This is small but sophisticated, multi-band, 5W, QRP CW rig combining a simple single conversion superhet receiver, a mixer-VFO controlled transmitter and a powerful control and display system, all in a small and very attractive box.
There are almost no wire connections to be made. The circuits are built on 4 small double sided silk-screened PCBs that plug together. Be warned: there are plenty of toroids to wind! Added features include a memory keyer that can be used to send 2 programmable pre-saved CW messages. There are a number of self diagnostics built in to the transceiver allowing monitoring of supply voltages and other "vital organs". When built, this is a classy product. The Elecraft website picture showing the size of the K1 alongside a 9V battery. It is about the same width as an FT817.
The first stage was a parts inventory, which is essential as the kit contains a lot of parts both electrical and mechanical. Care needs to be taken not to lose screws, washers and other small parts: in all there must be in excess of 1000 parts in the kit.
Elecraft make radio kits in a way that everyone else should emulate: the instruction manuals are clear, filled with detail and almost leave nothing to chance. If you are old enough to remember Heathkits you will have an idea of the format: step by step instructions with a tick box to remind you that you've completed the step, "on the way through" checks of DC resistances, currents and voltages, and clear diagrams and circuits.
Follow the instructions carefully
Testing and a problem found (my fault)
When mine was completed the receiver was very deaf: I guessed around 30-40dB by ear. Luckily I was able to verify this on a borrowed signal generator so I knew I had a problem. Elecraft recommend a signal tracing technique in the manual which I followed. This immediately led me to the audio mute circuit where the signal levels were below those suggested in the manual.
Sure enough, the culprit was the 2N7000 which is used to mute the RX signal when on TX. Removing this part restored the receiver to full sensitivity. I had a spare available so was able to fit this. This fault was probably caused by static damage; although I had been extremely careful this part was loose in the pack and not static protected as the other devices in the kit were. I think this was a packing error or it had become loose in transit.
There is only one thing to say about this little unit: it is brilliant. In a few hours of operating contacts with the USA were made on 40, 20 and 15m - there was no contest on 30m - using just a 15m wire down the garden strung from the guttering (6m high) down to a post at the far end about 3m high.
I have the feeling this little radio is going to get quite a lot of use in the next few years. DXCC is entirely possible with the K1-4 and a small wire antenna and I'm relishing the challenge as the sunspot numbers start to climb.
BUYING THE KIT IN EUROPE
If buying from the USA and you live in Europe don't forget that you may have to pay VAT and in the UK this adds 17.5% to the final shipped costs. This makes this more expensive but, in my view, still worth it.