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Reviews For: Elecraft KAT500 Automatic Antenna Tuner

Category: Antenna Tuners/Matching Networks

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Review Summary For : Elecraft KAT500 Automatic Antenna Tuner
Reviews: 26MSRP: $650 (kit); $700 (assembled)
The KAT500 is a high-power autotuner that can be used with the K3/KPA500 and all other HF amplifiers and transceivers. Typical matching range is 10:1 on most bands at 500 W, and 3:1 at up to 1000 W.

- Frequency counter for autotune and auto antenna selection
- 3 antenna jacks with front-panel or remote selection
- SWR bargraph
- Automatic band switching
- Over 10,000 memories covering 1.5 to 60 MHz continuously
- Stores tune settings for each antenna on every band
- L-network with very high-Q capacitors for low tuner loss
- ATU safely interrupts amplifier key-line during tune
- Same width and depth as the K3/KPA500; just 1.5" tall
- Available factory assembled or as a no-soldering kit

Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N4BRJ Rating: 2023-03-24
Better than expected Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I was in the market for a tuner to keep my new Amp happy. The KAT500 interfaces nicely with my Flex 6400M and tracks right along with the radio as I tune without needing a shot of RF. Nice!
KB3NWU Rating: 2019-07-18
Great so far! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've only owned this tuner 2 wks and will update review if things change. Simply the best tuner I've owned or used in this hobby so far. I was a little hesitant to buy because I can't tune from the radio (FTDX-3000) with it - BUT I DON'T HAVE TO! After hooking it up to my radio and ALS-600 amp I went through the frequency ranges on all the bands simply tuning with a CW straight key. Now the tuner automatically follows band changes & remembers the settings to the frequency you are on the instant it senses RF (w/ an Elecraft radio it will automatically recognize the frequency too without having to sense RF). It has successfully tuned every frequency of every band on my Cobra Sr. Ultralite antenna - no more amp faults due to high SWR! Also, the tuner is small enough that it sits on top my radio without blocking the speaker. The amp never fails to go into bypass on the rare occasion you do tune. The ONLY thing I have to do now is make sure the amp is set to the band I'm on. Totally hassle-free ham radio experience now. This KAT500 replaces an MFJ-998 (you can read my review of that thing too) and the difference in quality and ease of use just can't be appreciated until you've spent several years "negotiating" with a tuner just to get things going.
W4HWD Rating: 2019-07-17
Excellent! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought my KAT500 as part of the PowerCombo along with the KPA500 (see my review over in the amplifier section). This tuner is beautifully matched to the KPA500 and works perfectly! It clacks around when you first train it on your chosen bands, but after that it seamlessly switches bands/segments with little or no chatter. The RF sensing really does work - using an Icom 718, I change bands, look over and the amp is showing the correct band and the tuner and amp both are ready to go! As I get older I just want to “plug and play”, so I ordered both the amp and the tuner factory assembled. This tuner works perfectly and is the perfect companion to the KPA500. My antennas are fairly well matched, not unreasonable, so the tuner isn’t working all that hard - now if you tried to tune the proverbial “wet noodle” it would probably object, but so would any other tuner. Elecraft stuff is not cheap, but well worth it. Now all I need to do is replace the 718 with a K3S and I too can enjoy total integration.
WB6IZG Rating: 2018-07-17
Works great but some compatibility issues Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Over all this tuner has worked good. It is very convenient to have it memorize its settings for each band segment of each band that you do during training. This allows for fast switching. I do have 2 issues and they are first of all the relays are noisy as others have pointed out. Second is sometimes the tuner will not switch bands using RF sensing. For my case I use a Yaesu FTDX3000 to feed the tuner. The problem is when I am on one band and want to switch to another band. I transmit a short RF pulse through the tuner, it is suppose to sense the RF and obtain the new frequency and switch the tuner. The problem I had is when I transmit on the new band the tuner has its LC settings from the previous band and this can present a high SWR to my radio. This limits the power output of my radio to about 15W. This 15W into a high SWR causes the tuner not to switch. I sent the unit in for service and they found nothing wrong but replaced a few components but this did not solve the problem.
For me the solution was to build a custom cable between my FTDX3000 and KAT500 tuner. This will not select the proper band segment but will put me on the correct band without having to transmit a RF pulse.
Apart from the compatibility issue with my Yaesu radio this tuner has worked well. It will tune many things. For instance my EFHW 80-10M antenna to work on 6M.
K4FX Rating: 2018-04-23
The Best Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
For a 600w amp this is as good as it gets. It will handle 10 to 1 SWR at 500-600w and will handle 1000w up to a 3 to 1 swr. The auto mode is like magic. I have a tri-bander for 20-15-10 and an OCF dipole for warc and 40 and 80. It only took tuning each band top, bottom and middle to set it up. It knows which antenna to go to, and it remembers the tune for each spot. Coupled with the KPA500 amp, it's a perfect match. Can't believe how simple it is. With the Flex 6300 and DDUtil controlling the auto-drive, it's about as foolproof as you can get!
W1AST Rating: 2017-04-29
Great High Power Tuner! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
When I bought a KPA500 I knew and thought I needed a high power tuner too. So buying it to work with the KPA500 made a lot of sense.

I thought I needed it to tune my ZS6BKW G5RV and that my then Mosley TA-33 was tuned. But that ended up being the opposite where the ZS6 was resonant on nearly all freqs I operate on and the TA-33 was way out of tune.

Using the KAT500 software you can program which bands on which antenna port. This makes it switch automatically to the correct antenna when RF is sensed.

The tuner has a lot of memories, so you can train it for the bands you operate, so it doesn't have to retune each time.

I have experimented and so far it tunes everything I've attached to it.

I'd say my only complaint is that it is pretty loud when tuning. I'd prefer a slightly larger case with some noise absorbtion. But it is small enough to sit below or above the KPA500. The two stacked are pretty darn small.

All in all it works great!
F6DEX Rating: 2016-12-30
Excellent Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Excellent and versatile antenna tuner, especially with a K3 but works fine with any rig. A bit noisy but fast, efficient and safe. This is a "must have" complement for a KPA500.
Lewis Rating: 2016-09-20
No Regrets Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I am using my KAT 500 Tuner with an Icom 7600, and an Acom 600s Solid State 600W Amplifier. The tuner has performed Flawlessly at High and Low power. It cost more than other competitive Auto Tuners but it's quality is worth the Price. So yes if you are looking for an Auto Tuner Consider the KAT 500
NT9E Rating: 2016-09-19
Great Auto-Tuner! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Purchased the kit but the main board was already assembled. Still a few hours of assembling the hardware. Works as marketed. Smart antenna switch allows automatic selection of antenna when you change bands. I have an Icom 7600 and had to order an LDG Icom-PAC cable from my local dealer, HRO, which provides power and tune operation from the radio. I would suggest this auto-tuner to any of my ham friends.
WA3OFR Rating: 2016-01-11
Outstanding Design! Well Done Elecraft! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I'm sneaking up on getting a complete K-Line....and the KAT500 was a Christmas present to accompany my KPA500 (Which I love!) purchased 2 years ago. I'm currently driving this combo with my old TenTec Omni V, so I'm not experiencing the full seamless capability that will come with the K3 / Frequency interface, but once skipping through my antennas and performing an initial calibration (at the 10 and 30kHz) spacings, normal operation is a breeze. Without the K3, I still need to send a couple of low power "dits" to give it RF/Frequency to pull up the tuner setting, but this is still infinitely quicker than my old, manual TecTec 238 tuner. I did get a little confused and made a call to Elecraft and spoke with Craig who cleared up my confusion. Apparently, once calibrated, and especially on SSB, it is more stable if left in MANUAL vs AUTO tune. (on SSB in AUTO, sometime it would try to retune at high power and chatter away ..much happier in MANUAL, which he said is the preferred position (once calibrated). The Utility program for the PC is excellent too. It provided real time info on my unmatched VSWR ("Bypass" value).. which has revealed that I have some intermittent problem in one of my antennas as the bypass VSWR moves around a lot. Not the KAT500's problem, but it is a very useful, "real time" diagnostic too that exposed something that I need to go fix come spring time!

This is a well made, well engineered product and I really appreciate the thoughtful design to make such a simple, seamless and "goof proof" / bullet proof piece of equipment. Well done Elecraft. Looking to treat myself a K3S as a retirement gift to myself this fall (2016) Can't wait!