Another Portable HF Option – Elecraft KX3 for Portable Activations

Elecraft KX3


Looking into 2022 I hope to participate in a few activations.

With Tom K0TTC scheming to do a newer park on Detroit Island (which is a Wisconsin island in Lake Michigan – you have to love the reuse of names across the Midwest). Hoping we can catch a few other nearby Islands as well.

Having missed having a nice simple portable HF setup on my recent trip around Lake Superior, I’d like to be ready for some HF on an envisioned Lake Michigan circle trip in 2022.

I’ve had three radio options I could use. The Flex-6600M could be pulled from service at my work QTH station, I’ve used a TenTec Jupiter (and Pegasus) for this in the past, and I have a SGC SC-2020 that could be used.

FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M

The Flex-6600M is the bulkiest, is best when connected to the internet, and is a bit valuable to leave bouncing in the back of the car. If I set out by motorcycle it’s size is much more of an issue. It weighs in at a bit over 11 lbs and is 14in x 7in x 13in or so.

TenTec Jupiter (Green Screen Model)

The TenTec Jupiter are fine radios but mine are suffering from lack of use and age. One got caught out in a weather event and been a point of concern since it got wet. Even though dried immediately I am not comfortable dragging it somewhere to find out it decides to not work right. Jupiter transceivers are not light either, as the book says they are 11.7 lbs and is about 12in x 5in x 13in. Realistically the Jupiter is better supported by internet forums and former TenTec employees than the present rights-holder .  The Jupiter is not in current production.

SGC SG-2020

The SGG SG-2020 is nice , but really heavy for a QRP rig at 4-1/2 pounds. It is compact at about 6in x 3in by 7in. Unfortunately the SG-2020 is unsupported, as SGC stopped supporting them some years ago and a few parts (like a programed main IC) are unobtanium in 2020s.

Lab599 Discovery TX-500

Jeff KE9V recently took delivery of a Lab599 Discovery TX-500 transceiver , built from a billet case in Russia. He’s made a few contacts with it, but hasn’t taken it to the field yet. Unfortunately Lab599 has suspended production for logistics reasons, making it a bit of phantomware at the moment.

One of my cousins offered me his Elecraft KX3 setup at a fair price. Coming in at 1.1 lbs and a 4in by 8in by 2 in size the KX3 is certainly an easy motorcycle transported portable unit. Other than playing with it I think my cousin only did one activation type activity with this KX3.

The KX3 is a factory built with ATU model, and I will have to decide if I want to add anything else to the setup. The PX3 Panadapter looks interesting and I’ll read up on the other options. Wanted to order the KX3 Complete Station book (the 262 page one ) from Elecraft, but I couldn’t see paying first $45 for the book and then another $23 in shipping without reading at least a few reviews. So I’ll come back to that once I hear the KX3 is in route.



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2 thoughts on “Another Portable HF Option – Elecraft KX3 for Portable Activations

  1. KX3 is a great radio. I’m using it also as at my shack as a stationary rig. I’ve built some boxes, that have external vox, external audio mic processing, external cq-calling for contest, switchable tx/rx antenna and many receive antennas (low bands) etc. I’m currently working on putting it alltogether into military container so I could operate this station in my car :)

  2. va3paw says:

    check out Icom IC-705

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