Elecraft KX2 / KX3

I have a KX2 (with ATU) and have at no point wished I’d gone KX3 instead. It is my main HF rig out and about and at home. The more I use it, the more I appreciate it.

Other rigs will come and go, pretty sure I will own the KX2 until I die.


Hi - Early this year got a KX2 directly from Elecraft - there was some VAT to pay but it arrived as expected with no issues. I went for the internal ATU as I didn’t fancy fitting one - but I did change the side plates to add protection (Gems Products version). I have no regerets other than possibly not buying an internal battery at the same time - although I sourced one from The Netherlands and it got through the Brexit wall… Significantly lighter than my previous combination - although I still have my FT 817 for 2m SSB or as a backup. Perhaps it is just me but I find it much more intuative to use than the FT 817 - no layers of menus to fight through. I have the KX2 out in the office / shack and it gets turned onat home as well as on a hilltop and on RX it seems to be as good as my bigger rig - IC 7300. Just my pennys worth! Paul


Hi Paul,
I’m glad you made your post as a KX2 user. I have handled one but don’t own one. IMO it is the best choice for SOTA etc.

For anyone wondering about what to do, I urge you to get the internal tuner and battery.

It’s an investment. This is what you earn money for.

You can take a HH for 2 m and get most of the
2m stations on FM.

Oh and do try to use a better antenna than some scrap of wire thrown on the scrub.



I own both KX2 and KX3. Unless for some reason you absolutely… positively… got to have 6m on SOTA then KX2 is the only way to go. Also, as stated above the internal tuner is a major plus, at least in my opinion. Either way, you will not be disappointed in either one. If I need 6m I too purchased the transverter from the Ukraine just to have that option available.
Tim - K5DEZ


I can only tell of my experience with both KX2/3 on HF. I have kx3 number 0804 got it in 2012. My SOTA buddy has a KX2 which we use on joint activations as well. First thing I noticed was the external Speaker on the KX2 is way better than the KX3 but apart from that they function much the same. I also noticed from own experience and others the KX2 will run at a higher temperature if used in a hot climate country like VK. My JA friend had a few over heating warnings on his KX2 during summer time in JA. The accessory heat sink on both rigs can help, I never bothered with one but I always make sure the rig is in shade if its a hot day out activating. I would not consider VHF as a means of qualifying a summit unless you have lots of active chasers in the foot print of a summit, its not worth even carrying any VHF kit here in VK5 there’s no one out there to contact from a lot of summits I visit.
vk5cz …


This poll gives a form of recommendation as to what activators are using.

I’ve never used a KX3 but have never felt I was missing something with the 2. (Except power sometimes, and there are better solutions than a KX3 for that :wink:)


I have a 70cm transverter from https://transverters-store.com/ which I use with my FT-891. They also sell on ebay. The signal quality is good, and they have transverters with a TCXO which are quite stable. (I tested the stability while using it for QO-100 UL with FT8). I don’t have a comparison with the Elecraft transverters, but the value for money seems quite good to me.

I think you meant 6m. KX2/3 both do 160m.

To answer OPs question, I own both a KX2 and a KX3. The KX3 is my main station rig, and the KX2 is my SOTA rig. There isn’t any feature of the KX3 that I wish I had on the KX2 for SOTA activations. Also, my SOTA activations are mostly CW, if that makes a difference.

73, Jim KK0U


Thanks Jim. It seems your opinion is shared by all the posters here, pretty much. I will now spend time looking for second hand, and also considering whether to get new, and then whether to go direct to Elecraft, or Walters and Stanton (the UK distributor). The former may be cheaper, and the latter may be quicker, and less hassle!

Re KK0U: To put it a little more correctly … :wink:
KX2 RX 500 kHz-32 MHz
KX2 TX 80-10 m bands


It’s OK! - I know the data :slight_smile:

I don’t need a 160m band for SOTA - 6m would have been nice - but the extra price / weight / dimensions of the KX3 were not worth this option to me.

73 Armin

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I started in SOTA with the FT-817 and an Alinco 2M HT. Once I got the bug I changed rigs to a KX3 and a Kenwood TH-D72A. My KX3 has the built in ATU, and 2M Transverter, and I now use the KX3 to drive my 23cm transverter. The TH-D72A has been replaced by a TH-D74 - I like the tri-band capability and the APRS built into the HT. My buddy has the KX2 and sometimes I envy his rig for the weight advantage; but I traded a little bit more weight for the ability to operate from 160-23cm all mode. By the way - although I have the built in battery capability on my KX3, I now use the KX2 battery pack to power my KX3 - cuts down on the weight and adds time to my activations. If I ever find a used KX2 at a great price I may add that rig to the collection. The only thing I miss is having 70cm all mode to drive a 13cm transverter. Other folks like other equipment, but I am addicted to Elecraft and Kenwood!


I have a Kx3 with internal atu and vhf module, i use the external battery lipo 3s.
If your targets are the long hikes or high mountains I suggest the kx2. If your type of portable operations is not too extreme you could carry up some height more, you could choose the kx3.
The six meter in the next years would be open more often…

I do not racommend the use of external device, transverter or tuner, they can compromise your fun…



I do the same

I only use the internal battery rarely or as a backup. After a short period of use, the output power of the KX2 is reduced to 5W.
With the stronger external battery, I always have the full output power.

73 Armin


I have the KX3 since 2014 and recently bought a KX2. Both are excellent radios and the KX3 has done a lot of work and seen many distant summits.

However for full pack o/night bushwalks or steep difficult summits the smaller, lighter KX2 has a lot going for it.
With the KX2 had the internal tuner installed as was the KX3, very handy, and bought a Elecraft paddle.

Mostly do cw with some ssb. Did not bother with an internal battery. Found with the KX3 rarely used the internal battery.
In any case with an external battery get more power .

Regards, Wal VK2WP


As a bag for the KX2 I recommend the Lowepro CS 60 (it is like the elecraft bag).



As you can see, there is room for everything here. The front of the KX2 is protected by a small booklet in which I enter the QSOs.

73 Armin


I only use the internal battery, but always have a spare pack with me. The charm of the KX2 is that it works out of the box.

I am sitting on a stump. On the left knee the smartphone, on the right the logbook and the kx2 with the microphone and paddle up on the lap.
Then you are happy about everything you don’t need anymore.
73 Chris


I too use the LowePro bag.

However, we get a lot of unforecasted rain in my area (Wot? Northern England, surely not?) and often I use a repurposed see-through toilet bag in which I can operate the KX2 through the open zip. It also doubles as the carry bag for the KX2, LiPo, paddles and cables.


My answer…

Get a brand new Yaesu FT-818 with full warranty.

Build resonant aerials for each band you wish to operate /P on.

Every mode. Every band. One relatively affordable little black box.

OK, it wasn’t your question - but it’s still my answer :wink:


Heck, you must have a firm lap Chris - mine is too flabby for that. I attach my Palm Nano paddles to a small steel plate strapped to my leg with a velcro strap [with a 1m lead to the KX2].