Building the Elecraft K3 saved quite a bit of money and it provided a fun activity over the Christmas Holidays in 2008. It’s a no soldering kit, but it has a great deal of intricacy in getting everything assembled correctly. The case comes together around the main RF board and then the other boards, etc., are attached. The most challenging part was mounting the front panel.
I found the Elecraft Reflector to be very helpful in giving me a good perspective on what to expect when assembling the unit, as well as providing some insight into minor difficulties. It all went together very well. I took my time, reading the directions very closely. The only real snag was snapping the screw on the RS-232 connector. Fortunately, I was able to get a small drill bit on it and drive it out of the connector. I felt a great deal of relief over that.
The unit runs fantastic. I’ve got it set up to work CW at QRP levels, since I do not have the 100 watt amplifier installed. I installed roofing filters at 250 Hz, 500 Hz (a special run made by INRAD), 1000 Hz, and 2,800 Hz, all 8-pole filters. I’ve tweaked on the settings over time to get them to where I want them for CW Contest work. I’m not using roughly 80% of the capabilities of this rig, but it works great for me.
I did install the antenna tuner. At QRP levels it’s capable of matching widely varying loads. The key for me is that it provides a built in antenna switch. That allows me to run two transmitting antennas and with yet another optional interface, I’ve also got a separate receive antenna.
If you’re thinking about buying a K3, or any Elecraft product for that matter, you can’t go wrong.