26 Apr 2013

Using the KX3 portable?

As I prepare for my West Country holiday with my brother next week, I'm amused to see the QST advert for the Elecraft KX3 in use in very rocky terrain. Why am I amused? Well, there is no way that I'd take a "fully loaded" KX3 costing close to £1200 (in UK prices) up a mountain as shown in the photo!

It is OK taking a 12 year old FT817 or a 6 year old VX2 handheld: if these get damaged it's not be a disaster as I've already had huge value from them.  But an investment of close on £1200 is another matter.

Perhaps I am not typical, but if I was to spend this sort of money I would not want to throw it in a backpack, risk dropping it on rocks or in a bog and getting battered and scratched. Also, being a very SMD intensive unit, repair is far from easy or low cost.

A better bet for a really portable transceiver to use in SOTA or other portable operations would be a rugged little direct conversion CW or DSB transceiver built into a strong die-cast case, probably for just a single band. It need not look pretty, just functional. Such a unit could be built to give good performance for under £20 buying EVERYTHING new. If dropped, one could easily fix it when back home. If it even got dropped in a bog and irrevocably damaged it wouldn't matter: just build another one!

No, something is wrong if anyone thinks they have to spend £1200 to climb a hill and enjoy amateur radio. I have no doubt the KX3 is a very excellent radio, but it is too expensive (for me) to use in backpack mode.


goody said...

I agree 100%. I've often said the form factor of the KX3 is problematic. It's not really rugged enough to take in the field on a real hike, unless you put it in a bulky case with a lot of padding. Someone should manufacture some sort of hard rubber shell to go around the KX3 and make it so it could be dropped or banged around in a backpack without damage.

Sparky said...

With the cost of parts as they are, I challenge you to actually build a reasnably functional transceiver in a diecast box with new parts for under 20 quid. Not something silly like a Pixie, but an operational device. Get serious, please. With knobs and a battery, don't forget. And a morse key or mike. Maybe 70 or 100 quid. Maybe.

Roger G3XBM said...


I believe under £20 is totally do-able. With a box for £5 or less and a crystal for under £2 that leaves £13 for a few toroids, about ten 2n3904s and a bunch of resistors and capacitors costing pence each. A VXO controlled direct conversion transceiver is a good performer and able to hold its own on any HF band.

I shall take the challenge and hope others will too, HI.

Roger G3XBM