Tag Archives: Elecraft KX3

The Elecraft KX3 still impresses

Note: this post was originally publish on my other radio blog, The SWLing Post.


I’ve owned my Elecraft KX3 for five years, and this little rig continues to amaze me.

In 2013, I gave the KX3 one of the most favorable reviews I’ve ever published–and it continues to hold its own. That’s why last year I recommended the KX3 to my buddy and newly minted ham radio operator, Sébastien (VA2SLW), who had already been eyeing the KX3 as his first HF transceiver.

A few weeks ago, Sébastien bit the bullet and is now the proud owner of a KX3 with built-in ATU. He purchased the KX3 with plans to do a lot of field operations including SOTA (Summits On The Air) and also use the KX3 at home.

Wednesday, I popped by Sébastien’s flat to help sort through some low-profile antenna options. I had suggested that he not invest in a factory made antenna just yet, but instead explore what he’s able to do with a simple wire antenna directly connected to the KX3 with a BNC Male to Stackable Binding Posts adapter. I’ve had excellent luck using this simple arrangement this in the past with the KX3, KX2 and even the KX1.

I did a quick QRM/RFI survey of his flat and balcony with my CC Skywave SSB. While there were the typical radio noises indoors, his balcony was pleasantly RFI quiet. At 14:00 local, I was able to receive the Voice of Greece (9,420 kHz), Radio Guinée (9,650 kHz) and WWV (both 10,000 and 15,000 kHz) with little difficulty. His building has incredibly thick concrete walls–I assume this does a fine job of keeping the RFI indoors. Lucky guy!

We popped by a wonderfully-stocked electronics shop in Québec City (Électromike–which I highly recommend) picked up some banana plugs and about 100′ of jacketed wire. We took these items back to the flat and cut a 35′ length of wire for the radiator and about 28′ for the ground. We added the banana plugs to the ends of each wire.

Sébastien temporarily attached one end of the antenna wire to the top of the fire escape and we simply deployed the ground wire off the side of the balcony. Neither of these wires interfere with his neighbors and neither are close to electric lines.

I had planned to cut both the radiator and ground until we found the “sweet spot”: where the ATU could find matches on 40, 30, 20 and 17 meters (at least).

Much to my amazement, the KX3 ATU got 1:1 matches on all of those bands save 80M where it still could achieve a 2.8:1 ratio.  I couldn’t believe it!

Frankly, Elecraft ATUs are nothing short of amazing.

Even the ATU in my little KX2 once tuned a 20 meter hex beam to 40 meters and found a 1:1 match to boot. In contrast, the Icom IC-7300 sitting next to the KX2 wasn’t able to match that hex beam even though we performed a persistent ATU search. Not surprising as I wouldn’t expect a 40 meter match on a 20 meter antenna, but the Elecraft ATU did it with relative ease.

Sébastian did a quick scan of the ham radio bands where we heard a number of EU stations. I also took the opportunity to point out how well the KX3 operates as a broadcast receiver with the AM filter wide open and using headphones in the “delay” audio effects mode. The Voice of Greece sounded like a local station–absolutely gorgeous signal.

It was getting late in the day, so I couldn’t hang around to call CQ with Séb, but I left knowing that he is going to have a blast playing radio at home and, especially, in the field. Next, he plans to build a simple mag loop antenna, get a BioEnno LiFePo battery and eventually add other Elecraft accessories to his station. I’d say he’s off to a great start!

Want more info? Click here to read my review of the Elecraft KX3 and here to read my review of the Elecraft KX2.

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Scott’s Elecraft KX3 Go-Box

[Note: this article was originally posted on my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post.]

Many thanks to Scott (AK5SD) who shares the following photos and bill of materials for his custom Elecraft KX3 go-box:


IMG_0531 IMG_0534

IMG_0532 IMG_0535 IMG_0537 IMG_0536

Bill of materials

The panel was custom laser cut by Front Panel Express. I have the CAD
file and I’m willing to share it with anyone who wants to reproduce my effort.

Amazon.com
Case B&W Type 1000 Outdoor Case with SI Foam
You won’t use the foam, so you can buy the version without it if you can find it cheaper.

Battery Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh Multi-Voltage (5V 12V 16V 19V)
Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank
Avoid look alike batteries and the next generation model from Anker. The newer Anker
battery is only capable of delivering 1.5A from the 12V supply. Two look alike batteries
I tried did not have the auto-off feature that the Anker does.

Vetco.net
ACC2 and I/Q Jacks 2 x 2.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (PH-666J-B)
Phone, Key, and ACC1 3 x 3.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (High Quality) (PH-504KB)
Mic Jack 1 x 3.5mm 4 Conductor Jack Panel Mount (PH-70-088B)
12V IN and CHG IN 2 x 2.1mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2112)
12V OUT 1 x 2.5mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2512)

You also need plugs and wire for interconnects. I bought some 2.5mm (CES-11-5502)
and 3.5mm (PH-44-468 for stereo, PH-44-470 for 4-conductor) audio cables with right
angle plugs and just cut them to use for the signal lines going to the KX3. I did the same
thing for the 2.5mm (PH-TC250) and 2.1mm (PH-TC210) power cables. A couple of
caveats are in order. The Phone, Key, and ACC1 interconnects require low profile
right angle connectors. The cables I listed above won’t work. Vetco part number
VUPN10338 will work. The power cables I’ve listed above use 24 gauge wire. This
is a little light, but the runs are small so I think it is OK. You can use higher gauge
cables if you can find a source.

USBfirewire.com
USB OUT USB 2.0 Right Angle Extension Cable (RR-AAR04P-20G)

Digikey.com
L Brackets 8 x Bracket Rt Ang Mount 4-40 Steel (612K-ND)
These L brackets are used to mount the KX3 to the panel and the panel to the case.
For mounting the KX3, I use a little piece of stick on felt on the bracket to protect the
KX3’s cabinet from damage. Replace the KX3’s screws with #4-40 Thread Size, 1/4”
Length Steel Pan Head Machine Screw, Black Oxide Finish (see below). For the panel
mounting, use #6-32 Thread Size, 3/16” Length self tapping sheet metal screw. You
may need to cut the tip off in order to not puncture the outside of the case.

RG316 BNC Male Angle to BNC Female SM Bulkhead Coaxial RF Pigtail Cable (6”)
This is not the original interconnect I used for connecting the KX3’s antenna output to
the panel. However, I think it is a better option for new designs. The caveat is that you
will need to verify the hole in the panel matches the bulkhead connector on this cable.
There will be a little loop in the cable when you are done, but that is fine.

Micrfasteners.com
Screws for Sound Card 2 x FMSP2510 – M 2.5 x .45 x 10mm
Screws for KX3 Bracket Mount 4 x MSPPK0404 – 4-40 x 1/4
Screws for Countersunk Panel Holes 8 x FMPPK0403 – 4-40 x 3/16
Screws for USB Connector *** 2 x FMPPK0406 – 4-40 x 3/8

I’m pretty sure these are the right length for the USB connector. I am doing it from memory.

Amazon.com or eBay.com
Soundmatters foxL DASH A Wireless Bluetooth Soundbar (OPTIONAL)

Sonoma Wire Works GJ2USB GuitarJack 2 USB Portable Audio Interface (OPTIONAL)
(Make sure you get the USB model, not the 30-pin model.)

This is optional if you want a built-in sound card interface for a waterfall display using iSDR. Make sure to eliminate the holes in the upper left corner of the panel if you are not installing. You will also need 2.5mm x 10mm screws to mount this to the bottom of the panel (see below).

bhi Compact In-Line Noise Eliminating Module (OPTIONAL)

In my opinion, the KX3’s noise reduction is totally ineffective for SSB communications. This external noise reducing DSP is one solution, albeit an expensive one, to that problem. It is only for SSB, not CW or digital modes. It is also available from GAP Antenna Products.

IMG_0530


Scott: you have done a beautiful job here and have spared no expense to make a wonderfully-engineered and rugged go-box. No doubt, you’re ready to take your KX3 to the field and enjoy world-class performance on a moment’s notice. 

Though I’ve never used them personally, I’ve noticed others who have taken advantage of the Front Panel Express engraving service–certainly makes for a polished and professional front panel.

Again, many thanks for not only sharing your photos, but also your bill of materials which will make it much easier for others to draw inspiration from your design!

AK5SD_QSL_Card

Speaking of designs, when I looked up Scott on QRZ.com, I noticed that he also sports a QSL card (above) designed by my good friend, Jeff Murray (K1NSS). Obviously, Scott is a man with good taste!

KX3 Companion App for Android

KX3-companion-001

Neil, comments on (my other blog) the SWLing Post:

“An app specifically made for the Elecraft KX3 is KX3Companion (www.kx3companion.com). There are free and paid versions on Google Play (does not work on Kindle Fire).

The same author has created KX3 KeyApp to give a virtual set of keys for KX3 users. It comes with two predefined templates (CW, and default) with KX3 macros setup for use.

Finally, he created QRSS Beacon – A fully featured QRSS (Slow CW) Beacon on Android. You can select a DIT duration from 1 to 60 seconds and choose one of the 3 supported modes: QRSS, FSK/CW and DFCW. This works on any radio, connect the audio out of your Android device to the audio in of your radio and an enable VOX.

Also, HamLog is available on iOS & Android (there’s even a MAC version).”

Many thanks for sharing this, Neil!  I will add the KX3 Companion apps to our comprehensive list of ham/shortwave radio apps.

A KX3 Build

Elecraft KX3
Elecraft KX3 by WD8RIF

I recently built an Elecraft KX3 kit and took photographs of the process as I went along. Your host of QRPer.com, K4SWL, thought others would benefit from seeing how simple the process of building a KX3 really is. My thoughts and the photos of the process can be seen here on my website:

http://home.frognet.net/~mcfadden/wd8rif/kx3.htm

A review of the Elecraft KX3 on The SWLing Post

IMG_6686Many of you know that I’m not only into QRP, but I’m an avid shortwave radio listener, as well.

If you’re an SWLer, too, you might might consider venturing over to my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post, where I just published a review of the Elecraft KX3. Unlike other reviews of the KX3, this was originally written for the May 2013 issue of Monitoring Times Magazine and focuses on the KX3 as a shortwave radio receiver.

Click here to read the full review.

Elecraft taking orders for the KXPA100; a portable 100 watt amplifier with built-in ATU

(Source: Elecraft)

KXPA100FrontJune 17, 2013

Now accepting orders for the Elecraft KXPA100 100 W Amplifier

We have received FCC certification and are putting on the finishing touches and performing our field test on the KXPA100. We’re now taking orders for deliveries planned to start in the next 60 days (mid to late August).

You will find a direct link for ordering the KXPA100 below, at the bottom of this email. (This order form is not yet visible on our regular web page.)

KXPA100 features include:

  • 100 W output on 160-6 m with 5 W input typical
  • 13.8 VDC powered; 20 A typical current drain
  • 7 lbs with KXAT100 installed. 10 x 5.125 x 4.25″
  • Compact unit ideal for both desktop and mobile use
  • Solid-state diode T/R switching — fast, silent T/R and QSK
  • Large convection-cooled heat sink for reliable and quiet operation
  • Modern design with rugged MOSFET output stage
  • Internal wide-range automatic antenna tuner (KXAT100 ATU option)
  • Second antenna jack provided with KXAT100 ATU option; controlled by KX3’s ANT switch
  • Fast, bright LED bar graphs for power and status; KXAT100 ATU option adds SWR bar graph
  • Seamless integration with the Elecraft KX3 transceiver
  • Works well with any low-power transceiver, requiring only RF and PA KEY inputs
  • RF-based frequency counter automatically switches bands with any rig
  • Optional band-data input support the K3/10, KX3, Yaesu FT-817, Icom IC-703, and other rigs
  • Dual APP power connectors for additional friction-fit if needed (mobile); optional daisy-chaining of 13.8 V to power rig
  • Optional KXPACBL adapter connects KX3 to the KXPA100 with a single cable for keying, band data, and control
  • KXPA100’s PC port allows use of remote-control and logging applications with the KX3 without software configuration changes
  • KXAT100 internal ATU option matches 10:1 SWR (5:1 typical on 160 m and 6 m); uses Elecraft’s fast matching algorithm
  • KXAT100 ATU settings saved per band, per band segment, and per antenna for instant recall

KXPA100RearWe look forward to receiving your KXPA100 order and we hope it will accompany you on many adventures to come!

73,
Wayne, N6KR
Eric, WA6HHQ

KXPA100 On-Line Order Form
(Please use this web order form so that our phone sales team will not be overloaded.)
Orders will be processed in the order received.

www.elecraft.com/tmp/kxpa100.htm

For additional questions, you can also reach us at sales@elecraft.com

Elecraft now accepting orders for the KX3

The Elecraft KX3

It appears that Elecraft is now accepting orders for the KX3 QRP tranceiver that we first mentioned on QRPer.com during the 2011 Dayton Hamvention. Order are expected to be shipped in February 2012.

The kit version of the KX3 will be priced at $899.95 US, while the factory assembled and tested version will sell for $999.95 US.

Here are full details from an email via Elecraft’s Wayne (N6KR) and Eric (WA6HHQ):

Some of the [KX3] options can be ordered now, while others (including the internal 2-m module and 100-W external amplifier/ATU), will be available later this year.

The basic KX3 includes:

  • 10 watts output typical (13.8V) on 160-6 meters. (Up to 5W using internal batteries)
  • All modes (SSB, CW, Data, FM, AM)
  • Many features from the Elecraft K3, including the same full-size LCD
  • Advanced DSP features, including PSK31 and RTTY text display, noise reduction, auto-notch
  • Built-in 8-AA-cell battery holder
  • USB serial cable for firmware upgrades and for use with logging/contesting software

Available options include:

  • KXPD3 precision attached keyer paddle
  • KXFL3 dual-bandwidth roofing filter module for SSB/CW/Data modes
  • KXAT3 internal wide-range automatic antenna tuner
  • KXBC3 internal NiMH battery charger
  • MH3 hand mic with UP/DN VFO controls
  • RS232 control cable (optional replacement for supplied USB cable)

In addition, a custom-designed KX3 dust cover is available (please contact ElecraftCovers@gmail.com ).

Delivery of both the basic KX3 and options subject to availability. As always, we invite suggestions for new features, improvements and accessories.

For more information ontheKX3, including pictures, specifications and videos, see our KX3 Page: http://www.elecraft.com/KX3/kx3.htm