The performance of my trusty and loyal 5BDXCC-with-wire-antenna old Yaesu FT840 in last weekend’s CQ-WPX contest was the same as it always is in high RF environments: not too bad.
Still, it’s served its time and deserves a comfortable semi-retirement in the shack as the back-up rig. So I’m pondering – and have been for months now – which rig to replace it with: a K3 or a Jupiter.
As a CW-only operator, the QSK is a necessity despite my ownership of the ’840. My first rig as a Novice (Ten-Tec Century 21) and all my QRP rigs have convinced me that any future rigs will have QSK. So I’ve narrowed the choice to these two.
Elecrafters will probably feel insulted that I’m considering the lowly Jupiter rather than the Orion as a possible alternative to the K3, but economists will understand…
So with the K3 and the Jupiter costing roughly the same, why even consider the Ten-Tec when all the reviews rave about the Elecraft’s superior performance? Three reasons:
- The same non-stop adulation permeated the ham magazines & websites following the release of Elecraft’s K2. I never bought a K2 but, man, I wanted one! Lusted for one, would be more like it. Finally – finally I got the chance to operate one long term from my own home with my own antennas. It was a pretty good rig, but that’s it. Nothing fantastic and an ergonomic disappointment with those tiny buttons and that annoying ”tap & hold” scheme.
- Secondly, the mind-set of many Elecraft owners is bizarre in its fanatacism. By bizarre, I mean frickin’ weird! Read this guys’ reaction to an unfavorable review of the K3 – sounds like a one-man think tank, doesn’t he? Some owners may be reluctant to publically give a poor review to a K2/K3.
- Lastly, the ongoing issuance of “errata” and updates for the K2 (and now the K3) may be seen as positive by some – for me, it indicates a product that was released while still in its beta phase. I don’t want to be a guinea pig for $2500 worth of radio. Further indication of this are the problems various owners report on the Elecraft mailing list. They do get resolved – sometimes it was just that radio, sometimes its a bug in the firmware or a component value that needed to be corrected. That’s fine for those who’ll put up with it. I’d be one of them if it weren’t happening so often. I haven’t ruled out the Elecraft, but as you can tell, I’m leaning heavily toward the Ten-Tec.
It may be that the proper time to buy an Elecraft product is a year or so after its release when the beta-testers have, at their own expense, exposed all the problems.