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Author Topic: K2 or IC-703(+)  (Read 6366 times)

Posts: 151


« on: January 05, 2009, 10:48:09 AM »

HNY all,

I do a lot of hotel and park portable QRP operation. My "go to" rig is an FT-817ND. Not because it's the best radio, just that it is so convenient.

However, during my last outing the receiver was giving me kittens. I just couldn't hear quite well enough.

So... K2 or IC-703 for hotel/park portable?

73 de Donald

Posts: 773

« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 07:40:56 AM »

If you are doing CW, the K2 is tops.
For other modes, something else might be better.

The K2 is very efficient, it will run a long time with a built in battery, it has a GREAT antenna tuner built in (if you buy it), the RX is tops except for the K3, its small and light.

If you do CW, its a great all around rig, at 100w home use, or 15 watt qrp portable.

I think its the best all around portable QRP CW rig.

ALL the commercial rigs except ten tec fall apart on CW receive under bad conditions, suck huge amounts of power, are big and heavy (mostly).

Another plus for Elecraft, you can fix anything that breaks, say you drop it off a cliff while climbing the matterhorn to operate, you can order any parts and fix it yourself.

You wont be able to get parts for the icom in 5 years or so....

I just ordered a wilderness radio Sierra to try, its even more efficient then the K2, less features and options, but very small and light, and 34ma on RX is fantastic!

If you want to do AM, FM, SSB, 2 meters, I dont know what is best.



Posts: 1421


« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 12:15:52 PM »

Based on my experience using 817s, 703s, and K2s side-by-side at various Field Days, I'd say the 703 has a slightly better receiver that the 817.  The K2 is vastly superior.  Not only are the specs much better, but, more important, it sounds much better.  It's not a tiring radio to listen to.  Indeed, it's in the same league as the K3 and the high-end Ten Tec rigs.  Last summer, I bought a used K2 in excellent condition for roughly the price of a new 703, and have been pleased with it for portable operation as well as for my main QRP rig at home.

I have an 817 that I still use for VHF/UHF QRP and for portable PSK31, but I stick to the K2 for portable HF CW or phone.

Posts: 1

« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 10:15:38 AM »

you can do more for less cash
with a IC-703 plus

the IC-703 is more of a kick around rig
start adding things to a basic K-2

simple things
that do not cost extra on the 703
like noise blanker, DSP noise reduction,
160 meters, ssb transmit, internal ATU,
six meters,

cost extra on the K-2

it easly becomes
more than twice as expensive as the 703

there are things that a 703 does
that you simply can not do with the K-3

want to listen to the 31 meter short wave band
no general coverage receive

no AM transmit
want to listen to AM ops
you must use exalted carrier
can't turn off the product dect.

yes the K-2 has a wonderfull receiver

its easier to make a world class
ham receiver
when you make it ham band cw ssb only

unless you are into contesting
jumping in to DX pile ups
the K-2 receiver figures
are wasted on most ops
hear Bob Sherwood's lecture
on receivers even he thinks
that the new rec specs on the
best rigs is for the most part
wasted on the average ham op

mind results may vary
what you like in a radio
is not nessarly what other or i like

yours truly


Posts: 94

« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 01:40:24 PM »

I suppose at one time or another I would want to know what a world class receiver sounds like. So get a K2 and at least get a standard in which to judge other radios. As well as having a great receiver there are other things that make a K2 stand out. The internal ATU is not just an afterthought. It works as well as well or better in most cases, than any external ATU that I’ve ever used. This can come in quite handy when you are dealing with less than perfect antennas.
I would also recommend building one. Although time consuming it isn’t at all a difficult build. Building the K2 will show you what a superbly designed radio it really is. I found everything from the built in test equipment to the mechanical construction to be a cut above anything ever put into a kit. The fact that so many people have successfully built a K2 is a testament all by itself to the quality of engineering that went into it. You will never look at the inside of your K2 and experience the fear you get when opening most of today’s mass produced radio. It will all be very familiar to you.
I have a K2 and a K3 and quite honestly, if the K3 did anything for me, it pointed out how good the K2 really is.

Tom, AK2B

Posts: 625

« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 09:23:00 AM »

I own and use a K2.

Unless you buy a used K2, you need to consider the about 3weeks of assembly time and I spent about 2weeks tweaking and adjusting it.  You also need to consider your assembly skill.  The reliablity of the rig will depend on your assembly skills.  I work in the electronics industry and have assembled a lot of stuff.  I maybe go a little hurried on the SSB adapter.  I had a bad solder joint on it that manifested itself after some back packing trips and field operation.  It took some engineering level technical skills to find it and fix it.

It is also expensive considering that you have to assemble it.  As far as parts go, it is not imune to obsolete parts.  In fact the finals and the IF amps are obsolete even as Elecraft still builds new K2 kits.

The antenna tuner is nice, but is not perfect.  It will not tune any wires that are even quarter wave multiples (Hi-Z).  There are ways around it, but again there's ways around everything.

The RX is good but not nearly the world beater that the fanboys would have you believe.  On CW it is great but the adjustable filtering and goofy synthesizer make it poor for Digtal modes.  It is mediocre on SSB (assuming you bought that option).

I like my K2, but separate the myth from the reality.  K2 is like a religion, you gotta buy into the whole experience or you will be disapointed.

Posts: 94

« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2009, 09:31:39 AM »

“As far as parts go, it is not imune to obsolete parts. In fact the finals and the IF amps are obsolete even as Elecraft still builds new K2 kits.”

Nothing is immune to obsolescence and every radio you buy suffers in the same way. Some suffer more so than others. I’d rather be looking around for an MC1350 (IF amp) or a pair of 2SC1969’s than a multipurpose proprietary LSI for my TS-480.

“The RX is good but not nearly the world beater that the fanboys would have you believe. On CW it is great but the adjustable filtering and goofy synthesizer make it poor for Digtal modes. It is mediocre on SSB (assuming you bought that option).”

According to one non-fanboy ( It isn’t too bad! It easily holds it own against radios costing considerably more money. The radio was never designed to be the best SSB/Digital radio going. It was originally designed to be the best portable CW QRP rig around – which is why I bought it. I’ve used it many times on SSB and digital without a problem. I’ve never had a complaint about my audio.

“K2 is like a religion, you gotta buy into the whole experience or you will be disapointed.”

Weil as a member of the First Church of Elecraft, I find that rather amusing. In the cynical world we live in today – where you can’t really trust any corporation or institution, it is not hard to understand how some of us have “bought into the whole experience”. I find it refreshing that a small amateur radio company is so willing to put itself out front and make themselves accessible to their customers.
Anyone who has been on the Elecraft reflector or needed help in any way knows this. They don’t come out with a new model radio every time a flaw is detected in one of their designs or a modification is required. Anyone who bought an early K2 can easily update it to the latest version without having to buy a K2 II or K2 III. When’s the last time you got an e-Mail from Kenny Kenwood? Yes, I know that is not his real name, but then, that is exactly my point.

Tom,  AK2B

Posts: 773

« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2009, 06:12:12 AM »

Yes, I just received a new K2 kit yesterday, I built one a few years ago, and miss it, and the building is SO fun.
I built the first one in 3 days, with 0 problems, but I think I will slow down and enjoy the build of this one.
Last night I started the kit, and got the control board and front panel done, so its not going very slow...

This one I think I will add ssb, the qrp antenna tuner, and the 100 watt amp and auto tuner in a single remote cabinet.

If you really like voice and digital stuff, its not a great rig, those things were add ons to the basic QRP cw radio.
But you build it, every part, so its in its own class.

Its really a great receiver, I know it is much nicer than the 756 pro3, no wide first IF to screw things up. Even just noise is handled much better on the K2, and doing an a/b switch will have you think the band is great on the K2, and on the pro, you want to turn it off and come back when the static crashes die down.

I never had the K2 ssb option, but suspect it results in a nice ssb rx, if a bit narrow, but without some of the nice to have options the typical rig has.

I notice they have added some improvements since I built the first one, the SN is just over 600 higher, and there seems to be quite a few changes to improve things, so it sort of is a K2.3...

The point really is, its so much fun to build, its amazing how it goes together, it would be a shame for any ham to miss out on that...



Posts: 773

« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2009, 08:10:15 PM »

I got the K2 kit Thursday, its done on Sunday nite.
This one works even better than the older one I had, and I note they changed the manual and assembly is a bit easier.

No missing parts, some extra parts, no problems in assembling or calibrating, works great, although band conditons seem real poor.

I forgot how good a receiver it has!


Posts: 7

« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 10:25:53 AM »

If all you have ever listened to is a Kenwood or Icom you owe it to yourself to listen to a Elecraft K2 or K3. I have owned many rigs in the past including all of the big three rigs. None of them comes close to my K3 - Not close at all.

Posts: 773

« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2009, 11:15:56 AM »

When you come down to it, I dont know if any of the top rigs comes close to the K2 on receive.
The pro 3 I have is not even close to the K2.
Even on ssb, without the ssb add on for the K2, it hears signals the pro 3 cant.

With its 15KHz wide (at least) 1st IF, anything disturbs the pro 3, even static crashes.

Its comfortable copy on the K2 at twice the noise level that you would want to put up with on the pro 3.

The pro 3 has fantastic controls and the bandscope, but as a performance rig its very weak.
They need to do the front ends different, get rid of the sloppy 15 KHz wide filters at 70 MHz, at least on ssb and CW...


Posts: 211

« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2011, 07:29:59 AM »

I am presently having Alan Wilcox update my K2, serial number 0312, to the latest model standards. That's one thing that is so neat about the radio. Even tho my K2 is one of the very first, it is easily upgradeable to the latest model coming out of Elecraft. Look how many new models of Icom and Yaesu radios have come out since the original k2 was released in 1999. NONE of those radios are upgradeable to a "latest" model; to get a "latest" model, you have to invest in a brand new radio.  But my K2 is. It was no slouch as originally designed, either. But the latest circuit updates will really be nice.
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