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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Elecraft KX2 Help


Reviews Summary for Elecraft KX2
Elecraft KX2 Reviews: 30 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $749 Factory Assembled
Description: The KX2 is a pocket-sized SSB/CW/Data, 9-band, 10 watt
transceiver for portable, SOTA, hand-held, mobile, and home
use. State-of-the-art design provides the features of a
desktop radio in an extremely small, go-anywhere size. Also
ideal for first-time HF operators on a budget.

* 80-10 meters (+RX coverage of SWL bands and 160 m)
* SSB/CW/DATA modes
* 10 W PEP (100 W with KXPA100 amp)
* size: 1.5" x 2.8" x 5.8" (3.8 x 7 x 14.7 cm)
* weight: 13 oz. (0.35 kg)
* Current drain as low as 135 mA
* Li-ion internal battery option (11 V, 2.6 amp hours)
* Advanced DSP provides dual watch, noise reduction, noise
blanking,
autonotch, stereo audio effects, audio peaking filter
(APF)
* Software-defined radio (SDR) architecture for versatility
* Operates in data modes (PSK31/PSK63/RTTY) with or without
a PC
* Free firmware upgrades

Options:

Internal wide-range antenna tuner (KXAT2), internal Li-ion
battery (KXBT2) and matching external fast-charger charger
(KXBC2), attached precision keyer paddle (KXPD2), real-time-
clock with 2 aux outputs (KXIO2), MH3 compact hand mic with
UP/DN buttons, KXPA100/KXAT100 100-W amplifier and ATU.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com
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G4PWO Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2017 12:38 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've been using my KX2 as my main rig since getting back into ham radio at the end of last year, it has incredible performance and feature set for it's tiny size. Combined with a linear amplifier it gave me all the features and performance I needed to make 1,000's of QSOs and run some very big pile-ups in my recent trip to the Maldives as 8Q7PW.

In comparison with the KX3 (which I have also just bought) the KX2 is the better portable rig, apart from being smaller and lighter, the internal battery arrangements are superior, unlike the KX3 the KX2 can transmit at full power for quite a few hours on it's small internal battery.

The KX3 does however benefit from some extra features I found myself wanting such as IQ outputs, top band, the 6m band and the possibility of adding a 2m transverter. The KX3 also has a better receiver - the two receivers are compared here: http://www.remeeus.eu/hamradio/pa1hr/productreview.pdf and also here http://www.sherweng.com/table.html

In both cases, the receiver is a direct conversion design, a downside of this is somewhat poor opposite sideband rejection (only around 60dB) which I personally find a reasonable trade-off for the small size and low power consumption the architecture allows, and in all other respects the performance of this receiver design is very good.

 
F4HPX Rating: 5/5 Jul 2, 2017 15:09 Send this review to a friend
Great SOTA on Indian Ocean   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Finally had a chance to play with KX2 in real SOTA conditions.
Activated two summits in FR/RE land and these were first activations ever done on Reunion Island.
I was working SSB only so was thinking about having little bit more power in case of.
KX2 got a company of small Chinese amp from eBay.
3W out of KX2 from internal Li-Ion battery and 30W out of amp (from acid lead 12V 7AH battery) into an endfed antenna from HyEnd in Netherlands (inverted V on 10m long telescopic pole). The duo was winning as I made 11 QSOs with Japan on 15m band (10.000 kms) with good reports (usually 57).

The receiver was great but I preferred to work with headphones rather than internal speaker.

Looking forward for future activations.

73 Thomas
 
N2QGV Rating: 5/5 Jul 2, 2017 02:32 Send this review to a friend
What a neat little rig..  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
# 1910 arrived two weeks ago. I have had several FT-817's and currently own an IC-703+ (original owner) to compare the KX2 against. Pretty steep learning curve for this radio, but after a day or so operating it is becoming more natural for me as I begin to understand Elecraft thinking and layout. This little rig is the "Bomb".
 
N5GDM Rating: 5/5 Mar 13, 2017 13:23 Send this review to a friend
I am in Love!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got my new KX2 last week and I cannot put it down. Have started carrying with me in my backpack to work and looking for QSOs on my lunch break. I am just beginning to see al that it can do and am so excited to do park benchtop SSB and digital modes (JT65, JT9, WSPR). It is everything the manufacturer says it is. I am planning to revive my CW and PSK. If you are looking for a renewed passion in a small package, this one is for you! Worth every penny.
 
N2DTS Rating: 5/5 Mar 7, 2017 17:46 Send this review to a friend
Great!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a quick initial review by a casual operator who does more listening then transmitting.
I got just the radio, no options yet.
It came with a free hand microphone.
It has the usual compressed Elecraft button/knob/menu setup, but that is to be expected on such a small package. The major stuff is easy to get at and adjust.
The receiver seems to be very quiet, the built in speaker is not bad, it goes quite loud, but the radio really sounds great in headphones.
I made an 80 meter contact on AM with 2 watts carrier out with someone 800 miles away and was 10 over S9, and got good audio reports.
Their audio sounded great in the headphones.

CW operation seems to be all you could ask for, the CW decode works quite well, the amount of letters you get on the screen is small, but the decode works quite well.
Filters are nice, tone is nice, nothing bad about the CW at all.
I set the program function button up as the RF gain, that works out very well.

Another vote to put the mic gain in a menu and not the knob, its not something you would need to change.
One small glitch sort of, the monitor in phone modes operates all the time if enabled, fine when using headphones, feedback with the speaker, but there is likely no way for the radio to know if the headphones are in use or not.
The monitor has a slight delay, but not enough to cause problems, and it sounds good.

Amazing performance in such a small package.
It IS expensive I suppose, but its not a mass produced radio and Elecraft is a small US company that only makes ham gear.
Nice people making nice stuff and they deserve to make a good living.

This COULD be someones only radio, maybe add an amplifier at home, its not missing anything important for HF use...
 
NI0C Rating: 5/5 Jan 1, 2017 21:04 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful-- for travel and home use   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I’ve used Elecraft’s KX1's for about 10 years now, almost exclusively for portable QRP operations. These worked well, but often I found myself needing more power than the available 2-4 watts, especially when using very compromised antennas.

So I purchased the KX2 in August 2016, shortly after they become available. Although roughly the same size as the KX1, it is a multi-mode radio that covers all the bands 80-10 meters, with up to 10 watts output. The receiver has virtually all of the features of my K3, including DSP filtering, NR, NB, APF, and split mode, plus something my single receiver K3 does not have– dual watch.

Although I purchased the KX2 for occasional use on vacation trips, I find myself operating it a lot from home. In fact, it has now completely replaced my trusty K2-10 as the QRP rig in my shack. I like using the dual watch feature– listening to both sides of a pile up using stereo headphones. Both the AGC characteristics and the APF (Audio Peak Filter for CW) sound better on the KX2 than on my K3.

Back in October, I took the KX2 along on a trip to EU, and operated from several hotels using a short (15-22 ft.) wire antenna and counterpoise. The ATU did a good job of matching my antenna on 7 MHz and higher. Propagation conditions were generally poor during this trip, but one afternoon, I caught a good opening on 12m and managed to work a couple of US stations from Portugal, running only 9 watts.

In November, I used the KX2 in a 5 watt QRP ARRL CW Sweepstakes effort. Although the rig does not use a roofing filter, I dialed in sufficient attenuation using the RF gain menu setup to enjoy the contest.

At home, my DC power supply is set to 14.2 volts, and on trips I use either the optional Elecraft internal Lithium battery or a similar external Lithium battery that I purchased from Amazon. The Elecraft charger is bulky and the battery must be removed for charging. Since I typically use short duty cycle CW transmissions, usually with the KX2 power dialed down to the 5 watt QRP level, I have not experienced the excessive temperature rises reported by others.

This radio is packed with features, but housed in a small package, with multi-function controls, so it takes some getting used to. The programmable function key is worth its weight in gold– I wish there were one or two more. I use mine to turn the dual watch feature on and off..

I did not purchase the optional Elecraft keyer paddles– I don’t like the looks or feel of them. My N3ZN Mini-Mite paddles and spare battery fit nicely in the Pelican 1170 case that I use for my KX2.
 
F4HPX Rating: 5/5 Dec 28, 2016 08:56 Send this review to a friend
Great again  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After my previous review I got in touch with Elecraft Customer Service and I have to say they were awesome helping me to fix the issue.
I couldn't be happier to have it back in full working state for Christmas.

I Am looking forward for next portable activation but recently the propagation is not brilliant on higher bands in Western Europe. In meantime still learning and tweaking all settings and completing equipment for next outdoor activities (power supplies and building new portable antennas).

Hope to see you soon from French Alps during winter holidays.

 
K7DXT Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2016 09:26 Send this review to a friend
Small Package…Concentrated Capabilities  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Having 'some fun now' with the KX2 receive a couple weeks ago…so glad I pulled the trigger and got it. My intro into QRP was about 15 years ago with an OHR Explorer II 40 meter rig. Somehow, I never was able to master the QRP thing. In more recent years, I started turning down my 100 watt rigs to 5 watts and making contacts. And that's certainly fun.

But there's something about the minimalist, small, and underdog nature of a committed QRP rig. I looked at a variety of other options and landed on the KX2. After reading so many reports and seeing the photos, I was not shocked at it's diminutive size. I was attracted to the dual personality of both CW & SSB with this radio, though phone is a bit compromised now with band conditions.

First impressions after making a number of contacts…this is a delicate feeling radio, but not flimsy. My Icom 7200 feels robust and commercial, with a feeling of satisfying density. The KX2 does not give such feeling, though it was not intended for that. It is necessarily lightweight for portability. I look forward to getting it into it's 'soon to arrive' home of the Lowepro CS60 case. B&H Photo has them on sale now for $30 w/free shipping. So the 'delicate' description is not a criticism, just an observation of what necessarily has to be.

The most difficult thing to master is the functions of all the buttons and controls. It isn't overly complex, but I find myself going back to the manual often. Like anything, the more you use it, the more acclimated you become. Unfortunately, I sometimes go days without getting on the air with it, so I'm having difficulty remembering what I previously learned. Maybe that has something to do with age too.

My comfortability with the KX2 was enhanced by several other factors…it's an American made radio, there is company longevity, and service should be available for many years to come.

We are living in the 'golden age' of QRP radio right now, with exponential technical advancement beyond just a few years ago. The Elecraft KX2 is proof of that.

My love of the QRP sport is two-fold…I love the life of a minimalist, and l appreciate portability. Though not cheap, the KX2 allows me the opportunity to do what I love. Last night, I made a cw contact over 1200 miles away on half a watt. What a thrill to hear my call sign come back after calling CQ. That's what it's about.
 
2E0TPZ Rating: 5/5 Oct 26, 2016 06:17 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've owned this radio for 2 weeks, its so much fun to use. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a compact HF radio with KX3/K3 features that fits in your pocket.

I found a bug in the firmware and reported it Elecraft. Within a day the support staff emailed me a new firmware update that addressed the small issue that I had. Now THAT'S service! Thank you Wayne, very much.

Very pleased with purchase. If you are thinking about getting one, don't hesitate.

Regards
2E0TPZ
 
HL1ZIX Rating: 4/5 Oct 6, 2016 04:39 Send this review to a friend
Updated review. Great radio, but some issues.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had my KX2 for a month. I could add more glowing reports, because I do enjoy it, but I want to highlight only the negatives. I think that will be more useful to those who read this, so please keep that in mind. I do love this thing, so far.

I feel this radio, for the price, is a solid 4.25 out of 5, but I must give it a 4.

Cons:

1. I have learned that the scan function, which I do use on non-pandapter radios, is virtually useless on the KX2. There is no adjustment for squelch. Even though I have it properly set-up, per manual, and scanning the range I desire, I have no idea what they determine equals a signal for it to stop on. It will stop on random noise, while completely ignoring a 5/8 signal, or stronger. Nobody on the Facebook forum for the KX2 seems to be able to determine a way to set how the radio is triggered by a signal, to stop the scan. Mine just stops on random ghost noises, or very quiet noises, but will completely pass over true signals which are plenty strong. It scans silently, and only makes noise when it finds something, so you do not hear what you are missing. Big thumbs down on this non-working function, and a major disappointment.

2. The KX2 has several open holes which will let rain and dust inside. I do not own the KX3, but I read that it has more holes than the KX3 does. The PGM is wide-open and uncovered. No cover included. The screens are getting reports of dust inside, as there is a tiny gap all around its unsealed edges. This is not something I would consider acceptable on a radio that will cost you close to $1,000 after adding the tuner, and small accessories, and is meant for portability on SOTA trips.

3. The current battery situation is not a con, but rather something Elecraft is working to address. The battery is a Lion, which must be removed somewhat gingerly, to charge externally. Be careful not to damage the tiny speaker wires when doing so. I elected to buy an external 3s (3-cell) Lion, and charger, at half of the cost of the Elecraft battery. I wouldn't have minded paying for the Elecraft battery and charger, but international shipping added $120 due to plane shipping restrictions of Lipo batteries. There was also a backlog for batteries, which was just ending. I will probably find, or buy, an internal battery for it one day. Another battery to consider is the less volatile Lifepro4, and charger, which is fine within voltage specs. The KX2 range allowed is 9v to 15v max. I bought a Samsung 3 cell Lipo battery made by a battery shop, here in Korea, which I use external (slightly larger than the internal, and won't fit inside). I am very happy with this external battery, and it seems to keep me at 10 watts out for 2 to 3 hours, which is the longest I've used it at any one sitting. It is a 2.6ah battery, but has a higher max draw at 7 or 8ah. That max seems to be much better than the internal. Other KX2 owners, who bought the internal, have complained that it only allows 10w for a short time.

4. I pined over paying extra for the Elecraft mic and Lowepro bag. I am actually glad I got the mic, because I like the scan buttons. The internal mic sounds virtually identical to the hand mic, according to a friend across town,and it does not matter, but the internal needs a higher gain setting. Get the mic, but skip buying the bag from Elecraft. It is too expensive, and larger Lowepro models are cheaper online. By the way, there is a Facebook Elecraft KX2 users group which is excellent. One guy rewired a $5 Baofeng mic very easily, and he said it sounds great, with PTT, as well. If you like to tinker, go that route. Elecraft literature explains the mic wiring.

5. The KX2 gets very warm, at higher voltages/amps. There is a pretty wide operating range for voltage. I just work SSB,but this radio would be very, very warm if working digital modes. In fact, the manual says you should not run it above 5w (if memory serves) on digital modes, at all. It seems to run even warmer when plugged into a large desktop-radio type external power supply, compared to 12-ish volt battery. It is fine for SSB, though. Depends on how much transmitting you do, as to how warm it gets. In all honesty, I won't use this much for digital, if I ever do. Heat is an issue inside, but not on battery outside, I have found, if in long transmissions. I also use a 12v, 2.0 amp wall-wort, and that works well for powering at 10w. The wall wort does not get quite as warm as using with a full-sized power supply. I use a Diamond GSV3000 35 amp power supply at home, with this radio, which has 7 amp spring-type outputs at the front, and the KX2 gets warm quickly with this, on transmit.

6. The link for radio updates, given in the Elecraft white paper doc with my radio, was a dead link. This is not a problem, because firmware updates are easily found on their front page website link. Minor notation, here.

7. The screens on the KX2 were coming warped from the factory, and replaced, on early models. The screen is not sealed, and people are getting dust under them. I had what appeared to be condensation appearing under the corner of mine, but it went away.

I will add that all of the glowing reviews below, are true. This is an amazing TINY radio, that I just love. Very well thought-out, in all other respects. Very ergonomic, and well-planned, for its teeny-tiny footprint. Mine was unit 910. They are selling about 10 of these per week, at this time, we think. Another guy got his, and we compared numbers.

I can now enjoy HF in a truly portable package.

Lastly, if I had the money, I would say the KX3 is the better buy. According to the Elecraft tech I spoke to, there is a very slight nod toward the KX3 on receive, and the KX3 has filters and many more upgrade options. The KX3 is upgraded to 15w out, via firmware update. This was to make it more enticing than the KX2. I asked if the KX2 would one day be upgraded to 15w, and the answer was an immediate no. A used KX3 often goes for about the same price as a fully-optioned new KX2, so consider that. The KX3 also has a better quality tuning knob. Look into the differences and decide. As far as sensitivity, my 10w out is not able to work everyone I hear anyway, so any nitpicking over minute sensitivity advantages the KX3 may have, is pointless to me. There might be a very tiny difference to those working CW, but I doubt it. The Elecraft tech even said there was some internal disagreement as to whether there was much receive difference between the MX2 and KX3, although he felt there may be a 1 to 2db difference.

Wondering if you will get an amp? The amps for these rigs cost as much as a new radio, or more, and would ruin the portability, so why bother? Just buy another radio, and keep the Elecraft for portable QRP work. The RMItaly amps are cheaper, but their 300w amp is actually a 90w amp, and anything above 90w is not clean, so keep that in mind. There are tests online confirming this. I would never bother, myself.

By the way, I have had multiple contacts in excess of 5,000 miles, given that I have small mountains and high buildings to work off of. I also build resonant antennas, and get them up high. Works great with a 1/4 wave vertical and raised/tuned radials on a 12m spiderbeam fiberglass pole! I was one letter away from a 12,100 mile longpath contact to CX4DI on this thing, while activating a small mountain in Seoul, on 40m. Wow! Would have gotten him, but was on an inverted-L and not the vertical. Have reached Israel, Germany, and Luxembourg with it, from Korea.

Overall, very happy. But there are flaws.
 
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