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

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KX3
Elecraft KX3 Reviews: 129 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.
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AA1QG Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2014 07:29 Send this review to a friend
Near perfect radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use the radio with the PX3 and KXPA100 as the main rig, with the Flexradios and the IC-7600 now in the closet. Love the quiet receiver and sharp filters. It is a pain to listen to the hiss in a non-DSP receiver after being spoiled by the KX3.

Now if they only could add SSB squelch, a more aggressive speech processor, the ability to define special CW characters and maybe even developing a more rugged and splash proof model..
KB3RUN Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2014 13:27 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently acquired a used KX3 loaded with all the options except the 2M module. I have been totally impressed with its RX/TX capabilities.
I use it side-by-side with my FT-817ND and this radio is equally good. Some of the additional features I use are the PSK decode/RTTY modes.
It is an all-in-one radio and can easily be carried around on travels.
I now look forward to owning the KXPA-100 amplifier so that I can get rid of my IC-7000.

If you are considering this radio, you will not be disappointed.
K6YLG Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2014 07:37 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding, but not cheap  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've long been a QRP fan and have built a number of low-power rigs including Elecraft's KX1. The KX3 is definitely the Cadillac (Mercedes?) of QRP, with specs to match all but the most expensive transceivers. The panadaptor is far and away the best out there, and something I now couldn't live without.

While outstanding the KX3 isn't cheap; with the built-in ATU it's more expensive than a very good 100W transceiver. And if you add on the panadaptor and the KXPA100 linear you'll wind up paying 2-3x what you'd pay for an integrated xcvr with comparable specs. They're all exceptionally well engineered units, but they don't come cheap.
ON6KE Rating: 5/5 Sep 13, 2014 13:06 Send this review to a friend
KX3 ATU  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My TS-990S ATU can't tune the 16,5m long wire with 9:1 balun I have on 160m, the KX3 however has ZERO problem tuning the wire to 1:1, HA!!!!
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.

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???



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.
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