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

Reviews Summary for Elecraft K1
Elecraft K1 Reviews: 144 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $279
Description: 4-band QRP CW kit
Product is in production.
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W5YDM Rating: 4/5 Jul 14, 2009 20:34 Send this review to a friend
Update  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is an update to my review in December. I now have the K1 mounted to a homemade bracket which is screwed to an aluminum camping table (see it on my page in QRZ). I have also dripped candle wax all over the VFO toriod. The drift I previously reported is much more manageable as a result and I don't find it a problem anymore. It will drift for a few minutes until it warms up but it is stable after that. I think rigidity is the key. A felt pad mounted behind the vfo knob contributes to stability. Also I have the antenna input attached to a coax switch which is screwed down to the table so as to eliminate movement of the K1 by the weight of the feedline. I have made close to 600 contacts with both my two rigs since building the K1 in October 2008 and most were with the K1 while operating outside in the yard using a 20 meter Hamstick or a 40 meter dipole. I have 48 states and 35 countries with this rig, all with 5 watts. Occasionaly I bring the K1 inside and use it with my G5RV Jr, which results in better contacts. This is a very good qrp rig but it costs a lot for what you get, especially since you have to spend 30-40 hours building it. Just a little bit more money and you can have a lot more radio with a couple of the Yaesus. I just try to forget about what I paid for it and keep on knocking down those DX stations.
N7KFD Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2009 17:04 Send this review to a friend
Fun!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I really like this radio! It was easy and fun to build and, as others have said, it's exciting to use a rig you built yourself. I bought all the bells and whistles, save the battery pack, and am glad I did. I really like the adjustable filters, the noise blanker works great as does the antenna tuner and keyer and the ease of changing keying speeds is just another bonus. This little radio is packed with great features and it's easy to work on if you ever needed to. I built mine last September (2008) and I'm really looking forward to bringing it camping this summer.
KA9HJZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 5, 2009 18:03 Send this review to a friend
good litlle rig now  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ok. After rereading the operating manual several times and working with the K1 for several days and making quite a few contacts. I have changed my mind. I have a good handle on how to use the menue and pretty well figured it out. The receiver sounds great and the tuner is working really great and puts out over 5 watts power useing my full size G5RV inverted Vee antenna.I am using a 12 volt 3.3AH battery and it has held 12.2 volts for 3 days of operating. I tried a battery pack i made with 8 rechargeable 1.2 volt 2100 Mah batteries and charge up to about 10 volts it dropped to 9 volts after one QSL. now i am a happy old ham.
KA9HJZ Rating: 4/5 Mar 20, 2009 08:04 Send this review to a friend
good little rig but i'm to old  Time owned: more than 12 months
disregard the low rating. Part of the problem is many bells and whistles for me.I like it but don't use it enough to remember all of the functions. A young person with computer savy will have no trouble. The controls have to many functions. I have to read the manual everytime i use it.I keep going back to my Ten Tec Paragon with QRP capabilities. turn it on, tune it and send.Being 71 years old doesn't help.All in all it works like it should and i have had contacts on it.I also had a Heathkit HW 9 with a matching tuner i built and liked it more. wish i never sold it to buy this one. I had a master builder do this k1 for me.
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.


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.


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.
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