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

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KX1
Elecraft KX1 Reviews: 87 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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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.
AE5KA Rating: 5/5 Jan 14, 2011 19:28 Send this review to a friend
It Feels Like I'm Cheating  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This was my first kit build after the last of a slew of Heathkits (not amateur radio related) about 35 years ago. I learned a lot about kit building back then, so it probably helped me a lot with the KX1, because everything has worked properly on the first try. After the basic KX1 build, I went ahead with the ATU and 30/80 meter add-ons. As many have said the builds were very straight forward. Even winding the toroids, which I had no previous experience with, was not difficult and the whole process was very enjoyable. As for operating, this thing does wonders for the little unit it is. I've been able to QSO every CQ I've responded to. The simple screw on paddle works amazingly well, though I'm still more comfortable with the portable straight key I can plug in. All by itself it is a fine reason to learn to use Morse code.

I suppose the only real complaint I have is with the relatively high cost of the unit with all the whistles and bells, but frankly even the base KX1 would have made me happy.
WB2LQF Rating: 5/5 Aug 23, 2010 12:59 Send this review to a friend
Simply THE BEST!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I consider myself "average" in all respects, so I'll bet I'm not the only KX-1 owner who has fallen into the trap of underestimating the
capabilities of this little jewel.

Until a couple nights ago, I used my KX-1 like my other QRP rigs, both commercial and homebrew. I kept my expectations rather "reasonable" (in other words, "low") and concentrated on working the louder signals on
the bands. Did quite well, I might add...

On Saturday, I heard a VERY weak "CQ", really down in the noise. The great filtering helped out a lot. I answered K3HX just for the heck of
it and got a 559 report.

I normally use my KX-1 at home, with a Jetstream power supply for 3 to 4 watts out, and a 40 meter full-sized dipole. This was the case on
Saturday night... or so I thought...

Seems I forgot to turn on the power supply. A quick check with the inline wattmeter showed about 400 milliwatts going out. The six "AA"
batteries were pretty well run down and had been in the rig since I built it.

Just wanted to share this for the benefit of any other readers who are may underestimate the KX-1.

N0EVH Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2010 16:40 Send this review to a friend
All in one package  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned and operated my fully equipped KX1 for over four years. Yep, it cost some bucks but you will find all the features you need for a trail friendly radio. I tried to wear out my first set of lithium AA's and finally gave up after two months and replaced them. So if you are out and about alot you have no reason to worry about power sources.

The tuner will match most antennas especially the simple wire ones that are so portable. Everything works as advertised by Elecraft so a great rating of 5 it is. Notice a 5 rating means great, not perfect as some have assumed.

I fabricated an extended bottom case for mine and it holds 8 AA batteries. The increased voltage provides 3 to 5 watts on the trail. Not necessary, but it gives confidence!

So, shop and compare....but be sure to buy something because there are so many great places to operate out there on the trail.

John N0EVH
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