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Reviews For: Elecraft K3s

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Elecraft K3s
Reviews: 29MSRP: 10W: 2300.- / 100W: 2900.-
Elecraft’s state-of-the-art K3S transceiver offers a unique combination of ultra-high performance and affordability.

Both 100-watt and 10-watt (upgradeable) models are available. No-soldering kit; also available fully assembled and tested, the K3S is comparable in both features and performance to transceivers listing at up to six times its price.

In a first for the industry, the K3’s identical main receiver and subreceiver each feature a high-dynamic-range, down-conversion analog architecture. This allows Elecraft to provide roofing filters with bandwidths as narrow as 200 Hz, while up-conversion designs have roofing filters typically 3,000 to 15,000 Hz in width. Unlike some competing down-conversion designs, the K3 also provides 6-meter coverage, as well as continuous tuning from 0.5 to 30 MHz. Each receiver has its own bus-switching mixer, narrow ham-band front-end filters, 32-bit I.F. DSP, low-noise synthesizer, and up to five crystal roofing filters.

The K3S is the only deluxe transceiver that is targeted at both home and field use. Weighing just 8 pounds and having dimensions of 4” x 10” x 10” HWD (10 x 25 x 25 cm), it’s well-suited to demanding DXpedition or Field Day operations. Its receive-mode current drain of less than 1 amp greatly facilitates battery or solar-powered mobile/RV/marine installations. But unlike smaller portable transceivers, the K3’s user interface is optimized for ease of use, and its feature set rivals units many times its size and weight.

The transceiver is offered both factory-assembled and as a modular, no-soldering kit. Either way, K3 owners can start with a basic version of the transceiver, at lower cost, then easily add modules later, such as the internal subreceiver, ATU, and 100-W stage. To ensure identical performance of both pre-built units and modular kits, modules are 100% assembled and tested at the factory. Builders learn the radio theory behind each of the modules during assembly, and acquire skills that will enable them to easily add future modules or upgrades.

Two 32-bit digital signal processors provide true software-defined features, along with expansion memory to handle future signal processing tasks and operating modes. The operator will have full control over any operating situation, with 8-band receive and transmit EQ, stereo speaker/soundcard outputs, binaural effects, and advanced noise reduction. Also included is built-in PSK31, CW, and TTY decode/encode, so the operator can enjoy the excitement of data communications with or without a computer. The rig’s rich I/O complement includes an isolated sound card interface, front/rear mic/phone jacks, dedicated serial I/O, and band data. An optional module provides transverter in/out and RX antenna in/out jacks. The latter allow the use of RX-only, in-line filters for extreme operating environments.

Available options include: built-in 100-W automatic antenna tuner with two antenna jacks (KAT3), subreceiver (KRX3), general-coverage front end band-pass filter module (KBPF3), 100-W stage (KPA3), RF I/O unit for RX antenna, IF Out and transverter interfacing (KXV3A), digital voice recorder (KDVR3) and our all mode 2-m (144-148 MHz) all mode internal option (K144XV).
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
M0WGF Rating: 2019-11-08
Great exciter or transverters Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I bought the K3s to replace an Icom 7300 which I found impossible to drive a transverter with and get a clean modulation. The K3s has exceed my expectations though I find the RX audio a little weak I get none of the overload problems I did with the 7300. It takes awhile to learn all that this rig can do but it's worth it. I doubt very much I will purchase and another rig as I expect this one to last a life time.
AB4PP Rating: 2019-09-19
EXCELLENT CHOICE Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Retirement gift to my self. Waited for years to get a new rig. I got the kit and spent 23 hours putting it together. I turned it on after putting together and it worked as advertised. Tuned up and got all the latest updates entered in. Love working CW and SSB on this rig. If I can hear them I can work them most times. Use with a Carolina Windom and a HEX Beam. Both tune very well. HEX Beam is flat on all bands but the windom needs tuning. Memories very good and very little tuning needed. I put in all the CW and SSB filters and love the listening on the rig. Awesome contest rig. Recommend it highly. Added the P3 and two speakers. Amazing rig for any type of operation.

Earlier 5-star review posted by AB4PP on 2019-05-17

Got the rig as a retirement rig. Got the kit with all the extras and the 100W extra. Added the PD and built that too. Took 23 hours to complete. Instructions very easy to follow. The pile of screws, nuts and washers was very large. Used two 48 hole muffin tins to sort them all out and then commenced to build the rig. After the 23 hours I plugged it in and voila it worked fine. The book and the company said it came set up to use and was with all the updates. I took to one the Elecraft techs house and he fine tuned it for me. Took home and have been using since with great satisfaction. If I can hear them I can usually work them. The two antenna ports on the back are great for switching back and forth on the Beam and the Windom I use. I might add some more HF antennas and then have a 4 way switch to use for that. Totally satisfied user. Bought in 2016 and been using since with no problems. Highly recommend for anyone serious on CW or SSB.
DL1EAL Rating: 2019-08-09
The best I ever had Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Many words have been written about the K3 and K3S, and I don't want to go into much of a detail. I have owned many transceivers before, ICOMs and Kenwoods and Yaesus. It had always been a money-driven compromise to buy those rigs, since I didn't have the budget to buy the best, and also no arguments against my finance secretary at home. This time, I sold all three transceivers (the IC-7300, the ANAN-100B, and, alas, the KX3) and bought one rig for the rest of my life: the K3S-100.

Now, after using it for a little more than one year, I am certain this was a good decision (which I regret I didn't make earlier). It is a great rig, and what I especially like about it is its rock-solid final PA stage.

My Antenna is a random wire of 38 ft. in length up 75 ft. above street level with an MFJ-993BRT remote ATU. Nothing else was tolerated by the condominium owners' meeting. The tuner can't tune all bands to optimum and all of the previous transceivers cut off transmit power, whenever the SWR went above 1:1.5 or so. The K3S does'nt have a problem and still feeds full power, even if the SWR is 2.5.

I am active in CW and RTTY contests often, and on those occasions other rigs cut down power because of thermal overloading. The K3S instead is keeping cool for hours and hours.

In summary, I can say: Elecraft, you have done a tremendous job in developping the K3 / K3S. The only little teardrop I have in my eyes is, if I had known there will be a K4 coming a year later, I would have waited...
KD6TRN Rating: 2019-05-09
A radio build for purist Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Having used Icom / Yaesu over the years, I wanted to try something different. I was not let down one bit by this HF rig. Mind you the button layout is pretty straight forward. Elecraft was built for radio purist in my mind. Not fully analog, but just digital enough to bring it into the modern world.
W2PP Rating: 2019-03-04
Operates like a HT Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
So, I've had mine now for about six months. The gigantic problem with this radio is that the buttons are non intuitive, you have to constantly refer to the manual, the number of sub menus will drive you nuts. Don't believe me? Down load the manual and LOOK at all those choices, they go on for pages and pages. I'm still not completely sure I know how to use the sub receiver for goodness sakes. I don't yet have a solid work flow. Been a ham for 44 years, have used it all, and this is the first radio I have ever had that I couldn't make work right out of the box. Probably going to end up selling it. Why did I compare it to an HT? Well you know how an HT has just a few buttons and zillions of sub menus? Well that's why.
F1GWR Rating: 2018-07-07
Awsome! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Won't deal about transceiver quality. Probably every praise has already been written.

Received my kit 1087x one day at 9:00 AM.
Took one hour to sort the hardware (mandatory).
And then 14 hours non-stop for mounting. A real pleasure. Was in a hurry to achieve it. Therefore sometimes skipped parts of chapters that I guessed to be oubvious. And wasn't. My fault. So had later some mechanical unmounting and rebuilding. In total lost time.

Therefore my humble advice to new builders: RTFM!
Fully and thouroughly. Definitely. It's worth it.

Just two additional details not mentionned in the manual:
- one spacer in the middle of the front plate circuit needs a insulating washer (otherwise may short two tracks on the circuit)
- if you feel a slight resistance during front plate against circuit assembly do not use force. LEDs might be misplaced.

And as for customer service, it's a hit!

You never get such quality at such a price by the big three...
W8NWN Rating: 2018-05-19
3rd review Time Owned: more than 12 months.
After two trips to the Ca factory for distortion, I now can say its a good radio. I only wish they had a warranty repair facility more centrally located.


CON'S Plain Jane screen but works ok. No where close to the Icom touch screens.

WB2PDW Rating: 2018-01-25
amateur radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
K3s is probably the best radio on the market today. purchased my K3s with every option available, CW operations is the best ever, does it all. My problem after 50 years of being a amateur radio person is that the quality of the respect to other amateur operators has diminished greatly, i hear more terrible things on the air than ever before, i think we have lost the real meaning of the art of radio communication. Its sad to here this happening on the air. For this reason i'm giving my review a 0- Awful because the amateur operators have ruined my ability to grade the k3s, its not the equipment that needs a review, its the operators who need to be reviewed. Furthermore after 50 years of radio, i'm selling my k3s which by the way cost me over 6 grand- excellent condition, maybe its time to call it quits, i'm sorry to say this is not the place , but so mote it be- good-bye 73 WB2PDW
W9SA Rating: 2018-01-20
New K Line Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I got the K3s Contester/DXer's package this week. Also got the P3, KPA500, KAT500. This is sort of my dream retirement rig and so far it has been a dream to operate. I won't rehash all the good stuff about the radio but suffice it to say the comments are true. Everything works together seamlessly so you basically have a 500 watt transceiver. My first real DX was So. Africa on 40 meters phone last night and that was using 100 watts. I'm using a Heil HM-12 mic, ZN-SL, and Bencher Straight Key.
KA1J Rating: 2017-12-10
One fantastic rig. Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
So much good to say about this radio. It is spec-wise according to Sherwood Engineering one of the top radios in the world. Coming in at #2, it is thousands of dollars less than #1 and the differences are statistical. More importantly, Elecraft constantly updates their radios and provides parts and instruction to keep your K3s as current as the newest release. No other manufacture does that, they just keep on releasing a new radio for you to buy.

My back-up radio is one of the early K3 models, serial #202. It has all of the upgrades available to make it current with the last K3 produced before they went to the current K3s line.

I have been working the ARRL 10M contest today. My antenna is a wire vertical for 160M, I am running 1500W and I am hearing stations clearly that can not hear me, and I have a lot of neighborhood RFI. The receiver in this radio is just stellar. If they had a K3s, they would be hearing me; You can't work em if you can't hear em.

Elecraft's email reflector has the owners of the company in frequent Q&A & looking for feature requests, what other company making transceivers does that?

If Elecraft someday makes a K4, I will buy it, sell K3 #202 and replace it as my backup with this K3s. I've been a satisfied customer for the last 8 years and am more than happy with Elecraft & this K3s.