A few days ago someone on the Elecraft list noted the vast difference in the complexity of most rigs from Yaesu-Icom-Kenwood as compared to that of the K3. They suggested having a look at schematics of rigs from the three Japanese manufacturers and comparing it to either the K3 or KX3.
I made a few comparisons and then I also compared the K2 to my old FT840. Both were in production at the same time so there is no significant generational gap between these two rigs.
In all cases, the Japanese rigs are more complex in circuitry and they weigh more than the Elecraft rigs…yet they are out-performed (according to Sherwood Engineering rankings) by Elecraft.
Based soley on intuition, it would seem that the added complexity should result in a superior transceiver.
Why is this not the case and, since it is not the case, what is the purpose/benefit of the added complexity?
In an unrelated thread on the Elecraft reflector (and to the point of this chart), others made note of the recently reviewed Kenwood TS-990S. It is well down on the Sherwood list – surprising for its price.
It makes me wonder what the appeal of these rigs is to those who buy them. They pay a premium price and get an inferior performing radio.
The obvious answer is that 3rd-order intercept is not the criteria used when deciding on a radio – nor should it be the only criteria.
Still, the chart provides (to me at least) a few surprises when comparing that performance parameter to the cost:
- At $8000, I would have expected the new TS-990S to be higher on the list. For those interested, the TS-990S manual is available here (63MB pdf).
The KX3 is a surprise. Granted, its low cost compared to other transceivers on the list is due in part to being QRP and not having a panadapter or sub-receiver. But still – what an accomplishment for Elecraft’s design in producing a full featured low cost rig that gives the Big Rigs a run for their money – and comes out ahead in this important parameter.
- My own K3 didn’t cost the $3900 listed here. To be fair to some of the other rigs, I had to include the sub-receiver and panadapter options in the K3’s price. At about $2100 for my kit-built version, it still places #4 on this list.
Elecraft receives a fair amount of criticism for being over-priced. I agree that that’s true for some of their accessories – the KX1’s plug-in paddle is $70, its auto-tuner is $130 – steep for a $300 kit. But the K3 itself – and the KX3 – do represent a good value based on what they offer.