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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: 4.9/5 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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KI7M Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2014 17:43 Send this review to a friend
4.8  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After many years of using my FT-1000MP and FT-1000D as my primary XCVR's, I bought a used K3 with 2.7/1.8/0.200 filters and 100 watts amp. Immediately I added the 2.1 and then the 6.0 filters as well as the digital recorder unit and the broadband receive capability. Don't have the second RCVR or internal tuner.
It took me about 3 weeks to finally pull my FT-1000MP out of line and put the K3/P3 in it's place. The Yaesu had almost all the IntRad mods except the roofing filter that I did not want due to my using AM sometimes. Watched many U-tube videos on the K3 and learned alot. Mine has 04.67 software which I have yet to learn to upgrade which I'm a little scared of (if it ain't broke why fix it).
The receiver is excellent, clear and handles QRM very well. In CQWW 160mtr phone I had some group move onto my frequency and I was able to shift from 1914.5 up to 1915.0 and shift the passband and eliminate S-9 interference very well. That impressed me alot knowing my FT-1000MP couldn't do that. Running barefoot it is surprising how well I can work people on a crowded band. Most of the time I run my CommTech HF-2500 with the K3 and run high power. One small complaint is the way you have to used a DB-15 connector to hook up the amp ALC which I have not done (why not a BNC or RCA? No room I suppose). I usually drive the amp with 20-30 watts with no problem. Installing the filters and activating them was a little challenging but I finally got there. I find I rarely use the 1.8Mhz filter position but it's there if I need it. I like a wider passband most of the time for the fidelity and comfortable copying.
Without the second RCVR you can't listen to two frequencies at the same time so you can't search a split frequency pileup easily while copying the DX station at the same time. One thing I did not like is the difference betwn split frequency operation and RIT/XIT. On RIT/XIT in TX or RX you see your frequency on transmit. With split you only have LED indicating you are split so you better know where B-XCVR frequency is at all times. A good way to find you are transmitting out of band...a real gotcha (watch that second frequency display)!
Compared to my FT-1000MP with InRad mods and filters, the K3 is what I wanted, much more capable of handling QRM on crowded contest bands. I'm not real impressed with the noise blanker but upgrading software may help that. It does work. The NR for the second (DSP) IF takes a bit of getting used to and can be quite effective. This was always a complaint of mine for the FT-1000MP EDSP which seemed about useless on phone except for strong signals due to the severe attenuation. The K3 handles it much better. NTCH automatic notch is terrific. It may be just my getting hard to hear but I always find myself running AF at half or higher which I don't like to do but it works. I'm now always using my sennheiser headphones these days (which the wife may appreciate).
This is my first use of the Panadapter (P3) and one of the things I notice is how different bands have significantly different levels of noise floor (12 vs. 10 or 15 mtrs). -95 compared to -135 like. May be wideband local noise but it is very significant and noiticable.
The receiver is EXCELLENT and if I can hear it I can work it given a chance against the QRM/Pileup conditions. One thing I find I don't like is moving up/down bands that there is no 100Khz shift for fast excursions unlike the Yaesu. Changing from 28.5Mhz to 29.0 for 10 mtr AM or 10.0Mhz to 9.5 for SWL'ing takes awhile. I believe I could go in and change the 'course' frequency from 10Khz per revolution to a higher number but that may effect the fine shift too. I can live with that and can't call it bad, just different.
Cost compared to others on the market isn't bad especially for what you get. It will at least compete if not out do any other XCVR I believe availiable and for about $3000-4500 you have a fully capable XCVR that will do 160-6 mtrs just great. You could even add 2 mtrs for that I believe.
What I find most useful is the width adjustment that deals so well with QRM and other band conditions. I don't use the NB or NR that often but the Preamp, S/F AGC, and NTCH as well as A to B RCVR freq get used quite a bit. One of these days I suppose I should learn to use the memory too and that may solve at least one of my complaints. Over the years I've had various XCVRs like FT-101E,FT-101ZDMKIII,FT-980,FT-1000MP,FT-1000D,TS-940SAT,IC-736,IC-775,swan 100MX,atlas 215x and maybe a few others. I checked out the FTDX-5000 and IC-7700 and liked the Icom except for the price. While the FT-1000D is my favorite easy to use, great sound, 200 watts, ease of split frequency operation XCVR I think the Elecraft K3 is the most capable for DX and contest or just all around general operation. That is really saying something when I compare it to my FT-1000D. And of course the technology is a couple or more generations newer. The shear flexability with being able to select filters, the software defined receiver capability, the light weight and great display lend itself to most any style of operation. It can easily be setup for remote operations like so many people are doing now days. So far aside from the little things I've mentioned (the biggest being the split not showing TX frequency but using an LED) the K3 compares as a winner against anything I see on the market. I held off for a long time on getting a 'new' transceiver since my FT-1000MP gave me such solid performance for years but it was time and the K3 so far has given nothing but excellent service. The factory people are very responsive to quaries and support too I have found out (I even complained about the K3 having everything I wanted except 200 watts and they suggested buying the KPA-500). For about $3500 I have a radio that compeats with any on the market. I'm sure as I get a little more used to the memory and upgrade the software I'll find the K3 with the P3 panadapter will become something I can't do without. Knowing how I am about learning all the features of a XCVR I suppose there will be things I never learn or use about the K3 just like my FT-1000MP. Pound for pound I can tell you nothing can touch the K3 that I know of. They way it is designed it's extremely flexable in how you set it up and can fill so many different roles.
I know I haven't had the K3/P3 that long but for what I wanted, something that would be able to handle QRM so much better than my FT-1000MP for a reasonable cost (I don't buy $6K + radios) and give all around solid performance and great sound, the K3 suited me well. Just took me two or mor years to make up my mine.
 
AE7G Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2014 07:17 Send this review to a friend
Long term review  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have now owned my K3 for about five years. During that time I have had it both in my shack and on numerous field efforts including serving as the prime transceiver in five Field Day efforts.

I have thrown a lot at this unit and it has been rock solid. This despite being packed around a lot and in difficult environments. I remember in particular one Field Day involving a rain storm in a leaky tent.

I have had antenna and feed line failures that caused big spikes in SWR.

Throughout the unit has performed flawlessly.

It is a high performance surgical instrument. Pair it with a decent antenna (in my shack a 3 element Steppir) and I can go pretty much anywhere. I regularly break DX pileups with just 100 watts.

I have come to really appreciate the layout of the controls, everything you really need becomes intuitive and at your fingertips so I rarely have to go into the menu system any more.

All this in a lightweight easily transportable box.

I am very happy with this unit.
 
AD4C2006 Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2014 04:49 Send this review to a friend
The best radio   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well, after many years of use, almost seven with my very first K3 serial 2192 made a big mistake and sold it to a friend of mine, he was extremenly happy, I was very sad, reason why I made this mistake? Wanted to try the "TS-990" from Kenwood after some other friend pushed me so hard. End of the story with that 65 pounds radio is that after I found several design issues, sold it after a month, then here I am with no radio for a couple of weeks and then made my mind and went back to the glorious K3, ordered a fully loaded (except the 2M module) K3/P3. My new K3 serial 8077 works even better than the first one. Rx audio is smoother, TX audio is excellent as the first one, they fixed the NR issues mine had before, now I enjoy how it work, I like the feature of having output level adjusted for the builtin digital recorder and the best of all, now I do have the second RX with roofing filters and I can work split operation dx stations, having the vga video card on the P3 allowed me to see much better small signals and the entire band with the 17" monitor I have connected.
One thing I noticed is that all the knobs on this new K3 are solid, firm, the controls are not lose like my previous radio, apparently they are using better quality potentiometers.
Not much to say about what you all know, still is the best radio to have after the KX3. Sherwood labs put the german PT-8000 as the first performer, I don't know about that until some day I test one of those but for me so far K3 is the best performer.
After been using this K3 for a month now, I have not been able to find any issue so far, its simply perfect.
For reference, my previous radios were:
TS-950,TS-2000, TS-590 and TS-990.
FT-1000MP, FT-990, FT-2000 and FTDX-5000MP
IC-756ProIII,IC-746Pro, IC-910, IC-7600 and IC-7700.
Thanks Elecraft for having not only a very high performance radio but also having the best technical support in this world.

Hector
AD4C
 
M0ZMX Rating: 5/5 Feb 6, 2014 20:07 Send this review to a friend
The best so far  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased direct from Elecraft,, great company with customer support second to none..

Never missed a beat,, Able to resolve signals that other units just can't do.... Owned for two years and haven't even looked at another radio.
Receiver is spot on and keeps on amazing me day after day after day...

Previous radio yaesu FTDX-9000D
Would not swap back if a gun was held to my head ...

Well done Elecraft, my money is with you.. thank you so much for a great product and support.

Mark (m0zmx).


 
VE6AMI Rating: 5/5 Dec 29, 2013 20:04 Send this review to a friend
What Makes A Top 3 Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Decided to semi-retire the Yaesu FT-1000D about a year ago. Moving from analog to digital, sounds simple right! What a curve.

So many radio's and so many opinions.... here's my list.

a) Knobs & dials for local operation & software driven for remote Ops.

b) Portable and airline carry on friendly, not a 60 lb. unit like my FT-1000.

c) Solid I.F. signal output for programs like "CW Skimmer" etc. for contesting.

d) Multiple antenna inputs including one "receive only" for beverages.

e) Rangeable to 100 watts output with 100% duty cycle in digital modes with crystal filters as needed.

f) Two independant receivers with equal options for diversity operation.

g) Basic cost range in $5000 area.

h) Separate power supply - both AC / DC feeds.

i) Internal tuner with ability to correct a 8-1 mismatch.

j) A solid user support group via Internet.

In the end, I had spent time on 8 different radios. What became obvious is the top 5 units had each specialized in a different way, for a somewhat different market. My new radio, a K3 (#7843) was a kit. Assembly and operation was a breeze, and I am very happy.

Good luck on your radio choice - mine is over....

Hans
 
NK8A Rating: 5/5 Dec 28, 2013 12:45 Send this review to a friend
Makes CW more interesting  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is my second review because it took me time to learn about the K3.I didn't operate my K3 for the amount of time I would have liked to when I first got it due to work and home responsibilities. But now that I am retired I have learned a lot about this radio.I am mainly a CW Op,and the features for this mode on the K3 are great.I have had other rigs that were good for cw but not like the K3. The size of this radio is easy to work with for me. It all depends on the person...Just my opinion.
 
AD9DX Rating: 5/5 Dec 19, 2013 15:23 Send this review to a friend
Head and shoulders above the rest  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have been a ham since I was a kid and have over the years tried a lot of different radios. What the K3 does better than anything else is give you a chance to work the ones that are either buried in the mud or the weak ones adjacent to very strong signals.

The K3 will not ever win a beauty contest or be hailed the ergonomic champion of the world. It also has noisy RX if you don't learn what settings to play with. Also the RX does not sound as smooth as a Kenwood. These are things you learn to live with or you sell the rig... It is like a Ferrari F40, you deal with a few less creature comforts to go really fast. Same is true with the K3, you get a bit more noise and "harsh" audio but selectivity is second to none.

Another big plus for me is since I don't have a ton of money to spend on ham radio, I can buy bits and pieces I feel I need as time goes along. Things like a digital voice recorder and 10mHz input that I'll never use never have to be added. Trust me just because a radio has options as standard, does not mean you are not paying for them. Meaningful things for me like exceptionally narrow roofing filters IF out and an antenna tuner can be purchased when money is available. This means I can have a world class radio on a working man's budget.

The other big plus of the K3 is the customer service. If you ever do have an issue with your rig, Elecraft will bend over backwards to make sure you are satisfied and you K3 is up and running.

Finally if you are someone who likes to try rigs and then sell them to try something different. Elecraft radios seem to hold their value better than anything on the market.
 
W0LD Rating: 5/5 Dec 18, 2013 16:50 Send this review to a friend
Excellent 6 meter radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought the K3 because I needed a radio that could handle a high noise environment at 50 Mhz. Since extremely long haul DX on 6 meters is extremely weak signal, a radio that could compensate for high noise levels was needed. The K3 has superb noise reduction and noise blanking capability.

I must comment on the service from Elecraft, it is unequaled! When I faced problems I phoned the service department and received step-by-step guidance on the phone.

Coupled with the P3 pan adapter, this is the ultimate radio.
 
W4KA Rating: 5/5 Dec 17, 2013 10:26 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own the K3 elecraft. I have owned Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, Ten-Tec, even Hallicrafters and the K3 tops them all. It has excellent receive compared to the other rigs, some were close. CW weak signal is a breeze with the APF. I just received the KX3 QRP rig and the receive is better than the K3, what's up Elecraft? I kid you not it is awesome. I use to change rigs every 2-3 years but have owned the K3 4 years and no plans to change it. Service has been exceptional for me also. I enjoy pulling out the weak signal cw and the K3 does a wonderful job.
 
OD5ZZ Rating: 5/5 Dec 17, 2013 07:52 Send this review to a friend
Great experience  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased a second hand , early version of the Elecraft K3/10 , serial number in the low 3 digits , simply there was no extras in it , I wrote to Elecraft and the technical assistance was great , I was told what do I need to add to the existing rig in order to upgraded it to the present K3/100 , and what a difference it made adding the modifications that the technical guys at Elecraft suggested , the audio have changed , I am sure some of you have worked my station at times I get very weak stations and I wonder how would I be able to copy the station but the K3 have never let me down the sound comes out of the noise amazingly clear and the SSB sounds like an FM signal , some of those stations I would have never worked before.
K3 is a great rig, upgradable hardware and firmware , the technical assistance is great , I highly recommend it for DX'ing , I have many rigs from different brands none comes close to the reception and audio of the K3, they are all in storage now , only the K3 is still in the shack.
 
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