At Elecraft, like many of you, we are in our 9th week of shelter in place. This has been tough on all of us. Back on March 16th, when the initial California state and local orders were issued with an April 11 estimated end date, we suspected that it would last longer than that, but not as long as this. The majority of our production team had to be furloughed immediately, with a few working from home. Most of our sales, support and the K4 engineering team have also been working from home. We allowed a minimal skeleton staff on site. ( Less than you can count on one hand, with each operating alone in large separate areas.). We’ve been able to ship a subset of our existing radios and accessories from finished goods stock, which has kept cash flow coming in. We thank you for the continuing orders!
We’ve also spent this time totally reorganizing our sales, operations, production, and test areas for proper social distancing along with extreme cleaning and health screening procedures as per the new local and national COVID-19 guidelines for manufacturers. (Wearing masks at all times, Daily health screening upon entry to the building, additional spacing and partitions between work stations and ‘you touch it, you clean it’ procedures, etc.) This is a required change as per our local and State health departments.
Many of our local sub-contractors (sheet metal fabrication, circuit board assembly, etc.) have also been impacted by shelter in place orders. Over the coming weeks, as the State and local health authorities slowly allow more activity, we should be able to get better delivery estimates from them as they are able to ramp back up. Like us, they are eager to get back online. National and international parts suppliers have been similarly impacted.
So what does this mean for first K4 shipments? Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were projecting first K4 deliveries beginning sometime in the April – May window this year. Obviously the pandemic has thrown out those estimates. Based on a gradual reopening in California and other areas, our current feedback from suppliers, and taking into account unexpected delays, shortages, last-minute engineering changes, etc., my estimate is that the first K4 shipments will begin somewhere in a window of late July through the end of August 2020. We’ll keep you informed as we get better information.
As a side note, I’d like to thank everyone who has ordered a K4 for your support. We anticipated seeing cancellations during this pandemic delay, but we have received very few. Our K4 order backlog has actually continued to increase over the past 9 weeks. Wow! You, as our supporters and customers, have continued to energize and amaze us as we have created new products for you these past 21 years. Thank you.
Also, as with all of our products, our engineering team keeps designing new features during the product‘s lifetime. They certainly have not been idle on the K4 during the shelter in place order. (Our DSP S/W defined radio architecture allows us to continually give you a ‘new’ radio with each new sw release. 🙂
Keep an ear out for us on the air too. While making a few short test transmissions with my K4 this morning, I ended up in a very nice QSO on 20M SSB! If you hear me, or others on our team, please say “hello.” We may be on a K4!
We hope you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy.
Thanks for the tip, Paul!
This morning, I found a few photos I took of a prototype K4 at the 2019 Hamvention and 2019 W4DXCC conference. Thought I’d post them here for those who’d like an up-close look at the K4’s front panel:
Eric Swartz demoing tablet control of the K4 at the W4DXCC
Elecraft has now published a K4 product page on their website with information about pre-orderswith information about pre-orders. In short, the base model—which includes two full receivers—starts at $3999 US.
Wayne Burdick told me that they expect to start shipping the K4 by the end of 2019.
I snapped a number of photos of the two engineering prototypes of the K4 this morning in Building 1 at the 2019 Hamvention.
Our new K4 harnesses the latest in signal processing while retaining the best
aspects of the K3S and P3. The resulting user interface makes the technology
transparent, allowing you to focus on working the world.
160-6 meter, all-mode coverage & dual RX
The K4 includes dual receive over 100 kHz to 54 MHz. Since it utilizes direct
sampling, there’s no need for crystal filters in the K4 or K4D (see Models, back
page). For extreme-signal environments, we offer a dual superhet module
(standard in the K4HD). An internal VHF/UHF module is also planned.
High-resolution mini-pan for each receiver
Our advanced fine-tuning aid, with its resampled bandwidth as narrow as +/- 1
kHz, is displayed separately from the main panadapter. You can turn it on by
tapping either receiver’s S-meter or by tapping on a signal of interest.
Simple operation and setup
The K4 features a large, full-color touch display, combined with a rich set of real
controls. Per-VFO transmit metering makes split mode completely foolproof.
Band-stacking switches and per-receiver controls are both intuitive and versatile,
adapting to operating context. Usage information on these and other features
is just one tap away, thanks to our built-in help system.
Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)
Rich I/O complement
The rear panel includes all the RF, analog and digital I/O you’ll need to complete
your station. All K-line accessories are supported, including amps, ATUs, and our
K-Pod station controller. The HDMI video output supports an external display
with its own user-specified format.
Full remote control from multiple devices
The K4 can be 100% remote controlled, via Ethernet, from a second K4 as well as
a PC, notebook, or tablet. Panadapter data is included on all remote displays.
Modular hybrid architecture
The K4 adapts to your needs, with three models to choose from:
Basic K4 with wide-range dual receive
K4D with diversity receive
K4HD with a dual superhet module for exceptional dynamic range
You can upgrade or add options as desired, or as new technology becomes
available. This extensibility applies to software as well. The K4’s powerful, fast-starting CPU provides unlimited expansion opportunities.
Fast signal processing
The RF signal chain in the K4 incorporates parallel hardware processing of data
streams, including a dedicated DSP subsystem. This, combined with silent,
PIN-diode T/R switching, ensures fast CW break-in. Data and speech-processing
delays are also minimized.
Standard DSP features include easy-to-adjust, per-mode RX/TX EQ; clean,
punchy RF speech processing; full DVR capabilities; and several built-in data
decode/encode modes. Direct-sampling technology results in an ultra-flat
passband response for clean RX and TX audio. Since the signal chain is softwaredefined, the DSP can be field upgraded to add new algorithms and operating
The KAT4 ATU has a nominally 10:1 matching range. It includes 3 antenna jacks,
any one of which can be selected as an input for one or both receivers.
Internal VHF/UHF module (future option)
An expansion slot is reserved for a high-performance VHF/UHF module, with
output of approximately 15 W. This module will support all modes.
A no-soldering kit version of the K4 is planned for later release. Builders will learn
about advanced radio technology as they proceed. All modules are pre-aligned
Other: RX/TX EQ, real-time clock,100% remote control including panadapter data, remote antenna switch control*, custom in-box software apps*
Models (K4 & K4D upgradeable by the user at any time)
K4: Basic K4 transceiver provides 160-6 m, all-mode coverage; 100 W output; five receive RF sources; and wideband dual watch, allowing the main and sub receivers to be set for the same or different bands.
K4D: Adds KDIV4 option, with a second set of band-pass filters and additional direct- sampling ADC module. This allows the two receivers to use different antennas – a requirement for diversity receive. Having two sets of band-pass filters also optimizes signal handling when the receivers are on different bands and/or antennas.
K4HD: Includes all of the above, plus our dual superhet module, the KHDR4. Ideal for competitive field day, contesting, and DXpedition stations. Each superhet receive section includes two crystal filters: one SSB/data bandwidth, one CW bandwidth. The superhet’s 8 MHz IF has excellent dynamic range, so additional crystal filters are not required.
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