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Author Topic: Is the KX3 all it's cracked up to be or fake?  (Read 76872 times)
AA4GA
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« Reply #60 on: November 23, 2012, 07:11:14 PM »

OK, so I got my KX3 in earlier this week and have been playing around with it for a bit, just to get used to it.  It's amazing how much more intuitive it is to operate compared to the FT817ND.  All the knobs pretty much do just what you'd expect.  There is still occasional need to delve into menus, but it's not very often.  The worst part is not knowing what the abbreviations are...but that will come pretty quickly.

So, how about the radio's performance compared to the '817?

First things first:  I'm interested in an HF radio that I can tote in a backpack for SOTA (even though this will be my main station transceiver for the foreseeable future) and operate CW only.  I'm also a contester and DXer.

Since this is CQWW weekend, I figured it would be a good shakedown for the radio as well as a chance to compare the KX3 to the FT817ND.  Friday night is pretty slow for me with my relatively poor antenna and low power on 40 and 80, so I hooked up my antenna (80m doublet at ~45' fed with 300 ohm line and an LDG Z-11 Pro II and 4:1 balun) to a T-connector, with one side going to the KX3, and one side to the FT817.  I attached a set of earbuds to each radio and placed one radio in my left ear, and the other in my right.  Not very high-tech, but good enough to compare.  I use a 300Hz filter in my Yaesu, so I dialed in a bandwidth of 300Hz on the KX3 as well.  When listening to stations, I used 600Hz CW offset and tuned the rigs for the same audio pitch - the displays were 20 or 30Hz different.

Here's some of what I discovered:

The FT817 is much more fatiguing to listen to.  Mine has a bit of a hiss in that that becomes annoying pretty quickly.  It doesn't really interfere with receiving stations for the most part, but isn't a lot of fun to listen to.  My FT990s had this as well, but they had a SCAF built in that could take the bulk of it out - the FT817 doesn't.

The KX3 is a lot cleaner sounding.  Part of it is the lack of hiss that the '817 has, but it's much more than that.  The skirts of the KX3's filters seem steeper.  I listened to a loud station CQing, and in the Yaesu, there was another loud station about 500Hz above that was easy to copy in the Yaesu, certainly loud enough to cover up weak stations - I couldn't even tell he was there in the KX3.  Listening to the lower side, the Yaesu seemed a bit better, but still not as good as the KX3.  In fact, I heard stations calling the CQer that were covered up by stations below the CQer in the Yaesu - in the KX3, I could still detect the QRM, but it was suppressed enough that I could copy the caller when it was impossible to do so in the Yaesu.

Oh, and because of the architecture of the KX3 - it's a direct conversion receiver that has its LO at the frequency you're listening to (+/- the CW offset) - you could hear the LO in the Yaesu.  There is the ability in the KX3 to offset the LO by 8kHz, which takes the LO completely out of the Yaesu's passband.  The problem with this is that when the IF is shifted in the KX3, it precludes the use of the roofing filter.  So, the above comparison was done without the roofing filter - the KX3 without optional filters receives better than the Yaesu with optional filter!  Predictably, the KX3 works even better with the roofing filter.  If I had seen how well it worked without the filter, I might would have opted to not get the roofing filter.

There is another method of reducing this carrier heard in the FT817:  the KX3 has an isolation amp that is designed to prevent this kind of interference.  I tried it as well, and it did knock the level of the KX3 LO heard in the Yaesu down considerably, but it was still slightly detectable.  I don't see it as a real problem, as the only time it would ever be apparent is when listening to another RX tuned to the same frequency.  The only time I can imagine I would do that would be if I was listening to my old Drake R4 while transmitting on the KX3...which would be a pretty rare occurrence, and if I have cause to do so and the LO is a problem, I'll just shift the LO.

Anyway, the Yaesu does seem to have more audio power available, and its speaker seems better than the KX3's.  But with headphones, it's no real advantage either way.  The volume control on the Yaesu is a good bit touchier though, with the KX3's being smoother to operate.

Some of the operating features I've used and really like over the Yaesu, either because they're implemented better or the Yaesu doesn't even have the ability are:

1) Dual watch.  I used this to work PT0S a few nights ago.  It was great to be able to hear the DX in my left ear and the callers in my right ear - easy to locate the exact QRG the DX was listening to.  The Yaesu would require a lot of button pressing and tuning the VFO.  The KX3 doesn't require the button presses, and has a separate knob for the two VFOs.  And with the KX3, you can actually listen to both frequencies simultaneously!

2) Bandwidth.  The KX3 had a knob that allows one to change bandwidth in 50Hz increments....and it tunes all the way down to 50Hz bandwidth...and the 50Hz bandwidth is actually usable!

3) Display.  Much larger and more readable on the KX3.  And it imparts a lot more information.

4) Noise Reduction.  It's not as good as the K3, but I haven't played with it much.  I think there may be some adjustability in it that I haven't discovered yet.  Not great, but not bad either.  Yaesu doesn't have it at all.  I haven't had a chance to try the Noise Blanker yet.

5) Power Adjustment.  Just turn a knob and adjust in 200mW increments down to a watt, then the increments are 100mW until zero.  Better than 4 discrete levels that the Yaesu has. 

6) Current Drain.  OK, I haven't measured it yet to compare, but am relying on the specs.  But not only is the KX3 less power hungry than the Yaesu, at the 3 watt level, the KX3 switches to a more efficient mode.  How much better it is, I don't know.  But I know the difference between 5 watts and 3 watts when I'm on a SOTA peak won't be much, and I'll enjoy longer battery life.  Also, I'm using Eneloop XXs in the KX3, which are better batteries than the 1600mAh batteries supplied with the FT817.

7) VFO knob.  Bigger is better.  All of the KX3 knobs and buttons feel good.  They may or may not be more fragile than the Yaesu's - I can't really say, and don't plan to test that!  The KX3 seems plenty rugged enough though.

8: QSK.  It's not the smoothest QSK I've ever used, but it's not bad, and it's an easy adjustment to go from full QSK to semi-break-in if needed.  T/R switching just feels better in this rig over the Yaesu.

9) Tuner.  I haven't used it a lot yet, just to test it out.  It seems quick to match, and it's really nice that it follows the frequency.  Plus, it's one less thing to pack for a SOTA trip, and one less cable to go bad.

10) Operating position.  The angled front panel works real well here on the desk - better than the Yaesu with PegLegs added.  It remains to be seen if I'll prefer this arrangement when operating portable from a mountain top.

I know there's more, but with a much better performing RX, and the vastly improved ergonomics, I'm satisfied with the KX3.  I'll most likely end up selling the Yaesu since I doubt it will get much use, and I've already got a couple other rigs that don't get used enough.  Is the Yaesu a bad radio?  No.  But, it doesn't serve my needs as well as the KX3.  I think both radios offer good value for their price.  I think the KX3 has more bang for the buck though, as long as its frequency coverage meets your needs and you have the bucks to spend on a radio.

HTH!

73 de Lee
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KE4VVF
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« Reply #61 on: November 23, 2012, 10:43:38 PM »

I'm looking for my first dedicated QRP / Portable HF rig so I have a little different perspective. 
I'll be doing 90% SSB so send and receive intelligibility along with listening fatigue are very important to me.

Does a stock KX3 perform as well at killing static as the FT-817 with an optional W4RT DSP Module (NEDSP-1061 KBD)? 

How does the stock KX3 voice processing and EQ compare to the FT-817 with a "One Big Punch" (OBP-STD) mod?

73,
Tony


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WA2TPU
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« Reply #62 on: November 24, 2012, 12:55:14 PM »

To KE4VVF....

Are you aware that Ten Tec is going to be releasing its Argonaut 6  before Christmas or just after the New Year. Its suppose to have the basic configuration and properties of Ten Tec's Eagle but strictly a Qrp transceiver. You might want to consider it too.
And no I'm not some die hard Ten Tec fan pushing their products. I just wanted you to think about looking at the Argonaut 6 also in your quest to get your first dedicated Qrp rig.
Best regards and many 72/73.
Don sr. --WA2TPU -- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION.
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #63 on: November 25, 2012, 03:27:28 PM »

Note that Ten Tec has a policy of cutting off customers who criticize their radios, so look for anonymous reviews too when that comes out.
A primary consideration for me is to have as many ways as possible to get a signal out, especially in an emergency. I don't want to carry multiple radios or radio/transverter etc. to accomplish this so the FT-817 wins hands down.
On the other hand, on the negative side, your FT-817 is now a single point of failure. If you went out with a KX-3 and an HT, if one fails you still have the other. Also if the HT remains on and beaconing on the whole hike, you can be tracked while in digipeater range, and you can also monitor the repeaters and simplex calling frequencies while underway - not just when you've set up the station. How many hours scanning time do you get out of the 817s internal battery versus the Li-ion battery in an HT?

There are indeed some areas with repeater coverage that lack cell phone coverage, but in a life-threatening wilderness emergency I'd try my cell phone and my Personal Locator Beacon before turning to my amateur radio; the exception might be areas where I'm likely to raise somebody who's closer to me than the rescue services. Back on the first hand, though, that's arguably more items that might be forgotten at home, and if you're out on a radio expedition you probably wouldn't forget the main rig.

This is especially important in an emergency because if I must get a call for help out then I can first try area repeaters (list is printed before leaving and carried with me), if no go then I can try FM simplex, if no go then I can try HF. All with THE SAME RADIO. Precious seconds saved by not messing with multiple boxes!
Do you walk around with the FT-817 in manpack form with both a tuned HF vertical and VHF/UHF antenna connected at all times? I think there's going to be some messing around with antennas, tuner and microphone anyhow. What if it rains sideways? Is it water proof?

And having two FT-817s allows me to monitor and use both HF & VHF/UHF simultaneously.
The same is true for a KX-3 and an HT, for less weight. (We've discussed full duplex and satellites earlier in the thread.)
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WX7G
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« Reply #64 on: November 27, 2012, 12:04:57 PM »

The words "KX3" and "fake" should never be used together in the same sentence (except in response to them being used together in a sentence).
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AB7KT
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« Reply #65 on: November 27, 2012, 01:31:53 PM »

I read this whole thread and this morning, immediately ordered a KX3. I have many QRP rigs including an FT-817 and a KX1. But, I have some money burning a hole in my pocket.

Why do I NEED all these rigs ?
Who are you to ask ? When you start giving me money, then you can question how I spend it.

The FT-817 is a great rig. I really like the fact that it has 2 meters and 70cm. I have had a lot of great times with the 817. My most memorable moment: FT-817, 160 meter CW (yes, I said 160m). I called CQ from Nevada. A guy in Hawaii answered me. I worked him. A guy in Mexico tail ended and I worked him. Another station tail ended him but I had a real hard time copying. After about five repeats of the callsign, it was Northern Ireland. I got the card from the guy in Northern Ireland. I also worked the Ducie Island DXpedition on 17m SSB using a wire wrapped around the eaves of my single story house on the first call. It was pure luck, but a contact I will never forget. I don't know if I could bring myself to sell the 817.

Ken
AB8KT
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I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
K7LZR
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« Reply #66 on: November 28, 2012, 02:09:02 PM »

I dunno guys.....LA9XSA brings up some valid points but for my needs I just can't justify spending $1k+ for a tricked out KX3. BUT its very good that there are many who disagree with me else Elecraft wouldn't sell many of them Smiley.

- Darrell/K7LZR (formerly KA7BTV)
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N2RRA
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« Reply #67 on: November 28, 2012, 02:35:36 PM »

Quote
On the other hand, on the negative side, your FT-817 is now a single point of failure. If you went out with a KX-3 and an HT, if one fails you still have the other.

Yet again....If you're gonna take an HT any way and an FT-817 you're still better off. Satellites is capable and so is VHF/UHF all mode like digi, CW and SSB. You're still not gonna have 2m and 70cm SSB/CW with a KX-3!

Quote
How many hours scanning time do you get out of the 817s internal battery versus the Li-ion battery in an HT?

You can actually get quite a few hours on the W4RT internal battery version over stock so don't count out the FT-817 for a few hours alone on it.

Quote
Do you walk around with the FT-817 in manpack form with both a tuned HF vertical and VHF/UHF antenna connected at all times? I think there's going to be some messing around with antennas, tuner and microphone anyhow. What if it rains sideways? Is it water proof?

Actually....yes I do! In fact your comment just gave me an idea for my next YouTube video on how convenient the FT-817ND can do just that. In a water proof mollie back pack in fact.

Quote
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you already have an FT-817, don't buy the KX3. Buy a 2nd FT-817 instead. You'll have a MUCH more versatile system!

I second that as an option except load them both with filters and you're way better off. Still won't rule out buying a KX3 also.

I agree with Zenki's comments as well.

Lee,

Thanks for all your input on your new KX3. Your experience with owning both and was my focus looking for people who did own both. Not people talking hypotheticals and what if's all though I do appreciate them.

Enjoy your new KX3 and good luck with it. When you do find out more I look forward to reading your further comparisons and what ever other input you may a have.

73 all!


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N2UGB
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« Reply #68 on: November 30, 2012, 01:57:44 AM »

Flash!  First (that I've observed)  used KX3 for sale on that "other" site.

Probably a need for cash issue. Maybe.
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #69 on: November 30, 2012, 02:47:34 AM »

You can actually get quite a few hours on the W4RT internal battery version over stock so don't count out the FT-817 for a few hours alone on it.
Does it get as good a stand-by time as an HT though? I'd like to see some numbers on this if anyone has them. The W4RT battery should help (I'm considering getting one), but does it help enough? The FT-817 has more "blue smoke to keep warm" than an HT has.
Actually....yes I do! In fact your comment just gave me an idea for my next YouTube video on how convenient the FT-817ND can do just that. In a water proof mollie back pack in fact.
Neat. I'm looking forward to it. I usually operate outdoors, but on my so far only SOTA activation it was snowing horizontally at times so I'd like to mount my FT-817 in this way too.
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N2RRA
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« Reply #70 on: November 30, 2012, 08:19:24 AM »

You can actually get quite a few hours on the W4RT internal battery version over stock so don't count out the FT-817 for a few hours alone on it.
Does it get as good a stand-by time as an HT though? I'd like to see some numbers on this if anyone has them. The W4RT battery should help (I'm considering getting one), but does it help enough? The FT-817 has more "blue smoke to keep warm" than an HT has.
Actually....yes I do! In fact your comment just gave me an idea for my next YouTube video on how convenient the FT-817ND can do just that. In a water proof mollie back pack in fact.
Neat. I'm looking forward to it. I usually operate outdoors, but on my so far only SOTA activation it was snowing horizontally at times so I'd like to mount my FT-817 in this way too.


On my YouTube channel I have plenty videos showing the pack system and even in one showing how I wear it ,but not so much in depth. Till then check those out.

As for the W4RT pack, it can have standby time as long as an HT and just has long transmitting time as some. Surely more talk time than an ICOM 91AD because I own one and am saying by experience.
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N2RRA
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« Reply #71 on: November 30, 2012, 08:21:19 AM »

Flash!  First (that I've observed)  used KX3 for sale on that "other" site.

Probably a need for cash issue. Maybe.

In the last 6 months I've seen a few go up for sale which made me think.....why?

 
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WA2TPU
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« Reply #72 on: November 30, 2012, 08:55:36 AM »

To N2RRA and others....

I actually called 2 of the hams who had them for sale. One had health issues and was getting completely out of ham radio selling everything since he was going into a assisted living facility very soon. The other ham sold his because he was loosing his job and was hopeful he could hold on to his K-3 station. Neither of these sellers I talked with disliked or found anything wrong with their KX-3's. In fact, both of them stated to me that the KX-3 was one heck of a radio and truly regretted having to sell them.
I believe them. I'm still waiting for the Ten Tec Argonaut VI to be released so I can determine which one these two rigs I'm going to purchase.

Best regards and many 72/73 to all.
Don sr. --WA2TPU -- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION POWERED BY WIND.
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N2RRA
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« Reply #73 on: December 01, 2012, 01:22:05 PM »

To N2RRA and others....

I actually called 2 of the hams who had them for sale. One had health issues and was getting completely out of ham radio selling everything since he was going into a assisted living facility very soon. The other ham sold his because he was loosing his job and was hopeful he could hold on to his K-3 station. Neither of these sellers I talked with disliked or found anything wrong with their KX-3's. In fact, both of them stated to me that the KX-3 was one heck of a radio and truly regretted having to sell them.
I believe them. I'm still waiting for the Ten Tec Argonaut VI to be released so I can determine which one these two rigs I'm going to purchase.

Best regards and many 72/73 to all.
Don sr. --WA2TPU -- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION POWERED BY WIND.

Sounds good! Would like to see what Ten-Tec comes out with also.

73!
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KB2CPW
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« Reply #74 on: December 06, 2012, 02:03:52 AM »


  I've had at least 5 817's over the years. It's a great radio, but it has some shortfalls Yaesu should have tended to. The original battery life sucks, the charging system sucks and that is the primary reason one buys an 817. For it's portability. There should be no need to buy stuff from other venders, Yaesu should be continually upgrading the radio with some better options. LIPO batteries, etc...

  With that said, it always was a fun radio to take along on any kind of trip, you just had to spend a few bucks to make it right or improvise on your own. All in all it's not a bad deal. I always had fun with mine, but to make it right, you have to add filters, a better battery setup, charger, antennas etc.. This brings you right up against a KX3 in price especially now that Yaesu increased their prices after the earthquake.

  I've had the opportunity to check out the KX3, a very impressive rig I might add. It may be more refined than an 817, but it doesn't have the added advantage of 440/2m all mode capability.  You have to way what you need and make a decision from there.
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