Elecraft K2: where does it fit in today?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KC3MIO, Mar 7, 2020.

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  1. KA0USE

    KA0USE Ham Member QRZ Page

    it's qute!

    and besides, either you want one, or don't. why raise cain about it?
    W5ESE likes this.
  2. W3KHG

    W3KHG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Being a "kit" is not all that it's hyped up to be. It's a long build and boring after soldering 50 components. One does not learn theory. One learns how to properly heat a pad and apply solder within the first ten minutes. One learns to follow directions. It is like Learn to Paint by Numbers which came out in the 1960's. One learns how nuts, washers, bolts go together. Remember the Erector Set's that also came out in the 1960's! The soldering skills you develop will not allow you to troubleshoot and "fix" the transceiver if something goes wrong. You must have technician troubleshooting skills and the majority of amateurs do not including me. The big winner in all this is Elecraft by not having the motherboard on some Chinese line being soldered by machines. $$$$$$ All Elecraft does is put the parts into a box and send you the "kit". And remember the basic K2 is like a razor you purchase but you must then purchase the razor blades which come in the form of the antenna tuner, battery, audio filter and real time clock, ssb adapter, noise blanker, RS-232 Interface and Aux I/O, 160 mtr and 2nd RX Port, otherwise the ACCESSORIES. $$$$$$$

    Good Luck
    PU2OZT and WD4ELG like this.
  3. AC3GO

    AC3GO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I owned two new K2's both with DSP. Sold them both now own one radio, a IC7300 and would never even consider spending that kind of money on another K2. IMO the price is crazy money and unjustified, completely so. Yes I am a CW only OP since early 1982.
  4. HA3FLT

    HA3FLT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is a lot of ingenuity in K2's design/circuits, I still adore it and love it. It's not fair to compare a technically much simpler analog radio to a DDC/DUC one with all the power of digital processing. That's a different question why Elecraft as a special company can't manufacture their products cheaper preventing us from such mistakes, but the reason is not the greediness, look after it. Albeit, it is true that K2 is way too expensive compared to the sheer value of its parts, especially after so many years. But K2 remains on the wall of fame, because it has shown us how to create not a good but an exceptional receiver out of practically cheap, regular components.

    Historically, almost every ham radio manufacturer had nasty moves. Think on Icom's top of the line and other radios in an era having a processor with its program in a volatile RAM that just evaporates in the thin air when its battery depletes. Brrr. But this is only one example of one company, there are many.

    Concerning the receivers, sometimes in the history their important parameters as the already achieved high dynamic range and low noise had been sacrificed for other parameters, e.g. the "comfort" of frequency stability and maintainability (PLL's), etc. for many years, even decades. Let's say there were inevitable segments of those changes, but I always laughed at the newer and newer, expensive and even more expensive, shiny new radios having the similarly average or worse receivers. And we could speak of transmitters, too, but receivers are painful the most.

    Elecraft raised the bar a lot with K2 showing that how far the careful engineering could have taken us to create a much better palette of ham radios - if other manufacturers wanted to do it better. Do not let you fooled by the less robust and less elaborated, sometimes annoying user interface (...) of K2, its sound, selectivity, and dynamic range made it a real gem in its years.

    My favorite example is its VFO system. It contains a thousand years old MC145170 synthesiser circuit and a clean crystal oscillator as its reference. It maintains a high level of the frequency resolution and stability, but does not use a DDS. How? The crystal oscillator's frequency is alterable by the microcontroller using varicaps... And this clean VFO and the rest of the design resulted a much higher IP3 meaning that you could receive a weak signal near to a powerful one _inside_ the filter, too, made it possible to use less demanding crystal filters, and so on. While it still does not consume as much power as a regular desktop radio, because the K2 has its compromises for it.

    Although, this is an old story, and I forgot a lot of details, I still remember its refreshing existence and sound, and the joy of operating it.
    W5ESE, N2EY, WW2PT and 2 others like this.
  5. KC3MIO

    KC3MIO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for your post. I can appreciate the K2 as a well designed radio for its time and I was interested in buying a used model. But then I bought a Xiegu G90 and its capabilities exceed the K2, at a price below a used K2. I own the G90, an Icom 7300, a Mountaintopper MTR-5B. When I think of adding a new radio or replacing one of the three, I ask myself is it better for the price? I decided not to go for an Icom 705, which is three times the cost of the G90. Would I replace the 7300 with a 7610, at almost $3,000, or go for the new Yaesu FTDX-10 at $1,700? I might consider a KX2 or KX3, but I wonder how much better they would be at 3-4 times the cost of the G90.

    Some operators have developed attachments to a particular radio because they used the rig earlier in their career or it provides functions that they find useful. If you have something that works, maybe that’s all you want.

    As usual, this is a matter of taste, and opinions vary.
  6. AC3GO

    AC3GO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    K2 with DSP was a real PITA setting up and operating with the filtering system, although the DSP was really good. They since dropped that option.

    A fully loaded K2 with 100 watt option is a lot more money than the 7300 or the new FTdx10 coming out and both of those radios are light years ahead of the K2, no soldering required. You would really need to love soldering to buy a K2 loaded today.

    Not me I had solder training in avionics, been there done that.

    I am amazed the K2 is still selling, the die hards must still live when rigs like the G90 are so
    much cheaper and way more advanced, you would truly need to be a K2 die hard fan.
    PU2OZT likes this.
  7. NA8H

    NA8H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Totally agree, but I hope they still sell K1. Surprisingly, I found the K1 sounds way more better than KX2/KX3 in CW.
    W5ESE likes this.
  8. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a very bad experience with building a k1. Long story, cost me big $$$ in the end, oh well. I really see no place for the K2. I would be scared it had non obtainum components and elecraft has plans to can it in the near future, think ie... K1.

    I am 90% cw op and regularly use an FT 891 that cost just over $500. Maybe I am missing something but works great or me....
  9. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    We forget one very important thing. Most now have such a level of QRM and noise that all this sensitivity no longer matters.
    We simply can not receive any signal with a level less than S5 (
    PU2OZT likes this.
  10. W9BRD

    W9BRD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Because it's what one happens to want.

    Same reason I currently do my QRP with vacuum-tube transmitters and a 45-ish-year-old Yaesu FR-101S receiver I rescued from scrap and equipped with all-new AGC, S meter and muting circuitry. If I'm satisfied with the functionality at this end, all that's left is a signal of exactly the same strength and quality at the other end, whether it came from a K2, an HW-8 or a homemade 10JA8-17JQ6 transmitter excited by a homemade solid-state VFO built into the hulk of a BC-459A Command transmitter.
    US7IGN likes this.

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