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Elecraft K3 Value at Base Configuration

Discussion in 'Ham Equipment' started by Moleculo, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Five months into owning the K3, I'm still very impressed with it's feature set and performance. I'll go so far as to say that I really don't think there is another rig on the market at the price point that compares. One aspect of this rig that I've been thinking about lately is the K3's price vs. performance and how it compares to other rigs at the same price point. If I was starting out with the K3, here's how I would configure it:

    - 100 watt Transceiver Kit: 1,949.95
    -
    Antenna Tuner: 299.95
    -
    6Khz filter for AM/ESSB: 130.95
    - General Coverage Module: 139.95

    Total: $2520.80

    The other roofing filters are nice to have, but not necessary to start out. You can add them at any time to keep the cost down. The 2nd receiver is something I would really like to have, but it's also the price of another cheap HF rig.

    Now, consider what you get for that $2500. You get the best receiver on the market in any HF rig. You get a rig that is small and portable and operates with as little as 10 volts supplied. The dual 32 bit DSP software is constantly being updated and improved upon by Elecraft. The Noise Blanker is adjustable at both the hardware (IF) level and software (DSP) stages, which is incredible. It includes a fully isolated sound card interface, and 8 band TX and RX equalizer, and a TX noise gate. There are a ton of configuration options to set the buttons and controls to operate the way you prefer. New features are introduced several times a year and are updatable via firmware updates.

    As I look over the other rigs in the marketplace and examine the features of some of the new rigs coming out, I just don't see anything that makes me compelled to try something else. No, it's not a cheap rig, but the value for what you get is not matched by anyone else, in my opinion.



    I know this sounds like a commercial advertisement, but I haven't received any incentives to make these statements. If you're thinking about a new HF rig any time soon, give the K3 a serious look - it's the best of the best in my opinion, and at a price point that can't be beat for such a quality, feature rich piece of equipment.
     
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  2. g4ilo

    g4ilo
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    I would agree. Having owned a K3 (S/N 222) for 3 years now I have had plenty of time to get to know it. There were times in the first couple of years especially when I was very frustrated with the radio and with Elecraft, particularly for the time it took them to implement all the features that were originally promised and the trouble they sometimes had getting the firmware to work right. It often seemed that the demands of the CW DXing and contesting fraternity took priority over users interested in more minority pursuits like digital modes or FM. But whenever I thought about getting rid of the K3 and replacing it with something else the only radios that have all the features of the K3 that I actually use are much bigger much heavier and much more expensive.

    I think the K3 is the best radio on the market for digital modes. Where users of other rigs have to ride the audio gain control to control RF out and avoid ALC The K3 has a special level control for digital modes that lets you just dial the power output you want and forget about it. As you say, having a built in sound card interface that just lets you use straight cables to the computer is an added convenience. The built-in RTTY and PSK31 modes that let you use those modes without a sound card - or even a computer - are a bonus.

    Few radios have the interfacing possibilities that the K3 has. I have the KXV3A module which besides the option of interfacing to transverters also allows you to hook an external device into the RX circuit path. I use it to include an MFJ noise canceler which is essential to be able to use most HF bands here.

    It's also great to be able to use the K3's fantastic receiver on the VHF bands. It's far superior to the IC910H I had (still have in fact, as I haven't sold it yet.) Having tried various transverters and then the 910H I am now using the internal K144XV module with a 50W "brick" amp.

    There are a few things I'm not so keen on. The plastic knobs have a tendency to split (I've had one set of replacements already) and the K3 doesn't have the quality look and feel of the high end rigs from Yaesu or Icom. Part of the trade-off for the K3's light weight I suppose.

    But functionality is more important, and there is nothing on the market or preannounced that I would want to replace my K3 with at this time.
     
  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Can you start another thread and go into some details on this setup, how it works, and how you use it? That sounds interesting to me as I have a ridiculous amount of noise in the city. The K3 is pretty good and dealing with it, but I'm always keen on seeing what else is out there that can improve things further.
     
  4. g4ilo

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    I wrote about it here.
     
  5. N0NB

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    I have yet to tire of my K3. The last couple months I've fallen back into the rut of staying on the low (75 and 160m) bands as I've attended to other things than operating. Updates from Elecraft have slowed as I suppose the push for the KPA-500 is on and the firmware of the P3 recently was branded 1.0. What is a bit frustrating is that I found a rather important bug in the Linux version of the K3 utility last fall and was given a test version by the author which fixes the bug, but so far the fixed version has not been released. This is truly a disappointment to me. I even offered to help test development as I could which to this date has not been acted upon. It's especially aggravating that the Windows version of the K3 utility has been updated as of January 8, 2011 but the Linux and Mac versions continue to languish at September 2, 2010 versions.

    Overall I am very pleased. My need for the K3 utility has diminished over time as I've settled back into my routine. Would I buy again? Absolutely!
     
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  6. Redeye

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    Thanks guys for the info and advice on the K3. As a newbie it's great info!
     
  7. N0NB

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    Since I last posted to this thread, I added the KXV3A transverter board and the P3 last September and the KAT3 internal tuner about six weeks ago. Each product is pretty much flawless.

    I had always thought of getting the second receiver as my "next", but commentary on the Elecraft mailing list convinced me to go with the P3 next. With the visual display, operation is now quite different and, I suggest, much improved over a second receiver with its same limited "window" on the band. The P3 lets you see what is going on in real time up to 100 kHz +- of your operating frequency. Can you tell I've not had a top of the line pan adapter before? :D

    Right now I am using the tuner to "trim" the tuning on my trap dipole and trap vertical where it gets a bit askew. However, even though neither antenna has a provision for 12 or 17m, the internal tuner finds a match for those bands. From the increased noise when tuned, I think it is more efficient than the LDG 250 Pro it replaced.

    I have yet to take my K3 to the field, and am still debating whether I want to. Most likely not as it's my main shack rig. Perhaps a KX3 will find its way here one day. ;)
     
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