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Author Topic: Elecraft K1 question  (Read 4778 times)
AF5CC
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« on: December 30, 2013, 08:30:19 PM »

I have been wanting to try an Elecraft rig for some time, but can't afford a K3 (would love one, though) and even a K2 is pushing it budgetwise, and I want to keep a rig that does at least 6m as my main station radio. However, I do have a little extra money saved up (don't let the XYL or daughter find out though!) and have seen some good prices on Elecraft K1 radios.  How does the K1 compare to the K2? Is it even close in performance?  Overall, does the K1 do a good job as a quad band QRP radio?

73 John AF5CC
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AL7B
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 10:10:54 PM »

I purchased the K1 (00926) with the antenna tuner; noise blanker; back light and internal battery.  It might be because of portable operation but I  have found little need for the NB.  The internal battery option could also be easily substituted with a small gel cell battery.  In the end I had a $600 QRP radio, but a really nice QRP radio.  The K1 is kept in a camera bag with a Palm Paddle key, antenna wire and AA lithium batteries.  The package is small and can easily travel with me.

A few years later I bought the K2, mostly just to build the kit.  The K2 has a better receiver, but not as easily assembled into a field kit.

So if I were to do it over I would opt for the K1 with internal antenna tuner and display light.

Good luck with the adventure.

Dick
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W1JKA
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 02:51:13 AM »

Re: AF5CC

I can only respond to part two of your question as I don't have a K2 for comparison. IF you require quad band operation on the K1 the separate 2 band board is basically a PITA to change out (especially in the field) keep a supply of the casing screws on hand. My K1 kit is bare bones and home based. I built a T1 qrp tuner but seldom use it as my antennas are frequency cut and the few times I use the rig fair weather picnic table portable I just use an auto jump start battery for power. Connected to my homebrew 20m Hex beam it makes an excellent qrp DX rig.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 03:04:16 AM by W1JKA » Logged
WB8YYY
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 06:11:51 AM »

John

The RF electronics design of the K2 is much higher performance.  Also it can be expanded to ssb and digital mods.  Lacking ability to do 6m is its major downside. Still its my favorite rig for cw.

The K1 and KX1 use simple IC mixers that are useful for casual qso's.  Similar kits are available from others such as qrpkits.com.  I have a pfr3 that I use for portable operation. 

Do clarify what you require to yourself in priority order. If you decide that building it yourself is not important then you have further options. 

In summary the k1 and k2 mainly shall appearance and control functionality not performance.  While the k2 offers noteworthy performance the k1 is similar to other lower end qrp rigs. 

73 Curt
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W1JKA
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 07:28:13 AM »

Re: WB8YYY

When on air with your K1 and K2 did you use the same antenna and if so what major difference did you notice between the two in the CW 5w  mode?
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WB8YYY
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 09:22:14 AM »

Okay, let me specifically reply to the original questions asked:

1.  How does the K1 compare to the K2 is it even close in performance? While the K2 aims to rival high end rigs in receiver performance, this was not a design priority for the K1.  The principle differences are the K2's first mixer and its preamplifier (a factor mostly on the higher bands).  The K2 will be much less affected when there are large signals present on the band.  I agree much of the time the K1 will do just fine, especially if one does not have large antennas.  But they are not close in performance - a band full of signals > S9 will impact the K1 more than the K2. 

2. Overall, does the K1 do a good job as a quad band QRP radio?  Here we can definitely answer yes.  It's variable bandwidth crystal filter is an asset.  I suggest reading various reviews (QST and here on eham) to get more perspective on the K1. 

How a rig is used also impacts the answer.  While a K2 is about 2X the cost of a 2 band K1, as one considers options (that may or may not be needed for one's enjoyment) the cost difference may not be quite as great.  (However I decided for myself one Elecraft rig was sufficient for my enjoyment given the large investment required).  I could have looked up the blocking dynamic range of each rig to clarify the difference (is it around 20 dB or so?) but not everyone relates well to dB's. 

While I appreciate owning a K2, I do use 'lesser' rigs from time to time.  This morning I turned on an HW8 (certainly the K1 has a better receiver) and made several contacts to Europe on 15m.  I also enjoying building and examining the design of various rigs. 

Meanwhile enjoy the rig(s) you have access to.  73 HNY Curt
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N4CCB
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 09:14:46 PM »

I have both radios. The K1 was fun to build and the performance is surprisingly good. Even though I have a K2 and KX3, I still enjoy my K1 and use it regularly.

The K2 is more versatile. Mine has the SSB option so you can talk on it and do digital modes with it connected to your computer. Mine also has the 100 watt amp/top cover. It's a wonderful CW radio and I love it. It's more like a commercial rig than the cw-only, qrp-only K1.

My advice would be to pick up a used K1 for about $400 and play with it for a while. If you decide to sell it, you can get most (if not all) of your money back.

If you plan to build a radio, don't even think about building the K2 without building something like a K1 or KX1 first.

Just my two cents...
Cliff
N4CCB
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N9AOP
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Posts: 149




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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 04:34:16 AM »

I had a K1 for about a year and it had excellent RX along with 5 watts of very clean TX.  It got me addicted to QRP and I sold it and got a KX3.  Mine was a 2 band 20/40 with the backlight and autotuner (which worked well).  I sold it for under $300.  If you shop around you should find similar pricing.  Also if you are an ARRL member you can find the reviews on all of Elecraft radio products in their review section.  Also at the Elecraft site under either the K1 or KX1 FAQ's there is a nice explanation or the difference between the K1 and KX1.
Art
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WB4TJH
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 05:56:18 AM »

I've had my K2 for about 6 years, and right now it is my main station radio. I have the 160 meter board in it, the SSB board, and the noise blanker. I'll probably add the DSP and 60 meter options down the road.  I have worked an S2 cw station within ONE Khz of an S9+40db station, so the receiver selectivity is truly amazing. The K1 can hold its own against most other radios, also. I can't afford a K3, and by the time you add most of the options, you have about $4k invested into it. So right now, I'm very pleased with my K2. It still has the most selective receiver I have ever owned in 43 years on the air. But If you want 6 meters, you will have to add an  Elecraft converter to get it.
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