimal CW Kit

Many thanks to Joshua (N5FY) who shares the following article about his KX1 portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post

N5FY’S Elecraft KX1 Minimal CW Kit

by Joshua (N5FY)

I started operating CW this past August and am having a blast! One great thing, or maybe its a bit of a problem for the budget, is that when you can work CW, there is a whole new world of HF radios to collect…I mean operate!

Not to mention the ability to pack out a small portable kit that can be thrown in a bag at the last minute when headed out the door. I have a few such kits but lacked a throw line for each. So, I picked up some more Arborist Throw Line from Atwood Rope Manufacture so I could finish out the first kit.

I just snagged a used, inoperable, KXPD1 paddle to complete my KX1 radio. I had to rebuild the jack on the key but did so in quick order and decided to make it out to my local park for a POTA activation. My plan was to finish up the kit with the throw line and then test out the new complete kit. Suffice to say, all went well!

N5FY Beautiful Morning View with the KX1

The KX1, now out of production, has been a pleasure to operate CW with. This unit has the internal ATU option, 6xAA battery pack, and I updated the internals to add 80 and 30m. So this rig will run 20/30/40/80m.

There are 2 message memories, built in keyer, and even includes RF, AF, and bandwidth knobs for quick adjustment while operating. I’m no experienced CW operator, but this rig is hard to beat in my opinion. Then again, my KH1 hasn’t show up yet!

N5FY KX1 Complete Compact Kit

The antenna of choice here is my Tufteln 2 Wire No Transformer with a 41ft radiator and 17ft counterpoise. The internal ATU makes working 20, 30, and 40m simple and with no coax needed. I would use a much longer wire if I needed to work 80m. This antenna packs away very nice and not needing the Coax is a space saver. I have one version or another of my QRP antennas in each of my radio kits! 

N5FY KX1 Complete Compact Kit Packed

Packing a kit with no room to spare is almost like playing Tetris. I have a good bit of gear from Go Ruck, its all fantastic. For this kit, the 3L would leave a bit more space for some additional gear. If you are looking for some pockets as well, I like the GR2 Field Pocket. For this KX1 though, with the cover installed, I happed to forgo the bit of extra protection for the lightweight small size.

N5FY KX1 Complete Compact Kit Closed Up with Pencil for Size Reference

Next Kit to finish up is the KX2 and TX-500. Both just lack the throw line.

Joshua N5FY, 72

5 thoughts on “Field Radio Kit Gallery: N5FY’S Elecraft KX1 Minimal CW Kit”

  1. Hi Joshua,

    very cool kit and good to hear that the KX1 ATU tunes up the random wire 41/17′ combo on these three bands. Used my 28.5/28.5′ combo on the KX2 the other day and was surprised that some bands wouldn’t tune up (15m for example) even when I repositioned the counterpoise on the grass (radiating element was straight up). No coax used. Not sure what was off there. I might change my antenna to 41/17′ to bring more wire into the air and maybe also tackle the tuning issue (even though 28.5/28.5′ should work out of the box esp. with the wide KX2 Tuner).

    vy 73 de Leo DL2COM

    1. Leo,
      I have had similar effects with the KX2. More specifically with a 35′ radiator, 17ft counterpoise, no transformer, on 20m. The KX2 just would not tune the wire. This happened on two different deployments and was even reproduce with a 2nd KX2 side by side. The work around in this case was to folder over the wire to change its length. I am guessing the 35ft was to close to resonating at the lower CW frequency on 20m and was therefore presenting a high impedance similar to a EFHW but without the 49:1 or similar transformer, to knock down the impedance. I would be interested to see if you can reproduce and then switch to different length wires to see what the KX2 will tune.

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