Tag Archives: Elecraft

AE5X notes: Beware of counterfeit Elecraft K3S transceivers

Many thanks to SWLing Post friend John (AE5X) who posted the following warning on his blog regarding “Esthetic upgrade kits” to make an Elecraft K3 look like a K3S.

From the AE5X blog:

If you’re in the market for a used K3S you might want to pay extra diligence to what you’re actually buying.

An eBay seller “xtreme830” is selling Esthetic upgrade kits that can be added to a K3 to make it look like a K3S. As always, buyer beware.

K3S serial numbers begin with #10,000.

Thank you for the warning, John! That’s a little crazy, in fact. I would be most concerned about people buying esthetically altered K3 transceivers at hamfests where one often forgets to check serial numbers. Buyer beware!

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First Look: Elecraft K4 photos and preliminary information

The new Elecraft K4

Today, prior to the open of the 2019 Hamvention, I had an opportunity to hang with the folks at Elecraft and grab some photos of their newest transceiver: the Elecraft K4 direct-sampling SDR (click here to read the announcement).

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.

Elecraft K4 Photos

Click on the images below to enlarge:

 

 

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Elecraft introduces the K4 high-performance direct-sampling SDR

Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)

Today we learned about the latest addition to the Elecraft product line, the Elecraft K4.

This fills a niche in the Elecraft product line and is certain to directly compete with the likes of the Icom IC-7610 and a number of Flex Radio transceivers, among others.

Elecraft describes the K4 as having a “modular hybrid architecture”. Below, I’ve pulled the text and images from the Elecraft product brochure.

Wayne Burdick (N6KR) of Elecraft notes that tomorrow (Friday, May 17, 2019) the Elecraft site will (re)launch a K4 product page with pre-order/reservation page.

I plan to learn more about the K4 and report back during Hamvention this week. Stay tuned by bookmarking the tag Elecraft K4:

Elecraft K4 Product Information

(Source: Elecraft K4 Product Information Sheet via Lutz Electronics, Switzerland)

Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)

A direct-sampling SDR you’ll love to use

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
modes.

KAT4 ATU

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.

Kit version

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
and tested.

K4 Key Specs and Features

  • Size: 4.5”Hx13.5”W,10”D
  • Weight: Approx.10lbs
  • SupplyVoltage: 12-15VDC
  • Current: ~2ARX,~18-23ATX
  • FrequencyRange: 100kHz-54MHz(VHF/UHFrangetobe determined*)
  • Stablility: +/-0.25ppm(TCXO) Modes: CW, SSB, AM, FM, Data
  • LCD: 7”color;touch&mousecontrol Text modes: CW, PSK31/63, RTTY KAT4ATU:
  • 10:1+range;3ant.jacks RXantennasources: Upto5
  • A-to-D Converter(s): 16 bits
  • I/O: USB-Ax3,USB-B(twovirtualcomports+audio),RS232(DE9), Ethernet, HDMI. front/rear mic, front/rear phones, LINE in/out, speakers,PTTin,KEYout,paddle,key, ACC,12Vout.
  • CWQSK: Silent,PIN-diodeswitched
  • 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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New release of Win4K3Suite includes broadcast EIBI schedules

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor,Randy (KS4L), who shares the following update via Tom Blahovici of Win4K3Suite:

There is a new release of Win4K3Suite.

This release adds a number of new features. One of these is bound to bring you back in time…Win4K3Suite now includes the ability to search and display Shortwave radio stations if you have the general coverage option in your radio. This is made possible by supporting the EiBi database (eibispace.de) which is published 4 times a year. Here is an example of this in use with the built in Panadapter of Win4K3:

In addition, there are a number of additional new features and improvements such as a 1kHz snap in the spectrum and quicker resets of the ClubLog window.

You can find out more about Win4K3SUite here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=win4k3suite and at the website va2fsq.com.

There is a free 30 day fully functional trial.
73 Tom

Thanks for sharing this, Randy! Since the KX3 and KX2 are some of my favorite portable broadcast receivers, this is a most welcome development. I may have to give Win4K3Suite a try!

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The Elecraft KX3 continues to impress

I’ve owned my Elecraft KX3 for five years, and this little rig continues to amaze me.

In 2013, I gave the KX3 one of the most favorable reviews I’ve ever published–and it continues to hold its own. That’s why last year I recommended the KX3 to my buddy and newly minted ham radio operator, Sébastien (VA2SLW), who had already been eyeing the KX3 as his first HF transceiver.

A few weeks ago, Sébastien bit the bullet and is now the proud owner of a KX3 with built-in ATU. He purchased the KX3 with plans to do a lot of field operations including SOTA (Summits On The Air) and also use the KX3 at home.

Wednesday, I popped by Sébastien’s flat to help sort through some low-profile antenna options. I had suggested that he not invest in a factory made antenna just yet, but instead explore what he’s able to do with a simple wire antenna directly connected to the KX3 with a BNC Male to Stackable Binding Posts adapter. I’ve had excellent luck using this simple arrangement this in the past with the KX3, KX2 and even the KX1.

I did a quick QRM/RFI survey of his flat and balcony with my CC Skywave SSB. While there were the typical radio noises indoors, his balcony was pleasantly RFI quiet. At 14:00 local, I was able to receive the Voice of Greece (9,420 kHz), Radio Guinée (9,650 kHz) and WWV (both 10,000 and 15,000 kHz) with little difficulty. His building has incredibly thick concrete walls–I assume this does a fine job of keeping the RFI indoors. Lucky guy!

We popped by a wonderfully-stocked electronics shop in Québec City (Électromike–which I highly recommend) picked up some banana plugs and about 100′ of jacketed wire. We took these items back to the flat and cut a 35′ length of wire for the radiator and about 28′ for the ground. We added the banana plugs to the ends of each wire.

Sébastien temporarily attached one end of the antenna wire to the top of the fire escape and we simply deployed the ground wire off the side of the balcony. Neither of these wires interfere with his neighbors and neither are close to electric lines.

I had planned to cut both the radiator and ground until we found the “sweet spot”: where the ATU could find matches on 40, 30, 20 and 17 meters (at least).

Much to my amazement, the KX3 ATU got 1:1 matches on all of those bands save 80M where it still could achieve a 2.8:1 ratio.  I couldn’t believe it!

Frankly, Elecraft ATUs are nothing short of amazing.

Even the ATU in my little KX2 once tuned a 20 meter hex beam to 40 meters and found a 1:1 match to boot. In contrast, the Icom IC-7300 sitting next to the KX2 wasn’t able to match that hex beam even though we performed a persistent ATU search. Not surprising as I wouldn’t expect a 40 meter match on a 20 meter antenna, but the Elecraft ATU did it with relative ease.

Sébastian did a quick scan of the ham radio bands where we heard a number of EU stations. I also took the opportunity to point out how well the KX3 operates as a broadcast receiver with the AM filter wide open and using headphones in the “delay” audio effects mode. The Voice of Greece sounded like a local station–absolutely gorgeous signal.

It was getting late in the day, so I couldn’t hang around to call CQ with Séb, but I left knowing that he is going to have a blast playing radio at home and, especially, in the field. Next, he plans to build a simple mag loop antenna, get a BioEnno LiFePo battery and eventually add other Elecraft accessories to his station. I’d say he’s off to a great start!

Want more info? Click here to read my review of the Elecraft KX3 and here to read my review of the Elecraft KX2.

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Elecraft KX2/KX3: An inexpensive adapter for earphone and mic operation

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), who shares this message from Wayne (N6KR) of Elecraft. This message was originally posted on the Elecraft email reflector:

Several KX2/KX3 users have asked what I use as an adapter to go from an iPhone headset to the rig’s headphone and mic jacks.

Here it is.

This unit works beautifully with both my old and new iPhone headsets. The combination of the headset and this adapter take a tiny amount of space in my go-bag. Audio reports are great, even with speech compression set to max (MENU:TX CMP).

You’ll need to set MENU:MIC BIAS to ON, and I also recommend setting MIC BTN to OFF.

You can tap the XMIT button to start voice-mode transmit, or use VOX. See VOX menu entries in the owner’s manual.

Note: There’s a rumor that one legacy version of the iPhone headset was different from the others. I don’t have any info on this, but it means there’s a slight risk that this $6 adapter won’t work in your case. But it certainly works with the earpods I bought a couple of months ago.

73,
Wayne
N6KR

Thanks for sharing this, Mike! I’ve just placed an order for this little adapter. When doing field operations, I always use in-ear headphones, but a separate hand mic because I don’t like packing or wearing bulky headsets. I’ve a couple of earbud/mic sets (neither an Apple brand) that should work brilliantly with this adapter.

Click here to view on Amazon.com (affiliate link).

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The evolution of a radio shack…and parting ways with my Elecraft K2/100

[Update: One of our readers purchased the K2/100! Thanks!]

I freely admit it: a lot of radios enter and exit my radio shack––especially portable receivers and SDRs of all stripes.  It’s just the nature of doing gear reviews and evaluations. I also keep a fairly robust arsenal of radios here at SWLing Post HQ for future comparison reviews and evaluations as models are upgraded.

But amateur radio transceivers that I personally use at home and in the field––? These come and go much less often.

I feel lucky in that I get exposure to most of the radios currently on the market. Yet I’m also cursed in that I simply can’t turn off that internal reviewer when I use a radio! I’ve become a bit extra-critical, hopefully constructively so, of radio ergonomics, user interfaces, functions, and of course, performance.

I used to have a healthy selection of transceivers in my shack as well, but over the years I’ve found it necessary to distill them down to just a few––almost all of which, if you’re curious, are Elecraft models.

My Elecraft KX1 in the Pelican 1060 case which fit it and its accessories perfectly.

One of the first Elecraft rigs I owned was the KX1, the ultimate handheld field portable 4-band CW radio of its time. I believe I acquired it in 2008. SWLs will be interested to know that I could even tune to broadcasters on the KX1, using ECSS.

The Elecraft K1 (Source: Elecraft)

I loved the KX1 so much, in fact, shortly thereafter I purchased a K1.  The latter I ended up keeping for perhaps one year or so.

Soon thereafter, I purchased an Elecraft K2/10 (the “/10” stands for 10 watts).

I should note here, for those who are not familiar, that almost all of Elecraft’s products are available in kit form. The K1, KX1 and K2 are proper kits. You can’t buy them factory built at Elecraft. With that said, I’ve never had the pleasure of building any of these models from kit form because I purchased them second hand.

The Elecraft K2

The K2 has been in production now for twenty years (!!!) and it still has a healthy market and dedicated community. The K2 must be one of the best documented, benchmark performance through-hole kit transceivers ever made. Because of the robust user base and the fact Elecraft still produces it, it’s also one of the easiest radios on the market to diagnose and repair. The thing was designed to be a “hands-on” radio–to be pulled apart and serviced–there’s no mystery meat inside.

I used my K2/10 for many years…and assured myself I’d never sell it.

Grundig G3 shortwave portable (left), Elecraft KX3 general coverage transceiver (right)

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men…! In 2011 Elecraft introduced the venerable KX3 and I fell head over heels for that radio (just read my review). All of a sudden, my trusted K2/10 wasn’t getting as much air time and started collecting dust, so I (reluctantly) sold it to free up some radio funds.

Then, within weeks of selling my K2/10, someone posted a K2/100–a 100 watt version of the K2–for sale on our local radio club’s email group. No one in the group showed interest. The sale was for a late local ham, now SK (silent key), and his friend who was selling off the equipment really wanted to unload it quickly for the benefit of his family. I expressed interest, and only two weeks after selling my K2/10, I was a K2/100 owner.

I figured this must be the universe intervening because, had I not sold the K2/10, there’s no way I would have had funds to purchase the K2/100.

After purchasing the K2/100, I sold my only other 100W rig:  my beloved Ten-Tec OMNI VI+. I had been the owner of the OMNI VI+ for more than a decade and it was a radio I dreamed about in the 1990s. Still, it took up way too much table space in my modest little shack and, yet again, I needed to consolidate.

Activating PK01 (The Appalachian Trail) with the KX2 during the amazing National Parks On The Air event.

Fast forward a few years to the day before the 2016 Hamvention:  Elecraft announced their new field portable radio, the Elecraft KX2. The Elecraft team gave me early access to the KX2 and once again, I was head over heels for this new rig. When I started my review of the KX2, I already knew I wanted one, so didn’t even bother reaching out to Elecraft for a loaner––I just bit the bullet and purchased it. Click here to read that review. Shortly after making this purchase, I sold my KX1.

If you’ve been keeping track thus far, you’ll note that I currently have: an Elecraft KX3, an Elecraft KX2 and an Elecraft K2/100.

You’d think I was an Elecraft fan, but that’s not entirely the case. Elecraft KX series transceivers simply suit my operating style and meet my performance expectations. Why?

  • excellent ergonomics
  • benchmark performance (just ask Rob Sherwood)
  • general coverage SW broadcast reception
  • accessible, friendly customer service
  • regular updates and upgrades
  • and brilliant portability!

Recently, I’ve come to realize that although I still love the K2/100 in so many respects, I reach for my KX3 and KX2 more often…even though the K2 is my only 100-watt transceiver.

For this reason, I’ve decided I must sell the K2/100 so that I can fund the purchase of the (rather pricey) Elecraft KXPA100 amplifier. With the KXPA100, both my KX3 and KX2 will have a 100-watt linear amplifier at their disposal. Integration is seamless, and the amplifier is quite portable. With the KXPA100, I’ll be able to run a “full gallon” on Field Day on two radios I know like I know the back of my hand (especially the KX2!).

It has the latest firmware and includes all modifications. It’s fully-loaded, too–here are the options:

  • KPA100 K2/100 Internal Integration Kit
  • K160RX 160M and 2nd RX port
  • KDSP2 SSB Adapter (which is now discontinued)
  • KNB2 High Performance Noise Blanker
  • KSB2  SSB option

The only option it lacks, as far as I can tell, is the K60XV (60M and transverter adapter).

I’m hoping to sell the K2/100 for about $900 shipped (unless you, gentle readers, advise otherwise).

My K2/100 will be on view at the Winston Salem, NC hamfest this weekend, where I plan to hold down a table with my buddy, Vlado (NC3Z). I doubt I’ll sell it there, so will likely post it online later.

Here’s the thing, though…I look at this awesome little radio and wonder why I’m selling it! And then I close my eyes….take some deep breaths…and remember that it’s all about consolidating the shack and maximizing the potential of the KX3 and KX2.

And, who knows? Maybe the universe will intervene once again, and I’ll own another K2 in the future.

Post Readers, weigh in:  What radios have you bought and sold?  Any regrets?  Which have been, or are still, your favorites––and why?

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