Guidance from Eric Swartz co-founder of Elecraft

As a follow-up post from my last post entitled  "What has happened to Elecraft" in that post I wrote how shocked I was when I visited Elecrafts order page and the results, I had found. I was surprised to see the K3S had been retired and the lack of availability of their other products. My post had only been up for a short time until a comment from Eric Swartz WA6HHQ who is the co-founder (Wayne Burdick N6KR being the other founder) of Elecraft was posted. To be honest I was shocked and pleased to see that Eric was a reader of the blog. I emailed Eric asking him if it was ok to repost his response with a new post as some folks do not always read the comments.  I felt it to be very important to highlight Eric's response in a post for all to see.  He emailed me back and agreed without issue and below is Eric's comment. 

Hi Mike,

While the last year has been challenging due to the Covid crisis, the CA wildfires near us and related supply issues, we are not now shut down by CA for COVID and are financially healthy. We are alive and kicking - shipping radios, amplifiers and accessories every week.

You mentioned the backlog on the KX2, KX3, KXPA100 and K2, for which I apologize. All of these are still in production and shipping. Orders for all of our products surprisingly have been much higher than we expected during the Covid crisis, which has contributed to the current backlog on these products. (It looks like hams had more time this past year to enjoy the hobby, which has helped sales!) I just checked our shipping report for the first ten days of this month (through today 2/10) and all of these are shipping along with their accessories, the KPA500, KPA1500 etc.  We certainly have seen intermittent production delays due to parts shortages, but to date, nothing has shut us down. We've gotten pretty good at quickly finding alternate parts when one is delayed.

I see you were disappointed the K3S was no longer in production. We formally discontinued it in May of 2019 when we introduced the K4, after a close to 13 year run for the K3 and K3S. We've also previously discontinued the K1 and KX1, which also had a long run. In general, we discontinue products as sales decrease over time and when new products replace them. Fortunately, we've been able to continue production of the K2 since its first ship in Jan of 1999. No that's a long run :-)

We are also ramping up production and shipments of the K4, which also competes for production resources. I noted in my recent live video Q&A session on the K4 that we had just received 100 full PC board sets for the K4 from our local assembly subcontractor and these are winding their way through production. (See the Elecraft YouTube channel for the Zoom recording.) We received a huge response to the K4 and as a result, have a very large number of backorders that will keep us busy and financially healthy for some time.

Lastly, you mentioned the 'TBD' on K3S option boards and accessories. We recently asked for interest from our customers on a special run of all of these and received a very large response, which makes it economical to build another run of most of these. We've now received the quote updates from our suppliers and we will be contacting everyone starting next week who expressed interest in these items.

We're still in business, healthy and enjoying designing and building exciting products for the amateur radio community, and we hope to continue doing so for some time!

73, Eric - WA6HHQ

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “Guidance from Eric Swartz co-founder of Elecraft”

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    Hi Mike.

    First of all I guess you missed the numerous postings that I ran across on the K3 and K3S being shutdown to make room for the K4 in production. Elecraft is a small company with a bit over 50 people. I was told this a while back. I have a KPA500 that has been down for a while and have been working with Doug to try to troubleshoot the issue down to the board level. Most of last year he and many others weer working at home. Not by choice. Being in the California, the State put some stupid restriction on working outside the home.

    My KPA500 is still not working, but after the next stimulus check comes in I will be pulling the main module out and sending it in for repair. One thing I know about Elecraft is their customer service is second to none. Their people are outstanding and their service is too. But they are small, thus they are forced to discontinue things like the K3S, KX1, K1, etc. The K2 is alive and well do to sales, I believe mostly to CW hams. I have had a few K2’s and it really is a amazing little radio. Being a kit just adds to that.

    Of all the many Elecraft products I have owned and traded and sold, I still have K3/100 with the jumper to make it a K3/10. The KPA500 that will be fixed soon and the KAT500, one of the single best ATU’s I have ever owned. I can not imagine not owning all three. I find it easy, in the past, to trade and even sell and get other radios. Elecraft is by far the hardest to do that, even though I have done it and have had to do it for $$$. Fixed retirement income is low and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, like it or not.

    When, not if, A KX4 comes out I will have a real problem not owning it. For now I will stick to my Xiegu G90 and K3 made into a K3/10 for QRP/Field fun and games

    Hope you and yours are doing well and staying warm. We are hours away from another snow storm and maybe a foot of snow. Seems I will be on the radio this week-end. Good place to stay warm.

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Harry very nice to hear from you and just the other day I was wondering if all was well with you. Yup I would have missed the postings as when I sold my k3 I removed myself from the Elecraft K3 reflector and when the KX3 was sold I did the same from that reflector. Yes many have been told to relocate to home for working. Julie has had the same, but she loves it and has applied and received the ok to work permanently from home.

    I agree the K2 is a great CW rig and I have had and sold 2 of them. The K3 was a great rig for CW as well and I sure do miss it in the shack. I was just shocked it was discontinued, but all good things must come to an end.

    I was spoiled with the ATU in the K3 and KX3 and I did not realize this until I started using other brands of external ATU’s. The KAT-500 for sure would be in my shack but as you said, and now I am starting to understand that when retired money is just not a simple case of working some overtime to get what you want. I would love to have a KAT-500, but we don’t always get what we want. For me, I had to make a hard radio choice in that I really needed to upgrade my PC and the only way was to sell my beloved KX3. I went very fast to a local ham, and it had to be done to afford the upgrades to the PC. Thankfully I was able to do the upgrades myself, so I got what I wanted for less money.

    Very nice to hear from you again Harry good to hear you both are well. We are doing just fine, although we are in a deep freeze at the moment and our snow is expected on Tuesday. Stay well and looking forward to hearing from you again.


    I am running out of ideas. I recently purchased a K3 with a sub receiver, but have no idea how to use it.


    Thank you.

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