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Building the Elecraft KX3 Kit - Step by Step Photos

Discussion in 'Ham Equipment' started by Moleculo, May 25, 2012.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    I happened to be working at the computer the evening of Dec. 28, 2011 when an email came in that said Elecraft was now taking pre-orders on the Ultraportable HF/VHF KX3 transceiver. Since I had already sold another rig to pay for the KX3, I went to Elecraft's website and placed my order for a kit as fast as I could. I knew the anticipation of this revolutionary rig was high and I wanted to be one of the first to build one.

    Late last week, Elecraft informed everyone via their website that the kits would start shipping any day. I got my shipping confirmation the evening of Monday 5/21/2012 and by the time I got home from work on Wednesday, the box from Elecraft was there waiting for me.



    Now it was time to build...
     
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  2. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Follow along with me as I show you how this little 10 watt HF transceiver is built. These photos and steps are not intended to replace the assembly manual and you should follow all of the instructions carefully. However, you should be able to see how much fun building the KX3 is and won't be discouraged from trying it yourself.

    Here are all of the parts I ordered laid out on the dining room table, complete with the necessary static mat. As you can tell, there really aren't that many parts.

    [​IMG]

    You don't need to do any soldering with this kit. All you really need are a few basic hand tools:

    [​IMG]

    The first step is to remove the vinyl tape from various spots on the tabs and back of the front cover, exposing the unpainted surface necessary for grounding:

    [​IMG]

    Make sure you find all of them. Many of the taped locations are small, covering various holes on the cover. Poking the tape from the other side with a small screwdriver helps loosen them.

    [​IMG]

    The side plates also have tape in a few spots that must be removed.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Now the speaker is installed in the front cover. The screws shown here are actually a little too long as they were shipped accidentally instead of the correct, shorter ones. Elecraft has already shipped the correct ones, but they assured me that these are fine, as well.

    [​IMG]

    Next, you mount the standoffs on the main control board around the display screen. To verify that you assembled the hardware correctly, you need to take a straight edge and rest it diagonally across the screen, with the edge of the straight edge sitting on the standoffs. If you did it right, there will be a small gap below the straight edge and it will never touch the screen. If you missed a washer somewhere, one edge of the straight edge will touch the screen. This is a very important step to ensure that the LCD will not break when you do the final assembly. In my case, I actually missed one washer and this safety step prevented a costly mistake!

    [​IMG]

    Now that you know the control board is ready for mounting, you place the top cover over the board, screw the board down and install the clear LCD shield.

    [​IMG]

    Next, it's time to install VFO A. Assemble the VFO shield according the instructions and fit it into place. There are pins on the VFO board that mate with the control board. Make sure you don't pinch the speaker wire that you've already attached to the main board. Note in this picture the orientation of the VFO and the shield between the speaker and the VFO assembly.

    [​IMG]

    Turn the face over and install the lock washer and nut on the VFO.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Moleculo

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    Next, the side plates are installed and the microphone jack is secured in place:

    [​IMG]

    Put all of the knobs on and it's starting to look like a real radio!

    [​IMG]

    There is a metal tape shield that gets placed on the plastic battery retainer. You must place this firmly on to ensure it doesn't come loose, or it might short the batteries:

    [​IMG]

    The battery retainer is secured to the control board like so:

    [​IMG]

    Now, you set the control portion of the rig aside and start assembling the RF deck. Start with the rear case and remove all of the vinyl tape, just like you did on the front case.

    [​IMG]

    Screw the heat sink in place, shown here on the bottom of the case, and affix your serial number.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Moleculo

    Moleculo
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    Now the two flush rubber feet are installed with nylon screws.

    [​IMG]

    Trim the nylon screws so they are flush with the inside of the case. It's probably easiest to do this with a small pair of diagonal cutting pliers, but I used a sharp blade I had handy.

    [​IMG]

    Prepare the flip out feet by installing the rubber bases and the nylon screws. You trim the nylon screws on these, as well.

    [​IMG]

    Next, all of the standoffs are mounted on the back of the case. There are two different size screws, so make sure you use the correct ones. Leave these a little loose for now to help aligning the board a few steps later.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Moleculo

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    Set the back cover aside and prepare the RF deck. The first step is to place the metal shield in the correct spot. Again, make sure this is firmly in place to prevent it from loosening and shorting something out:

    [​IMG]

    Mount the board in the bottom case (not shown) and fasten it with the appropriate screws. If you left the standoffs a little loose as suggested, it's fairly easy to align all of the holes.

    Secure the PA transistors are secured to the case with the appropriate hardware:

    [​IMG]

    Install the antenna BNC connector.

    [​IMG]

    Install the battery trays. These only fit one way. The trick to this is to look for the very short black ground wire on the tray that has heat shrink covering the connection to the red wire. That tray goes to the left, the other to the right. If you try to do it backwards, it won't fit. Again, making sure the standoff screws are a little loose, mount the battery trays using the supplied screws and then tighten everything up.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Moleculo

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    I purchased the optional antenna tuner, so the next step is to install it. Here are some pictures of this tiny tuner:

    Relay side of ATU board.

    [​IMG]

    Inductor and capacitor side of ATU board.

    [​IMG]

    Attach the BNC antenna wire and mount the ATU into place, ensuring that both blocks of connecting pins are correctly mounted, then screw it down.

    [​IMG]

    If you purchased the roofing filter, you will install it now (not shown). You can always purchase this later, as well. This simply involves pushing the little board into place and securing it with one screw.

    Attach the ribbon cable that connects the RF deck to the control board and connect the power wire. There are a few little tricks to this, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

    [​IMG]

    Install the batteries and you're almost done!

    [​IMG]

    By the way, you can see the roofing filter board in the picture above installed vertically between the right battery tray and the edge of the case.

    If you purchased the roofing filter, you must calibrate it. Before you close everything up, take the small, white pickup wire loop and place it behind the crystal as shown. Unplug the antenna wire and plug the pick up wire in it's place.

    [​IMG]

    Close up the radio and follow the calibration instructions. When you're done, remove the white wire, plug the antenna wire back in and you're ready to get on the air!
     
  8. Moleculo

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    Here is the finished product:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Have fun!
     
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  9. W6NIA

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    Good show, Tim! Let's hear it on the MARS net today!

    z
     
  10. Robb

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    Yup

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    Is this unit to be used in the mobile w/an amp?
     
  11. Moleculo

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    No, I'm not replacing the IC-7000 in the mobile with it at this time. The KX3 will have a 2 meter transverter module in the near future, and it will also have a 100 watt remote amp option, as well. After I've acquired those features, I might have a decision to make about the future of that Icom IC-7000.

    This is going to be my go anywhere rig. In fact, now that I have it, I'm planning on activating a few local SOTA peaks as W9WDX.
     
  12. N0NB

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    Nice, Tim. I'd yet to see the interior of the KX3. Like the K3 and P3, it seems to be ingeniously designed.
     
  13. Happy_Hamer

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    Have you powered it up yet?
     
  14. Moleculo

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    Of course! I checked into the MARS net yesterday with it. Today I'm taking it to the beach with my buddipole and am going to spend some time getting familiar with the new radio. The menuing system and controls aren't all that different from the K3, so I'm hoping for a short learning curve.
     
  15. KF6IRK

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    The pix in the assembly manual are in B&W. Seeing the assembly in color makes a big difference.
     
: elecraft kx3

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