Elecraft KH1 Tabletop Mode: The new KHRA1 Right-Angle Adapter makes for a super-portable POTA machine!

It’s funny how sometimes one small accessory can have a huge impact on a field radio kit.

When I first learned about the Elecraft KH1 (basically, the day I was invited to join the volunteer testing group), I felt like Elecraft had designed my ideal QRP radio. The KH1 is super compact, weighs 13 oz completely loaded, covers my favorite bands, and has features I would expect in much pricier radios. It reminded me of my beloved KX1, but even more portable with more features.

The KH1 caters to handheld or pedestrian mobile operating–at least, that was the overarching design objective. It accomplishes this amazingly well. It’s so easy to operate handheld, and there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. I suspect that when others copy the design (I’m sure they’re already doing so–!) it won’t be as versatile, functional, and lightweight.

At the end of the day, though, I feel like I’m only using the KH1 pedestrian mobile about 30% of the time I have it on the air. Of that 30%, I’d say that only 10% of the time I’m pedestrian mobile while activating, and 20% of the time I’m doing little impromptu radio sessions in parking lots, ballparks, while visiting family, and even on my own mountain property.

While handheld operating is simply a game-changer, I knew I wouldn’t do this 100% of the time with the KH1. It’s for this reason that my very first bit of proper KH1 feedback to Elecraft, well before I had my hands on a prototype, was that a right-angle adapter for the whip antenna would truly round out the KH1’s field prowess.

This would basically give my KH1 the same functionality of my beloved KX2 and AX1 antenna combo, but in an even more portable package.

Turned out, Elecraft already had a right-angle adapter on the design board!

Fast-forward to present day…

Last week, Elecraft sent me a prototype of the right-angle adapter to test and evaluate. They’ve given it the model number KHRA1.

Full disclosure: Elecraft also gave me permission to post a video and article about this new accessory even though (at time of publishing) it’s not even showing up on their website. I will, however, link to it here as soon as Elecraft makes it available. This is an item I would otherwise have tested in private–thanks, Elecraft!

The KHRA1: Small accessory, big impact!

Illustration Source: Elecraft KHRA1 Instruction Manual

The KHRA1 is a simple adapter. Other than metal attachment hardware, most of it is lightweight and 3D-printed from a durable material (I assume the same material they use in the KH1).

Attaching it to the KH1 is very easy.

First, you unthread the large metal thumb nut from the KHRA1. You will need to hold together the remaining KHRA1 components (legs and attachment bracket) so that they don’t come apart before you attach them to the KH1. This is actually pretty easy to do, but users should know to follow the KHRA1 instruction sheet. If these parts fall apart in the field, it might require a bit of searching the ground for the pieces.

You simply thread the large thumb nut onto the KH1’s whip antenna antenna port, then thread the rest of the KHRA1 bracket/legs onto the large thumb nut.

Check out Elecraft’s illustration:

I then position the KHRA1 legs as shown above, then tighten the KHRA1 adapter so that everything is secure.

It’s super simple to do, and you can see this process in my activation video below.

Speaking of an activation…

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, (yes, only two days ago) I had my first small window of opportunity to squeeze in a POTA activation and test the KHRA1.

That day, my daughters and I had a number of errands to run, then a three-hour round-trip drive to pick up my wife. We were on a very tight schedule, but I had a 30-ish minute window of opportunity to fit in some POTA radio therapy.

I set my sights on the easiest-for-me-to-hit POTA site on the Blue Ridge Parkway: the Folk Art Center.

Amazingly, I discovered that morning, that the KHRA1 fits in my Pelican M40 Micro case along with my KH1, whip, counterpoise, key, spare N6ARA key, and earphones.

With the KHRA1, this means my M40 field kit can do both pedestrian mobile and tabletop operating. Woo hoo!

The weather that morning was simply glorious. A very wet front swept through the previous day leaving behind clear skies and warm temps. Frankly, it was a bit odd activating without wearing a jacket or hoodie.


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On The Air

Setting up was quick and easy, even though this was my first time using the KHRA1 in the field.

I hopped on the air and started calling CQ. Once spotted (for some reason the RBN auto-spotting feature wasn’t working again), the contacts started flowing in.

I worked a total of 18 contacts in 16 minutes. It hardly gets better than that for a CW activation!

I had to call QRT after my 18th contact. Even though I had a 30-minute window to POTA, nearly 14 minutes of that was taken up with my intro and summary for the activation video.

I called QRT with a small pileup still in place. I really hate doing that, but I had a schedule to keep!


Here’s what this five-watt activation with a 4′ telescoping whip antenna 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.

A super-portable, low-impact POTA machine!

The KH1 works amazingly well as a tabletop radio when combined with the KHRA1 adapter.

At the end of the day, the KHRA1 is a very simple piece of hardware, but it effectively transforms the KH1 from a handheld radio to a tabletop.

Of course, I’ve used the KH1 numerous times with wire antennas in a tabletop configuration (I’m a massive fan of wire antennas) but the ability to use the 4′ whip antenna and internal KH1 loading coils means that I can operate anywhere I have a surface.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in some cases, low-impact, and low-profile are key to positive park relations.

Herein lies the thing I love about my KX2/AX1 pairing as well. It’s just with the KHRA1, the KH1 makes for an even smaller, lighter-weight field kit.

Any negatives? The only one I’ve come up with is that the KH1 is so lightweight that I realize I need to carry a small piece of shelf liner (something like this) to provide the KH1 with a bit more grip on a slick park table, especially those composite ones.

Again, I will update this post when Elecraft announces KHRA1 pricing and availability.

Thank you

I still can’t believe the entire kit fits in this small case. Even when I put the KHRA1 thumb screw on backwards!

Thank you for joining me on this quick little tabletop 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!

Have an amazing week ahead and play some radio!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

22 thoughts on “Elecraft KH1 Tabletop Mode: The new KHRA1 Right-Angle Adapter makes for a super-portable POTA machine!”

  1. Even before the right angle adapter came out, I had been wondering if it was somehow possible to use the 40 meter coil from the AX1 with the KH1. Maybe it was not, but now with the right angle adapter, it would seem like it is more likely to be possible. Or not?

    1. You know? I hadn’t thought to try the AXE (40M coil) with the right-angle adapter. I *think* the threading is the same. I’ll have to give this a go next time.

  2. Thomas, looking at your QSO map, was the counterpoise pointing to the NE? Some good on the Elecraft reflector.

    1. I think the counterpoise was essentially pointing south. Maybe South by Southwest…but in that general direction.

  3. Definitely want one of those. I don’t hold the KH-1 very often, I set it down on a table.

    With more POTA Activators, low profile and low impact are going to become important in some popular parks. I noticed Tennessee State Parks have a “no aerial” rule on their website.

    1. Wow–I didn’t notice that about TN parks!
      Yes, a low-impact package like this opens the door to parks that would otherwise not allow large field radio deployments.

    2. Where does the no aerial policy appear on the Tennessee Parks web site? I checked the Policies section but couldn’t find it.

      I have never encountered problems with antennas in Tennessee parks. Personnel there have been very supportive of field radio operations.

        1. Thanks for the reference. It dates back to 1974 and was last updated in 2010. It appears in the Audio Devices section which is primarily addressing noise abatement. It is not a new regulation.

          Activators in Tennessee aren’t going to have a problem as long as we behave responsibly. A Park Ranger in East Tennessee once asked if I knew about the hill “the field day guys use”. Another in NW TN watched me setting up the CHA MPAS Lite in the the wind a couple of weeks ago and was more amused than concerned. No worries.

          1. Sounds good! I’m not in Tennessee (but not too far away), but I was curious so I tracked it down. I thought it sounded as if it was directed more toward commercial broadcast activities.
            “Be considerate of others and behave responsibly” is a pretty good policy!

    1. In fact, you were the first POTA contact ever made using a KHRA1, Alan! Thanks for being a Beta test!

  4. Perhaps I should just give Elecraft power of attorney so they can take my money as soon as they release a product. I want one and I want it yesterday.

  5. Wow, very cool!
    Good point about not dropping parts while in the field. At the end of my last activation my camp chair started to sink into the soft ground (I was on the shore of the Ohio River). When I picked it up one of the feet came off, and as I retrieved it, it flipped out of my hand. Where it landed was nowhere near where I thought it had gone, requiring quite a bit of searching. These events always make me think about that Twilight Zone episode where the young child falls out of bed, rolls under it, and slips into another dimension. I’m convinced that’s what happens with dropped parts. 🙂
    Shelf liner is handy stuff! I use it in my shack under several pieces of equipment that would otherwise slide around, including my Vibroplex paddles, and I keep a piece in my KX2 bag “just in case.”

  6. Hi Thomas,

    very cool to read about this. Looks just as slick on a table as it does in the hand.

    While you were activating I was in fact also QRV in park AE-0017 in the desert outside of Dubai (UAE) with a very nice group of OPs from the Emirates Amateur Radio Society (EARS). I was invited as a guest OP to activate as A62A/p.

    We had a Buddihex up pointing towards central EU / NA along with an FT-891 at 100W. I tried working you when I saw your 20m spot but I couldn’t copy you enough to actually make an attempt (understandable with the whip). Condx on 15m were a lot better to the US in that moment. I did however work a few of the OPs from your log and also a station from Alaska on 20m. 🙂 We had a total blast in such a special operating location in the dunes including a campfire and freshly cooked chai tea. Such a memorable experience in the kindest and most welcoming company. Log will the uploaded soon.

    vy 73 de Leo DL2COM

      1. You bet :). I could write a few lines about this (QRO material though) but I am still to deliver on part 3 of the SF radio diaries, hi.

  7. Hey Thomas, I just ordered a KHRA1. Do you know when they plan to start shipping them?

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