Elecraft KX3 review

It was the 2011 when Elecraft company (an US based company, very rare phenomena) introduced the KX3 model.
A real jewelry : portable SDR HF plus 50 MHZ transceiver.

It includes every mode you need: USB, LSB, CW, data, AM and FM.
The output power is adjustable from 0 to 10 Watts. You can easily adjust the DSP filters, AF, RF, passband, and notch all from dedicated buttons and knobs. It even has a memory keyers for both CW and voice.

Wanna do digital modes? No problem!
The KX3 natively decode RTTY and PSK31 and display the scrolling text on the display, but you can also send RTTY and PSK31 without a PC. How? Simply set the appropriate data mode and use your key to tap out your message in CW.

DSP filtering is most impressive.:  have a look at Sherwood Engineering’s receiver test data rankings which are sorted by third-order dynamic range (narrow spacing), the Elecraft KX3 is second only to the Hilberling PT-8000A, an $ 21,000 transceiver.

QRP with Elecraft KX3

When I decided to go in QRP with my Kx-3 this little QRP performed very well. The very low current draw allowed me to use full power (approx 10W) using a Lipo battery (Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Li-Po 11.1v) that lasted for at least an hour before turning back the wattage (to 5W) when the battery voltage dipped below the 11vdc threshold (time will vary depending on duty, temp and mode).  The radio is easy to pack and deploy. If there are trees tall enough in the area, I can hang a dipole and get on the air within 10-15 minutes.

You can also use 8x AA batteries (see photo above) but these are not great in performance like the LIPO!

Being that the non-solder kit version of the KX3 is $899.95 and the assembled version is $999.95, I really do not consider this a bargain at all.

Features review

  • 160-6 meter ham bands; general coverage from 0.5-30 MHz
  • All modes: SSB, CW, Data (four sub-modes), AM, FM
  • Ultra-compact size: 3.4″H x 7.4″W x 1.7″D; 18 oz. (less options)
  • Rear tilt feet fold up for transport
  • Custom high-contrast LCD with alphanumeric text display
  • Internal 8 – AA battery holder
  • Current drain as low as 150 mA in receive mode
  • High-performance 32-bit floating-point DSP
  • Built-in PSK/TTY decode/encode allows data mode operation without a PC; transmit in data modes using CW keyer paddle
  • Low-noise synthesizer with 1-Hz tuning resolution
  • Firmware updateable via provided application software


  • Quadrature down-sampling mixer compatible with PC-based SDR (software defined radio) applications
  • Receiver I/Q outputs for use with PC soundcard
  • Dual roofing filter option for enhanced dynamic range.(500/1500 Hz analog filters; effective IF b/w of 1000/3000 Hz)
  • Switchable preamp and attenuator
  • 8-band receive audio equalizer
  • Dual watch over +/- 15 kHz range; uses applicable roofing filter
  • Easy-to-use PassBand Tuning (PBT) for shift/width/hicut/locut; roofing filters automatically track DSP filter settings
  • Automatic and manual notch filtering; adjustable noise reduction and noise blanking; binaural audio effects for enhanced receive
  • Center-tuning indicator for CW and data modes
  • Built-in speaker; stereo jack for headphones/external speakers

Other Features

  • Built in digital voice recorder (DVR) with two message buffers
  • Internal CW keyer with 8-50 WPM range
  • Six CW/DATA message memories
  • 100 general-purpose memories store VFOs, modes, etc.
  • Computer control via supplied USB cable or optional RS-232 cables
  • Full remote-control command set works with most amateur radio software applications (emulates Elecraft K3)
  • One-click firmware upgrades via the web (with free PC software)
  • Optional mobile bracket compatible with RAM-mounts
  • Tutorial-style manual ideal for new hams


  • World class receiver performance
  • AF and effective RF gain controls
  • Adjustable filters (no optional roofing filters needed for SWLing)
  • Superb sensitivity and selectivity; outperforming even my WinRadio Excalibur with weak signal DXing
  • Auto-notch, which helps eliminate annoying heterodynes, even in AM
  • Natively decode RTTY and display it
  • Battery operation via 8 AA batteries
  • Lightweight


  • Built-in speaker is small with limited volume and fidelity
  • No ATU included. The optional one is very expensive
  • Price: more than 1000 euro!