Just under two years ago, I had purchased a KX3 when I obtained my General license. At the time, I don’t even think I knew what the term QRP meant… I was quick to discover that QRP couldn’t be used on a whim with inefficient antennas. I had trouble making contacts, but I was trying to use the KX3 in all the wrong ways. Long story short – I ended up selling it. I almost immediately regretted that decision, lol, because as soon as I did, sure enough I discovered SOTA, POTA, WWFF, and just developed an affinity for portable operating in general. I love the outdoors – it’s where I feel the most at home! I think that’s why my next rig was the Kenwood TS-480, not exactly the lightest radio, but very portable for a 100 watt rig, it allowed me to communicate further, but is pretty cumbersome to carry around considering it’s probably about 9 or 10 times heavier than the KX3. It’s a QRP rig – and I should have listened to others when I came into the hobby, QRP isn’t generally for newbies. Not to say it can’t be done – when QRP works, it works great, but you have to understand the limitations and the need to use a good antenna!
The Elecraft KX3 is a pretty amazing little radio considering its size, weight, and performance. Does it have every single option I would have ever hoped for? Certainly not, but it offers exactly what I need and will allow me to go portable and not have to worry about whether or not I can take my setup with me. Elecraft.. in my honest opinion has one of the best sounding receivers that i’ve heard yet. An extremely low noise floor, even compared to my Kenwood TS-590SG, the KX3 was always my preferred receiver. I always cringe when I see folks using the internal speaker on the KX3 though – your not doing this radio any justice, hook up a headset or some powered speakers & prepare to be amazed! The DSP on the KX3 is top notch and crystal clear. The upwards facing display was also a huge factor for me on this radio. Ergonomics while your sitting on a mountain top might not sound important, but with this display, it helps make operating that much easier. I had already purchased the Side KX plates & cover from Gems products, so was quick to install those when the radio arrived!
I already had the Yamaha CM500 headset from using them with my 590SG, and found out yesterday that they are plug and play with the KX3, awesome! My Heil Pro 7 headset would require me changing out the dynamic mic element to the iCOM element since the KX3 is perfectly suited for an electret mic. I know the wind will probably be pretty heavy at the beach this weekend, so I’m hoping the headset will come in handy!
The only option I ordered with the KX3 was the antenna tuner, but Elecraft actually ended up shipping me a unit with the roofing filter installed (which isn’t what I ordered of course). So I contacted them this morning and they’re already working on shipping out the ATU to me, I guess i’ll just purchase the roofing filters – even though I’m slowly learning CW, I hear they can come in hand occasionally for SSB too.
My 480SAT is still an excellent radio for portable ops, but 100 watt radios consume quite a bit of power even when they’re in receive only mode. So while they may be great for short outings, or in situations where you can easily recharge, I wanted a radio that would last all weekend on my LiPo batteries. I have a 9 amp hour & a 20 amp hour LiFePO4 from Bioenno Power, which will last me probably longer than I will ever need with this little guy! Plus I won’t break my back with a 100 watt setup when attempting extreme SOTA summits.
73 – k5acl