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

Reviews Summary for Elecraft K1
Elecraft K1 Reviews: 150 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $279
Description: 4-band QRP CW kit
Product is in production.
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W9HC Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2010 16:53 Send this review to a friend
Bravo!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my K1-4 after some delay and hesitation. Then, after more than a year later, I decided to build the radio. Now, a couple more years later, I am writing the review. So, I've had a nice chance to get to know this rig. It does everything it is supposed to do the way it is supposed to do it. I'll have some nitpicks to report, but don't let them disuade you from getting one of these neat little American radio kits. The radio is easy to operate and requires about a 1 hour learning curve (if that). The receiver is excellent and the output seems to be of good purity based solely on signal reports and limited bench testing. The keyer is quite sufficient, and the AF output is clean and of adequate volume.

The kit is NOT for beginners as another reviewer has noted. Nor is it a weekend quickie kit. Expect to work 30-50 hours over several days - if you are average to slightly above average in building skills. On the other hand, there is nothing so complicated that a talented newbie couldn't get it done if careful enough and patient enough.

1) Alignment of the K1-4 isn't easy. It IS easy to get it "in the ball park," but I wanted to be better than that.

2) The instructions for that little chuck of coax that runs under the main board need to be revised so that you don't end up short. Bottom line: cut it long and trim one end AFTER you have attached the other one and get a clearer picture of what's required.

3) At 40-ish dollars, the stand is severely overpriced. Twenty, maybe. Forty? Greedy.

4) My manual was a bit of a mess, with numerous updates and corrections to the corrections. Hey kids, why not have and offer an updated pdf version that has all the "corrections" correctly corrected? Or just reprint the darned thing.

Overall, this is a very nice little radio that provides a ton of fun in or out of the shack. The customer service and tech support were very good and - as it turned out - needed in my case.

The K1-4 is a well designed radio and a well manufactured and presented kit. I love mine...

N4OI Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2010 18:50 Send this review to a friend
Real CW Radio!  Time owned: more than 12 months
My K1 was the first QRP kit I built about six years ago. The process was a blast and it functioned perfectly the first time -- no rework. It is the 4-band version with 40-30-20-15 meters plus the ATU and tilt stand, which is a very nice luxury, BTW. Although all my other QRP kits I built afterward were very cool and fun, they reside in a drawer -- to be tried out once in a while and then put back. But not so with the K1! It resides next to my FT-920, always connected to its own position on the coax switch. Perhaps conditions are improving, but I find that I am almost exclusively using the K1 these days. Even at six watts, my calls and CQs are almost always answered and my signal usually holds up over a long CW QSO. It just has a great sound from the little speaker and the silent QSK is flawless. The filters work great and I can follow drifting signals around with the RIT. Of course, the AGC is a little slow, but I rarely use the earbuds anyway so no problem. It is exquisitely small,very elegant (as in Ele-craft), and in summary -- a real, very capable CW rig. Guess it's my baby....
73 de Ken N4OI
M0BMN Rating: 5/5 Jan 23, 2010 12:36 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit , Great After Sales Service Too!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have built a number of Kits over the years inc the K3/K2/K1/Kx1 and many others. This Christmas i got a nice new K1 kit to build, The XYL let me have it a week before the big day so i could get it built and on air over the hols, well i spent a few hours a night putting it together and finished the set off on the night of the 25th, all looked well to start with untill i noticed a load of drift, i had heard other comment on drift of a 100hz or 200HZ from a cold start for a few mins but mine was more like 1-2KHz !
i looked at ever thing and check my values, all seemed ok. I thought i would send a email to their support dept to see what help they could be, i fired it off late on christmas night and expected it would be after the new year when i got a relpy, i was shocked to find that after a hour or so i had received a email back, it was from Don (one of the tech guys) with a detailed check list for me to work through with details of voltages on pins to check etc, well a quick check found that one pin on a connector had not been soldered so the voltage was floating around, a dab with the iron and the drift was gone.
Its now rock solid, from cold it drifts less than 100Hz (no display change) in the first 5 mins and then doesnt seem to move if i leave it on over night. I can not think of any other company that gives such good customer service.
Anyway the K1 is now fitted with the Auto ATU and battery options and it works great, well over 5 watts with the internal battery pack and very nice tone. If your looking for your next radio kit this should be it.This is my Third K1 and its going to stay here this time, well done Elecraft.
W0GI Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2009 10:02 Send this review to a friend
Great Low Power QRP  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I finally have a K1 on the air. This one is 40-30-20-15. It has the ATU, NB, and internal battery.

First of all,many say that it is expensive for what you get. I would agree in theory, as I have an FT-817 with the One Board Filter ( 2300/300hz collins) and also the BHI DSP. With the options, the FT-817 is pretty good. But it also draws around 500ma on receive, and 2A for 5w transmit.

For digital and SSB, the FT-817 is a great little rig, but for portable, I have to add a tuner and if I want to operate longer then a couple hours, a 7AH battery.

On the other hand, the K1 with 2500mah AA NiMH cells inside will receive for 30+ hours, and will probably give you 12-15 hours of operating at 3W. With the 7AH battery, it will run for days.

And to go portable, grab the K1, paddle, and wire antenna, and head for the mountains.

As for performance, the K1's CW tone is music to the ears, and the receiver is quiet. Switching between the K1 and Yaesu MK-V, I was amazed how much quieter the K1 is.

Will the K1 block strong close-in signals as well as the MK-V or a K2? No it won't, but that is the price you pay for low current consumption.

At 13.8v, the K1 is drawing 60ma on receive, and on transmit, 7W (1.15A), 5W (920ma), and 2W(500ma).

I rate the K1 a 5+, not because it has the best receiver available, or the most bands, but because it is a brilliant little QRP CW rig that has amazing performance for it's low power consumption.

If I want to work SSB/Digital portable, the FT-817 is great. For CW, the K1 is the winner.

While the K2 is probably the ultimate QRP rig, add some options, and the current draw and price starts going up.

Maybe in the future the FT-817 will get replaced by a K2, but at the same time, I would probably add a KX-1, as the FT-817 receiver is really good enough with a portable type antenna, especialy if you setup the gain properly, and learn to use the IPO and ATT.

The K1 is a keeper.

WA2WMR Rating: 5/5 Sep 23, 2009 08:40 Send this review to a friend
Everything is so tiny.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm almost finished building my K1 and am writing this review with the intention of reviewing it as a radio later. This review is strictly about the kit building experience.

Back in the '70s, I was certified to wire flight space craft. Also, I had built the Heathkit SB-102 plus several SB Line accessories as well as one of their color televisions. So, while I'm a rusty kit builder, I'm not a novice.

Let's start with the bad news. Everything is SMALL!. Tiny even. Positively microscopic. When I was inventorying parts, I needed a magnafying glass to read the numbers on the parts. In fact, after finishing the inventory, I had one diode left over and one diode not checked in the parts list. I called up support and asked if I could assume that the part I had was the last part unchecked on the list and was told that it was.

My soldering iron is the same GE handle and tip that was used by the NASA contractor for whom I worked. For this kit, it was a sledge hammer. Needed to get a new one. Got a very nice one from Radio Shack. Also, my eyes aren't what they used to be so I needed a magnifying workbench lamp. So, you may find that you will be spending somewhat more than expected for extra stuff.

The instruction sheet lacks pictures. When an instruction telles you to install R1, it would be very nice to have a small thumbnail sketch to show you where on the board to look for its location. (To be fair, Heathkit would show you a picture of R1 attached to a terminal lug, but when you went there, you found 35 other components already on that lug. No such problem with the K1. One component goes into one set of holes or one lug.)

Here's the biggie! About a dozen components are installed on the bottom of the board. After you've been busy installing components on the top side of the board, and it looks like an aerial photo of lower Manhattan, you are told to install a component on the bottom of the board and be very careful (why am I hearing Elmer Fudd?) to avoid burning a component on the top side of the board when soldering it. Why, oh why, didn't I take the blue pill? (oops, wrong movie) Why, oh why, didn't they have us just install the bottom components first? It got so bad toward the end that I would bend the leads and check that they fit into the holes and then clip them (hoping that I didn't cut them too short) and solder it on the same side as the component was mounted.

One other thing, which kinda applies to this as a kit and as a radio. The filter board is not meant to be swapped in and out with a second board to cover the other two (or 4 bands). It isn't overly difficult to remove it, but it wasn't designed the way the Sierra transciever's band boards were. This has to be done very carefully. So if you are considering going for the two band kit and getting the 4 band board later, go for the 4 band kit to start with unless you really want to have 80 meters. I can see myself getting a second radio rather than just a second board.

The alignment tool that they give you for adjusting capacitors during alignment isn't strong enough to turn all the caps. I finally had to resort to using a jewler's screwdriver to turn them.

Now for the good part. First of all, the resistors for the RF board come tied together by two strips of tape with the resistors in between, forming a laddar. When I inventoried the parts, I marked the stips with the resistor number to make it easy to find. When I needed a resistor, I'd go to the laddar, find the resistor, snip the ends of the leads and install it. It was a little frustrating, however, to see several resistors of the same value scattered around the laddar. It didn't occur to me that they were on the ladder in the order in which they were called for in the instructions and I didn't see any mention of this fact in the instructions. (That doesn't mean that it isn't there; I just didn't see it). That was a very nice touch.

Also, during the inventory, all parts that were not static sensitive I stuck into a styrafoam board and labeled the board beside the component. This made it very easy when the instruction said, "Insert C4..."

I went through the instructions and found the instructions for winding the torroids and then wound them all at the same time (be sure to label them). I don't think I would have had the patience to stop assembling the kit to wire them as they came due.

Well, that's about it for the K1 kit. Piece of cake. No problem. (Of course, I said the same thing about boot camp after it was all over) Be wewwwy caiwfuf. Toroids are fun. Toroids are fun. Toroids are fun. Toroids are fun. (Keep repeating that).
W9MVM Rating: 5/5 Jul 22, 2009 10:18 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the K-1 in March 2008 after double knee replacement. The K-1 was just assembled s past week. Randy N4TVC did a super job doing the build for me. Had it on the air w/G5rv and a MFJ tuner. Looks good works good. well pleased
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.
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