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Reviews Categories | Antenna Tuners | Elecraft KAT500 Automatic Antenna Tuner Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KAT500 Automatic Antenna Tuner
Elecraft KAT500 Automatic Antenna Tuner Reviews: 21 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $$650 (kit); $700 (assembled)
Description: The KAT500 is a high-power autotuner that can be used with the K3/KPA500 and all other HF amplifiers and transceivers. Typical matching range is 10:1 on most bands at 500 W, and 3:1 at up to 1000 W.

- Frequency counter for autotune and auto antenna selection
- 3 antenna jacks with front-panel or remote selection
- SWR bargraph
- Automatic band switching
- Over 10,000 memories covering 1.5 to 60 MHz continuously
- Stores tune settings for each antenna on every band
- L-network with very high-Q capacitors for low tuner loss
- ATU safely interrupts amplifier key-line during tune
- Same width and depth as the K3/KPA500; just 1.5" tall
- Available factory assembled or as a no-soldering kit

Product is in production.
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W9DJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2013 19:40 Send this review to a friend
Great Product!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought the KAT500 kit along with the EPA500 amplifier kit at Dayton. The KAT500 kit is very straightforward with clear directions. It took me about 3 hours to assemble the tuner, and it worked perfectly the first time, unlike most of my Heathkits, which usually needed to let some smoke out first. The only trouble I encountered was positioning one of the rear coax connector lugs properly. It took a little pushing and tugging, but was not a big deal. The tuner has great matching capability, and matched my 160 meter loop on all bands, 160-6 meters. I have no way to measure losses, but I did not observe any heating when using it with the KPA500 amp (500-600 watts out). The tuner can take quite a while to tune when it goes to a new frequency, but the memory function allows instant recall later. When it's tuning, it is a bit noisy. Of course, it is not just a tuner, but also an antenna switch, and will automatically pick the antenna you specify for each band (up to three antennas). My next step will be to try to monitor and operate the tuner over the internet, though it should be operable without intervention; however, it provides a great deal of data on the serial port (matched and unmatched SWR, frequency, tuner inductance and capacitance settings). Another home run from Elecraft.
KC3OU Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2013 08:22 Send this review to a friend
Good for QRP too  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had the tuner for about a month now, and I was happy to discover that I can use it with my QRP rig as well. What I did was go through each band 20 kHz at a time and let the tuner tune and memorize the frequency. Now it will tune instantly with 5w from my Ten-Tec Argonaut VI. Nice tuner, Elecraft!
K0IMI Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2013 14:41 Send this review to a friend
Works like a charm  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
My KAT500 completes my K-Line perfectly. I have had it in line with my K3 and KPA500 for 3 months now. This is like running a 500 transceiver. The three pieces of equipment communicate and coordinate perfectly.

The antenna is a GAP Challenger and the KAT500 tunes it to an SWR under 1.5:1 on all bands in no time at all.

Assembly was easy - done in one evening - and everything went together just as it should. (Normal for an Elecraft kit.)
WO4K Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2013 10:38 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Antenna Tuner and Great Customer Service!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently I purchased a factory-built KAT500 antenna tuner and W-2 watt meter to complete my K-Line. My previous tuner was an LDG AT-1000 PRO. The KAT 500 works great. I can highly recommend it. It will tune the proverbial wet noodle. But what has been truly exceptional is the customer service from Elecraft. My story:

After working great for several weeks after purchase from Elecraft, this past weekend I could not get the KAT500 to tune my K3 to the DXtreme Optimax end-fend long wire antenna. (I'm renting a house, need to have a low profile antenna.) I could not get a low SWR even into a bucket-of-oil dummy load.

So yesterday evening I emailed Elecraft and recited my problem, thinking the KAT500 antenna tuner had gone south. Not only did I receive a prompt reply today, but this afternoon David from Elecraft customer service spent well over an hour on the phone with me, walking me through a series of diagnostic procedures.

Through David's patience, humor, very thorough diagnostic process (and my dummy load), we were able to determine the fault was not in the KAT500 antenna tuner at all, but rather in a short piece of RG213 coax that went from my Alpha Delta antenna switch to the window antenna pass-through. That 24 inch piece of coax had failed and was causing the off-the-chart SWR.

I had read about Elecraft's legendary customer service, but today I got to experience it first hand. In an era where customer service is usually an afterthought, Elecraft sets their own bar high. I have never experienced this level of customer service from a ham radio manufacturer.

So if you are sitting on the fence, wondering which antenna tuner to purchase, go for the Elecraft KAT500. More expensive? Yes. But it's a great product and Elecraft's customer service makes it a solid investment.

KY6R Rating: 5/5 Feb 17, 2013 20:03 Send this review to a friend
Very Pleased  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The tuner tunes all of my antennas and works flawlessly with my complete K-Line (K3, P3, KPA-500 and KAT500).

Best system / rig I've ever owned by a long shot.
WH6HI Rating: 5/5 Feb 6, 2013 21:49 Send this review to a friend
High Quality Automatic Antenna Tuner  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Simply stated, the KAT500 works as specified by Elecraft. This unit is a factory built one and was received in perfect working order and It was easy to set up using the available utility software. The utility SW allows you to put this tuner anywhere you want, except for outdoors as it is not weather poof. I use it with a Flex3K SDR transciever which drives a KPA500 Amp and they all work very well together. The PTT set up is great in that it allows the Flex to control the tuner and amp as a combined unit. The KAT500 tunes my antennas on all bands with no problems or complaints. Which is something the tuner it replaces could not do. It's ability to fine tune is much appreciated. Once the KAT500 learned my antennas, tuning became lightning quick. Elecraft equipment is expensive, but you do get your moneys worth.
N8DDW Rating: 5/5 Jan 30, 2013 20:03 Send this review to a friend
Works Perfect (Like all my Elecraft gear)!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently built the new KAT500 to complement and complete my K3 station. I'm a guy who was a solid Ten Tec fan, right up until I built the KPA500 which then led me to sell my Orion II and go K3, and P3, now KAT500 too! Elecraft gear takes me back to my early days as a ham when Heathkit was still around and drooling over the latest Heathkit and Radio Shack catalog were the highlights of my day! Like all Elecraft gear, assembly is easy and while this kit only saves you $50.00 it gives you the sense of accomplishment that harkens back to yesteryear! I'm becoming very biased I must admit. Elecraft to me is what Ten Tec was to Ham Radio 30 years ago (young and fresh with great gear). The KAT500 works flawlessly and in perfect harmony with my KPA500, K3 and P3. I love the easy software updates and the seamless way Elecraft gear works (reminds me of Apple products). Another great piece here. So long LDG Pro II, hello KAT500! 73' Adam N8DDW
W4ABF Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2013 05:46 Send this review to a friend
Awesome Performer  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After using a big name brand and $$ auto tuner for a couple of years, it was time to find a tuner that worked consitently. The KAT 500 fills this need perfectly. Assembly is easy, instructions are clear. I lost a switch cover during assembly and was promptly sent a replacement. My customer service experience with this company has been off the charts (I also own a KPA500 amp). Automatic band switching (it interfaces with the KPA500), configurable antenna selection (connectors for 3 antennas), 100% remote control via PC (as with the KPA500), and more. This unit will tune antennas my other tuner was unable to. I have 2 antennas, a Carolina Windom 80 that I thought was defective as my other tuner often had trouble matching it, and a Traffie HexBeam which, though the SWR is less than 1.5 between 6-20M, was problematic at times with the other tuner. I get 1:1 on the Traffie 6-20M and close to that with the CW 80 now. It even gives me a good match on 30-80M on the Traffie (which is cut for 10-20M) - I worked Australia (from NC) long path on 80M with the Traffie, but not intentionally, thinking I was connected to the CW 80. Granted, the unmatched SWR on the Traffie at 40/80M is 9:1, but the KAT500 brings it down to 1.5:1. Not an efficient way to radiate RF, but it did protect my rig from my error and makes the Traffie useable as a backup if needed. I have used this tuner with my FLEX 5000, SB102, KWM2, and a Yaesu FT-857d. What can I say - it just works!
W1NEJ Rating: 5/5 Dec 15, 2012 15:25 Send this review to a friend
Easy to build, works great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This tuner tunes like any tuner does, although it will tune my 40 meter OCF on 80 meters and my old tuner did not. However, what makes this so nice is that you can configure any of three antennae outputs as the preferred antenna on a band-by band basis using the utility app that you run on a PC.

Put it together in about an hour and a half with no problems whatever.

Once it learns the tuning configuration, it just switches to the correct antenna as soon as I switch bands on my K3, but I understand that it will also automatically switch bands as soon as you key your radio since it knows the frequency you are tuned to, so you do not need a K3 for this function.

The utility also shows you which of 8 capacitors are selected, which of 8 inductors are selected, and if the capacitors are connected to the transceiver side or antenna side of the inductors.

You also run the keying line for your linear through the KPA500 and your linear will be kept from operating while the tuner is doing the tuning.

This has really made my K3/P3/KPA500/KAT500 work like it is a 500 watt transceiver.

And it has typical Elecraft quality.
VK4FD Rating: 5/5 Nov 20, 2012 17:38 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been field testing the KAT500 for some time now utilizing several multiband antennas along with a 4 element triband yagi.

When the unit arrived some time was spent hooking it up and a read of the manual is very helpful in understanding how the KAT500 can be used.

The first step is to connect each of your antennas to the tuner, connect the tuner to both your transceiver and PC/Laptop then open the utility up and set up the communications.

Once you have this working (simple stuff) look at the Utility, click on Configuration and read the instructions as you 'assign' each band to one or more antennas. You are able to also select if you wish to change bands to the "Last Antenna" or to a "Preferred" antenna. You also may want to set up the VSWR threshold level for when you wish the KAT500 to enter 'Bypass' mode, the level of VSWR you want the tuner to do an auto-tune. You can also do a tune at the lower and uperr ends of the bands of interest as well as a few in between to 'teach' the KAT500 segments of each band to be saved into the memory Bins. Application of RF will cause the KAT500 to select the correct antenna/impedance match even if you do not use a K3 or the Auxbus cable for communications between the transceiver and the KAT500.

Once the KAT500 has been 'programmed', your setup can be saved and your configuration saved also. These can be recalled at any time via the KAT500 Utility software provided by Elecraft. The Utility program can then be used to check for future FW updates but in day to day operation is not required of course.

On each band, the KAT500 has a collection of 'Bins' that store in memory the tuner settings achieved after each tune. As you move up and down a given band the KAT500 will select the correct/best settings from these bins if you have the Auxbus cable connected to it from your K3. This utility is really helpful to get your station up and running quickly.

Elecraft have done an excellent job in producing an auto-tuner that is simple to use after the initial setup has been completed. Day to day operation becomes completely seamless.

If you are searching for a robust automatic tuner then look no further as I am sure the KAT500 will not disappoint whatever the transceiver being used. The tight integration with the K3 however does make life so much easier. When switching bands and chasing multipliers up and down the band the KAT500 will protect your amplifier if you are using one (key interrupt line) and the ability to tune a wide range of impedance's means you are getting the best out of your antennas with very low loss levels due to the LC circuitry of the KAT500.

Excellent quality competitively priced and the Elecraft name make this a keeper.

Many thanks to Wayne, Eric, Bob,Jack, Dick and all the great Field Testers who worked hard to give us the KAT500. Take a bow gentleman (and Ladies).

gd dx,
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