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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Elecraft K3 Help


Reviews Summary for Elecraft K3
Elecraft K3 Reviews: 214 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1,399
Description: ELECRAFT K3 Transceiver
High Performance • 160-6 Meters • 100 W
Dual 32bit DSP, "switched mode mixer"
Factory Assembled or No-Soldering Kit
160-6 meter ham-band coverage; optional general-coverage filters
• High-contrast, full-custom LCD with with alphanumeric text display
• 100-W or 10-W (upgradeable) models
• 32-bit I.F. DSP
• Rich I/O complement (see rear-panel drawing above)
• All modes: SSB, CW, Data, AM, FM
• Built-in PSK/TTY decode/encode allows data mode operation with or without a PC — use CW keyer paddle to send PSK/TTY too!
• High performance DDS/PLL Synthesizer with TCXO reference
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com
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N4EDT Rating: 5/5 Sep 2, 2014 08:11 Send this review to a friend
This is an Outstanding Tranceiver.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had the radio for just one week. The K3 has exceeded my expectations as I moved from an Icom 756ProIII to the K3. The ability to separate desired signals from close in QRM is amazing. It hears very well.

If you are buying this radio I would recommend that you buy the Nifty manual for the K3 and the Nifty manuals for the accessories you have chosen. Use the Elecraft manual at start up to make hardware/cable connections and use the Nifty a manuals as a well organized and easy to access quick start manual.

Plan on investing some time in learning the K3's interface. As I become more proficient in operating the radio I will make some follow up posts.

Not only does it perform well, it takes up less desk space and requires fewer cables.


 
W6WRT Rating: 4/5 Jul 27, 2014 10:34 Send this review to a friend
Good but not perfect  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
There is a lot to like and a few things not to like about the K3. Things I like: First, my favorite thing about the K3 is actually the P3 panadaptor. Far better performance than the Spectrum Scope on my IC-7600. Not even in the same league. Expensive, but worth it. Second is the quality of manufacture of the kit. Everything fits perfectly the first time. Clearly they have taken a lot of care with the mechanical fit and finish. Third, it works beautifully, both transmit and receive. No complaints there at all. Things I don't like: First, the menu system is overkill. There are way too many menu options, most of which you will never use even if you understand what they are for. Do you really need two different ranges for the volume control? Browse the manual and you'll see what I mean. Second, when you add all the options that are standard on other radios it becomes a very expensive radio. For example, it comes with NO mike, not even a hand mike, no antenna tuner, no digital voice recorder, only one roofing filter, no dual antenna connectors, and only ten watts output. The 100 watt amplifier and the other things are all extra cost options, and they are not cheap. The MSRP of $1399 is a joke. I have nearly $4000 into mine and I still don't have an antenna tuner. Third, I really dislike the display. It uses twenty year old technology, right out of the '90s. Even disposable cell phones have a better quality display. They use those annoying seven-segment alphabet characters which are hard to read and ugly to boot. If I had actually seen the display in person before I bought the radio, I might have bought something else, it's that bad. I am giving the K3 a high rating only because it does what it says it does, not because it is a perfect radio. If you can, sit down and play with one before you buy. You might want to wait for the next generation and see if they improve the display. The P3 panadaptor has a state of the art display. Why not the K3?
 
NS0R Rating: 5/5 Jul 15, 2014 17:54 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I used a Kenwood TS-590 for about a year and roughly 12000 QSO's. The 590 is a very good radio. I recently sold a motorcycle and picked up a the K3/KAT500/KPA500 combo and all I can say is that between the K3 and the TS-590 there is no comparison. I am hearing things on the K3 that I never could have on the 590. The receiver is super quiet and the dynamic range is excellent. It is possible to sit within a few Hz of a S9+20 signal and block it totally without any AGC pumping annoyances. I recently used it in the IARU contest and was amazed. Truly a great radio. The tuner, amp and radio work so well together that it is really like having a 500 watt transceiver. You can't go wrong the the K3.
 
OR5A Rating: 5/5 Jul 13, 2014 21:09 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently sold some hi-end rigs to downsize the radio room. I wanted a good station that can compete with most other great radios. I've been reading about the K3 for some years but never got one until recently. I spotted a second hand K3/10 with only one 400Hz filter. After playing with it for some weeks I added the KPA3 100 watt option to make it a K3/100. Also put in two extra filters and the KVR3 voice recorder.

Around the same time I got the Acom 600s and it works great together. I first used the solid state linear amplifier only with 12 watts from the K3/10 and already that was a killer 450 watt combination. The only thing is that when switching to the 100 watt module, it's a bit hard to drive the Acom 600s since this amplifier don't need a lot of drive. Using the 100 watt module the K3/100 does match great with my other Acom 2000a, a really fantastic combination.

Most positive things about the K3's performance has been written before, here are my remarks using the radio for a while:

- I regret the lack of a second antenna input without having to buy the tuner. I have matched antennas and don't need a tuner but want a second antenna connection. Elecraft should have an option to add just the second antenna.

- Using radios like recent Icoms and the latest Kenwood TS-990s I had the luxury to have both an rs232 and CI-V or USB connection so more than just a single connection could be made at the same time to interface a computer, antenna (like steppir or ultrabeam) and an amplifier. I miss that on the K3 a bit but I got one of the amplifiers now connected to the ACC bus using band data.

Things I like that a lot:

- dual headsets or combo headset/speakers
- modular system, start and upgrade later on
- great support, great community around K3
- fantastic cw, good ssb
- direct connection for heil headset
- many options for remote control
- some features not found on any other rig
- lightweight
- compact still very good ergonomics

To me the K3 is a very good performer in many respects. I like the radio a lot. Recommended.
 
VE4AMN Rating: 5/5 Jul 13, 2014 20:38 Send this review to a friend
Value for Money  Time owned: more than 12 months
My previously owned radio was an FT-1000mp, which I enjoyed for 10 years. I have owned a K3 for a year and a half, built from a kit. I have since upgraded it to include the tuner, more filters, the general coverage option and the P3. The K3 sits on the desk along with my TS-830s and other Kenwood hybrids, plus my HW-101 (the nostalgia rig that started me in ham radio).
I will organize my comments into three sections – the build, the operation, and the challenges:
1. The build. This is not a hard rig to build. There is no soldering, but you need to be in a ZEN state of mind. Make sure you have the time and mental space to proceed carefully. Invest in the anti-static mat and wrist strap and proceed carefully and slowly. Stop if you are tired or being interrupted. Once you pass the intermediate electrical checks, you are well on the way. The reward is a radio that comes alive when you press the power on.
Calibration is straightforward, but you need a decent computer, internet and USB cable. Cheap and generic cables (computer, RF, etc.) are a rapid path to frustration.
2. The Operation. Buy the full operating manual by Fred Cady KE7X. The rig is a top performer in all respects. Compared to my Kenwood’s, the audio is light, but this has always been their strength. On headphones, the audio is very good (I use Kenwood HS-5 and Sennheiser HB212 Pro ). I now also use Bose Companion 2 speakers and the sound is full.
Some specific observations include:
• The equalizers on RX and TX, with the monitor function allow me to tailor the audio. I regularly receive unsolicited positive comments on the TX and so comments about not being able to fine-tune the TX audio are a puzzle.
• I really appreciate the ability to slice and dice the RX. Along with a DSP that can be tailored, this rig really shines in managing QRM. The P3 is a brilliant piece of gear for “point and shoot” QSY and isolating signals, especially in CW and digital modes...
• The CW with dual pass band is wonderful, the decode works pretty well… the limit really being the quality of the sending;
3. The Challenge. This rig is not a simple appliance and you can make it perform badly by not adjusting the menus properly. Some of the complaints made here about the audio appear to be by those that have not read the operation manual deeply enough. The tap/touch keys do take some time to get to know. I do find that sometimes I make changes that I need to puzzle my way through.
With pan-adapter and all the options, this rig is about $4000. Given the performance specs and the learning obtained by assembling your equipment, this is great value for money.
 
SV9COL Rating: 4/5 Jun 27, 2014 09:31 Send this review to a friend
Very Good but needs something to be Excellent..  Time owned: more than 12 months
After almost 20 years as ham operator i had the opportunity to try some excellent radios.Im a DXer and Contest operator(SSB CW RY) mostly but also i like the local nets talkin.I decide to go to Elecraft after some tests to a friends k3.I was impressed from the very good receiver & very nice CW qualityI purchased mine new full factory assembly 4 years ago(fits almost all extras except second receiver)cost me apx 3500$ plus shipping plus customs SO you dont say cheap this radio.
K3 is not a just plug and play radio needs couple of settings to be ready for operation.The operator must have the skills and the knowledge to do it.
My impressions...i like
Quiet receiver in ideal contitions without noise
Excellent sensitivity and selectivity on weak signals (CW,Rtty,Data modes)
K3 is Excellent for cw,rtty and digi modes(cw quality is unique crisp & clear).
Excellent NB(really works many options)NR offers variety of options,Notch,very good APF and DPBF.
Very good job with the extra cw filters(mine has the 250&400)very effective
Very good Antenna tunner can tune a wide range
Very useful the cw+rtty+psk decoder
The RS232/usb cable connected to a pc and can easily work data modes &rtty without extra interface
Small & light package so easy can take ideal for portable or dxpedition use.
The service and the communication with Elecraft Team is Excellent
Needs improving
K3 needs improving especially in noisy enviroment. K3"suffers"and is sensitive to Interference from strong signals QRM(Examble during ssb contests or Strong broadcast stations)
and QRN (Unfortunately in my qth is very high sometimes the level is ovel 55dBmicroVolt So good Crash test for tranceivers hihi)
During low bands operation especially at 160 and 80 m i notice some strange spurius radiation and Rfi problems..to K3(100w) compare to FT1K MARK V FIELD and FTDX9KD doesnt exist(test on same antennas) still i dont know why ( i read about a mod with the capacitor but didnt make it)
I dont like
The internal speaker gives poor audio quality especially on SSB sounds shallow and remind me CB.I expected better quality from such a rig(recomment .external speaker or headphones &change settings on RX EQ)
Medium SSB audio quality needs alot of settings with the internal eq(i try alot with heil proset & elecraft standard mic)
I solve ssb problem by using an electret mic for PC the result was amazing.
The ssb extra filters (using 2.1k &1.8k)not so effective as in cw
The total cost of K3 is very high especially adding the extras.
So my conclusion is that K3 is a very good rig but needs some improvements to be done.Radios of reference i owned ELECRAFT K3,ICOM IC 7000,YAESU FT 920,(FT1000 MARK V Field just sold and upgrade to 9KD)FTDX9000D
S u on AIR vy 73/DX Dimis De SV9COL
 
WM6P Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2014 22:07 Send this review to a friend
Best radio I have ever tried.  Time owned: months
Built this from a kit about two months ago. The more I use it, the better it gets. Filtering is outstanding. Controls are very easy to learn. SSB audio reports I receive are flattering.

It is tightly integrated with its matching KPA500 linear amplifier, P3 band scope and KAT500 external 1KW tuner.

Because of its modular design you only have to buy the features you want such as the second receiver or additional roofing filters. These may be added at a later date if you wish. No other rig allows that option. Its size and weight make it both a perfect base or portable rig. Elecraft service department is there when you need them and will take the time to help you get the most from their equipment. Made in U.S.A.
 
VY1EI Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2014 20:37 Send this review to a friend
Great CW contesting rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had my K3 for almost a year now. For CW contesting, the K3 is a very powerful radio. When you hear a CW signal for the first time on a K3, the quality of signal shocks you. There is a signal clarity, and low noise, that separates this from other mid range rigs. The filtering is very strong, and the array of CW contesting tools that elecraft provide make this radio an invaluable CW contesting asset. Using the K3 remote rig option in ARRL Sweepstakes, with N6TR doing all the operating, we set a new Canadian record. This is from the Northern Territories where band condx are always challenging. In the CQ WW DX CW contest in 2013, with N5RZ doing the vast majority of operating my K3 remotely, we set the highest score that's ever been made in the Northern Territories, CW or SSB. So I'm happy.

For SSB contesting, the audio quality comes up short. There are better rigs in this mid range class than the K3, in my view. In comparison to the Icom 7600 and Icom 756 Pro 3, the K3 sounds tinny and harsh. Its hard to describe but the Icom rigs have more "substance". I found the Icom 7600 has slightly better filtering on SSB. The K3 isn't a bad rig for SSB contesting, its just that other mid range rigs do have better audio quality.

This is an amazing CW rig, which is what I acquired it for, and so its 5 out 5 for this radio
 
YV4GMJ Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2014 16:54 Send this review to a friend
best receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have availibility of several radios (i have a repairs lab with great demand) and i have compared modern equipments with K3. Last weeks particularly i'm listening too much noise and K3 is unique capable of mitigate or eliminate effectively. For example, IC-7700, IC-7600, IC-775dsp, IC-781, all latest Kenwood except TS-990, all this equipments wasn't capable of improve reception compared with K3 using basic roofing filter set.
 
NU4X Rating: 5/5 May 13, 2014 14:17 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Design  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've just ordered a second K3/10- the Ten watt version of the venerable K3.

Having had the auto-tune KW and yogis, in my elder years I have a new XYL (licensed) and we are in a 2 unit brick condo with the normal HOA restrictions. Prior to moving in I tacked a full wave 40M loop in the attic which works 40-6M nicely. A HY POWER ANT. CO. 35' 80 M Vee takes care of that band very well indeed. The K3/10 is a dream to run here at home- up to 76 DXCC worked mixed bands/modes at 5 watts. I like that the KS/10 's TX power out can be calibrated exactly on a per band basis! This is a great feature if you are a "QRP purest" and want to run the full 5 watts on all bands without constant rechecking (I use a Coaxial Dynamics 8555 terminated wattmeter with 5 and 1 watt ranges.)

I have just ordered a second K3/10 for variable power experimentation on a new EFW off of the back deck. That should be fun. A KX3 is on order for motorcycle outings, etc. (fixed use!!)

The folks at Elecraft are excellent to deal with. I would respectfully suggest a physically larger version of the K3 with a forward firing good quality speaker and perhaps a built in supply. My eyes aren't getting any younger and my paws are still fairly large.

I'm betting there is a large market niche of older ops who would like a reasonably priced rig with a larger foot print.

Well done Elecraft. Engineering, service and an ear to the customer and potential user- a great combination- you folks "get it"! de NU4X
 
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