A $25 upgrade for the Elecraft KX2

Many of you know I’m quite a fan of the Elecraft KX2. I take this little transceiver along almost any time I travel. Not only is it a full-featured ham radio transceiver, but it’s also an exceptional shortwave broadcast receiver.

The KX2 is a quality US-built rig (like all of Elecraft’s gear) but I’ve never been a fan of its plastic encoder knob. It lacks a finger dimple and feels cheap compared to the rest of the radio. Don’t get me wrong: the stock encoder knob gets the job done, but it’s not nearly as nice as the one on the slightly larger Elecraft KX3.

Comparing the Elecraft KX3 (top) and KX2 (bottom) at Elecraft’s Dayton Hamvention booth.

Two weeks ago, I ran into another Elecraft KX2 owner and happened to notice that his KX2 had a solid aluminium encoder knob with a finger dimple. Turns out, he purchased the knob from a ham radio operator (W1JH) in Maine who manufactures and sells this knob on eBay.

The price was $24.95 US shipped. I didn’t hesitate to place an order.

You might think $24.95 is a lot to pay for such a small item, but third party Elecraft vendors tend to charge much more for comparable items. I’ve also considered adding a heatsink to my KX3, for example, but those can total upwards of $100!

My new encoder knob arrived in only a couple of days via the USPS–installing it was a breeze.

It took me all of thirty seconds to pull the plastic knob off of the KX2 and replace it with the new aluminium one. The seller even includes an Allen wrench to secure the new knob.

The new knob is slightly larger in outer diameter, but fits the KX2 like a glove. The slightly larger size makes the finger dimple a practical addition for smooth band-scanning.

If you own an Elecraft KX2 (or the Elecraft KX1) I highly recommend this simple encoder/VFO knob upgrade!

Click here to order on eBay.

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11 thoughts on “A $25 upgrade for the Elecraft KX2

  1. Rob Henderson | KB7PWJ

    I realise this is an old post, but I’ve got a radio from another company that needs the same upgrade, so I’m looking for specs on this possibility. Can you tell me the dimensions of this knob? (Height, diameter, shaft size, D-hole or round.)


    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Rob, unfortunately, I no longer have this encoder. In 2020, I heard Wayne Burdick note in a presentation that changing out the encoder on the KX2 could possibly decrease the life of the optical encoder–not dramatically, but he said that it could lead to more strain on the encoder if the weight is significantly different. I found that the weight of this encoder was likely not what he was talking about, but I pulled it off anyway. I gave it to a friend because it fit his radio (I can’t remember which model now) so perfectly.

      1. Rob Henderson | KB7PWJ

        Thanks, Thomas! It’s amazing how hard it is to find a simple spinner knob. I didn’t expect that when I started. And how often they’re sold as “for X specific rig” with no further specs, as if we all have the same needs.

        So… I’ll make my own. Problem solved.

  2. Allan

    This knob fits perfectly. Sorry about not following up sooner.
    It is infinitely better than the cheap garbage Elecraft supplies.

  3. Allan Copland

    $24:95…… that’s expensive. I looked for an anternative and found this. Looks just like the one you bought, but far cheaper. Solid ally with a black finish, tuning dimple and knurled edge. It’s attached like your by a hex head grub and supplied with an allen key / hex key. Whay are Elecraft such cheapskates? Makes absolutely no sense to me, unless of course they don’t care about their repulation.
    73 AL. GM1SXX

      1. Chad

        Allan so you confirm this is the knob fits the KX2? Tempting.

        I’ll likely fork out the bit extra to buy from W1JH since he’s a fellow ham and I like knowing where my money goes!!

        TU es 73!

  4. /guy (73 de kg5vt | wqpz784)

    a $25 exercise in extreme frustration for me since i’m not mechanical and i have problems with feeling in my hands due to diabetes.

    after removing the factory knob and mounting the new one, it rubbed against the plexiglass display cover, so i loosened those screws and did my best to move the cover upwards a fraction. but then i realized the problem was that the dimple side was clearing the cover, but the allen screw-hole side dipped down compared to the dimple side. in other words, the knob wasn’t perpendicular to the surface of the front panel. all attempts to correct this failed miserably.

    and yes, i considered that the shaft itself might be off-center or warped, but with the factory knob there is no dipping whatsoever–it moves levelly and perpendicular. i guess if i was handy i could try a shim or something, but in such matter i only manage to screw things up further.

    oh well. $25 experiment goes south.


    1. Thomas Post author

      Golly–I do suspect the encoder shaft on yours might not be true. Do you have a friend nearby who might be able to make the adjustment? Or, you could take it to a local jeweler and I bet they’d set it for you. I see where a lack of feelings in your hands could have an impact on your ability to make the adjustment. That Allen wrench is pretty small.

      I found it very easy to do and I absolutely LOVE the upgraded knob. Rest assured, if you can get someone to set it for you, you’ll be pleased with it!


  5. Edward

    A very good ergonomic radio with a glaring oversight that you corrected. Other issues are the connections on the sides/bottom of the radio. I think these should be on the rear panel. It seems modern radios are using every surface they can find to put connectors on. Has anyone found right angle connectors to solve this problem.


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