My Elecraft KX3!

By Jose B Rivera - N2LRB

My KX3 radioMay 26, 2015 - A few days after purchasing Yaesu FT-897D in November, I fell in love with the Elecraft KX3.  I have been seeing it around for the past few years and did not like it’s QRP features at first. But every time I saw the radio, it put me more and more under its spell. I decided that it would be my next radio. But it took awhile for me to pull the trigger on the purchase.

I had my doubts too. I actually did not like working low power (QRP) all that much. It is tough enough trying to communicate portable on 100 watts. Mainly because I tend to work portable at ground level in Central Park and I have no buddies who own high rises where I can sit on a roof top and work the world.  I also wanted to build it, but noticed others who had problem with the build. So from November until May I fought an internal battle of wanting and knowing I would buy the radio and then changing my mind due to the difficulties in building it and working low power.  Besides I told myself “I already have three HF radios!”. Two of which I could take out in the field. I would never take my FT-950 out in the field, though it would look great out of doors and give amateur radio a good look.

I had taken out money from my bank account especially to purchase the KX3. So after going back and forth on buying the KX3 at least a dozen times I decided to buy it. When making the purchase I was not sure about buying the kit which is $100 cheaper than the built unit. But I decided to play it safe and order the already built KX3. My luck does not run well sometimes and I decided not to push it and make the KX3 a bad experience. I ordered the radio on the 12th of May and had it shipped two day UPS. In the meantime I started getting an external 8 AA battery pack ready to test on the KX3 when it arrived. 

My portable set up on the roof of my apartment buildingDelivery Problems
The day my KX3 was suppose to arrive a few things went wrong, or at least not the way I wanted. First the UPS truck which made deliveries at 11:30 AM twice the previous week, was no where to be found by 4:30 PM.  I was getting upset because the next day I had a family function and I wanted as much time as possible with the KX3 to ensure that it worked and that I just had time with the radio.

To make matters worst a City of New York construction crew came by at 5:00 PM (of all times to start work) to dig up the street a few feet from our apartment building to fix a sewer main. I heard the workman tell another “close the street”.  I hit the roof. I started to yell at them that they could not close the street because I had been waiting all day for a package and that I would not be around the next day if need be to get it.  I quickly calmed down and spoke to one of the lady workers. She said that UPS would still deliver even if they had no access to the street.  I was not so sure. So at 6:30 PM I went downstairs and down the block to Second Avenue where our UPS truck delivers before coming down our block. Lo and behold I spotted the truck two blocks away.  I walked to the truck and waited for our UPS man to come back from a delivery. I spotted him within one minute and inquired about my package. He smiled and got it for me. He did say he would have eventually come up our block later that evening. Which is good to know for future reference.

Back home I calmed down a little more and made an un-boxing video. I also took photos. I then quickly added Anderson PowerPoles to the KX3 DC cable and turned the radio on for the first time. It is as beautiful as it looks in photos. The great orange glow just warms your heart. 

First ContactHanging out on my rooftop with my KX3
I screwed in the antenna and put it on 20 meters to see if I could make a contact.  This is the scary part because if you make an immediate contact your decision to buy the radio is validated. If you go on for a couple of hours without a contact you want to kick yourself.  I made my first contact within a few minutes with Thomas Lutz, W0ZR from Minnetonka, MN. A distance of 1,027 miles on just 5 watts!! I was ecstatic! You would think I was five years old and it was Christmas morning.  I then started playing around with the radio to familiarize myself with it workings.

I have since made more contacts, thought they are just slightly less than when using a 100 watt radio. But the contacts are very satisfying. While operating portable on the roof of my apartment building I was able to contact OE0ESC, who was 4,189 miles away in Austria on 5 watts!!! I can’t wait to get out portable with my KX3. Just getting set up is half the fun.  I do need places other than Central Park in which to set up. This is the downside to not driving.

I was glad to finally become part of the Elecraft family. The company makes most of its radio components in the USA and takes care of its customer base. It is still selling and or supporting all of it’s previous radio line.  And with the KX3 firmware updates can add new features to the radio.  I already know I want to get a K3s (the new K3). But I am gonna need a job to make that possible.

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