What has happened to Elecraft?



 For the first time in a very long time, my radio shack is without an Elecraft product.  I was and still am a big Elecraft fan and had 2 Elecraft K2's that I built, KX1, K3 and finally a KX3. The only rig I had left was the KX3 and a short time ago that rig was sold off. As with most hams sold equipment becomes ham bucks for new things. I may regret selling my KX3 but at this time that has not happened.  I really needed to upgrade my PC and it was the KX3 funds that allowed me to do that. 

My KX1

I was on the internet this afternoon and wanted for old time sake visit the Elecraft website and what I found was shocking! I went to the order/shipping status page as I was feeling the fuzzies for maybe another K2 to build.  I saw the K4 and its ongoing status update link but then I saw "K3S no longer available" I took a double-take! That was the flagship of Elecraft.  It gets better......the K3/K3S add-on kits are for the most part " availability TBD" so much for an upgradable radio. 

Then there were the back orders KX3, KPA100 amp,  KX2 and K2. I am not sure if it's COVID that has put things in a tailspin but as an Elecraft fan, I was shocked to see this.  

One of my K2's

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

30 Responses to “What has happened to Elecraft?”

  • Dave, WD8CIV:

    I wonder if Elecraft is feeling the pinch of the semiconductor shortage. Between the pandemic and the increased usage of semiconductors in vehicles, the demand has exceeded the supply of many chip types. I believe audio components are one of the bottlenecks, since just about every car has a sound system these days.

  • Chris, DL7AG:

    I feel the same way and think it’s fashionable to blame everything on Covid-19.
    The fact is that even before Covid-19, elecraft unfortunately did not keep up with the development of the K4.
    What is really going on there, we will see in the future.

  • Buck K4IA:

    No mystery, no conspiracy, no need for gloom and doom. This has all been well-documented by Elecraft in their newsletters and on the Elecraft mail list. California is in lock-down and required extensive redesign of their factory to accomodate social distancing. Many of their suppliers can’t deliver the parts and pieces. In addition, the wildfires last summer closed a lot of businesses.

    They have put the time to good use continuing to improve the software and add new features. This is going to be a game-changing radio. Stand by…

  • John N5CQ:

    If Ford has to cut back production of F150 trucks for semiconductor shortages, you can bet a much smaller buyer like Elecraft will have issues too. There are virus caused supply chain disruptions for many manufactured goods. The HVAC biz has long lead times, for example, and many replacement parts are just not available.

  • Kirk, K6KAR:

    I’m sure the unavailability of various semiconductors due to the Luhan aka COVID is part of the problem. Keep in mind that part of California was hit by some exceedingly large wildfires. A couple of Elecraft individuals lost their homes due to the fires. Another issue is the amount of K4 orders that was and is being received by Elecraft. I ordered my K4HD about four months ago. Although I may see my K4D in late March or early April (so as I’ve been told), the HD will come much later in the year.

  • Eric WA6HHQ - Elecraft:

    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 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 VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Dave, and thanks for stopping by, yes you are correct, and I can see this as an issue. I was just shocked to see the order page as it was not what I was expecting. I have always been a huge fan of Elecraft and they set the lead in customer support and product.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Hello Chris and greetings from the icy cold Atlantic Canada, I went to your QRZ page and see you are the proud owner of a complete KX3 setup. I had a KX3, and it was a fantastic rig. Regarding the K4 yes it has been some time for sure. I feel this was a massive undertaking for Elecraft. It’s a large step up from the K3 and K3S. I do remember when the KX3 was introduced, and it did a bit of time before it was ready to hit the shack. As with Elecraft they pay very close attention to their customers and have been getting tones of feedback from them. I can imagine this may be some hold up as they improve and tweak things.
    Chris have a great rest of the week,
    73
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Buck, and thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment, well I hope I did not leave a message of gloom and doom. I was in shock when I visited the order page. I have had 4 Elecraft radios and their product I am the first to admit that it’s a top-notch quality product. The support is second to none. I will be interested to see the final specs on the K4 and how it stacks up on the Sherwood list.
    Buck have a great week and very nice to hear from you,
    73
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Hello John and a very good point for sure, I did not realize the severity of the shortage. Lets see what happens over time.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Kirk, thanks for your input and congratulations on the purchase of a K4HD. I am looking forward to reading blogs of those who have a K4 in their hot little hands and hear their reviews. Yes the orders or pre-orders are large and some are growing weary of the wait. Once Elecraft gets these units on the shelf in volume I would imagine the orders will go way up.
    73 Kirk and stay safe,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Eric and very nice to have your input on the matter, thanks for taking the time to go over things in detail. As per our email exchanges I will be posting your reply in a post and go into more detail.
    Thanks again
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Bill KI7HYI:

    Elecraft is probably a victim of what killed Heathkit, but it will be finished off by SMDs and the continuing decline in DIYing.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Bill thanks for the comment, yes it is true that there are some radio manufactures struggling and some have gone under BUT I am very confident that Elecraft is alive and well. As for Elecraft and the DIYing ham they are down to really just one kit radio now the K2 and it so far is still kicking and not doing too badly. Among CW op’s it still is a very popular radio.
    73 and have a great what is left of the week Bill,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Frank ON6UU:

    I wish Elecraft also invested in a new K1 and a KX1. These transceivers were amongst the transceivers which made them great. Why a new K1 and KX1, well the K2 is too big to take into the field.
    I second their superb after sales service, nothing better then the Elecraft service.

    73
    ON6UU

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Frank from chilly Atlantic Canada, very nice to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to read and post a comment. I never had a K1 but my first Elecraft rig was the KX1 it was my very first build. As for bringing something similar back again the main issue I am reading is parts. I know Elecraft as you also said it great with service and support. It would not do them well to bring a kit back that in the long run parts became an issue. I think it’s hard for Elecraft to drop a line of radios but in the best interest of the clients they can’t keep something going knowing that there level of support would not be able to match.
    Frank have a great weekend 73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Phil. AA2EA:

    It is true that Elecraft has faced severe difficulties. However it is not acceptable to take huge deposits for many units nearly two years ago and then claim they cannot ship because of a parts shortages. Parts for those early orders should have been placed immediately. This was before COVID, raging fires and semiconductor shortages.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Phil, and thanks for the comment, yes taking pre-order deposits can turn into a slippery slop. With Elecraft I did notice on their pre-order page that deposits are voluntary. The idea was to get your place in line for early shipment. Very true Phil 2 years sure is a long time but Elecraft also says the deposit is refundable. I know of one ham who requested and got his deposit back and will purchase another rig in time somewhere else. I have ordered ham equipment and had to put down a substantial deposit that was made very clear to me there was no refund.
    Have a great long weekend Phil, and again thanks for taking the time to read the post.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • John VE7IIX:

    Nice thread…reminded me I still had some add-ons to build for my beloved K1, ser. 01170. It’s a snowy day so I’ll melt some solder…
    73,
    John
    VE7IIX

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon John, nothing like the smell of solder…..thanks for the comment and stay well.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • John W4DX:

    Hi,

    I read from Eric’s post about the discontinuation of the K3 and K3S and their current business activities. In 2016-2017, I upgraded my K3 with all K3S upgrades including both receiver synths fully loaded with filters, DVR, and both new I/O modules. Does anyone know if Elecraft still services the K3/K3S radios. I’ve sent 4 emails to [email protected] over the last week or two with no response. I know they’re really busy but it would be nice to get a response. I hope I can get the K3(S) repaired.

    73,
    John
    W4DX

  • Good evening John, thanks for stopping by and posting the question. I am very surprised that you have tried 4 times via email and still nothing.I would advise you give them a call if that is possible?
    Thanks for stopping by,
    73
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • KILFD R. Kroll:

    Responses to inquiries related to my KX3 have been very short and lacked any data. I’m in my 6th week awaiting any real information concerning my radio. And estimated 2 week turn around time is a joke. It seems my radio is always “next in line” for repairs.

    My past dealings with Elecraft were wonderful. Perhaps there has been a change in management. IF so, how sad.

  • Mike Weir:

    Good morning Terry, very sad to hear of your recent experience. I myself, when I owned an Elecraft rig, did not have to deal with the repair dept. As you said there very may have been a change in the management structure in that dept. I would encourage you to email either Wayne or Eric I have spoken with both of them and they are very decent when it comes to sorting things out. The times I have emailed them I have always heard back.
    Give that a go and see what happens and I would be interested in hearing back from you to see what the response was from them.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Terry and I hope getting ahold of either Wayne or Eric gets things sorted out for you.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike Malone - N5WNG:

    Yes the 2 year and 3 month wait was a long wait for recipt of my K4. Am I diappinted, no as technology has moved on, and compared to my k3 its avst diffence.

    Elecraft only has 50 employees, as small number and has a small development budget compard to a Motorala owned Yaesu. If you have ever had a repair need from Yaesu, or Icom, then you can put things in a proper perspective.

    yes, I got frustrated by the wait, but am I disappointed? No.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Mike, and thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment. Yes, I will be the first to admit that Elecraft is a stand-up organization. I have been reading that the K4 has been making its way out the door. It’s great news to read that you have yours and your thrilled with it.
    Thanks and have a good weekend.
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Harv, K2PI:

    I have to admit being concerned for a very long time. I have one of the first K3’s, and when firmware updates all but stopped far in advance of the K3S, I became worried. When the company stopped selling the K3S, then parts for the K3 and K3S, I realized my radio had become abandonware. I love my K3, and it continues to perform, but this series of events has kept me from even considering the K4, a rig whose large display falls way short of one of my 24 inch monitors. Any rig with an HDMI port can do that. Been wanting to replace my trusty 817ND, but the Elecraft QRP rigs are so expensive even at most basic that I am not looking at them at all. In sum, I am looking at other manufacturers for my next rig.

  • Mike VE9kk:

    Good afternoon Harv and very nice to hear from you, I was shocked to find out that basically, support for the K3 line had stopped. I had always talked up the Elecraft support and there are a ton of K3 and K3S’s out there. The K4 is a nice rig and I would imagine sports some very nice specs but it is very pricey. As for the QRP rigs, I did have the KX3 and it was great. By far Elecraft has the best ATUs in their rigs. They are not cheap but with them, for sure you are getting what you pay for. My issue with getting a new KX2 or KX3 are they soon to follow the road of the K3 and K3S?
    I nice QRP rig is the Icom 705 with the only downfall of no onboard ATU. I have moved from Elecraft to Icom now and I have the 7610. One of the drawbacks with Icom is they don’t see updates in the same way Elecraft does.
    I hope you good Sept Harv and also that you find the QRP rig that you want.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Henry:

    Sorry to hear about the decline of Elecraft organization and business. In addition to the ICOM 705 what other rigs would you recommend with both internal and external ATU? Maybe up to 100 watts? Also, some good QRP rigs?

    On a side note, why do you believe Heathkit failed?

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Henry very nice to hear from you, well I would not say that Elecraft has gone downhill but I was disappointed when the K3S line was stopped. If you are looking for a good QRP rig the Elecraft KX3 and KX2 are still number one on my list. They are a bit pricey but you get a very good rig and support. For in around 100 watts the Icom 7300 has been around for some time and many own this rig and it does come with an ATU. I am not too familiar with Yasue or Kenwood to give you a recommendation there. The 705 also is an excellent rig but not ATU you have to use an external ATU.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

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