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Reviews For: Elecraft K2 & K2/100

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Elecraft K2 & K2/100
Reviews: 262MSRP: 599. USD
SSB/CW 160-10M HF Transceiver Kit
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
VK2SR Rating: 2022-01-24
SUPERB DESIGN! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I have had two K2's over the last 6 years. Like a fool i sold my first one so when Elecraft had restocked the kits in Nov 21 i purchased one and had it built by Dave,W8FGU, in Michigan. This radio is still up there with the best designs around today. The single conversion analogue receiver with a 7 pole Xtal filter has to be heard to be believed! It sounds as good as my Collins 75S3 receiver. No Phase noise, no hiss,no digital artifacts or IMD crud! The power drain is so efficient and low it will run on a small SLA battery for hours. The size of the K2 is just perfect and with the SSB, NB,160M and Auto Tuner modules you have a top performing radio in a small and light weight but robust package! With the CALFIL filter settings set correctly you will have great SSB TX Audio with several mikes including Elecraft, Kenwood, Heil 5 and Yaesu hand mikes.The support from Elecraft staff is first rate and unequaled by any other manufacturer. Despite other well meaning comments i must disagree with the criticism of the internal speaker. I have used the K2 in both my mobile shacks and the receive audio out of the internal speaker is superb! It sounds great at my operating console and there is absolutely no need for an external speaker! It also sounds awesome when using a good set of cans! A superb design effort from Wayne and Eric, pure RF Design Genius so well done Wayne and Eric! I love my K3S/P3 as well but really love operating the K2! A very relevant and top performing radio in 2022! And its a through hole components Kit,,,Amazing!
Best 73 DE Chris VK2SR
KM6ZX Rating: 2021-07-16
If you like the K2, get the KPA100 Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought a used K2, SN 6665, after fiddling around with a QRP-Labs QCX for a few months. This is my second ham radio, so I can't really compare it to other rigs. First off, it's commendable Elecraft still supports this little radio after 20+ years, and the K2 has a very loyal following. Every time I email Elecraft with a question or to get a replacement part, I get a prompt and courteous response.

After a couple of years of use, I decided the K2 isn't a very good QRP radio. It might have been a great QRP radio back in 1999, but in the year 2021, there are many better, smaller, and less expensive QRP radios. What to do with the K2? I briefly considered selling it, and using the money towards a newer QRP radio, such as a KX2 or Lab599. Then I decided to upgrade to 100W and make the K2 my main base-station rig.

With the KPA100, I had a bit of sticker shock. I considered less costly options, such as a Hardrock-50, but decided an external amplifier with an oversized QRP radio is kind of the worst of both worlds. Now after building the KPA100, I think it's worth every penny, and is the best upgrade you can get for the K2. I went from an oversized, outdated QRP rig, to a nice, compact 100W desktop transceiver.

I'm no fanboy and am aware there are many newer, more modern 100W transceivers out there. Considering the price I paid for the used K2 and the KPA100 together, I didn't spend much more than the cost of a new IC7300 or FT-DX10. The K2 might not have all the bells and whistles of those radios, but I think on-the-air performance is just as good. For CW, the K2 is great.

Elecraft has already discontinued some of the options for the K2 due to lack of parts availability. I don't know what the future of the KPA100 is, but if you own a K2 and are thinking of upgrading it, it's probably best to order the KPA100 now while it's still available. I'd give the K2 five stars, except the design is over 20 years old and I don't have enough experience to make an honest comparison with other radios. I love my K2 and will keep it for a very long time.
K6CTW Rating: 2021-04-23
Superb Radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Built #455 in 1999 and have added all of the enhancements and "fixes". Also built and added a KPA-100/KAT-100 in an EC2 to the station.

Built the K2 as a QRP contesting rig and it has been awesome for that. Even won my section once with it in the CW Sweepstakes. It also allowed me to get WAS and WAC QRP CW with just the inverted V.

Now this rig is used mostly for chasing DX on the WARC bands and is the current main CW rig.

The assembly manuals are better than the old Heathkit ones (yes I have a DX-60 I re-manufactured) and the assembly is very straightforward with great checking your progress along the way.

All in all, this rig seems to still, after 22 years, be competitive and is a joy to use. You could NOT go wrong with this rig.

Oh, did I mention the awesome Elecraft support groups and staff? 73 & God Bless
K5TNL Rating: 2021-03-02
Fun Build. Great Radio! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I built a K2 (S/N 7960) and the KPA100 amplifier in the summer of 2020. I was immediately impressed with the thoroughness and easy flow of the instructions. They are the best instructions of anything I have ever assembled.

It took me a bit over 100 hours of bench time to build the Radio, with all the options and the Amp. I took my time. Elecraft has a great reflector (forum) with many who are very helpful. Tech support from Elecraft was top notch in addressing the few minor issues and questions I had along the way. There are also various resources available online to help with assembly and alignment of the radio. (spectrogram is your friend!)

I only wish they had not stopped making the associated KAT100 ATU but with some persistence I was able to find one used. The radio will work fine with current model tuners as well.

The radio operates very well with the receive being especially good. There is something to be said about the raw 'old fashioned' modulation and processing of signal it offers in comparison to SDR radios on the market.

Finally, I am proud to be using a radio built by my own hands. It gives a sense of satisfaction. I think you will be too. If you can solder and have the time this is not a 'hard' project to undertake. '73

KE1L Rating: 2017-10-15
Easy to operate Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have had my K2 (S/N 1984, personally built) for a long time now. I have the 160m option, the SSB option, the internal antenna tuner, and the audio filter in the main box. I don't have the DSP. The KPA100 is in a separate EC2, which may someday also contain the KAT100 if I ever get around to building it. (I rarely operate high power so it hasn't been a priority.) I chose the two box approach because it means that I can take the radio out to the field without needing to open the box and swap things around.

These days it's almost entirely a field radio, mostly because the noise level on HF in my dense urban neighborhood is now so high that it's nearly impossible to hear anything at home. Another reason that building the KAT100 hasn't been a priority; my field operations are 100% QRP.

The K2 is a pleasure to use. There are a bunch of menus but you almost never need to use them in the field. There are enough front panel controls to do everything you need during normal operation; you're not in menu hell like you are with a smaller radio like an FT-857, nor are you confronted with a sea of knobs and buttons like one of the big base rigs. For me it's "just right" in that way; it's about as small as it can be while still having all the essential controls easily available. Front panel knobs for CW speed and power output are a nice touch.

The receiver front end doesn't quite come up to the dynamic range of the current state of the art and might be a disappointment at a multi-multi contest station, but it's more than good enough for everybody else. Very quiet, enough sensitivity for any band conditions I have ever encountered on HF, and good selectivity once you get the crystal filters aligned properly. It can't match the signal slicing of DSP, but in exchange you get the smooth sound of an analog radio. (And you can get DSP if you want it.)

In summary, it's a classic. And you can still buy a kit and build it. If you don't want to do that, it's not difficult to find a used K2. (You might have to build an option or two if the one you find doesn't come configured exactly how you would like it.) Or you can buy a kit and get somebody to build it for you; check the Elecraft reflector for builders.

Earlier 5-star review posted by KE1L on 2002-07-08

I've had K2 #1984 (Big Brother is Listening) for about a year and a quarter now. It now has a new companion: the KPA100 "100 watt integration kit".

The KPA100 installs in place of the stock top lid of the K2. The SSB, noise blanker, 160 meter, and audio filter options (if you have them) remain in place and operational, but the ATU and internal battery options (which are attached to the top lid) have to come out. The computer interface option also comes out, but the KPA100 includes an equivalent computer interface.

I like to use my K2 for QRP field operations, especially contests like QRP Afield, QRP To The Field, and the Flight of the Bumblebees, so I wanted to make it as simple as possible to return my K2 to its field configuration. So I chose to build my KPA100 in a separate EC2 case, following the instructions published by KI6WX ( WA6GXD has another version ( To take the K2 into the field, all I have to do is disconnect the three cables (RF, power, and control) that connect the two boxes.

With this setup, I have the best of both worlds: a fully integrated QRP field radio in a small box, and a 100 watt rig for home use for those times when I want more power. The only thing left to complete the set is the 100W automatic antenna tuner, which will be available later this year.

All the usual K2 virtues remain, especially the smooth QSK and excellent receiver performance on both strong and weak signals. And you can go from 0.1 watts to 100 watts with a twist of one knob.
WA7WJR Rating: 2017-03-13
Amazed Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I picked up a K2 at the Mike & Key Flea market/hamfest in Puyallup this past weekend b/c I wanted to start working qrp and wanted a rig to travel with. The K2 was built in 2002 by a local ham who loaded it with everything except the 100w amp.

I replaced the battery and charged it up and tonight made my first qrp cw from Seattle to SF with 5w on 40m. Band conditions were marginal at best, and I was on my back patio with a Buddypole.

Anyway...the rig did everything it was supposed to do. It is easy and straight forward to operate. I even thought the menus (albeit a bit cryptic) are easily accessible and easy to figure out once you know what your looking for.

The internal speaker is pretty worthless (as is just about any built in speaker on any rig) so I plan on removing it. Use ear buds or a small external speaker.

I love the key speed adjustment on the front, and the LCD readout tells you the wpm. While I can adjust the key speed on my ICOM rig, the adjustment is small and I have to guess the wpm rate I am setting it to. Zero beating is a snap, and the installed filters made hearing the signal painless.

I still have a lot to learn, but I sure can't wait to get this up in a mountain, or down to the ocean to give it more of a workout.
WZ6P Rating: 2017-02-03
A Home Run! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I am so thrilled with my K2.
By far the best (and most involved) kit I've ever built.
Elecraft support is 2nd to NONE!
I had a couple challenges during assembly and I was able to solve them with the guidance provided by the Elecraft engineers, all via email.
I added the internal tuner and ssb modules.
Made my first contact on 40 ssb and got a great report running 10 watts. Not bad for a Southern California to Sacramento contact! The antenna is a Zero Five vertical.
I HIGHLY recommend this radio, especially if you like to build radios!
K7EXJ Rating: 2016-08-12
Excellent! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I bought my K2 via eBay in the fall of 2015 fully assembled with a serial number close to 3000. It was a QRP unit but with SSB. I later bought the internal antenna tuner and then the internal battery and RS232 port and installed them. I now have the DSP unit I bought from a ham via QRZ that I have not yet installed.

I use the K2 mostly outside in the back yard attached to my MP-1 "SuperAntenna" vertical baseplate with an MFJ 17' stainless steel vertical fully extended and no tuning coil. This gives me a clean 1:1 SWR and I have no trouble getting reports from the RBNs.

I removed the gel battery from the internal battery unit as it was both defective and heavy. I typically operate from either a 2000mah lithium power pack or 3 18665 lithium batteries in holder external to the radio.

The KAT2 antenna tuner is excellent but what is handy is the ability to tune two antennas, remember the settings, and then let you switch between them with just a push of a button. So I can use a sloper and a vertical and just determine which one is likely to be best.

The filters on the K2 are excellend. I typically use a Datong FL-3 on my main QTH radio (Yaesu FT767GX) but find that no filter at all is necessary for the K2; especially if I'm portable.

I also have an Electraft K1 (4 band) with internal tuner that I operate portable with. The K2 is a much better radio but the K1 is pretty darn good.

No idea how it works on SSB. I have a mic but have never connected it. :P
WB4TJH Rating: 2016-05-18
16years and still fine Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My K2 is a 300 serial number and has been fully updated to current models. It still has one of the best receivers I have ever owned and for the portable qrp role I originally got it for, it still shines, both on CW and SSB. This is longest I have ever owned an HF radio in 45 plus years on the air. The K2 is a keeper.

Earlier 5-star review posted by WB4TJH on 2013-04-20

My K2 is a 300 serial number, one of the very first bunch made. It has been totally updated by Alan Wilcox, and has the 160 meter board, SSB option and the noise blanker. I will eventually add some more options, but I have to say my K2 is still the best receiver I have ever owned and it never fails to amaze me with its performance. I have been through many HF radios since I got it, but the K2 remains as solid and fun to operate as the first day I got it. It's truly a KEEPER. The only radios that I would consider replacing it with would be another Elecraft or a TenTec. It's very satisfying to be using a top quality radio that is made in America.
Earlier 5-star review posted by WB4TJH on 2009-02-06

I just picked up an absolutely mint K2, and I have to admit my amazement with the receiver performance. NEVER in my 38 years as a ham have I had a radio that would let me listen to a weak signal so close to a strong one like this one will. The sensitivity and selectivity are uncanny. The K2 is simply a dream come true. If the signal is there, you can hear it. Period. If you have not tried one of these little gems, you should. QRP CW just doesn't get any better than this.
N4QT Rating: 2016-01-29
Small package Big Bang for your money Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I lucked out found a late model K2 on EBay. I was looking for a used K3 to use as a backup to my Yaesu FTdx5000mp.Even on the used market the K3's that I found were to expensive for my budget. After readingi the many reviews on the K2 on this WEB sight most very positive I decided to change my focus and look for a late model K2. The ham I bought my K2 from did a super job building my K2. Alignment is perfect audio reports are great and the receiver is almost if not just as good as my 5000! Amazing in such a small package. Almost disapears next to the 5000. This rig has been on the market since the turn of the new century. It does have Down conversion technology as does the 5000. I love mine it's a keeper. I saved about 50% of the new rig price through eBay.