Yesterday morning, I took my Elecraft KH1 to the summit of Richland Balsam and performed a SOTA activation using only the KH1’s whip antenna on 20 meters (I ran out of time to hit 17 and 15M).
It was insane fun. Without really intending to, I actually filmed the entire hike to the summit, entire activation, and the hike back to the car. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before. I plan to post the video by Monday (Nov 6) if at all possible (again, trying to push my KH1 videos to the front of the line for a little while).
Parking Lot Pedestrian Mobile
After the SOTA activation, I drove back to town to pick my daughters up at their acting class. I arrived about 20 minutes before the class ended and thought, “why not pull out the KH1 and see if I can hunt some POTA activators–?”
I opened the trunk of the car, grabbed the KH1 from my SOTA pack and then decided to even film this short, impromptu hunting session.
As you’ll see in the video below, it took no time at all to deploy the KH1, hop on the air and work a couple of stations.
I could have also chased some SOTA activators, some DX, or just looked for a random ragchew with someone calling CQ.
I like hunting/chasing POTA and SOTA activators, though, because the time commitment is manageable. For example, by the time I ended this video, my daughters and one of their friends were already hopping in the car to hit the road. I didn’t have to apologize to anyone for ending a QSO early. 🙂
November is KH1 month
I decided that I’m only going to use the KH1 both in the field and in the shack during the month of November. The only exceptions will be other radios I need to test or if I need to make contacts outside of the 40-15 meter KH1 window.
One of the big reasons for this level of commitment is that I am in the testing group of the KH1. This is how we flesh-out any minor issues that may have gone unnoticed.
Another reason is I do plan to post a comprehensive review of the KH1 eventually and I only feel comfortable doing this after I’ve spent dozens of hours with a radio.
If I’m being honest, another reason is that I absolutely love this anytime, anywhere radio. It’s so insanely portable, I take it with me everywhere. The KH1 and I have been inseparable since last Monday when I took delivery. And, yes, I’m still contemplating what her name will be.
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?
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:
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
RTC [Real-Time Clock]
Full remote control
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!
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!
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.
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.
It is a new generation of ultra-portable shortwave transceiver. It adopts advanced RF direct sampling architecture and is equipped with powerful baseband and RF units. It integrates rich functions of major models and has built-in popular remote network control function. [B]ringing you a new amateur radio experience.
RF direct acquisition architecture, HF/50MHz full-mode transceiver
Supports listening to WFM broadcast frequency bands and supports listening to aviation frequency bands
Built-in high-efficiency automatic antenna tuner
Support network remote control
Integrated standing wave scanner and voice pager
Integrated modem, preset text messages, CW automatic calling
Standardly equipped with high stability TCXO internal clock source
External expansion equipment can be connected to expand the frequency band
The FX-4CR can push 15-20 watts on most bands according to John, which is most impressive for a one pound radio that fits in the palm of your hand! It covers 80 – 6 meters, sports a color screen with a 48 kHz wide waterfall display, an internal sound card for digital modes, built-in speaker and microphone, 9 – 18 VDC input range, and even sports Bluetooth!
That’s an impressive array of features for $550 US (on pre-order).
I pre-ordered the FX-4L and am told by Yu that it should ship by end of October or early November 2022. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s an optimistic projection.
The FX-4L is essentially a more basic QRP version of the FX-4CR; it’s maximum output power is around 5 watts.
It’s very similar to the FX-4CR in many respects: it has the same display from what I can tell, covers 80 – 6 meters, has a wide voltage range 9 – 18 VDC, sports an internal sound card, and is super compact and lightweight.
The FX-4L doesn’t appear to have Bluetooth. Lu doesn’t mention a built-in speaker or microphone, but there’s an obvious speaker grill and even a small hole that might be a microphone. I’ll try to confirm this. Yu does note that there’s room in the chassis for the user to add a battery or ATU.
I’ve been more interested in the FX-4L because, as you likely know, it’s very rare for me top operate over 5 watts of power.
That said, I certainly see the appeal of a 15W+ radio like the FX-4CR.
(Many thanks to Yu for sharing all of the FX-4L photos above.)
I’m really looking forward to checking out the FX-4L and also reading AE5X’s assessment of the FX-4CR.
I’m curious if anyone else has pre-ordered one of these radios. Also, if you’re an FX-4C owner, I’d love to hear your comments!
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve had the pleasure of helping John beta test this radio for the past month. In that time, I’ve gotten to know the radio from the inside out and have even taken it on a few POTA activations. In fact, with John’s permission, I just posted my first TR-45L activation video for Patreon supporters yesterday. The radio was using an early firmware version in that video.
TR-45L Video Tour and Overview
Yesterday, after an early morning appointment, my schedule opened up; a rarity in my world.
I then got the idea to take the TR-45L out to a park, do a full video overview of its features, then put it on the air in a POTA activation.
Hazel loved this idea too.
So I packed the TR-45L, a log book, my throw line, and two 28′ lengths of wire. Hazel jumped in the car before I could invite her.
I’ve used a wide variety of antennas on the TR-45L over the past weeks, but I hadn’t yet performed a park activation only using two lengths of wire and relying on the TR-45L’s optional Z-Match manual antenna tuner. This would make for a great real-life test!
I pushed this video to the front of the line since the TR-45L just hit the market. I wanted to give potential buyers an opportunity to see and hear this radio in real world conditions thinking it might help them with their purchase decision.
I’m currently about 7 weeks behind publishing my activation videos. Much of this has to do with my travel schedule, free time to write up the reports, and availability of bandwidth to do the video uploads (I’ve mentioned that the Internet service at the QTH is almost dial-up speed).
I was able to publish this video within one day using a new (limited bandwidth) 4G mobile hotspot. Patreon supporters have made it possible for me to subscribe to this hotspot service and I am most grateful. Thank you!
So that I can publish this report quickly (this AM), I’m not going to produce a long-format article like I typically do. Instead, this is one of those rare times when the video will have much more information about the radio and the activation than my report. I’ve linked to and embedded the video below.
The (tr)uSDX has been a much-anticipated QRP transceiver for those of us who love playing radio in the field.
What’s not to love? It sports:
Up to 5 watts output power
CW, SSB, FM, and AM modes
A built-in microphone
Five bands: 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 meters
A super compact and lightweight form factor
An open-source hardware and software design
Super low current consumption in receive
A super low price of roughly $89 US in kit form and $143 US factory assembled (via AliExpress, but there are numerous other group buys and retailers)
Frankly speaking, this sort of feature set in such an affordable package is truly a game-changer. Back when I was first licensed in 1997, I could have never imagined a day when a general coverage QRP transceiver could be purchased for under $150 US. The price is almost unbelievable.
My initial impressions
On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, I took the (tr)uSDX to the field to attempt a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation. I had only taken delivery of the (tr)uSDX about 15 hours beforehand and had only had it powered up for a total of 30 minutes the previous day. Most of that time, in fact, was checking the power output at various voltage settings into a dummy load. I did make one totally random SSB POTA contact shortly after hooking the radio up to my QTH antenna.
The OpenQRP 40m CW Transceiver kit is now available for delivery to the USA and Canada from OpenQRP.com (USA) at $150.00 plus $10.00 shipping (USD).
This provides around 6 to 8 Watts output at 13.5 V on 7 MHz. It includes an LCD display, CW decoder, memory keyer, and has 400 Hz IF selectivity. The processor is based on Arduino technology, allowing experimentation with the firmware. It is designed by Steve Elliott, K1EL, well known for his WinKeyer family of keyers.