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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: 34 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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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.
 
K4JTA Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2016 10:58 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio for its Purpose  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The KX2 delivers exactly what it's designed for. A portable CW/SSB/AM(with beta firmware) transceiver that completely blows away anything else on the market (read FT-817ND with all the DSP options). My KX2 has all of the options.

I have used this radio alongside my IC-7300. There is nothing I can't hear on the KX2 that I can hear on the IC-7300. From talking to Elecraft, the architecture is very similar, if not the same, as the highly admired KX3.

What I like:
- Great CW decoder (useful for decoding those computer generated signals during contests)
- Excellent QSK
- Dual Watch (why doesn't the IC-7300 have this??)
- Control layout and multi-function buttons are well placed in logical locations. Works well considering the size.
- DSP filtering is excellent
- Low power consumption
- The display is large and bright. Amazing compared to a FT-817ND.

What I don't like:
- It gets hot. While activating NPOTA, it wasn't uncommon seeing 50C while operating CW in the park.
- On my KX2, I can hear artifacts of strong (S9+) CW signals about 3-4khz up. Very high pitched and only able to hear when wearing headphones.
- Antenna tuner is OK, but not great. However, I can't mark it down for this as I wouldn't expect this radio to have an excellent ATU considering its size.

Overall, I would buy it again in a heartbeat. This radio could serve as a primary station if space was a limitation or you enjoy 100% QRP (you can use an amplifier if you choose to).
 
N5OFQ Rating: 4/5 Sep 26, 2016 15:41 Send this review to a friend
Nice radio with a few flaws  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I received S/N 1051 this week. My 40m net control gave me a S9 and fine audio. On digital, it's not so stellar. I noticed several stations high to the right (off-scale) on the WSPR waterfall. As I transmitted, there was about a 50 Hz difference from where I selected to transmit and where people actually heard me. After going into the locked menu setting of "REF CAL" and adjusting it by 50 Hz, all is well. However, proper factory calibration could have saved me the time. The second issue is the PA temp has risen as high as 62C using 5 watts on WSPR and JT65/9 with a 1.1 SWR into home-brew loop utilizing reasonable duty cycles. Even 1 watt will crank the PA temp into the 50s. I made sure the screws and case were tight for best thermal dissipation. I will try to find a heat sink solution. I am enjoying the KX2 and but in the digital age, engineering could have better anticipated hams using these with digital modes.
 
G8ZGK Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2016 07:07 Send this review to a friend
Why I bought it  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
There are glowing reports below which I will not repeat, and I also support points 1, 2 & 3 from KE0EYJ. That said, I already have a KX3 and have been a very happy user. Now that I have a KX2 (Ser.No.: 00987), the KX3 + PX3 have become the shack TxRx with my linear amp. The KX2 is now the go-radio with the KXPA100.
I am a regular AM user on a Saturday morning rag-chew net and enjoy being portable with a 10m telescopic fibreglass pole and light wire dipole. This aerial has simple connectors to vary its electrical length and covers 80m to 10m with 60m included. When the KX2 was first announced I decided against buying one because it did not have AM. Now AM has been added I have no excuse, so ordered it from USA + ATU + microphone. UPS delivered it to me in UK in 5 days and handled all the shipping, import paperwork and tax. This saved me £250 instead of buying it from the UK distributor.
I mostly use SSB and AM, being not very competent on CW. Performance (to my ears) is indistinguishable from the KX3 which admittedly does have more bells & whistles, but the ‘smaller, neater, lighter’ is definitely appreciated when carrying it and the aerial uphill. When first received, it took me 3 attempts to load the drivers onto Windows 7 for the software update facility but when done, firmware updates work perfectly. The internal LiPo battery + its charger is expensive, so my choice was for an external 3Ah 4-cell LiFePO4 battery giving 14.60v when fully charged.
This is an amazing tiny radio that I just love. Did I make the right choice. Oh yes.
73, Derf, G8ZGK
 
N9CYS Rating: 5/5 Aug 25, 2016 20:12 Send this review to a friend
Lots of fun in tiny form factor!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was astonished by the performance in such a small form factor. It's less than the size of a 12 oz soda or beer can! So when you liberate youself from comparisons to full-size transcievers, Elecraft did a fine job.

I spent a few days acquainting myself with operation before I took it with on a vacation to west Michigan beaches with a HFp vertical. I also puchased the auto-tuner, key mic and battery.

The speaker is tiny so bring earbuds or a powered speaker. The receiver is sharp on SSB and especiaily CW. Bandwidth is adjustable and easy to listen to.

I had trouble scaring up a CW contact on 40 and 20 for several days on a 12V PS. When the A & K settled down one morning, I threw it all in a backpack and walked the 2 MI to the Lake Michigan beach. Heard several loud nets on 40 SSB and called with a QRP suffix. Broke into nets in N NY, Orlando and TX. With about 5W SSB, on a battery and a compromise antenna.

Haven't had this much fun in years! With a HF xcviever the size of a beercan! Fun factor is a 10!

 
K6MTS Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2016 14:51 Send this review to a friend
YES!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently found out about the KX2, reviewed, ordered, waited...waited, and yes, it is all I thought it would be. I have the KX3 and have taken backpacking and it worked flawlessly, but still a bit large for that purpose.

The KX2 is much less in size and weight, with just a few less features. Mine has all options (less keyer as I'm not CW competent....yet). The new internal battery lasts a long time, and I also use external Li-Po batteries. To save almost 2 oz less than the MH3 mic, I rewired a Baofeng HT mic, works great.

This thing has similar size/weight to the X1M, but is in an entirely different quality/feature category.

Only gripes: Using ALC meter and unintended changes to the Mic Gain setting is a bit of a pain, marginal speaker, but better than KX3 buzzbox.

Just got back last night from 7 day Sierra backpack trip with my new little buddy, and to sum it up all I can say is, I love this radio!
 
N7KM Rating: 4/5 Aug 12, 2016 10:00 Send this review to a friend
Works very well  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I would usually wait a while longer to write this review but I notice there aren’t many written by typical non field test users. I’ve had KX2,for about a month and have used it camping portable and as a fixed rig. I also have a K3, K1 and a KX3 all of which I truly enjoy using, I am not a novice at QRP.

The transmitter is well designed, the unrequested SSB audio reports are outstanding, and this is a great little SSB rig. On CW the quality of the keyed note is clean, easy to listen to and the keyer is excellent. The decoding and conversion from CW paddle to PSK/RTTY transmit works well and is a neat usable feature.

I use both internal and external batteries and I really like the new battery AMP HRS discharge monitor which lets you easily monitor the battery discharge rate. The monitor coupled with the easy in/out internal battery makes it easy to effectively manage battery resources.

I have very large hands and old eyes and have no problem using the controls or reading the display. The rig is nicely laid out. The menu is very intuitive; easy to learn with a nicely written manual as a learning guide.

The receiver is very good but not great. Being a CW guy, at first I was frustrated with the lack of a manual RF gain control. The jumps in sensitivity level between ATT, Preamp and unaided are very large and the AGC ramps up both signal and noise so it’s unpleasant to use at low signal levels. I later found I could program the programmable button to go directly to the RF GAIN menu setting. This makes it possible to manually adjust the RF gain on the fly. This is less convenient than an always present knob, but very usable. The CW filters are very good for general use but not as good as the KX3.

There are a lot of pros related to this radio and very few cons. Most cons are personal preference items like having the MIC gain where you can inadvertently screw it up instead as a set and leave item. To me the major con is the audio output. The radio will produce a ½ Watt of audio; the small speaker won’t comfortably handle any usable volume level. The KX3 and K1 shine in comparison. When the AF gain is adjusted upward towards a usable level (even indoors in a quiet room) the CW AF sounds raspy. Adjusting the RX EQ to compensate helps but the audio is a little tiring to listen to at any level. Earbuds are necessary to enjoy operating for any extended length of time.

Over all I like the radio. Using link and end fed dipoles; I’ve already literally worked the world. Its size/weight, low power consumption and battery system make it a winner for field use. **By the way, the $5.95 medium size plastic waterproof containers sold at Walmart sporting goods department is a perfect fit for the radio (wrapped in a fleece cloth), power cable with Anderson connectors and a set of earbuds. Great little rig, in some ways not as smooth to use as a KX3, but a lot of fun. I hope to work with Elecraft to find a fix for the speaker. Other than the audio issue the KX2 is an excellent choice for QRP operators.
I would like to have given a 4.8 but that's not an option, the 4 rating is a little low.
 
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