Saturday, July 16, 2016

"KX2 Review" or "A Better KX3"

I was thinking yesterday, while driving back from our last SOTA outing, that I have used the KX2 on almost 20 SOTA summits. We have used the KX3 on perhaps over 100 and it even went with us on our Honeymoon to Yellow Stone and the Grand Tetons.

I am really liking the new KX2! Lynn, KC0YQF, has a KX3. We purchased the KX3 when Lynn upgraded to General so she would have the means to operate SSB. I should point out that while Lynn enjoys hiking and Amateur radio she was less than enthusiastic to hike with me and sit on a summit as I plugged in earplugs and used a CW only radio (KX1 or Steve Weber MTR). While I was having a blast, it was just no fun for her. I don't blame her.

With a little prodding she upgraded to General and we were off to do some summits on SSB. I cannot say how proud I am of her while listening to her run a pileup. She really enjoys talking to everyone on SSB. At the time my only radio that I could take portable that had SSB was my K2. After one outing with it we got a KX3. The K2 is great but just too bulky and it was taking up most of my backpack. I will add that a feature that I like on the K2 that I wish the KX3 and maybe the KX2 had was the dual antenna connections as this makes it very easy to to A B comparisons.

Lynn loves the KX3 as do I. When it comes to a portable radio that has to serve two main functions; CW and SSB there is no radio that came close, until the KX2.

Wait, you might say, there are plenty of radios that do CW and SSB. Yes, that is a fact however, when it comes to my requirements they all pale in comparison. When running a pileup on CW I need QSK, no noisy relays, I also need to be able to adjust keyer speed with out digging into a menu system. It needs to be light and I do not want to carry a bunch of boxes with me.

When choosing the KX3 my requirements were:

Efficient battery usage
Built in tuner that actually works
Full break in CW
Easy to adjust CW speed without fiddling through three menus
Easy to adjust power out
Don't need a manual to use
SSB and CW

That is it, simple requirements however, no other radio fits that bill. The KX3 served us well and it will again as a non-backpack portable radio.

Yesterday we used the KX2 on two SOTA summits between three operators. Lynn and I used it on the first one and all three of us used it on the second one. Power consumption at the end of what basically was FIVE SOTA activations (CW and SSB) was at less than an 1 amp. AMAZING!!!!

When choosing a radio I like to choose based on my requirements. I am not much of an impulse buyer. I did look at many other radios when Lynn upgraded but they had to meet her requirements and mine. The KX3 and now the KX2 excels at how we use our portable radios.

Those same requirements:

REQUIREMENT                              KX3               KX2
Efficient battery usage                      YES               BETTER (and more compact)
Built in tuner that actually works     YES               YES
Light                                                 YES               BETTER
Compact                                           YES               BETTER
Full break in CW                             YES               YES
Easy to adjust CW speed                 YES               YES
Easy to adjust power out                  YES              YES
Don't need a manual to use              YES              YES
SSB and CW                                    YES              YES

I have used several antennas with the KX2, random wire up to 58foot long with and without counter poise. Buddipole Versa Tee Vertical, EF with matching unit, Hustler Vertical and Dipole. The tuner in the KX2 was able to tame the antennas that were not resonate with no problem.

The KX2 menu system, as is the KX3 menu system, is easy to figure out without a manual even above 10K feet when the oxygen clouds my thought process. The KX2 cuts my station weight from 5 lbs to 2 lbs without loosing any functionality that I care about. The battery is self contained and last a loooong time. This I really like vice the AA batteries in the KX3 (I usually used an external battery with the KX3, adding more weight and taking up more space.)

If your requirements are similar to mine then you are probably already considering the KX2. Notice price is not one of my requirements. If I buy something cheaper (as are many radios out there) I will eventually end up buying what really meets my requirements at some point down the road.  I think it is cheaper to just buy the radio that meets your needs first. Of course if I was able to see into the future I still would have bought a KX3 and KX2 but the KX3 would be my station radio vice the K3.

As a bonus the KX3 and KX2 allow me to use some digital modes without a computer. I have found this to be a lot of fun although it never was a requirement of mine.

In my opinion, Elecraft has another winner!

Here are a few picks on our latest SOTA outings with the KX2.

KC0YQF runs the pileup on Mt Evans (photo by wG0AT)

A real Mountain Goat checks out our SOTA activation! (Mount Evans)

KX2, right at home on a summit (Mount Evans)

Lynn listens to Steve's pileup (Genesse Mountain)

Lynn working the chasers on Genesse Mountain

Our GPS (Goat Positioning System) on Cheyenne Mountain

Mount Rosa as viewed from Cheyenne Mountain
KC0YQF on W0C/SP-113 or Eagle Rock

Steve's turn while Lynn takes a break (Eagle Rock)

Final ascent to Observatory Rock

Lynn runs the pileup on SSB while Steve chases Pokemon (Observatory Rock)

Steve using SSB on Observatory Rock

The KX2 Rocks!
K0JQZ on Observatory Rock using the KX2 with AME Paddles (photo by KC0YQF)

K0JQZ on Observatory Rock (photo by wG0AT)

KC0YQF on Eagle Rock (photo by wG0AT)

K0JQZ on Eagle Rock with KX2 (photo by wG0AT)
Pano shot of KC0YQF and WG0AT on Observatory Rock


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