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


Reviews Summary for Elecraft K1
Elecraft K1 Reviews: 140 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $279
Description: 4-band QRP CW kit
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com/K1/K1.htm
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EA5BLP Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2009 21:27 Send this review to a friend
innovative kit design  Time owned: months
I have buit the K1 and it works very well. Itīs more than you can expect if you have some experience on electronics or as a ham radio kit builder. At the begining i thought that the cost was expensive, but after working on the circuit I understood why. I have built the heathkit SB-104,the ten tec 1330 (another great kit), some Spanish kits of the 70-80 years, and rebuilt a heathkit HW-9. Apart from this, i have home made lots of artifacts, like antennas couplers, linear amplifiers, cw electronic keyers ... Each one has his personal touch and his feeling. But the K1 is a steep ahead because it has a very inteligent design perfectly integrated on actual technology and an accurate final performance, very closed from you can expect of a comercial designed rig. It drifs? Yes, a litlle bit. As all rigs with VFOīs controled by varactors, homemade coils and condensers. But it doesīnt matter for a normal QRP operation on cw. If you center your atention on having fun of the radio-activity, you will not realize any kind of drift... Itīs possible to work dx? Yes, it is, if you apply the common sense rules for QRP job. Itīs a kit for beginners? I would say not, but it depends what we understand for a "beginner". (There are different kinds of beginners, and those of them who pay atention and want really to learn and study, will have success..)The handbook is very well explained and all compomemts are of a great quality. But the circuit will be really problematic or complex for a beginner if this is his first kit and he knows absolutly nothing about electronics and components. The general idea of this kit is really innovative and very enjoyable when you work on it with the soldering iron. Otherwise, the exterior appearence is very, very nice. Said this, i think itīs not the perfect rig for portable, due to itīs fragile box. But itīs a minor question when you compare it with the surprising results of itīs performance.
 
WB0OEW Rating: 5/5 Sep 19, 2008 15:24 Send this review to a friend
I like my K1 a lot  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built K1 S/N 02594 last month. It took me about 30 hours including tuning. It worked immediately as advertised, no problems at all.

Construction was mostly straight forward -- all parts were included, nicely packaged, most were well marked and instructions mostly clear. Only time of confusion was the LCD backlight which did not seem to quite match the directions and took a little imagination to work out. The actual winding of the toroids was not a problem for me but it was a bit of a struggle sometimes to get all the enamel stripped off correctly. I burned each end with a Bic lighter then finished with sandpaper.

RX tuning was done with on-air signals, including calibrating the frequency to W1AW. TX tuning was done using their DL1 dummy load and RF detector (also recommended if you don't already own something similar). VFO adjustment was the hardest procedure. I ended up having to remove L1 and remove one turn to bring the VFO into range (the instructions do describe this possibility). I chose the wide VFO range and get about 180 kHz coverage. This makes tuning a bit touchy but for me is an acceptable tradeoff to get access to the entire CW band.

Only mods were changing C31 to 1 uF for faster AGC attack (important for headphone use) and the one on their web site improving QSK performance (220 ohm and 22 uF in series from Q11 drain to ground). I also added a layer of felt behind the main tuning knob, otherwise it turns so freely I tended to bump it when clicking the RIT on and off.

I have the two band version and chose 40 and 15m. So far I have worked 20 states on 40m, no contacts yet on 15m. RX seems to be quite sensitive and low noise; often get comments that TX is very clean and "doing a great job". Antenna is Ventenna HFp vertical (which I also like but that's a different review). I do not have the built-in tuner but you'll need some kind of tuner if your antenna does not present SWR of 1.5 or less; anything higher and your power output will drop substantially.

I did buy the tilt stand which I like and the finger dimple which I don't. The main knob is too small for effective use of a dimple.

For power I use a small 12V 84 W-Hr gell cell battery with which I can operate a week of evenings between charges. The K1 includes a battery voltage display so there's no need to guess when your battery is getting low. Your mileage will vary depending on proportion of time spent transmitting. My K1 draws about 70 mA RX, 850 mA TX. The manual says 55 mA RX when no signal is being received and probably with no backlight option and neither LED on.

I use an iamblic keyer. The menu system allows you to swap dit-dah sides, use A or B completion modes, or use a straight key. You can record and play back (transmit) two recorded messages up to 90 seconds each.

The menu system is remarkably flexible. It is easy to use after you catch on to the pattern of how to step through the menus. You can change the output power (clear down to 0 in fact for practicing your keying using the sidetone); adjust volume and pitch of your desired sidetone (although if you change pitch more than 100 Hz or so you should retune TX offset too); change QSK time; set the three RX filter bandwidths (between 200-900 Hz); turn AGC on or off; choose between LED or audible function feedback; and several entries used during the alignment procedures. You can give up the XIT function and make that button be a shortcut to any one menu item; I use it to go to the sidetone pitch entry which effectively gives me a 1-button "spot" method to hear my reference tone against which to beat a prospective station frequency.

I like my K1 a lot. It is effective, efficient and fun to use.
 
N2DTS Rating: 4/5 Feb 18, 2008 07:05 Send this review to a friend
cute little radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got the kit Thursday, it was done Saturday, no missing parts, easy to build, great manual, I did not do the resistance checks, or the inventory, I never do with Elecraft kits, and they always work.
If you can solder well, all the Elecraft kits are a snap, although the K2 takes a good amount of time to build....

The K1-2 (80 and 40 meters) I got workes well, I built it with the wide VFO range which tunes from 6.995 MHz to about 7.2 MHz, and tuning is a little fast but fine for me.
I like being able to cover the old novice bands.

The rig seems very stable, the filter works very well, receiver noise is moderate to low, you have way more than enough audio output.

Alignment was easy and quick, most adjustments needed VERY little tweaking!

The QSK and sidetone are tops.

While it is a great rig for its size and price, it has some bugs:

The audio based AGC works poorly with headphones, blasts of LOUD tone on strong signals are very anoying, and strong signals can desense the receiver for up to 10 seconds.
I changed the AGC cap from 2.2 to 1 UF and plan on trying less.
The loud blasts do not seem to be as much of a problem with the speaker.

The S meter is worthless, its so slow that it never reflects the actual signal strength.

Since Elecraft uses a voltage only measurment for power output control, you get low power with anything over a 1.2 to 1 swr.
The optional antenna tuner fixes that most likely.

I sure wish they used enough digits in the display to show the frequency. They could have been smaller if need be...this and the audio AGC really bug me. Just 2 more digits and you would have had a good readout....


While the K1 was likely designed to be carried to the top of some mountan, everything Elecraft makes is designed to do the most with the absolute least buttons, knobs and displays, and that can annoy one after a while.
They get such great performance out of every radio they make, and then half ruin it with their highly compressed control setup.

The KX1 has 4 knobs,
the K1 has 3 knobs,
The K2 has 6 knobs,
the K3 has 11 (some dual).

If Elecraft ever decides to make a rig that was NOT designed to backpack up the Matterhorn, and it has lots of knobs and displays, it would likely be the best radio ever made for ham shack use.

As it is, the K1 is very good, and I plan on using it in the den to copy CW while the XYL watches TV, its small, and with some batteries inside it will work weeks (on rx) before needing a recharge.
Once I get my speed up, it would be fun to take the K1 up the Matterhorn, but the K2 would do better and is only a little bigger.

Brett
N2DTS




 
N2DTS Rating: 4/5 Feb 17, 2008 12:39 Send this review to a friend
Cute little thing  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got it last Thursday, finished building it Saturday, zero problems, no missing parts, its easy to build.
I did not bother with a parts inventory or any of the resistance checks, and everything worked great anyway.

Three big gripes:

They should have added a few digits to the display so you could just read the frequency.

The audio AGC system just plain sucks with headphones on, I changed the cap from a 2.2uf to a 1uf and need to try even less.
It cant handle a strong signal at first, and you can desense the receiver for like 10 seconds if a really strong signal comes on.

The power output control is like the K2, it just reads voltage so you often get low output unless the swr is under 1.2 to 1.


Otherwise, its a great working rig, like the K2 was.

I just wish Elecraft would get away from minimizing everything, all their radios would be much better if they had a few more knobs, buttons, displays.

Even the K3 is on the small side, could likly use 10 more knobs and 20 more buttons.
It seems like EVERYTHING they make is designed to be carried to the top of some mountan, they dont make anything designed to be used in the shack.

Their stuff works so well, you know it would be the bomb if they made something with plenty of knobs, buttons and displays.


Brett
N2DTS

 
W7LW Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2007 17:42 Send this review to a friend
I really enjoyed building it and now, using it.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months









A well thought out design, electrically and physically. Lots of quality parts & components, with an intuitive, detailed manual.

I built my first kit (Heathkit DX-40) in 1957 and really enjoyed doing it. I enjoyed this one every bit as much; maybe just a little bit more.

I hope Elecraft keeps at it without compromise. If they do, there market share should grow. It's nice to see another US company producing a quality product and standing behind it.

Go get'em (the big two and a half) Elecraft!
 
N7KFD Rating: 5/5 Nov 15, 2007 20:33 Send this review to a friend
Great Experience  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Instructions are easy to follow and walk you through the entire build with good detail. The final tuning took me a few tries until I was happy but it sounds great! I've even decided to put my dipole up another ten feet before winter sets in so I can enjoy this rig to its fullest potential this winter. I felt it was reasonably priced considering the options it comes with and I bought all the add-ons except the battery pack. I wouldn't suggest trying one of these as a first time build, start with a "Pixie" or a "Tuna Tin" to wet your feet first.
 
AB4BC Rating: 5/5 Aug 5, 2007 18:22 Send this review to a friend
A beauty to operate and a joy to build!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The K1-2 was the 5th Elecraft kit I assembled. I wouldn't recommend this kit to be your very first construction project but it wasn't overly complicated. I assembled mine in less than 28 hours....and I can honestly say that this was straight time with no stopping. Nearly blind and exhausted after assembly and thorough alignment, I soon was making contacts on 30m. I plan on assembling another one very soon just for the fun of it. My K1-2 consists of the 80m and 30m kit....in hindsight, I would have built the 4 band module first and added 80/15m in a seperate module.

If you are planning on building one, please feel free to contact me at rcave8@msn.com for a few build tips I strongly recommend. Please purchase all internal options that you know you will use before you start building the main unit. It will be so much easier and you will not have to crack open the case again once completed. =)
 
WA6L Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2007 14:06 Send this review to a friend
Inspirational  Time owned: 3 to 6 months

You really need to review to two aspects of this radio: the K1 as a kit and the K1 as a transceiver.

For me, the kit can best be described as "inspirational." I hadn't built a kit for over 20 years, but this one was so well designed, so meticulously documented, and so enjoyable to put together that it inspired me to get a K2, and now I have just ordered the KPA100 100-watt upgrade kit. It is an incredible feeling to power up a rig that you built and make that first contact.

As a transceiver, it is a gem. Great receiver sensitivity and excellent signal reports. Four bands, selectable filtering, built-in memory keyer, and a built-in speaker -- all in a package small enough to fit in a lunch-box. With the built-in ATU, all you need is a key and just about any antenna and you are on the air.

I don't think that this could be my only rig, but it has become one of my favorites. I used it during the last Field Day to make over 75 contacts in 8 hours from a remote location on battery power. It shines as a portable rig; drawing only 55 ma on receive and 800 on transmit. You can literally run it all day on a 7ah Gel Cell.

I never knew that QRP and remote operation could be so much fun! The K1, both as a kit and as a transceiver, has been one of my best experiences in Ham Radio.

73,

John, WA6L
 
KK6MS Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2007 10:51 Send this review to a friend
A great experience!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is the first kit I built since Heathkit went out of business. When I looked at all the features and accessories, I was a bit apprehensive. However, building the kit was an absolute joy!

The step-by-step instructions are simple, elegant, and effective. I did not have a single problem putting the kit together and had fun doing it. Tuning and adjustment were a breeze. The total construction time for me was about 30 hours.

The only problem I ran into was a flaky headphone jack. It would cut in and out. I sent an email to Elecraft support and had a new jack in 3 days. It went right in and I've had no problem since.

As much fun as building the K1 was, operating it is even better. I have had an absolute blast! The receiver is hot, and I have had no problem getting out with 5 watts on my vertical. In the first week of operation, I landed a UA0 station, which qualified for the QRP ARCI 1000 miles/watt award.

Although I have two other QRO rigs, I am finding myself using the K1 almost exclusively. It works well, is easy to operate, and is fun. I have plans to take the K1 out into the field this summer, but even if it never leaves the house, it was a great investment.
 
G3XBM Rating: 5/5 Feb 19, 2007 14:11 Send this review to a friend
G3XBM recommends this superb QRP radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my second Elecraft kit having built the T1 auto-ATU a year ago.

This is a superb little radio kit. I finished mine last week having taken a few weeks of slow building to complete. I did a few hours each day over about 10 days. Mine was the K1-4 4 band version (40,30,20,15m) with built-in auto-ATU.

Unfortunately I had one (small) problem: the receiver was deaf by about 30dB. By following the recommended signal tracing method described in the manual I tracked this down to a faulty 2N7000 in the RX audio mute circuit. When replaced the receiver sprang into life and receives at an MDS of better than -130dBm. The entire rig can be built and tested with the minimum of test equipment - a dummy load and a digital voltmeter.

Last weekend was the ARRL DX contest, so I fired up the newly built rig into my random 50 foot wire at maximum height of 20 feet. Using 40, 20 and 15m it managed transatlantic QSOs on all three bands with 5W, including 40m.

The NE602 front-end receiver, even here in Europe, has not needed the attenuator switched in once and the selectivity is perfect being switchable from 800Hz wide down to 250Hz narrow. This is no toy radio: it is a class design with some really excellent design features.

If you want a small, fun little CW QRP radio then go out and buy one NOW. You will enjoy the building - but follow the instructions carefully and handle static sensitive devices as recommended - and enjoy using it even more. DXCC is certainly possible with this radio and my imperfect antenna.

Info on my build and on-air performance will be on my website http://www.g3xbm.co.uk shortly.

Roger
G3XBM
 
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