Elecraft K3 Verses The Rest?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N3TU, Feb 2, 2008.

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  1. K7UA

    K7UA Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a little off topic, but I got sucked into the Sherwood Engineering statistics and bought a Ten Tec Orion II based on their figures. It was a fine rig, but in the end my old Icom 775DSP could hear things that the Orion II could not. On a crowded band the Orion II may have been better with IMD, but for my use as a Dxer it lost out to the 775. I will never base my choices again solely on Sherwood's statistics.
  2. WX7Y

    WX7Y XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Best Receiver

    I have had the Ten-Tec Orion II, the Yaesu FT-1000MP MKV and the Flex 5000A

    My opinion in side by side SSB test in the real world my results are

    1: FLEX5000A is BY FAR the best using the latest firmware / PowerSDR (NO extra filters needed) You need to play with it to belive it.

    2: Yaesu FT1000MP MKV second (Rig has INRAD 2.1KHz Filters, roofing filter and all mods AGC, Keyclick etc.)

    3: Ten-Tec Orion (latest firmware) is my third choice with all available SSB filters installed, never impressed me with all the hype.

    Side by Side tests by importance (my opinion)

    Selectivity, Intermod, Readability, Sensitivity, and Ease of use.

    I would not put to much credit into some of the reviews and spec WEB sites and reviews they can be VERY biased.

    My next purchase in about a week will be the K3, I hope it will live up to all the Hype it has had.


  3. VE3PTC

    VE3PTC Ham Member QRZ Page


    yes, maybe under horrendous conditions, there may be a perceptable difference, but for the majority of contacts between s5 and s9+, most radio's are in the same ball park. for instance, my ft 101zd has a lower noise floor on the lower frequency's, than my ft 1000mp. does that make it a better all round radio? buy/install a better/bigger/efficient antenna system, because thats where you really notice how well your station works.
    fwiw, i would consider looking at a k3, but until they upgrade the shoddy looking case and controls, not to mention the $5 s-meter, that would be rejected from any radio shack model, then i would look at the k3 . its just too cheap looking.
    bob. ve3ptc
  4. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    My Elmer would agree with your comments about the FT-840 .. a true value entry level transceiver that I don't think was fully respected in 1980s and early 1990s.
    I had the Kenwood TS-440SAT, Icom IC-756Pro and Elecraft K3 in side by side (still own) -- I have previously owned the TS-570G, TenTec Paragon II, TS-530S, SB-301.

    My bias opinion -- bias being my personal weighting of various features and criteria

    1. Kenwood TS-440SAT.
    Gets high marks for user interface (ease of usage); small size/portability; and raised the bar for solid-state transceivers in early 1980s.
    BEST FEATURE: Usage of main tuning knob to dial through the 100 memories -- you can not do that on the 756Pro and easier to use than Elecraft K3.

    2. Icom IC-756Pro.
    This radio raised the bar 15 years later in 2000.
    Color LCD display and ability to see the spectrum -- especially during contests -- can not be understated.
    BEST FEATURES: Ease of changing features around the LCD display; IF DSP; Spectral display.

    3. Elecraft K3.
    This radio takes lightweight and capabilities (DSP) to the next level with a 2 line display (no large LCD screen). Ultimate in flexible and small -- perfect for QRP users and well as DXepiditon/Contest users.
    BEST FEATURE: The quiet receiver. I can sit this receiver on 7,047.50 kHz and hear nothing in speaker -- dead quiet -- then W1AW booms from the silence like the Morse code is being sent to me in the same room.
    Has to be heard to be appreciated

    The IC-756Pro III is an incremental improvement over the II and III (IMHO).
    I am very interested in the IC-7600 with its wide screen LCD, to see if it can raise the base (again) over the past 10 years.

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  5. K8YZK

    K8YZK Ham Member QRZ Page

    My suggestion as others have said is to sit down with ones you are looking at and play with them for awhile if possible. People opinions are just that opinions, and each of us are different.

    Not sure how much you want to spend but cost does not mean if you get the most expensive radio that it is the best radio for you, and your type of operation. i am happy with my FT450 and FT950. I also had a FT840 and it was a nice basic radio. I enjoyed my TS-570S(G) and TT Jupiter but did not care for the Argonaut V.

    Good luck in your choice

  6. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Have seen one other than a picture in a magazine? I imagine you have but when I saw one in real life, I was more impressed than I was from the poor quality pictures they use in the ads. I even told them that the pictures in their ads were terrible compared to the real radio. I am still not interested though.
  7. K2QI

    K2QI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had an FT-840. I had the 2.6 filter, TXCO-4 oscillator and FM board installed.

    However, I had to run off-board DSP 99% of the time, and the radio has poor IMD numbers. The receiver would intermod/desense around strong signals.

    I replaced it with a fully loaded K3. I will never look back.
  8. VE3PTC

    VE3PTC Ham Member QRZ Page

    re: k7mh

    hi k7mh, yes, i have seen one up close, and even listened to it on 40, and 80m.
    i dont think the performance aspect of the radio is in question, i just dont find the layout of the controls, or the general appearance to be attractive to me. its a medium expenseive radio, and i cannot fathom out why they decided on a poor/cheap looking
    s-meter for it. if i was paying upwards of $3k for the radio with options, i would expect it to look the part too! for one example. we all make choices, and whether its ham radio, or a car etc, you have to like what you are buying. i assume you dont drive a yugo motor car.
    i stick by my initial comments. most of the contacts on hf will be in the range s5 to well over s9. apart from better filtering, almost any radio will perform in a similiar way. maybe if you are talking about eme, or very weak signal work, then yes, but at the end of the day, it comes down to your choice. after all, its going to be staring you in the face everytime you are in the shack, n'est-pas?
    like the majority,i have a few radio's in the shack, and i accept they are not perfect, but they do the job for me, and some people only like one particular brand . thats why we are all different, so, i'm not knocking the k3, just saying its not for me!
    vy 73 de bob. ve3ptc/gm0ley
  9. N0CE

    N0CE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find these comments interesting, this is mine.

    For me, the most important thing in a radio is the receiver. I understand why some people want all the whiz-bang and features. That's okay for them. There is a place for that in Ham Radio.

    I don't want a radio that is mostly computer. I don't want to pay for an excess of features I won't use, or can't remember how to use. Radios shouldn't have to cost a fortune. I want dependable communication basics. I want a radio I can repair and align. If I can't fix it, I want to be able to get it fixed.

    Many years ago, I bought a new Kenwood TS820 and I thought it was working fine. After exchanging reports with a lot of people, I discovered the Rcvr was cold. I bought the mtc manual and aligned the Receiver section and it became excellent. I could work DX in the narrow cracks between strong signals. I'd still be using it today if it wasn't for the tube finals. (I am interested in the reports about TenTec and Elcraft.)
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If at all possible, make a personal comparison. You may be very surprised at what you choose.

    I had the pleasure of operating some of these rigs on Field Day last year.

    On CW, we had a K3 and a Kenwood TS-850. I was surprised at how well the old 850 did - it was actually very pleasant to operate in the contest. But, the K3 flatly blew it away. I didn't do that much with the K3, though - I basically just ran long strings of contacts on one frequency. Otheres, who used itmore extensively, complained about the ergonomics.

    I also used my IC-7000 and a friends IC-756 Pro III. The PRoIII was the clear winner, but the 7000 wasn't that far behind on SSB. Indeed, the 7000 was the only rig that didn't get blasted with frontend overload. Even the K3 couldn't stand up to a KW on the same band. I think, however, that we may have had issues with RF on the power lines.

    I've use many criteria to evaluate radios. I was lucky to live near a Ham Radio Outlet where they always had the most popular rigs available for evaluation. That no longer seems to be the case, anywhere. So, Field Day and other contests really become your best opportunity to try out the latest and greatest.

    Years ago, I bought an FT-902DM because the audio was the best I've ever heard. Now, I think I'd lean toward Ten Tec for several reason, great audio being one of them, and the fact that I operate CW and digital 90% of the time. I've mainly been an Icom fan in between, and I don't regret owning two of them.
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