Elecraft K3S

I see Elecraft has launched a deluxe version of its K3 transceiver. The K3 was already a pretty good rig and the S version will be even better, but sadly far too expensive. I guess Elecraft is right that this will be many times less expensive than similarly spec’d transceivers, but to me this is still far too much for an amateur radio rig. Don’t forget that lots of the features cost more – like the mic and 2m!

At half the price maybe, but certainly out of the question here in the UK when shipping, import duty and VAT have to be added. I am able to get lots of fun from our hobby spending just a small fraction of the cost. There will always be people who will pay these prices and buy a tower and a big beam.  Sorry, but this is not for me. I wish Elecraft well but feel they will need to slash prices soon to compete with the Chinese. An alternative is for Elecraft kits to be shipped from China. Sorry, but this may be the only way they will be able to compete in the future.

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

13 Responses to “Elecraft K3S”

  • Eddie - KJ4FGI:

    Yes, this is a little to pricey for many Hams but the quality of the parts and great customer service is what a lot of us want. I do see your point when it’s shipped out of the U.S.A.

    Chinese quality doesn’t even com close to the quality of anything made in the USA.
    I purchased 75 feet of flat copper ground strap from Georgia Copper, outstanding compared to China copper.

    How about china coax,not close compared to coax made in the USA

    Quality, Quality! and Customer Service, no one comes near Elecraft.
    I own the KX3 with every option except the 2m model, the KXPA100 and some of their test equipment. I had a connector problem with a Mic, they sent me a new one, no questions asked and told me to keep the one I was having problems with.
    Now that’s customer service.

    I have and still will purchase some connectors and switches from China, I built a 2m amp from an article in March 2014, I think 04, anyway I purchased only quality parts made in the USA.

    You have a problem with your chinese radio, your screwed over here in the USA. Even with Japanese radios you don’t get the Customer Service as you do from Elecraft.

    Yes I have owned Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu radios, once I finally was able to purchase an Elecraft and use it, I don’t want anything else, plus you can slowly add on to the Elecraft radio. Eham reviews reflect other Hams opinions about these radios.

  • Jeff K5JEF:

    Elecraft wouldn’t and shouldn’t try and compete with the Chineese. Do you want every one making cheap Chineese crap? You know that people call it cheap Chineese crap for a reason right?

  • harry k7zov:

    It took me a while and a lot of research, but I believe I know why Elecraft products out perform other and cost so much. When a company, ham or otherwise, decides on a product they look at the market and look at what they feel the product has to retail and wholesale at so they can built it and still make a profit. This generally means finding low ball prices and quality parts. Elecraft, on the other hand, designs a product and selects the parts to make it with the intent of quality, performance and possible improvements with firmware. Then they add in the profit margin and post a price. Where a $10 DSP might work well, they might put in a $25 one in since it has more performance capability for future use. This goes for all the parts. The radio and other equipment is designed for performance, being updateable, and reliability and not low ball pricing. Thus you get more then what you pay for. You also end up with a radio that costs a bit more but out performs radio that cost even more. Check out the Sherwood site. The K3 with the new Sync board is now number two on the list. The older K3 is number 6 and the KX3 is number 4. I suspect the K3S will be number 1 or two and the K3 with the new board with still be just slightly behind it. Performance at a price, service second to none and a radio that never seems to real get outdated, thus does not have to be constantly replaced.

    My 2 cents.. hope it was useful… It is just a shame that a VAT is killing a lot of sales…

  • frank ON6UU:

    Question is…will you make more qso’s with an Elecraft ?? Don’t forget that your sensitive Elecraft has to fight a crowd overcalling each other in pile-ups etc…Years ago Tentec was the marvel to have, the Orion and Orion2 were according to some low band specialists the best of the best…

    In a quiet band your Elecraft will have an advantage, that is sure.

    It would be a good thing that Elecraft would have more dealers in Europe !!

    Oh about Chinese…not all is crap.

    As in everything, there are Fiats and Ferrari’s…

  • Ron Miller; N6MSA:

    I have very little knowledge of what is coming out of China and no experience with the radio offerings. Also, Idon’t have deep pockets so that I can try and toss crap purchased. What is coming out of China which is considered non-crap?

    Thanks and 72,

    Ron Miller

  • AL SM0D:

    I agree with G3XBM that shipping from China is a realistic way to bring the manufacturing cost and therefore sales price down to affordable levels. This will drive volumes which will increase margins for Elecraft etc.

    Not sure I understand the opinions voiced here about “Chinese Crap” though. Surely everyone knows that for instance 99.9 % of all Apple products are manufactured in China. Not to mention, Lenovo, Dell, HP, IBM etc..

  • WX4C:

    For me, there is a lot of pride in owning a Product that is Made in the USA.
    You can have your Kenwoods, Icoms Yaesus and all the other foreign trash.
    Be a good American, buy American.

  • NZ3O:

    Sometimes we shop by price, and sometimes we don’t. In looking for an update to my aging Orion II, it seemed obvious to consider the Elecraft offerings. Luckily, it was during my research that some foreign sources announced they were exiting the amateur radio market, others announced mergers to stay afloat, and Elecraft announced the upgraded K3S. To me, that was an indication things were headed in different directions across the manufacturers. Once I got over the sticker shock, I configured a “what makes a great basic radio” and ordered my first-ever new radio.

  • anatoly va2dw:

    …..new k3s release soon sounds good since a progress is obviously needed but guys this is all about ham radio …is not it? I mean hobby but not main occupation or profession i.e. how do you earn money for living. I see it a bit simply and I am just happy with TS590s and moderate arrays and can live with that although I have funds to afford vy expensive rigs. I just simply do not need expensive rigs since they all do the same job. May be in event when one can have a qso with aliens from another planet then probably the rig and the cost is justified otherwise I am in doubt….. you know even the $20 grands radio may have a problems with more pricey repair than general one and that is about the quality independently where the rigs are manufactured. eham is a good source for those comments.
    So the idea is buy what you need and like and the rest is just not that important.

  • Frank, WA3RSL:

    I like Elecraft. I suppose they are selling all the K3S models they want?

    If they would do something many other companies do and have some sort of sale. Like buy a K3S by so and so date and they throw in the 2 meter module for free. Do this and I’d buy one. Everyone likes to feel they are getting a deal and saving money. 73

  • G6XYZ:

    I do hope that the K3S is a success. I do not believe that people should buy things simply they are made in their country. This attitude encourages a lazy attitude in the producer-witness the decline of the British motorcycle industry. Having said that, I have seen a YouTube video from Elecraft and was impressed by the attitude of the top guy who appears to be a thoroughly decent person who will not let the grass grow under his feet. Quality products, especially in relatively small runs will always be more expensive but the joy of ownership and use lasts long after the price is forgotten. Cheers, Tony Ryan

  • Peter G4EYV:

    I have just purchased a new K3s and I will let you know later if it was money well spent. I have moved from a detached house to a small flat with only a small balcony and NO external aerials so I needed the best HF set I could get which did not upset my wife in size as well. Cant use VHF/UHF as we live down the bottom of a hill, why is it always thus?

  • Byron NZ3O:

    Some months now that I have operated the Elecraft K3S, and I traded the rest of my station for a full Elecraft K-Line. I find this the best station ever for chasing DX, and my recent holiday-style contesting efforts in CQWW-CW were much more productive than ever before. The receiver, with 8-pole filters, just hears better. I know that because I am getting contacts that no one is calling and if anyone is they are not hearing the reply from the DX operator.

    My radios have included Heathkit, Kenwood, Yeasu and TenTec, and this is by far my favorite yet. I ever enjoy the K-Line integration of the KPA500 better than the much more powerful Alpha9500 it replaced. This integration lets you focus on the contact rather than switches and knobs on the equipment.

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