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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Elecraft KX3 Help


Reviews Summary for Elecraft KX3
Elecraft KX3 Reviews: 116 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $ See Desciption
Description: Elecraft KX3 QRP Transceiver

Ultra-portable, all-band/all-mode high-performance transceiver for home, mobile, or field use.
* 160-6 meters (2 m with KX3-2M module)
* SSB/CW/DATA/AM/FM modes; 10 W+ PEP (100 W with KXPA100 amp)
* 1.7" x 3.5" x 7.4" (4.3 x 8.9 x 18.8 cm); only 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg)
* Current drain as low as 150 mA; internal battery (8 AA cells, any type)
* Advanced DSP provides dual watch, noise reduction, noise blanking, autonotch, stereo audio effects, audio peaking filter (APF)
* Software-defined radio (SDR) architecture plus optional roofing filters
* Operates in data modes (PSK31/RTTY) with or without a PC
* Includes RX I/Q sound-card outputs; works with PC RS232 or USB ports; free firmware upgrades
* Options: internal wide-range antenna tuner (KXAT3), interal NiMH battery charger (KXBC3), dual roofing filter module (KXFL3), attached high-performance keyer paddle (KXPD3), internal 2-meter module (KX3-2M), MH3 compact hand mic with UP/DN buttons, KXPA100/KXAT100 100-W amplifier and ATU

$999.95 factory assembled, $899.95 kit

Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com
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KQ4YA Rating: 5/5 Aug 12, 2014 09:58 Send this review to a friend
Lives up to the hype  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First off, I'm not a QRP enthusiast. I just wanted a tiny radio to take along when I travel by air. The lower power was the compromise I made to get a tiny but capable transceiver.

I have been reading about the radio since it first came out and I assumed - as is often true with reviews and owner comments - that the radio was over-hyped. Still, I could also tell from the professional reviews that it was a nice little rig.

And it is. I won't bore you with all the details since there are plenty of them here and elsewhere. So I'll just mention a few of the things that struck me:

1. I had worried (and even seen some comments that echoed those worries) that it would be too fragile for travel. But it actually has the feel of an old 35mm Leica camera - very solid. Obviously the knobs are the vulnerable areas. But there are after market solutions to protect the radio - with those it stands up pretty well to travel.

2. Like I said I'm not a QRP guy. This radio hasn't magically turned me into one, but it has shown me - even using SSB - how well I can do with 10 watts or so (using an external power supply). Luckily that's how it will mostly be used - with a power supply. I'm glad to have the battery capability but that's not how it will be normally used.

Finally, it's a fine toy and a good way for a person like me to learn a bit about SDR. I'm pleased with the radio and impressed with its performance, especially the receiver.
 
OR5A Rating: 5/5 Aug 7, 2014 07:55 Send this review to a friend
Great performer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I agree with VE3EGA. The KX3 can do 12 watts out (8 on 6 meters) but only when power from 13,2 to 15 Vdc is supplied. With 8 cells inside only 3 watt is guaranteed.

Considering most of the KX3 owners will use the device portable in most cases, antennas are already compromised to so 3 to 4 dB extra power comes in handy.

Another item to watch out for. In direct sunlight the PA section gets hot rapidly when using full power. I monitored the PA temp on the display running a CW CQ in a loop on a dummy load and after only a few minutes power dropped back to 5 watts.

Solutions: yes. I'm using LIFE battery packs with 4 cells. Nominal power is 13,2 Vdc. Fully charged they have 14,5 Volts and therefore this power pack makes you run full power until the battery is discharged. They are also light in weight, an extra bonus. I'm using a 4200 and 8400 mAh pack.

Using an extra heat sink mounted on the top side, the KX3 runs cooler for a very long time. Up to 400%. So when used in normal qso, ssb or cw and even in digital modes, the KX3 can run for longer periods at 10 or 12 watts without the PA section getting to hot.

Receiver wise the KX3 to me is a great performer. I still prefer the K3 with decent roofing filters but for an SDR radio the KX3 has good ears and selective filtering. Most K3 features are included in this small box. A big bonus. I would have loved a single USB cable does it all approach for CAT, audio, etc but maybe that's something for the roadmap.

Using the stock mic (option) I get really great audio reports (not using compression). Mine has most options but since I'm using outdoor battery packs, I think I would skip the internal charger. You will need it if you want a real time clock.

The internal tuner is very good. I was surprised.
Also tuning in RX path is nice to have.

I think most have been said by former reviewers. It's not a perfect radio but I deserves 5 stars because to me it's more than just four. 4,5 is justified to me. I like it a lot. I have made a small set to take with me on my motorcycle using the KX3 with handmic, small keyer, fiber pole with wire. Great /P station while on the road.

Recommended.
 
WA2TPU Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2014 16:53 Send this review to a friend
An update on owning/using my KX3 for a couple of years now.....  Time owned: more than 12 months
WOW!! FANTASTIC!! THE BEST RIG I'VE EVER OWNED! UNBELIEVABLE! PERIOD!!
 
VE3EGA Rating: 4/5 Jul 27, 2014 13:27 Send this review to a friend
You NEED a good DC Power Source!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Its hard to criticize this little radio as it truly is a Stellar performer, however something that as always bugged me is that Elecraft fail to mention that YOU WILL NEED a special 13.2VDC supply to operate in the field at anything over 5W!!!!

The reason is that the power folds back to 5W with ANYTHING LESS - that includes ALL of your 12VDC portable supplies!

Now, you might say 5W is fine? ok, fine for CW but with a portable (compromise) antenna and most field conditions, you are going to have a hard time working any DX on SSB - I have tried this for the last 12 Months and now finally gone back to my trusty (10W) IC703 Plus for /P!

Bad advertising by Elecraft? Maybe?

Just be aware of this defect in the usability of the KX3 in the field before you leap ahead and plan your next DXpedition!

There is however some light at the end of the tunnel - look for a 13,2V DC Source (hobbyist Sites such as Hobby King) and I think BuddyPole may have offerings?

Anyone else with other DC solutions to this problem, please share???

73

Terry

 
VE3TS Rating: 5/5 Jun 29, 2014 07:51 Send this review to a friend
Possibly the Deal of the Decade!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is the first brand new radio I bought since a DX-60, HR-10 combo back in the 'sixties. That will tell you two things, a) I am incredibly cheap and b) what a great value this is. You actually get 4 radios, not one. First, and most important to me, is a superb ham/swl receiver. With the roofing filters installed you will have a world beating receiver, second to none. Period. If this were just a receiver only, at around 1K you would have a super deal. But there is more. Second, you get an SDR radio. You can run it with the specialized Win4K3 software which turns it into a glass radio. Or for free you can run it with free programs like MultiPsk which make it an 'almost' glass radio. Now you have your bandscope, with 192 KHZ width. Third, you get a beauty of a QRP rig as everyone has lauded. Included in this category is a nifty little mobile or a great back up emergency rig. Fourth, add an amp and you have a small traditional station, great audio, all mode, great receive, etc. etc. And speaking of amps, the new generation of FET's allow you to build a single device amplifier that puts out 1.5K with only 10 watts drive for under 500 bucks. Now I am not saying there are no limitations with this rig. There has to be at its price but they are work arounds for most of them. The rig lacks I/O outputs and a second receiver input would be great for me. But with some relays and thought you can get the rig as automatic as you would like. The radio uses all computer style 3.5 or 2.5 mm connectors and you can get superb audio reports off 5 dollar computer mics! As you can tell, I have been very happy with this radio and I hope you will be too! 73, Keith
 
VE2AKS Rating: 4/5 Jun 22, 2014 19:40 Send this review to a friend
Good rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I love operating (QRP) this radio in the field with my buddipole. A lot of things have been written so really nothing to add on the technical side. Overvall verdict: still very pleased with my KX3 one year after my initial purchase.

The Achilles' heel of this rig lies in its DC connector which is, caveat emptor, more *flimsy* than I would have expected for a radio of this price range. Why Elecraft didn't put a socket on the PCB with a connector securely fixed on the KX3 case like the connector for the mike? Mystery. It is very easy to put stress on it and the connector is fixed in a way it can be ripped off with a bit of pressure (e.g. the fall of your 8xAA batteries pack :-( ... in the field a lot of accidents can happen even you are careful and connectors *are* more or less always mistreated).

Would I recommend the KX3 for someone who loves operating outside and a SOTA fan? Yes definitely, Elecraft has also an awesome customer support. It responds quickly and they do care about their customers. So thumbs up Elecraft! No need to buy the "big gun" (KXPA100), spend your money on a very good antenna, hope for favourable radio propagation conditions when you operate and you will enjoys several hours of making worldwide contacts even with a few watts.

 
N8LJJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 21, 2014 07:43 Send this review to a friend
Super radio once you buy all the bells and whistles  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am the proud owner of an Elecraft KX3. What a wonderful radio. I already own an SDR so I knew that this one would be destined for greatness. I bought the kit version, everything went together rather easily except for the nylon screws. Those required lots of care and attention to keep them from cross threading as they really want to do. Save your money and buy the kit if you are handy with a screwdriver. You will need the money you saved to buy the options.

The options are not a requirement but probably something you can't live without. The paddle key, ATU, roofing filter, battery charger/real time clock, and microphone do not come with the under 1K price tag.

The unit delivers as advertised and runs rings around my 3 other Yaesu portable rigs, FT-817, FT-857 and FT-897.

The receiver noise floor is super even without using any additional filtering. I am not sure if you really need the roofing filter, I have one and it is supposed to be automatic so I really don't know if it is really doing anything.

It is one sweet radio and if you have the money burning a hole in your pocket, This is the one to buy.

I also had to buy the KXPA100 amplifier and will write a review about it as well. I know have my eye on a PX3 panadapter but since it is not yet shipping may wait a little bit to pull the trigger.
 
N6PG Rating: 5/5 Jun 5, 2014 01:27 Send this review to a friend
Amazing HF radio you can take anywhere!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I travel a lot, and I used to bring my FT-857 to Europe... Even though I also needed to bring a battery, antenna, tuner, charger, etc.

With the KX3... EVERYTHING fits in one little radio. Further, I haven't found any compromises to make this work. I now travel with the radio and 28 gauge wire to throw in a tree or out the window. I also use the buddistick when SOTA if trees aren't around. The entire setup fits easily in a backpack.

The receiver is very quiet and the filtering is amazing. I have tuned 7.030 in Europe with many loud stations less than 1 kHz away and I can narrow down the filter and still hear the QRP station I'm trying to work. The radio is easy to use, and you don't need to go into the menus to operate. Lots of front panel controls, which is welcome on such a small radio. If you do go into the menu, the settings are easy to find and adjust. The antenna tuner is great. I've never had a gunner that can tune such huge mis-matched loads.

I haven't worked SSB contacts yet, and I would expect low power SSB contacts to be a bit challenging. I also haven't worked QRP at the bottom on the solar cycle, but I can tell you that right now.... I've never turned on the radio and not made a contact!

I really enjoy the radio. I've had so many radios over the years, and this one is a keeper!
 
IK0YKM Rating: 5/5 May 27, 2014 08:58 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding qrp xcvr  Time owned: more than 12 months
A new masterpiece from Elecraft.
I have had my first new KX-3 for a week now and just can't put it down.
No doubt we have a new standard for QRP transceivers.
I have now intensively used the KX3 for two days
after receiving it and have logged over 70 QSOs with it using SSB and CW.
The DSP filtering is great, like that of my old transceiver.
Perfect size, perfect weight (about 1.5 pound), VERY respectable performance.
My KX3 arrived with several options included:
-MH3 microphone;
-KXPD3 keyer paddle / straight key;
-KXFL3 roofing filter;
-KXUSB USB/serial port adapter;
-KXAT3 Internal, Wide-Range 20-W Automatic Antenna Tuner;
-KXBC3 NiMH Charger

Now i hope in ...... KX3-2M Internal 2-Meter Module :-)

I'm very satisfied



Henk IK0YKM
 
VK2BJP Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2014 22:33 Send this review to a friend
Excellant Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I will give this little gem 10 stars out of 5, for for functionality, ease of use and compactness. I bought the KX3 for sota, it has performed flawlesssly in this role, the display is excellant , I have the time in utc selected on the display, so signal strength, time and frequency only need a glance when working a contact. The atu would tune a wet towel if you needed it to, battery drain is miniscule on receive and very low operating on 5 watts. I like it so much I,ve been using it instead of my IC-706g in the shack. Top marks to Elecraft for this little gem.
 
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