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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Elecraft KX1 Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KX1
Elecraft KX1 Reviews: 90 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $279
Description: A unique 3-band HF CW transceiver optimized for backbacking and lightweight travel; only 9 oz., 1.3"H x 5.2"W x 3"D. Includes DDS VFO, internal battery, optional internal automatic antenna tuner, plug-in keyer paddle. Covers entire 20/30/30 m ham bands (30 m optional), plus SWL segments.
Product is in production.
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VR2XMC Rating: 3/5 Dec 16, 2014 07:47 Send this review to a friend
Great little radio but rooms for improvement in the manual  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently built a Elecraft KX1 for a local ham in VR2 who cannot DIY himself due to some reasons. This KX1 comes with the KXB3080 30/80 module and KXAT1 ATU module.

The construction of the basic KX1 was straight forward and required less skill than K2. Although the manual of KX1 is well written, it does not clearly take into account the possibly of the future construction of KXB3080 and KXAT1. This is the major deficiency of the manual and I would not expect that from Elecraft after constructing many K2s in the past.

The space tolerance with the installation of KXB3080 and KXAT1 is very tight especially near the low pass filters L1 & L2 area. Therefore, the construction manual of KX1 should forth warn and draw the builder great attention.

Page 32 of the KX1 manual, C46-C49, C54 should be soldered at the top (i.e.component) side with all the legs cut flush at the bottom side. This will give more space for the future installation of LPF1 (tiny PCB) of KXB3080.

The tiny LPF1 pcb of KXB3080 is to be situated in the tight space formed between the C46-C49& C54 area of KX1 and R3-R4 & C10 area of KXAT1. Therefore, Page 3 of KXAT1 manual, R3, R4& C10 should be soldered on the component side and cut flush on the other side.

Finally, back to performance, KX1 is a real nice little QRP radio with good RX selectivity and sensitivity. However, the radio is very expensive when you add up the KXB3080 and KXAT1. Try to compare with K1, K2 and KX3 in terms of price Vs performance before making your purchase decision.
KL7CW Rating: 5/5 Aug 21, 2014 11:01 Send this review to a friend
Still my favorite radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my KX1 about 10 years. I have found its 1.5 W output with internal cells very satisfactory especially for my travels to Europe the UK and in populated areas of the US. A set of lithium cells lasts an estimated 30 hours (I listen more than transmit). My favorite feature is the internal antenna tuner which enables me to operate effectively in the field on 20, 30, and 40 meters with a simple 26 ft piece of wire and one or two 17 foot counterpoise wires or often just a ground wire clipped to a metal picnic table. I have other small rigs, but this is the one I backpack and travel with. The companion paddle is "OK" for portable use, but most of us
prefer other keys for more extensive home use. Many QRP folks (backpackers included)prefer a full 5W QRP rig, but I find the 1.5W internal cells and 3 or 4 watt external cells quite satisfactory. Rick KL7CW Palmer, Alaska
WI6T Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2014 12:07 Send this review to a friend
Elecraft repair service  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built my KX-1 about eight years ago with the ATU and 30 meter option. Performed perfectly. About two weeks ago the display partially failed. I did not have the test gear to clearly identify the problem. Took advantage of the Elecraft repair service. Outstanding! Fantastic turnaround time for the repair, a complete "tune-up", and a full report of everything done. You may save yourself some frustration by using this repair service. I would be pleased to share my experience if you wish; send an e-mail to me at rexg at aol dot com. Simply stunning service. Rex WI6T
VK7JB Rating: 5/5 May 4, 2014 06:23 Send this review to a friend
Pure CW fun...  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built my KX1 about 2 years ago and later dropped in the 30/80m module and the internal ATU. It's part of a collection of QRP rigs in my shack, but the little KX1 is special - it's my favorite QRP rig. Why? - the receiver is exceptional; it's a tiny, lightweight package, but robust for portable use; it's configurable and feature-packed, but intuitive to operate and most importantly, this rig has given me hours and hours of listening and CW pleasure. Through good quality headphones, the audio is remarkable in its clarity and timbre and the filtering is effective for such a simple design.

From VK7, I've worked 50 entities with this rig, without really trying, and all with simple wire antennas supported by fishing poles. Output is 3W on all 4 bands using a 12VDC external power source and that's enough to do the job while being current thrifty - ideal for portable operating.

The KX1 embodies CW fun. It's a gem to use and was fun to build too. I might even build another....


KC7YRA Rating: 5/5 Apr 28, 2014 16:37 Send this review to a friend
Astonishing radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased my KX1 kit several months ago. Summer is extremely fleeting in Wyoming and I needed to have a radio ready for hiking.

Once received, I started assembly immediately. Let me preface this by pointing out that I am not an experienced builder. However, I consider myself a decent solderer with experience on thru hole repair, and I can follow instructions.

The assembly went fairly well. I discovered a missing capacitor, which Elecraft quickly mailed out once I pointed out the error. I did have a few sections that I needed to read through several times before performing the task described. Some of the language was not written how "I" would prefer, but I think it did a great job of breaking everything down for even the most timid of builder.

Once assembled, I had a problem though. The receiver worked, but I was not getting the correct transmit power out (no output actually). I spent a few days with emails back and forth, followed by phone calls.

Tech support was EXCELLENT. Not only are they very competent about their products, but they obviously have a true love of ham radio. I found conversations drifting away from the build, and into DXing and contesting.

After quite a bit troubleshooting, I got a bit frustrated with the project. I simply did not have the time to keep going. Fortunately, Elecraft has a repair service. I sent my radio in where a few minor build errors were found. My eyes simply cannot read the capacitor values very well.

With radio in hand (and functional), I put it onto the air. WOW!! I was and still am blown away by the receiver. With simple RF Gain and "Filter" adjustments, any band condition is easily dealt with. Even attached to large, multi element beams, the little receiver held it's own. The receive capability absolutely blows away the Ft-817, IC-703, and several other popular QRP rigs.

On the transmit side, the radio put out a clean signal at it's rated power. Current draw is nil at most and miserly at best. With internal batteries, you can run at the 1-1.5 watt level for hours.

Most recently, I had my KX1 on 20 meters, playing in the Florida QSO Party. A lot of fun and very capable.

All in all, despite my build frustrations, I love this rig. I will give it's mechanical strength a test this summer.

This is my first Elecraft product, but it won't be my last.
KG9H Rating: 5/5 Jun 10, 2013 13:03 Send this review to a friend
Excellent little radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I also did not make mine but bought it used. (Hope this is not a trend - see the other postings below.!)
In any event, I had a small issue - sent one email to the support group and Gary nailed it in one email. This radio is an amazing performer. I will now be selling the others, this one now fits the bill. Excellent performance, excellent technical support. Thank you. Frank KG9H
M0JHA Rating: 5/5 Apr 27, 2013 03:14 Send this review to a friend
great rig  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This rig has fun written all over it .I have had mine for a few months now . I didn't build mine but would like the oppotunity to build one . I can't really put any downers on the thing EXCEPT maybe a little wider tuning range on the atu . This really is a great radio for having some simple , lightweight stress free operating. As others have said , a small battery or even the internals will do , a key and a wire and your in business .. This isn't my main radio but i wouldn't be concerned in the slightest if it had to be . I have the HB1B also which is great but the KX1 wins because of the tuner and batteries which actually fit inside the case unlike the HB1B..
K2JF Rating: 5/5 Jan 12, 2013 09:13 Send this review to a friend
Heck of a receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had just about every QRP radio known to mankind: K1, HW 7,8,9, Small Wonders, Icom 703 etc. I got this one because of a trip I have planned to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico this week. I set it up on my desk and because of my familiarity with menus on other radios I had little trouble getting it going. I connected it to my parallel dipole at 100 feet on top of my NYC apartment building and made a couple of contacts using a gel cell battery at 1.3 aH. Obviously that's NOT the antenna I'm bringing on my trip. I'm going to bring a random wire and also an EARC 10-40 meter antenna. But what blew me away was a little test I did here. I have a 756 Pro III which to me has a great receiver. I did a A-B test finding a signal on the Pro III and then switching to the KX1 to see how it sounded. I was amazed. The Pro III is much more versatile but how these folks at Elecraft figured a way to put such a hot receiver into this little box is beyond me.
K0JQZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 3, 2013 05:46 Send this review to a friend
Great Trail Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built my KX1 and it was fun to build. The manual is well written and the instructions were clear. I had one part missing and an email to Elecraft had the part on the way the next day, no questions asked.
I have used the KX1 extensively over the summer doing Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations. I have used it with many different portable antennas (End Fed, Buddistick, doublets and linked dipoles) and have had a lot of fun with it. I have used it (with the VFO lock feature) in my pocket with external paddles when there was nowhere to sit.
I recently purchased a KX3 so the XYL would be able to join in on the SOTA fun using SSB however, if it was not for the XYL, I would keep using the KX1 for my main go to radio for outdoor activity. I now keep it in my truck and use it on lunch breaks or on solo SOTA activations.

1. Small
2. Ultra-Light weight
3. Rugged (It has been dropped many times / snowed and rained on and it below freezing temps)
4. Built in tuner (makes it easy to use a variety of different antennas)
5. Low power consumption (receive and transmit)
6. Has 30 and 20 meters (two of my most used bands)
7. Ability to change VFO tune rate
8. Easy to change WPM / use R.I.T. / and adjust the filter, without going through a menu
9. Attachable paddles

CONs: (this is more of a wish list)
1. Knobs: Just my preference but I find that buttons instead of knobs makes for a better “trail friendly” radio. However, the VFO LOCK feature is helpful so this is really just a personal opinion.
2. Digital Readout: More digits on the freq readout (I tend to get confused above 10,000 feet)
3. Battery: Take advantage of new battery technology (Li Po etc) with a balanced charger and/or solar option (I have found myself using small LiPo packs used for remote control cars and planes and they provide enough longevity for several hours of use.
4. Band choice: (80 Meters is almost useless to me for portable work due to antenna size) I would like to have the ability to choose the bands and if I could choose 40, 30, 20, 17 and/or 15 meters. That is more of a personal choice based on my usage and antenna deployment.
5. The memory keyer does not allow for many characters. Barley enough for a short CQ.

I will not compare it to the FT 817ND since that is a very different radio. I have used a FT-817ND and found it lacking or my purposes (heavy, battery consumption, poor CW performance and menu system) however, I am sure it works fine for others. The closest radio I have to the KX1 is the ATS4b
The ATS4 is cheaper, harder to build, more bands, no tuner, buttons instead of knobs, less power consumption, no filter, smaller and lighter and menu system extensive. If I used a tuned antenna the ATS4 is my choice. For everything else the KX1 is the go to radio.
The KX1 is one of my favorites and I will continue to use it. It has replaced my K1 and I will take it on the trail if the XYL is not with me over the KX3 due to size, weight and the fact that I do not operate SSB much.
Thanks Elecraft for a great trail radio.


M3KXZ Rating: 4/5 Jul 5, 2011 12:42 Send this review to a friend
Lots of fun  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
OK, I didn't build mine - I bought it second hand, fully loaded with 4 bands, atu, zero-beat mod and the key.

So far I am very happy with my KX1 and enjoying using it. And I definitely won't be parting with it. The performance is excellent, and after a little playing around the menu and other controls are very easy to use. The built in atu also works very well.

From operating the radio, the only thing that disappoints me sometimes is the key. I am so used to using the Palm Mini Paddle with my FT817ND, that I can't get to grips with the feel of the KX1 key, which sometimes causes me to send characters wrong.

But, I worry about even the very slightest bit of light rain. I don't feel that the KX1 is as well suited to backpacking/camping/operating on the beach etc as my FT817ND. At least with the FT817ND I can wipe off any slight dampness and feel fairly confident that the inside is still dry. And with the more delicate nature of the KX1, I always feel a need to keep it in the small Pelican case that I got with it. This actually makes the package almost as large and heavy as my FT817ND + Elecraft T1 atu. This, for me, kind of defeats the object when it comes to having a radio I can just sling in a bag and whip out on top of the hill.

HOWEVER, these concerns are more than compensated for by having a radio that makes me use CW only and I can run for hours and hours from a small LiPo battery pack.

I certainly won't be parting with either the FT817ND or the KX1 - I love both of these radios. They're both very different, but both so much fun.
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