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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
WH6V Rating: 2013-02-06
High Quality Automatic Antenna Tuner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Simply stated, the KAT500 works as specified by Elecraft. This unit is a factory built one and was received in perfect working order and It was easy to set up using the available utility software. The utility SW allows you to put this tuner anywhere you want, except for outdoors as it is not weather poof. I use it with a Flex3K SDR transciever which drives a KPA500 Amp and they all work very well together. The PTT set up is great in that it allows the Flex to control the tuner and amp as a combined unit. The KAT500 tunes my antennas on all bands with no problems or complaints. Which is something the tuner it replaces could not do. It's ability to fine tune is much appreciated. Once the KAT500 learned my antennas, tuning became lightning quick. Elecraft equipment is expensive, but you do get your moneys worth.
N8DDW Rating: 2013-01-30
Works Perfect (Like all my Elecraft gear)! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Recently built the new KAT500 to complement and complete my K3 station. I'm a guy who was a solid Ten Tec fan, right up until I built the KPA500 which then led me to sell my Orion II and go K3, and P3, now KAT500 too! Elecraft gear takes me back to my early days as a ham when Heathkit was still around and drooling over the latest Heathkit and Radio Shack catalog were the highlights of my day! Like all Elecraft gear, assembly is easy and while this kit only saves you $50.00 it gives you the sense of accomplishment that harkens back to yesteryear! I'm becoming very biased I must admit. Elecraft to me is what Ten Tec was to Ham Radio 30 years ago (young and fresh with great gear). The KAT500 works flawlessly and in perfect harmony with my KPA500, K3 and P3. I love the easy software updates and the seamless way Elecraft gear works (reminds me of Apple products). Another great piece here. So long LDG Pro II, hello KAT500! 73' Adam N8DDW
W4ABF Rating: 2013-01-25
Awesome Performer Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
After using a big name brand and $$ auto tuner for a couple of years, it was time to find a tuner that worked consitently. The KAT 500 fills this need perfectly. Assembly is easy, instructions are clear. I lost a switch cover during assembly and was promptly sent a replacement. My customer service experience with this company has been off the charts (I also own a KPA500 amp). Automatic band switching (it interfaces with the KPA500), configurable antenna selection (connectors for 3 antennas), 100% remote control via PC (as with the KPA500), and more. This unit will tune antennas my other tuner was unable to. I have 2 antennas, a Carolina Windom 80 that I thought was defective as my other tuner often had trouble matching it, and a Traffie HexBeam which, though the SWR is less than 1.5 between 6-20M, was problematic at times with the other tuner. I get 1:1 on the Traffie 6-20M and close to that with the CW 80 now. It even gives me a good match on 30-80M on the Traffie (which is cut for 10-20M) - I worked Australia (from NC) long path on 80M with the Traffie, but not intentionally, thinking I was connected to the CW 80. Granted, the unmatched SWR on the Traffie at 40/80M is 9:1, but the KAT500 brings it down to 1.5:1. Not an efficient way to radiate RF, but it did protect my rig from my error and makes the Traffie useable as a backup if needed. I have used this tuner with my FLEX 5000, SB102, KWM2, and a Yaesu FT-857d. What can I say - it just works!
W1NEJ Rating: 2012-12-15
Easy to build, works great Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This tuner tunes like any tuner does, although it will tune my 40 meter OCF on 80 meters and my old tuner did not. However, what makes this so nice is that you can configure any of three antennae outputs as the preferred antenna on a band-by band basis using the utility app that you run on a PC.

Put it together in about an hour and a half with no problems whatever.

Once it learns the tuning configuration, it just switches to the correct antenna as soon as I switch bands on my K3, but I understand that it will also automatically switch bands as soon as you key your radio since it knows the frequency you are tuned to, so you do not need a K3 for this function.

The utility also shows you which of 8 capacitors are selected, which of 8 inductors are selected, and if the capacitors are connected to the transceiver side or antenna side of the inductors.

You also run the keying line for your linear through the KPA500 and your linear will be kept from operating while the tuner is doing the tuning.

This has really made my K3/P3/KPA500/KAT500 work like it is a 500 watt transceiver.

And it has typical Elecraft quality.
VK4FD Rating: 2012-11-20
Excellent Product Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have been field testing the KAT500 for some time now utilizing several multiband antennas along with a 4 element triband yagi.

When the unit arrived some time was spent hooking it up and a read of the manual is very helpful in understanding how the KAT500 can be used.

The first step is to connect each of your antennas to the tuner, connect the tuner to both your transceiver and PC/Laptop then open the utility up and set up the communications.

Once you have this working (simple stuff) look at the Utility, click on Configuration and read the instructions as you 'assign' each band to one or more antennas. You are able to also select if you wish to change bands to the "Last Antenna" or to a "Preferred" antenna. You also may want to set up the VSWR threshold level for when you wish the KAT500 to enter 'Bypass' mode, the level of VSWR you want the tuner to do an auto-tune. You can also do a tune at the lower and uperr ends of the bands of interest as well as a few in between to 'teach' the KAT500 segments of each band to be saved into the memory Bins. Application of RF will cause the KAT500 to select the correct antenna/impedance match even if you do not use a K3 or the Auxbus cable for communications between the transceiver and the KAT500.

Once the KAT500 has been 'programmed', your setup can be saved and your configuration saved also. These can be recalled at any time via the KAT500 Utility software provided by Elecraft. The Utility program can then be used to check for future FW updates but in day to day operation is not required of course.

On each band, the KAT500 has a collection of 'Bins' that store in memory the tuner settings achieved after each tune. As you move up and down a given band the KAT500 will select the correct/best settings from these bins if you have the Auxbus cable connected to it from your K3. This utility is really helpful to get your station up and running quickly.

Elecraft have done an excellent job in producing an auto-tuner that is simple to use after the initial setup has been completed. Day to day operation becomes completely seamless.

If you are searching for a robust automatic tuner then look no further as I am sure the KAT500 will not disappoint whatever the transceiver being used. The tight integration with the K3 however does make life so much easier. When switching bands and chasing multipliers up and down the band the KAT500 will protect your amplifier if you are using one (key interrupt line) and the ability to tune a wide range of impedance's means you are getting the best out of your antennas with very low loss levels due to the LC circuitry of the KAT500.

Excellent quality competitively priced and the Elecraft name make this a keeper.

Many thanks to Wayne, Eric, Bob,Jack, Dick and all the great Field Testers who worked hard to give us the KAT500. Take a bow gentleman (and Ladies).

gd dx,
K4AEN Rating: 2012-11-19
Another Excellent Elecraft Product Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Received Serial Number 80 (my first factory assembled piece of Elecraft gear) on Friday, Nov. 16. This tuner completed my K-line station (K3; P3; KPA500) I use a 350' loop fed with 450 ohm ladder line; this tuner presented the same SWR as the K3 internal ant. tuner, which is no surprise, as it was designed by the same folks. It works just as advertised, and as one would expect from a piece of Elecraft Gear. It provided a match on each band, always less than 1.5:1