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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Elecraft K1 Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft K1
Elecraft K1 Reviews: 148 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $279
Description: 4-band QRP CW kit
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Elecraft K1.

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MM0AMV Rating: 5/5 Jun 10, 2014 12:13 Send this review to a friend
Superb Service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built my K1-4 about two weeks ago, and during the build I directed a few questions at Elecraft.
Bowled over by the almost immediate response from California.
I have just finished building a T1 ATU to go with the radio, and I had some questions on this also.
Once again immediate response from Elecraft.
This company cares.

So,to my review.

Quality of Elecraft products, excellent.
Top class boards, superb idiotproof instructions.
More than enough wire, extra hardware etc.
All the little details that matter.

Delivery very fast.

Communications, top class.

Service, top class.

Thinking about buying from Elecraft ?
Go ahead, you will not be disappointed.

GM0HKS Rating: 4/5 May 30, 2014 01:32 Send this review to a friend
Elecraft K1  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my K1 (Serial No.01672) a little under two years now. It is fitted out with a four band module including 17 metres. It also has a noise blanker, auto ATU and battery pack fitted. The K1 stand is very innovative too. I was slightly perturbed about the drift in this rig but, having read Dave (G4AON's article), I went and bought, built and installed Cumbria Design's X Lock VFO stabilisation circuit board. Available @ It has completely eliminated drift as a noticeable feature and the K1 is rock solid from switch on. Unlike most, I use my rig as a main station transceiver and have great fun working Stateside, the caribbean and all round Europe with it. I do, from time to time, use the K1 to "excite" my home made solid state amplifier which, with low level drive, radiates 15 to 45 watts carrier. Its a great combination, giving the K1 an easy ride at 200 to 300 mw output and has landed me some great DX. The K1 is great for /p operating and, with its low current draw, means you get hours of operating with a 7 a/h SLA battery. The auto ATU is really handy and, provided you don't rig up wire aerials which prove difficult to neutralise reactance on, you end up with a great portable station which will reel in great results. I really like the QSK feature in this little box; having used some older transceivers and been driven nuts with the clunking of those old Omron relays, this is a really nice experience with total silence ! Yes, the receiver is limited but nonetheless, for inter G and European working, it is very acceptable and with the 14db attenuator and variable bandwidth filters, this little fella holds up very nicely indeed. Try putting a Datong FL3 external audio filter ahead of the output and you really do notice a significant difference in receiver performance. I applaud Elecraft for bringing such a good performer to the stage as it ticks a significant number of boxes here in my shack. The only downside for me is that if you wish to work say 80 metres, it involves a bit of "jiggery pokery" to swap out the boards. Not ideal if working portable as some of those washers are kind of small and hard to see; if you drop one, that's it !! Packing everything back together is not as simple as it sounds but nonetheless, its possible and should not deter you from doing so. The K1 gets my vote.
MI0SRR Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2014 14:31 Send this review to a friend
best radio ever  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
brilliant radio just got a 559 report from a k9 station and was just running 1 watt and a gp antenna
KC4URI Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2014 23:04 Send this review to a friend
Work Horse  Time owned: more than 12 months
I built this K1 12 years ago and it is a great portable or at home HF rig. Great keying and wonderful receive audio and filters are worth the price of admission.
I installed ATU and NB, I opted out of the internal battery. My wife calls it the little radio and she always asks if the little radio is going on vacation with us. I use it as a daily driver while my other hf rigs gather dust. Simple to operate and with internal ATU has a very small foot print.
AC4BN Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2013 15:01 Send this review to a friend
A great QRP transceiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was looking for a small CW transceiver to use in my camper, but wanted one that had an excellent receiver, and a decent frequency readout. Also very important was that the current drain be very low on receive. And even better if it was available in kit form.

I settled on a K1. These days everyone knows about high quality of the innovative Elecraft products, and after I completed building it (and trouble shooting it!), and trying it out, I can say that I am exceptionally pleased with the result. My K1 is for 40m and 20m, and I ordered and built (but have not yet tried out) the antenna tuner.

The LCD readout is perfect, showing the three digits I need on the CW band. With the microcontroller everything can be set up and displayed on this little three digit readout. Very nice indeed.

Front panel space is at a premium, and getting my paws on the volume and RIT knobs is a little tight, but I will get used to it. Elecraft has done an exceptional job of putting all functions on only six pushbuttons, with a lot of careful thought put into making the most frequently used functions easy to reach... such as be able to change the morse code keyer speed, and read the speed while sending. Good job! And Iíve gotten good signal reports on the air. The receiver sensitivity and low noise seem exceptional to my ear.
WB0KFC Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2013 09:08 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just finished K1-3211. It was a joy to build with top end boards and manual. Support was excellent from Elecraft regarding the K1 but I just had some basic questions but always had a timely, professional response. I did not note any excessive drift after warm-up. This design is a great compromise of performance vs. power requirements. About 50 QSO's with great reports. Also great features for a QRP homebuilt rig. Shipping was timely and Elecraft a pleasure to work with. I would recommend this QRP kit over any other I have used or built in the 40 years as a ham.
WB3T Rating: 2/5 Jan 10, 2013 09:48 Send this review to a friend
Follow Up  Time owned: more than 12 months
After building my K1 a couple of years ago, and purchasing an extra 2-band filter board to expand the band coverage, I quickly realized that the filter board in a K1 with ATU cannot be quickly changed. To do this you will need tools with you in the field (at the very least screwdriver and tweezers) and this is NOT a quick process. Elecraft's claim that "you can swap either type in at any time" is only true IF you CAREFULLY read their product description. Yes, you can swap at any time... IF YOU HAVE A HALF AN HOUR AND TOOLS ON HAND. I would not advise doing this in the field as there are small parts that might slip away into the grass.

My solution for this problem was to call Elecraft and order a K1 kit without filter board, so I could have one with the four bands I originally selected, and one with the bands on my two-band board. But alas, Elecraft insisted on selling me a whole two-band K1 WITH the filter board I already have that is homeless. That would leave me right back where I started - with an extra board.

I now have a KX-1, K1, and K2 and I will say this: each product has had issues. Read my previous reviews to find out some of the other things Elecraft will not tell you about their products - most notably the excessive drift in the K1. I emailed with Elecraft tech support about that issue to no avail. Then I found out through Elecraft user groups that this is a known problem in the K1 design. I fixed mine by exhaustively replacing capacitors in the VFO with carefully selected series and parallel combinations of caps of various temperature coefficients until the VFO stabilized, running a one-our stability test after each change. Fixing the problem took months. Make sure before you buy a K1 that you have an extensive assortment of NPO, N750, N1500, polystyrene, and Silver Mica capacitors in all values between 27 and 2200 pF. I was only able to stabilize mine by falling back on 30-plus years as an RF engineer and a thorough understanding of reactance vs. temperature curves.

Buyer beware. Elecraft does not seem interested in the QRPer and would rather sell you something you don't need and pocket your cash. And btw, remember that the engineering team at Elecraft NO LONGER SUPPORTS the K1 and K2. According to the tech (who has failed several times to help correct technical issues), you cannot escalate to the design engineer. He has abandoned the K1 and K2 in order to work on the KX3. When the tech can't help you, you're on your own. And once they've sold you something on information that says "easy to swap," and you find out you can't, you've wasted money on that too.

Check out my web site for many photos, mini-reviews, and recommendations for some great QRP products from more supportive suppliers.

K4EQ Rating: 5/5 Sep 11, 2012 20:00 Send this review to a friend
Super Radio / Service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Finished my K1 last week. Everything was fine except no AGC. I emailed Elecraft and got a quick response from Gary. We went back and forth several times as he offered suggestions each time but to no avail. When he finally had me measure the voltage on a certain capacitor, I discover it was unsoldered on one lead. That took care of the problem. Enbarrassing! Anyway, I couldn't be happier with his quick replies and helpful suggestions. As to the radio itself, it's quite impressive, especially on receive which is hot. I've got several other QRP rigs. but this is my new number one.
AK4YH Rating: 5/5 Jul 28, 2012 17:38 Send this review to a friend
Great kit.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently completed K1 #3137, and the KAT1 tuner. It is a two-band model, but I just ordered a 4-band module, and the components to convert my 2-band filter board to 80/17m. I won't be getting the internal battery option. Not sure about the noise blanker.

The kit was shipped the same day I ordered. Nothing was missing. It took me two days to assemble. I used a $10 15w soldering iron from Radio Shack, and no static mat or wrist bracelet. I did however touch a ground before handling each sensitive component. It is pretty humid in Florida this time of year, so static isn't really a problem.

Much has already been said about the K1, so I won't repeat how great it works and how good it looks. I had a little trouble tuning the filter board, but that was my fault, being too impatient. The radio worked fine the first time around. If you plan on building one, take your time. After two days of marathon building, I felt a bit twitchy.. It was fun, but would have been even better taking numerous breaks.. If I ever do it again, a K2 maybe, I will limit myself to two 2hrs session per day. When tired, you tend to make mistakes..

The KAT1 is awesome. I think it might tune a wet noodle, but I haven't tried. I did plug in an Imax2000 CB antenna, and it tuned it down to 1:1 on 20m and 1.9:1 on 40. Sensitivity took a big hit, but it worked. I suspect 15m might work decently with that antenna.

What I do regret is not getting the backlit option with the kit. Now it would be a big pain to retrofit it. I got a Pelican 1400 case for it, and it fits perfectly, with a 2.9Ah battery, wire antenna and paddle.

I wish the receiver had a wide short wave range for listening. The CW filters are great, but if you choose the 150kHz tuning option, it is hard to tune in SSB conversations since the wider filter is 800Hz. Cross-mode use would be very difficult in less than ideal conditions. For CW, the 150kHz tuning range works very well. The KX1 does have a wider filter and SW receive capability.. Still, I like my K1 better for the 7W, better tuner and good looks.
K4AXF Rating: 4/5 Mar 10, 2012 06:44 Send this review to a friend
Really, really nice QRP rig.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
First of all, the K1 is a bit pricey. One could buy an IC-703 or FT-817, second-hand for what I've got invested in my K1. On the other hand, those rigs offer only one CW filter selection which, as a CW op, I find too limiting.

I built my first K1 almost ten years ago and, shortly thereafter, a K2. In the intervening years; however,my dexterity and eyesight seem to have deteriorated and consequently assembly this time was more difficult than I remembered. To the extent that I had to send the completed rig off to W3FPR for troubleshooting and repair (I had installed T1 on the KFL1-4 incorrectly - DOH!).

After using the rig a while, I found that it was drifting 100-200 Hz over the 20-minute timespan of a typical QSO. I didn't recall my first K1 having that problem> I saw a review regarding frequency drift in a K1, in which was corrected by replacing varactors D3 and D4 in the VFO. I did likewise and that brought my drift down to 10-20 Hz for the same timespan. Thinking it over, I wondered if the nylon screw/washers/nut that held the VFO inductor L1 in place might be the culprit. Sure enough I had torqued that screw down real tight. Securing L1 loosely so the PC board (like it says in the instruction book) did the trick. Now my K1 is rock stable!

I initially built the KFL1-4 set up for 40, 30, 20 and 15 meters. A bit later I added KFL1-2 set up for 80 & 40 meters (I am an avid QRP Fox-hunter and needed 80m). Later still, I added the KAT1. I have my K1 powered by a 10 Ahr SLA battery and use it with my LDG antenna tuner in the shack.

The K1 fits my needs nicely - a battery operable rig that is portable but also works very well enough for QRP contests and events from the shack. I've had it out to a portable location and with 20-foot hank of wire thrown up in a tree and with a 20-foot hank stretched out on the ground (as counterpoise), the KAT1 tuned up nicely on all the four bands. I was able to work Maine with 579 report on 30m during the recent solar flare doldrums. Not bad: I've got a spiffy little rig that works great in the shack and in the park.

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