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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: 105 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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W4DRH Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2013 21:42 Send this review to a friend
Love it!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Love it. I take it every where. I have a small harbor freight case that it fits in with my Signal Link and a few small acessaries. I use it frequently with a hamsticks in a diapole configuration - see my pictures on qrz.

Also I highly recommend the after market end plates and protective cover and the wonderful KX3 book by Fred Cady KE7X
VE4MM Rating: 5/5 Oct 27, 2013 18:56 Send this review to a friend
Amazing Receiver  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought one a few months back just to check it out.

I also have an ICOM IC7800 (since Jan 2005) and this little radio's receiver is on par with the ICOM.

For $1000, this is a great value.

Thumbs up!

Mike, VE4MM
N0TES Rating: 5/5 Oct 26, 2013 11:29 Send this review to a friend
Marriage of the KX3 & "Alpha Loop" antenna is a perfect match!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
In 1979 I was licensed as KA0GNX and operated only CW on a Ten Tec Century 21 for two decades at 75 watts with various wire, vertical and beam antennas. In 1999 I began trying out many different "base" radios and "small" antenna systems, in search of the best combination that would fit my lifestyle of visiting family, overnighting it at hamfests, vacationing in Central America, and sitting on my back porch. Elecraft began showing up at hamfests, a trait that I respected, specifically because I am the owner of another US Amateur Radio manufacturing company (Alpha Antenna).

When i first saw the KX3, I truly felt it might be the perfect radio for my lifestyle, but there just didn't seem to be an antenna that was as perfect as the KX3's pro-ported performance and technical specifications. So, I set out to design a "small" transportable antenna that would perform to the technical specifications of the KX3. Once the antenna was nearing completion I ordered the KX3, which was pretty pricy, but I thought what the heck...if it doesn't work out, these things resell for about the same price as I am spending, so I purchased it.

Nearly a year has passed, and I can tell you that I have fell in love with what must truly be the most perfect radio ever created!! Not since the bands were open "back in the day" have I made such numerous world-wide contacts on a radio and antenna that are built to actually operate in every aspect with each other! Finally! Ham radio is fun again!!
M0SER Rating: 5/5 Oct 21, 2013 17:27 Send this review to a friend
The best rig I've owned... by far.   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've owned quite a few rigs over the years and this is my favourite by a long stretch.

I am a 'casual' CW OP and very much enjoy /p and for me, this rig is unsurpassed. With the build in tuner, paddles and batteries it takes seconds to get on the air from any /p location. The ATU will tune anything and with the Mono Band G-Whip antennas it is an amazing setup.

WV4M Rating: 5/5 Oct 21, 2013 15:23 Send this review to a friend
I love this little radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought a KX3 used (April 2013 production lot - almost new). Boy what a radio. I cannot believe how well this radio operates for its size. The radio has the built in antenna tuner (highly recommend), internal battery pack, and roofing filter. I also have the iambic paddle. I am using it as a base station right now with an outboard Tokyo Hy-Power linear. But on 12 watts barefoot, I was amazed to work into Europe and South America using only a G5RV dipole. Buy one and you should be a happy camper (and take it camping too!).
KE7TMA Rating: 4/5 Oct 19, 2013 18:00 Send this review to a friend
It's my main station now.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought this radio on a whim one evening, after becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the QRM-fighting capability of my FT-817ND. Don't get me wrong, the little Yaesu is a fine rig in its own way, and it was essentially the only thing available that was that small when I purchased it. However, I grew dissatisfied with the lack of DSP, the small choice of filter widths, and the fact that adding an amp and tuner at the same time would be expensive and fiddly at best.

The KX3 arrived in 2 days. I ordered the roofing filter soon after and added it quickly, completing the alignment without issue. Since then it's been nothing but pleasure for me with a few very minor nitpicks.

First, the nitpicks: It doesn't seem to like to charge the battery straight off my solar panel (Goal Zero) but a voltage regulator cured that issue. Another nitpick is that the AM BCB / SWL audio fidelity isn't as good as the Yaesu, but this is primarily an amateur rig with SWL as a bonus. I guess my final nitpick would be what appears to be slightly reduced sensitivity on the 10m and 6m bands compared to the lower bands.

Positives include VERY long operating time using the internal NIMH AA capability, the very wide range of input power that it accepts (I used a "broken" lead acid deep cycle battery that would only charge to 10.8 volts for 2 weeks straight and it only dropped 0.1 volt in output over the period) and the very effective filtering, noise reduction, and APF functions. The onboard RTTY / PSK31 is awesome! You need to spend many thousands of dollars to find such a capability in other radios. The CW decode is really effective, and operation is a no-brainer. I do look upon the lack of USB keyboard input as a bit of a mixed blessing. Of course it'd be nice to just type in your messages on a keyboard in any of the modes supported (including CW!) but this lack has caused me to finally get off my butt and as a scorned "no-code" tech I am now learning the code and joining the ranks of the unwashed masses of old-Navy CW operators!

The ATU is very effective, matching lots of different antennas. The receiver is of course amazing even on 6m and 10m, where it beats my other radios (the FT-817 and an FT-450) by a country mile. On the other bands there is no comparison at all, as the KX3 will receive CW that the other radios can not even hear on the same antenna setup, and even decode them even at 50 WPM!

I would recommend this radio to a new operator. It's the only HF transceiver you need - even without the amplifier / tuner combo that Elecraft makes you will make many QSOs, and it is more economical than buying a slew of rigs and eventually deciding to upgrade. Wayne Burdick, the main engineer and one of the heads of the company, sent me an email thanking me for the purchase, and even answered a question I submitted over email almost immediately. Try emailing the head of Kenwood, Icom, or Yaesu sometime, I dare you!

I will add one small note: Many people online seem to say that, while the receiver is great, "for small portable antennas this isn't really important." I would say, quite the opposite! With small portable antennas, made of bailing wire or bell wire or whatever you have, a very sensitive receiver is extremely helpful - you can't work 'em if you can't hear 'em and on a compromised antenna, you need all the help you can get.

You can pry this radio from my cold dead hands!
G3XNG Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2013 09:11 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After looking closely at this rig, I've followed the feedback reports on E Ham for many months. Because they were so overwhelmingly positive, I bought one fitted with the auto ATU. I wasn't disappointed with my purchase either.
After years of being a semi QRO op, I have seen amazed at what I can work on 5w and that includes several stateside QSO's on CW. Although usable straight out of the box, it is advisable to take time and read the manual to get the best out of the rig and your investment. Whereas I have only used it on CW, the designers seem to have thought of everything - hence the need to read the manual.
I will continue to read the feedback reports, but I'd recommend this wonderful, and popular rig to anybody.
VE2AKS Rating: 4/5 Sep 30, 2013 06:02 Send this review to a friend
Very good performer  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I own the KX3 for more than 3 months now and I used it several times in SOTA or in the field with a buddipole (dipole configuration at full height). Simply speaking... this is a very good portative radio. I won't detail the pros here, many of you did before and QST reviewed it. I personally had an experience with Electraft support : very positive. The rig is also actively supported and every firmware release gives its bunch of new features... Plus... Linux support! :-)

Now why I would not give it a 5 (minor issues but nothing is perfect). Mainly :

- Noise reduction/blanking commands are on the same button as the preamp and attenuator, it is easy to play on the wrong control... It could have been put on another control like two buttons under RIT/XIT ;

- The internal speaker tends to make the rig vibrate (okay I use headphones most of the time, very minor issue).

- Integrated PSK/RTTY is not usable if you are not a CW operator (hard to work with no waterfall display) but remains a nice feature. In those times where RS-232 tends to disappear from the personal computer market a direct USB Plug allowing to connect one of those super portative keyboards might have been better ?

- Radio manual is okay but too "dry", I bought the Fred Cady/KE7X's book "The Elecraft KX3", plenty of crusty details there even for a long time owner.

- Stock mike seems a bit deaf if used too far away from your mouth, also I would have appreciated a mention of recommended gain settings in the KX3 manual ;

Again those are far from being show stoppers, more
a matter of personal preferences. Would I recommend this very cool little radio ? Yes definitely. So far I worked in SSB with some stations located in the US and some DX stations in Europe, Russia and South America, no problem at all with 5-10 Watts just a matter of antenna and propagation conditions. RS reports ranged from 59 to 34, if the station does not hear then it is for me at this time.

Would I buy the companion KXPA100 ? No I prefer to invest the time on learning how antennas and propagation works or on a separate HF QRO radio.

If you don't have the budget for a full featured K3, KX3 is a really a good choice you can even use it with SDR software on your computer since the radio has I/Q outputs.

KG6EYC Rating: 5/5 Sep 23, 2013 23:35 Send this review to a friend
Awesome portable rig!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Bought this to replace my FT-817. After almost a year using this little baby I wondered how I lived life without DSP, roofing filters, and a built-in tuner.

The firmware is continuously being tweaked and improved by people who listen to their customer base. I mean what better way to make your product the best it can be by listening to the people who just use the heck out of it.

If you decide to get one (and by all means, you wont be sorry) DO spend the extra cash and get the ATU option. It has gotten a match on anything I throw at it and you are doing yourself a disservice by NOT getting the ATU.

If you are a K3 owner, the learning curve with this rig will be almost zero.
CR7AFI Rating: 5/5 Aug 28, 2013 15:11 Send this review to a friend
Just Outstanding!   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Build the KX3 kit 6 months ago. 4 hours of real enjoyment with no problems on assembling with the help of an excellent manual.
As everyone reports, receiver is outstanding as is the internal tuner and filters together with the software upgrades kiping the rig always updated at zero cost.
Since the assembling day my KX3 has been used together with a Par End Fedz antenna and a Buddistick, making the perfect QRP station for contacts arround the world. I am having big fun in and outside the shack.
My congratulations to the Elecraft team for this excellent product.
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