Unveiled – the new Elecraft K3

This HF 160-10m rig comes in 10 and 100 watt versions. You can also get a kit version so you can build it yourself.

Please read the official announcement from the Elecraft Mailing list.


This afternoon at the DX Convention in Visalia, CA, we unveiled a new top-of-the-line transceiver — the Elecraft K3. This is the culmination of three years of design, test, and refinement, and we believe the K3 will set a new standard for performance and value in its class. It has features and performance comparable to present radios ranging from $4000 to $12000.

(We’d like to thank the many surprised convention attendees. What they all said boils down to something like “Yes!”)

A full K3 web page will be set up by Monday, complete with order form and other details. Meanwhile, please take a look at the temporary page:


Among other things, you’ll find a very high-resolution front panel photo (as well as other photos):


And the K3 data sheet:

Click to access K3_Data%20Sheet_rev06.pdf

There’s also an order form that could be printed and mailed, but sometime on Monday the on-line order page will be up and running, which is the preferred method.

As explained on the order form, you can reserve a K3 now for initial shipments in July. A 50% deposit is requested if you’d like to secure one of the first 200 production units (serial numbers 20-220, probably).

Here’s a quick summary of the K3’s specs:

– K3/100 and K3/10 models (the K3/10 can be upgraded very easily, internally, to a K3/100)

– Basic K3 price ranges from $1399 to $1989 depending on whether you start with the
10-watt or 100-watt model, and whether you choose factory assembled or
modular, no-soldering, kit (this is the subject of the next email).

– Desktop/portable size: 4″H x 10″W x 10″D (10 x 25 x 25 cm) — optimized for both
home and travel use

– All modes (SSB, CW, DATA, AM, FM, plus AM-sync receive, and built-in PSK31/TTY decoder)

– High-dynamic range, down-conversion architecture, plus 32-bit I.F. DSP
for software-defined capabilities (and lots of room for future expansion)

– Optional subreceiver with *identical* performance to the main receiver,
including a fully independent front end, its own set of roofing filters,
its own DSP, and low-noise synthesizer; binaural or combined receiver audio

– Up to five crystal roofing filters *per receiver*, with bandwidths as narrow as 200 Hz

– Narrow ham-band filtering, plus optional general-coverage receive filters
(can be added to either or both receivers)

– Internal 100-W ATU option with two antenna jacks

– 100 W PA module includes two large fans, circuit breaker, full parameter monitoring

– All signal sources phase-locked to common 49.380 MHz reference oscillator;
1 PPM TCXO option, firmware-correctable to better than 0.5 PPM

– Built-in PSK31, RTTY, and CW decoding and display allows use of
digital modes with or *without* a computer; use CW keyer paddle or
attached computer for casual, two-way data QSOs

– Advanced noise reduction; auto- and manual notch. Noise blanker included (both
I.F. hardware pulse blanker and DSP noise blanking)

– Easy-to-use DSP shift/width and locut/hicut controls with automatic crystal filter
selection based on selected passband width (in real-time — no filter calculation delays)

– Dedicated CW/voice message buttons; optional digital voice recorder

– 100 general frequency memories with alphanumeric text labeling, plus 4 scratchpad memories per band

– Full-custom, optimized, segmented LCD with two VFO displays, alphanumeric text, and
dedicated filter passband graphic

– Rich I/O set: stereo speaker outputs, fully isolated soundcard interface, dedicated RS-232
I/O (and optional USB adapter), receive antenna in/out jacks (for patching in RX filters, etc.),
and both front- and rear-panel mic and headphone jacks

– One-click PC firmware download program checks for updates automatically and quickly
updates microcontroller and DSP firmware

If you have any questions on specifications, performance, etc., that are not answered by the data sheet, feel free to email wayne@elecraft.com.

Sales questions should go to Lisa:


We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the following colleagues:

Lyle Johnson, KK7P (DSP, digital I/O, audio I/O, many of the PC boards, and countless critical tasks)
Bob Friess, N6CM (RF deck, ATU, high-performance 1st mixer, noise blanker, other receiver design)
John Grebenkemper, KI6WX (synthesizer, general receiver architecture)
Brian Broggie, W6FVI (manufacturing engineering — say hi to him at Visalia tomorrow)
Paul Russell (purchasing)
Lisa Jones (who somehow held down the fort during the entire process)

Eric (WA6HHQ), as usual, applied pressure in all the right places to ensure that this would be the best radio we could make: he’s Mr. Performance and Features. Wayne (N6KR — yours truly) was the principle designer, and also got to do all the fun parts (packaging, firmware, and Owner’s manual). And that’s why he gets to answer your questions 🙂

We’d also like to express our thanks to our very patient 15-member focus group. Over a period of about a year, they endured a never-ending series of concept drawings, refinements, and feature discussions. They’re a distinguished bunch! I’m sure you’ll hear from some of them as the K3 is discussed at length.

Finally: thanks to all of you who have generously contributed ideas for a hypothetical K3 during our many on-line “fishing expeditions.” You had wonderful input, and I hope we’ve created the radio you’ve always wanted.

Wayne, N6KR
Eric, WA6HHQ

HF Propagation Numbers

* K index: LOW is GOOD.
o 0 or 1 is BEST
o 2 is OK
o 3 or more is BAD

* A index: LOW is GOOD.
o 1 to 6 is BEST
o 7 to 9 is OK
o 11 or more is BAD

* Solar Flux Index: HIGH is GOOD.
o 80 GOOD
o 100+ BEST

Digipan & PSK-31

Setting up the DigiPan dial scale to read actual transmitted RF frequency:
Under Configure/Band, mark the band you wish to be displayed on the dial scale as active, tab to the Spectrum Start box and enter the Spectrum start frequency in kHz, or kHz and tenths of kHz, and check if you want the dial scale to display the Tone frequency, USB, or LSB. If you select USB, which is the standard, the Spectrum start frequency to enter is the low end of the band segment you want to cover and if you select LSB, it is the upper end of the band segment. It is important to note that the Spectrum Start frequency is the “zero beat” frequency, which is the same as the transceiver dial setting, so it is suggested that the Spectrum start frequency, and accordingly the transceiver dial, be set about 0.5 kHz away from the first desired frequency of operation. As an example, for 20 USB meter operation of PSK31, starting at 14070, enter 14069.5 as the Spectrum start frequency. Set your transceiver dial to 14.069.5 MHz and DigiPan will tune from 14.069.5 MHz to 14.073 MHz for you. Do not touch the transceiver dial after setting it and the DigiPan dial scale will read correctly. Assign the frequency to a memory if you have one.

It is strongly recommended that the operation of PSK31 and PSK63 are practiced in separate bands. There was a problem when a few of the software packages that made it possible to switch between PSK31 and PSK63 on the fly, caused bad QRM to adjacent QSO’s when switched from PSK31 to PSK63. If it is necessary to run switching tests, use the PSK63 section. It is therefore recommended that the following be adopted.
The calling frequencies for PSK31, that have been decided upon for the time being are:
1838.15kHz, 3580.15kHz, 7070.15kHz, 7035.15kHz, 14070.15kHz, 21070.15kHz, 28120.15kHz, 50.290mHz, 144.144mHz, 222.07mHz, 432.2mHz, 909mHz and 10137.15kHz, 18100.15kHz and 24925kHz suggested for the WARC Bands.
The calling frequencies for PSK63, that have been decided upon for the time being are:
1838.15kHz, 3582.5kHz, 7072.5kHz, 7037.5kHz, 14072.5kHz, 21072.5kHz, 28122.5kHz, 50.290mHz, 144.144mHz, 222.07mHz, 432.2mHz, 909mHz and 10142.5kHz, 18102.5Hz and 24925kHz suggested for the WARC Bands.
Use the widest IF filter available. If the IF filter is 3.5 kHz wide, stations between 14.070 and 14.0730 should be workable. If the IF filter is only 2.5 kHz wide, stations between 14.070 and 14.072 will be workable. Even though it may be possible to copy strong stations somewhat outside the filter bandwidth, attempted transmission too far from the filter passband will usually result in operation at greatly reduced power levels.
If you need to use LSB, check LSB, set the transceiver to 14.073 MHz, and the Spectrum Start frequency to 14073.0 kHz, and DigiPan will tune down 2.5 kHz or the width of the IF filter for you. DigiPan will remember the dial scale settings you enter, so when you change band, it will usually only be necessary to select the active band and the dial scale will read correctly.
You can edit the default Band and Spectrum start frequency to any band and any frequency and the DigiPan dial scale will read correctly, as long as the frequency is entered in kHz. Just remember to always set the Spectrum start frequency and the transceiver dial frequency to the same value and select the same sideband on each.

Iran hostages used Morse code in solitary


One of the British seamen held hostage in Iran has told how they used Morse code to stay in touch with one another while imprisoned.

Able Seaman Simon Massey revealed they developed a system of ‘knocking in and knocking out’ during their first week of solitary confinement.

He said: “It was like keeping a mental register – checking off the voices of comrades whenever one of them asked for a toilet break or a cigarette.

“Leading Seaman Chris Coe was next door to my cell. We would just sit there tapping out code. We’d check up on each other, say goodnight, and if we went out of the cell, we would give a little knock when we got back to let each other know we were OK.

“Just knocking with knuckles. Little things like that got us through.”

The use of Morse code by prisoners was made famous in the 1962 classic film Birdman Of Alcatraz. It was also used by American PoWs in Vietnam.

The 14 men and one woman sailor were seized by Iranian warships on March 23. It took 13 days to secure their release.

For the first week none of them saw Leading Seaman Faye Turney, 26, who was kept segregated at their Tehran prison from the second day.

It was only after eight days, as AB Massey was summoned to make his TV ‘confession’, that he found himself seated alongside her and Chris Coe, 31. He added: “Seeing those two members of the team – that was a big relief for me. But the day after, in my cell, I just broke down. It was such a hard time – all kinds of emotions were flying through.

“All us lads could hear one another but Faye was the only one none of us had heard from. We had no idea what they’d done to her and whether they were beating her.”

For the first week the hostages spent all but half an hour of every day in solitary.

Then there were the sudden and intense interrogations. AB Massey was questioned, alone, for 45 minutes. “I was made to wear sunglasses with cotton wool on the inside of the lenses, while an interrogator questioned me under a bright light.”

The most frightening incident came when they arrived at the prison and were lined up to face a wall. AB Massey said: “We believe this was done purely as a mental scare. But I thought I was going to die and that I wouldn’t see my family again.”

Fun with the FT-817

I’ve been playing with my FT-817 and having some fun. It is amazing how many features they pack in such a tiny little box. I’ve slowly been learning some of them. The first (important) feature I discovered was the power setting. When you operate off batteries, the radio defaults to 2.5 watts output. You have to manually switch the radio to 5 watts to get max output. I knew this but failed to do it until I reread the manual. 5 watts compared to 2.5 watts makes a difference. PSK-31 works quite well with the FT-817. No issues there. CW is a little bit of a challenge without any filters… but still very doable. I’ve been playing with the IF Shift feature to get better copy on the other station for a CW QSO. I’ve read a lot about QRP and now it is time to put what I’ve read into action. First – a good antenna makes all the difference. Second – you’ll have more QSOs by answering a CQ than by calling CQ (i.e. listen, listen, listen). So far 40M has been where I’ve had the most luck, but I’d like to try more on 30M as it seems to be a less noisy band. But I’m having fun and improving my CW.