My Elecraft K1

I decided to build an Elecraft K1, I wanted a small QRP radio that will be easy to take out portable and can cover more than one band.  I considered a few options and decided the K1 fits my requirements.

I’ve initially purchased the 40/20 meter bands for it.  Depending on how this goes I may consider either a second K1 and have 30/17 meters in it or just build and swap the additional filter board.

One of the main reasons I’ve picked the Elecraft K1 is the very low power requirements.  I have a Yaesu FT-817 which is a great little portable rig, but its a bit power hungry.  I operate pretty much exclusively CW so not having SSB isn’t a big loss for me.  Not planning to part with the FT-817 so I’ll always have that as an option.   I had an 817 before and foolishly sold it along with my Buddipole, and since then re-bought them both… you live and learn!

This page will be updated as I make progress on the build.  So far I’ve completed the 40/20 filter board, the front panel board, and I’m part way through installing the phase one components to the main RF board.

The parts for the 20 meter band came with a capacitor which was the wrong value, so an email to Elecraft support had a new capacitor in my mail box  within a few days.

Elecraft K1 build steps documented below.

How the K1 arrived from Elecraft.

I ordered some other things at the same time and the whole order came in a large UPS box, one negative point (sorry Elecraft) was it came full of packing chips, I really hate those things!


I read a lot of good stuff about Elecraft and how good the documentation is, well I wasn’t disappointed.  The quality of the instruction manual is the best i’ve seen.   Its also really easy to follow.  I read the manual before buying this kit, its available as a .pdf for download on the Elecraft website, the hard copy you get with the kit is very high quality, unlike a lot of copied and recopied booklets from other kit makers.


Each section to be built is in separate bags.


First part to build is the filter board.

The start of the filter board.

This is the 40m/20m board.  I have all the parts identified and ready to go in the board.  The band specific components are still in the little bags.


Some of the parts installed.


This is the completed board.


Second step is the front panel.

Next is to start the front panel board.  Once again I have the parts set out ready for installing.  Elecraft make this really easy by having the resistors all in order so you don’t need to spend a lot of time identifying each part before hand.  I’ve built a lot of stuff in the past and from this respect the K1 is really easy to assemble compared to some others.  One comment on this though is the capacitors are really small and you need a magnifying glass and good light to read the numbers on them.

This is the front panel with some if the first parts installed.  The switches are inserted using the small strip of PCB seen at the right hand side of this picture, this strip ensures the switches are all the same height so the buttons on the front of the radio are all even.


This is the front panel board completed and ready to fit into the metal case front part.


The back of the front panel board.


Here the board and the clear plastic LCD cover have been fitted._DSC3013_DSC3012

Third step is the main RF board.

This board has the largest number of components to solder in.  Its divided up into two main steps with a test phase in the middle.

Main board phase 1


Some parts installed on the main RF board.



There are four surface mount IC’s to install, each one is on a small sub board which has to be mounted over the place of the original 8 pin IC.


This is the small board.


I used the leads cut from some of the installed components as show below.


Finished install of the surface mount device.


After all the phase 1 and phaser 2 parts and alignment were completed the K1 looks like the picture below.


The completed radio.



The final step was to make up the power lead.  I used heat shrink sleeving to make the ends a bit more robust since this radio will be moving about a lot for portable use.


Now the radio is finished and tested out on the bench I need to make some contacts with it.