Scott’s Elecraft KX3 Go-Box

Many thanks to Scott (AK5SD) who shares the following photos and bill of materials for his custom Elecraft KX3 go-box:


IMG_0531 IMG_0534

IMG_0532 IMG_0535 IMG_0537 IMG_0536

Bill of materials

The panel was custom laser cut by Front Panel Express. I have the CAD
file and I’m willing to share it with anyone who wants to reproduce my effort.

Amazon.com
Case B&W Type 1000 Outdoor Case with SI Foam
You won’t use the foam, so you can buy the version without it if you can find it cheaper.

Battery Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh Multi-Voltage (5V 12V 16V 19V)
Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank
Avoid look alike batteries and the next generation model from Anker. The newer Anker
battery is only capable of delivering 1.5A from the 12V supply. Two look alike batteries
I tried did not have the auto-off feature that the Anker does.

Vetco.net
ACC2 and I/Q Jacks 2 x 2.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (PH-666J-B)
Phone, Key, and ACC1 3 x 3.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (High Quality) (PH-504KB)
Mic Jack 1 x 3.5mm 4 Conductor Jack Panel Mount (PH-70-088B)
12V IN and CHG IN 2 x 2.1mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2112)
12V OUT 1 x 2.5mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2512)

You also need plugs and wire for interconnects. I bought some 2.5mm (CES-11-5502)
and 3.5mm (PH-44-468 for stereo, PH-44-470 for 4-conductor) audio cables with right
angle plugs and just cut them to use for the signal lines going to the KX3. I did the same
thing for the 2.5mm (PH-TC250) and 2.1mm (PH-TC210) power cables. A couple of
caveats are in order. The Phone, Key, and ACC1 interconnects require low profile
right angle connectors. The cables I listed above won’t work. Vetco part number
VUPN10338 will work. The power cables I’ve listed above use 24 gauge wire. This
is a little light, but the runs are small so I think it is OK. You can use higher gauge
cables if you can find a source.

USBfirewire.com
USB OUT USB 2.0 Right Angle Extension Cable (RR-AAR04P-20G)

Digikey.com
L Brackets 8 x Bracket Rt Ang Mount 4-40 Steel (612K-ND)
These L brackets are used to mount the KX3 to the panel and the panel to the case.
For mounting the KX3, I use a little piece of stick on felt on the bracket to protect the
KX3’s cabinet from damage. Replace the KX3’s screws with #4-40 Thread Size, 1/4”
Length Steel Pan Head Machine Screw, Black Oxide Finish (see below). For the panel
mounting, use #6-32 Thread Size, 3/16” Length self tapping sheet metal screw. You
may need to cut the tip off in order to not puncture the outside of the case.

RG316 BNC Male Angle to BNC Female SM Bulkhead Coaxial RF Pigtail Cable (6”)
This is not the original interconnect I used for connecting the KX3’s antenna output to
the panel. However, I think it is a better option for new designs. The caveat is that you
will need to verify the hole in the panel matches the bulkhead connector on this cable.
There will be a little loop in the cable when you are done, but that is fine.

Micrfasteners.com
Screws for Sound Card 2 x FMSP2510 – M 2.5 x .45 x 10mm
Screws for KX3 Bracket Mount 4 x MSPPK0404 – 4-40 x 1/4
Screws for Countersunk Panel Holes 8 x FMPPK0403 – 4-40 x 3/16
Screws for USB Connector *** 2 x FMPPK0406 – 4-40 x 3/8

I’m pretty sure these are the right length for the USB connector. I am doing it from memory.

Amazon.com or eBay.com
Soundmatters foxL DASH A Wireless Bluetooth Soundbar (OPTIONAL)

Sonoma Wire Works GJ2USB GuitarJack 2 USB Portable Audio Interface (OPTIONAL)
(Make sure you get the USB model, not the 30-pin model.)

This is optional if you want a built-in sound card interface for a waterfall display using iSDR. Make sure to eliminate the holes in the upper left corner of the panel if you are not installing. You will also need 2.5mm x 10mm screws to mount this to the bottom of the panel (see below).

bhi Compact In-Line Noise Eliminating Module (OPTIONAL)

In my opinion, the KX3’s noise reduction is totally ineffective for SSB communications. This external noise reducing DSP is one solution, albeit an expensive one, to that problem. It is only for SSB, not CW or digital modes. It is also available from GAP Antenna Products.

IMG_0530


Scott: you have done a beautiful job here and have spared no expense to make a wonderfully-engineered and rugged go-box. No doubt, you’re ready to take your KX3 to the field and enjoy world-class performance on a moment’s notice. 

Though I’ve never used them personally, I’ve noticed others who have taken advantage of the Front Panel Express engraving service–certainly makes for a polished and professional front panel.

Again, many thanks for not only sharing your photos, but also your bill of materials which will make it much easier for others to draw inspiration from your design!

AK5SD_QSL_Card

Speaking of designs, when I looked up Scott on QRZ.com, I noticed that he also sports a QSL card (above) designed by my good friend, Jeff Murray (K1NSS). Obviously, Scott is a man with good taste!

Spread the love

26 thoughts on “Scott’s Elecraft KX3 Go-Box

  1. Matthew

    Can you send me the CAD design? I need to work something up for my go box and didn’t want to start from scratch.

    Reply
  2. Patrik Maechler

    Hello Scott
    I like your idea very much and would like to make one for myself.
    Can you provide me the CAD file for the front panel?
    Thanks and best regards from Zurich,
    Patrik HB9IQW

    Reply
  3. Pingback: KX3 Go-Box – Jens Hoffmann

  4. W7AKA

    I’ll also love the CAD/Front Panel Express file. I’d like to modify it slightly for a Pelican 1200 case. Thanks much!

    Reply
  5. Pieter

    Thanks for posting all the detail.

    One correction I’d like to point out. The following cable should be used to route the antenna output to the panel. I ordered the one listed in the write-up and it doesn’t allow for panel-mounting the BNC female plug. The one below is the “large bulkhead” version of the same cable and will work as intended.

    http://www.coaxrf.com/shop/bnc-male-angle-rg316/rg316-bnc-male-angle-to-bnc-female-big-bulkhead-coaxial-rf-pigtail-cable/

    Reply
  6. Rafael

    LoL. I just found out I live literally about 5 blocks from Elecraft offices. I was looking up these radios for a packable or manpack set up for long backpacking trips.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Rafael, you might also check out Elecraft’s new KX2. It’s even smaller than the KX3 and has most of the KX3’s features. It’s also slightly lower in price.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  7. Curtis

    Scott, you should do an update with the unique PTT you use and the lightweight mic you use as well. I just bought a bunch of the parts.. I plan on doing this project this year.

    Reply
    1. Scott Dupuie

      In order to free up a hand, I started using an head worn microphone like those used by singers and public speakers. The one I have is the Nady HM-45U Headworn Uni-Directional Condenser Microphone. At the present time, it is available from proaudioguys.com for $40. One thing to know about this mic is that it has a wide frequency response. If you use it without equalization it will likely end up being bass heavy. I use the graphic equalizer in the KX3 to optimize it for punch.

      It can plug directly into the Mic port of the KX3, but you have to turn off PTT in the menu. Another option, and the way I do it, is to get a stereo to dual mono splitter and plug the head mic into the tip input and a PTT button into the ring input. The splitter I use is the Hosa YMM-261 Stereo Breakout Cable. You can plug any PTT switch with a 3.5mm plug into the red jack but I actually plug my CW key into it. The CW key is attached to the bottom of my iPhone using Scotch Dual-Loc fastener. I can simply press the CW levers together to activate the PTT. When I want to operate CW, I unplug the the CW key from the adapter and plug it into the Key input on the KX3. If/when Elecraft enables the Key input to activate PTT, I won’t need the adapter cable any more.

      So, I have the head worn mic and hold an iPhone in my left hand (for logging using Hamlog). The right hand enters the call signs and signal reports into Hamlog and also operates the PTT which is attached to the underside of the phone. This results in a pretty streamlined work flow for me.

      Scott
      AK5SD

      Reply
  8. Scott Dupuie

    I’ll try to answer the questions posed so far.

    I don’t know if the B&W case is “airtight”. Is is certainly supposed to be water proof and dust proof. I have not felt compelled to test it, but I I did I would take the radio out of it first. Hi Hi One caution is that you have to be really careful when you install the L brackets that hold the panel in place. They screw into the inside of the case. If the screws are too long, they can puncture the outside of the case (I believe the case is double walled).

    The BHI Compact Noise Eliminating Module does a fine job. It is expensive, so if you can get it direct for less then go for it. I bought it at the Dayton Hamvention. One peculiarity is a takes a fraction of a second (maybe 1/2 second) to “lock on” to the noise profile of the band you are on. Until it locks on, you get the full noise. This happens each time you release the PTT (or VOX), so you get a blast of noise for 1/2 second and then it kicks in. It has to do with the particular noise reduction algorithm they are using. There are other after-market DSP noise reducers out there, but none that are as small and can run off of 2 AA batteries.

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention the headphones. They are the Sennheiser PX 100-II On Ear Miniheadphone. I highly recommend them. They are open back so they let in a little outside sound, but not too much. That is a plus for me, but I just wanted to mention it in case that is a negative for you.

    Scott
    AK5SD

    Reply
  9. Dale Moore

    Scott’s planning, sourcing and execution of his go-box has inspired me to refine my SWL/DX kit. The only downside is the “noise” he may get in the field from all the people asking where he found such a cool unit!

    I don’t believe the fold-up headphones were identified in the writeup; could that info and any opinions on their performance be supplied?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Guy Atkins

    This is one beautiful go-box! Scott can be very proud of his design, and many thanks to him for sharing his parts list and tips.

    I really like the inclusion of the BHI Ltd. noise reduction accessory. I’ve been a big fan of their noise reduction performance for years, and find that the results surpass what I’ve heard in various SDR radios and software (although I do consider Studio 1’s NR to be very good).

    Readers interested in the BHI Compact In-Line NR accessory should note that purchasing through BHI’s web site is less expensive than through GAP ($226 USD incl. international shipping vs. $259 *without* shipping).

    Also, the newest BHI products like this compact version have an improved NR algorithm for even greater (40 dB) maximum noise reduction.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Scott’s Elecraft KX3 Go-Box | Q R P e r

  12. Mario Filippi

    Scott’s Go Bag radio is a work of art, must be lots of fun firing it up and having QSOs. Very neat, organized, and quality workmanship.

    Reply
  13. Edward

    Nice concept in packaging. I seen this done for other field day equipment with Pelican boxes, Is it air tight when closed? Have you thrown it in a lake to test how waterproof ?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.