My Elecraft KX3 And The DX Contest

Elecraft KX3 QRP Radio
Elecraft KX3 QRP Radio

For some reason I missed the notices that the ARRL CW International DX contest was scheduled for this weekend. On Saturday afternoon while putting a recently acquired Elecraft KX3 on the air, I discovered the contest was in progress. I was interested to see just what I could do in an International DX contest with only 5 watts.

I got the KX3 from a local amateur, and was not anticipating any problems getting the little radio on the air. There were no problems with the rig, except operator problems.

I could not get the Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) working. After a couple of hours messing with menus and reading manuals, I made a call to the previous owner. His return call came a couple of hours later, and his advice made the problem disappear.

You see, the KX3 is a QRP radio and mine has the optional ATU. Elecraft has a matching 100 watt amplifier (KXPA100) that will give the rig a boost. The problem is that if the amp has an ATU, you need to disable the ATU in the KX3. The previous owner had the KXPA100 with its ATU, and the option had been disabled in the KX3. After an adjustment in the configuration menu, all was wonderful

The KX3 is one sweet, little radio. The receiver gives big-time performance even without the optional crystal roofing filters because the DSP does a good job of filtering, too.  The KX3 may have the best receiver I have ever had. My Kenwood TS-2000 is a terrific radio with a great receiver, but the KX3 will give it a run for the money.

In the ARRL DX contest on Saturday night, I worked a few eighty meter stations, including one Caribbean station. Of course, my efforts were with using only five watts, the official QRP CW power limitation. It was almost effortless.

On Sunday, I spent a couple of hours on the HF bands chasing DX stations, and recorded about twenty contacts. Some of these were stateside stations, but I worked several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, Aruba, Monserrat, and others.

South America was coming in, and Brazilian stations were worked without much trouble. Central American stations in Costa Rica and Belize were also logged. I heard no Mexican stations, and only one station in Chile. I was unable to work any of the two or three Venezuelan stations.

European stations were not plentiful, and my only European station was in Ireland. I worked bands from 10 to 40 meters Sunday. The best band was 20 meters, with 40 meters being very active. It was not a great weekend for DX, but the stations I worked were with only 5 watts. I was impressed.

The reason I acquired the KX3 was to have a radio that I could take on trips, and work out of a hotel, bed and breakfast, or one of my extended family’s houses. I want the ability to play radio while my wife and her buddies do what ladies do. I want to have my own agenda.

It looks like I will do more operating with the KX3 from my QTH. QRP is great fun, especially with a great radio.