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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
N1KDO Rating: 2014-09-26
More K-Line Magic Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This tuner is magic with the K-Line.

Here's why: when cabled up with your K3, the tuner retunes as you turn the VFO knob. Once the settings for your antennas (up to 3 with the internal antenna switch) are learned by the tuner, the tuner automatically selects the proper settings for that antenna on that *frequency*. That frequency -- not that band. The tuner knows what the transmit VFO frequency is and selects the tuning settings last used on or near that frequency. You don't have to send RF to the tuner and wait for it to re-tune. It is already done before you key the rig!

If you are listening to 75M and decide to spin the VFO to the low end of the 80M band, the tuner magically selects the proper settings about 1 second after you stop turning the VFO knob.

This means that after the tuner is "trained", you can QSY anywhere, and your antenna is tuned. That is like magic. Maybe better than magic. It means that the K-Line is virtually instant QSY anywhere your antenna can be (really has been) tuned.
AC4BT Rating: 2014-03-01
Outstanding Customer Support Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'm using the KAT500 to tune 40, 80 meter wire dipoles and I also have a Hexbeam connected in Bypass mode (since the Hexbeam is resonant on the bands it services). In addition to the KAT500 I am using the P3 Panadapter, KPA500 and K3 connected and working together. It's a great station that allows for quickly changing frequency and always being ready to transmit without delay.

The KAT500 Tuner is a very well thought out design that complements the rest of the Elecraft equipment. I have also successfully used it, stand-alone, with other Transceivers as a dedicated tuner.

Elecraft recently updated their firmware and I upgraded the K3 and the KPA500 without incident. However, I had issues upgrading the firmware on the KAT500 Tuner. The Tuner failed the firmware update and became unable to communicate with the Firmware utility program that is used to upgrade the firmware. The Tuner was functioning fine on the air but running an older version of the firmware and I was unable to upgrade it.

I send an email to Elecraft describing the problem and asking for help. To my pleasant surprise I quickly got a response directly from K6KR, Dick, who is the author of the Windows version of the Firmware. What better person to work on this than the author!

Dick had me run through some tests and had me send him the resulting screen prints. Dick responded immediately to the emails going back and forth and had the problem quickly diagnosed and resolved after only a few email exchanges! I am not used to such outstanding customer support in 'real' time.

I felt like I was given Royal treatment. Elecraft is an outstanding customer focused company, no one else comes close. I have never received such outstanding customer support from any company, Ham related or not.

Thanks, Dick, for taking the time to resolve my problem! Great job!
W0BBI Rating: 2013-08-09
Matches it all. Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I have had my KAT500 for several months now and purchased it along with the KPA500 to complete my K-Line setup. As with all Elecraft products the kit is well engineered and of exceptional quality. I only have home brew wire antennas at my location (80/40, 20/17 & 160) and this tuner allows me to operate all bands from 6-160 and use the KPA500 with no issues. Even my Palstar tuner has problems matching some combinations that the KAT500 handles easily.
Simply an excellent unit all around.
W9EW Rating: 2013-07-21
Wonderful Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
The tuner looks nice sitting below my KPA500 linear and next to my K3, and works great. I like the simple cable diagrams included in the owners manual depicting several equipment configurations. The manual also includes configurations with non-Elecraft transceivers. Construction and configuration were a snap.

I built it from a kit and, when used for the first time, the unit took a few seconds for the relays to search for the correct impedance match, and store the values in memory. After that, the tuner operated almost instantly.

I am please with this product and highly recommend it.
VE7IG Rating: 2013-06-09
Excellent! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Obtained this auto tuner recently for a remote installation. It works very well direct at the home station and over the internet using the original control program or the new internet control program available as a Beta currently from the Elecraft site. At the home station it found a match for all antennas I manually tune with the Ameritron ATR-30, taking a while to find the correct matches in some cases, but always at a low SWR. The antenna switching feature is very good for a remote application!

For anyone using the remoterig RRC boxes, both the KAT500 and the Elecraft KPA500 amplifier will work on com1 and com2 at the same time with serial port setting 4 on each com port. If you want to use CAT at the same time you have to use a serial server as well (such as a 4 port Moxa 5450).
W9DJ Rating: 2013-06-04
Great Product! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought the KAT500 kit along with the EPA500 amplifier kit at Dayton. The KAT500 kit is very straightforward with clear directions. It took me about 3 hours to assemble the tuner, and it worked perfectly the first time, unlike most of my Heathkits, which usually needed to let some smoke out first. The only trouble I encountered was positioning one of the rear coax connector lugs properly. It took a little pushing and tugging, but was not a big deal. The tuner has great matching capability, and matched my 160 meter loop on all bands, 160-6 meters. I have no way to measure losses, but I did not observe any heating when using it with the KPA500 amp (500-600 watts out). The tuner can take quite a while to tune when it goes to a new frequency, but the memory function allows instant recall later. When it's tuning, it is a bit noisy. Of course, it is not just a tuner, but also an antenna switch, and will automatically pick the antenna you specify for each band (up to three antennas). My next step will be to try to monitor and operate the tuner over the internet, though it should be operable without intervention; however, it provides a great deal of data on the serial port (matched and unmatched SWR, frequency, tuner inductance and capacitance settings). Another home run from Elecraft.
KC4OU Rating: 2013-05-23
Good for QRP too Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've had the tuner for about a month now, and I was happy to discover that I can use it with my QRP rig as well. What I did was go through each band 20 kHz at a time and let the tuner tune and memorize the frequency. Now it will tune instantly with 5w from my Ten-Tec Argonaut VI. Nice tuner, Elecraft!
K0IMI Rating: 2013-05-20
Works like a charm Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
My KAT500 completes my K-Line perfectly. I have had it in line with my K3 and KPA500 for 3 months now. This is like running a 500 transceiver. The three pieces of equipment communicate and coordinate perfectly.

The antenna is a GAP Challenger and the KAT500 tunes it to an SWR under 1.5:1 on all bands in no time at all.

Assembly was easy - done in one evening - and everything went together just as it should. (Normal for an Elecraft kit.)
WO4K Rating: 2013-03-26
Excellent Antenna Tuner and Great Customer Service! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Recently I purchased a factory-built KAT500 antenna tuner and W-2 watt meter to complete my K-Line. My previous tuner was an LDG AT-1000 PRO. The KAT 500 works great. I can highly recommend it. It will tune the proverbial wet noodle. But what has been truly exceptional is the customer service from Elecraft. My story:

After working great for several weeks after purchase from Elecraft, this past weekend I could not get the KAT500 to tune my K3 to the DXtreme Optimax end-fend long wire antenna. (I'm renting a house, need to have a low profile antenna.) I could not get a low SWR even into a bucket-of-oil dummy load.

So yesterday evening I emailed Elecraft and recited my problem, thinking the KAT500 antenna tuner had gone south. Not only did I receive a prompt reply today, but this afternoon David from Elecraft customer service spent well over an hour on the phone with me, walking me through a series of diagnostic procedures.

Through David's patience, humor, very thorough diagnostic process (and my dummy load), we were able to determine the fault was not in the KAT500 antenna tuner at all, but rather in a short piece of RG213 coax that went from my Alpha Delta antenna switch to the window antenna pass-through. That 24 inch piece of coax had failed and was causing the off-the-chart SWR.

I had read about Elecraft's legendary customer service, but today I got to experience it first hand. In an era where customer service is usually an afterthought, Elecraft sets their own bar high. I have never experienced this level of customer service from a ham radio manufacturer.

So if you are sitting on the fence, wondering which antenna tuner to purchase, go for the Elecraft KAT500. More expensive? Yes. But it's a great product and Elecraft's customer service makes it a solid investment.

KY6R Rating: 2013-02-17
Very Pleased Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The tuner tunes all of my antennas and works flawlessly with my complete K-Line (K3, P3, KPA-500 and KAT500).

Best system / rig I've ever owned by a long shot.