As we have updates such as new features to K4 software, we'll be periodically highlighting them in the K4 updates below.
K4D group 3 orders have been emailed through 01/30/23.
K4 Group 3 orders: Expect your K4 to ship 5-25 business days from the order date.
We are working hard getting your K4's out the door. We are very near completion of K4 and K4D group 1 orders.
You can see regular K4 shipping updates on our Shipping Status page.
We do not yet have an ETA or final pricing for the HD module.
We're committed to providing a seamless K4 remote control experience. Visit here for a sneak peek at our emerging Virtual K4 application for use on computers and other devices.
We have released a new K4 Operating Manual...Check it out here!
Download the NEW "Introduction to the Elecraft K4" Manual here.
I thought I'd post an update given the many questions on this topic. I'm the bottleneck on documentation, something that wasn't supposed to happen, but...stuff happened. No need to rehash that.
There are three major documents in the works:
1. K4 Built-In Operating Manual
This is an HTML document normally viewed on the K4's LCD or external monitor. You get to it by tapping the button labeled "?" in the lower-left-hand corner of the LCD.
For review purposes, the doc can be viewed in any browser. And in fact, late next week we'll be looking for a few hardy volunteers who don't mind going through 60 pages of text, trying every link.
In the radio context, the operating manual is supplemented by direct hyperlinks attached to every control and menu entry. There's a "LAST CONTROL" button that takes you directly to text most closely associated with the last operation performed.
2. K4 Owner's Manual
Because of its multitude of full-color illustrations, the owner's manual will be 150-200 pages when finished. It'll be a fully searchable and indexed .pdf file, and two steps up from our earlier manuals. Early K4 users have been using a much smaller document that has many of the same illustrations.
The built-in operating manual provides the framework for the owner's manual, so I expect rapid progress on the latter as soon as the former is blessed.
3. K4 Programmer's Reference
An early draft of this doc has been in use by our team and by a few developers who have been vetting it for us. Many of the apps available for the K3/K3S are already working with the K4 in emulation mode. But we're trying to expedite the public version of the reference so developers can take advantage of all of the new features.
* * *
As usual, thanks for your patience.
Our first K4s are set to ship the second week of September. Our plan to ship in late August changed with the CZU Lightning Complex. The fire is among the top 20 most destructive fires in California state history with more than 1,100 structures burned in Santa Cruz County. We have employees who had to evacuate and help family evacuate; and one employee who lost his home to the fire.
K4 shipments will start off slowly and ramp up as we receive deliveries of materials, and as our manufacturing team becomes more efficient in building and testing the units. One of our suppliers, located in Santa Cruz County, was also affected by the fires. Their employees are starting to return to the factory, so we expect more K4 materials to arrive soon. In the meantime, our manufacturing team continues to build K4s with the materials we have on hand.
How You Will Be Notified When Your K4 is Ready to Ship
A member of the Elecraft Sales Team will contact you by email when your K4 is ready to ship. They will verify your shipping address and provide you with any additional information regarding your order.
If your email address has changed, please complete the New Email Address Form
Also, if you didn't see Eric's latest K4 presentation at the QSO Virtual Ham Expo last month, you can view it on our YouTube Channel.
We are still targeting the first K4 Shipments by the end of August, with production ramping up in September through the year-end. Please be patient during this period as we navigate both supply chain delays and the normal production delay as we optimize product flow.
At Elecraft, like many of you, we are in our 9th week of shelter in place. This has been tough on all of us. Back on March 16th, when the initial California state and local orders were issued with an April 11 estimated end date, we suspected that it would last longer than that, but not as long as this. The majority of our production team had to be furloughed immediately, with a few working from home. Most of our sales, support, and the K4 engineering team have also been working from home. We allowed a minimal skeleton staff on site. ( Less than you can count on one hand, with each operating alone in large separate areas.). We've been able to ship a subset of our existing radios and accessories from finished goods stock, which has kept cash flow coming in. We thank you for the continuing orders!
We’ve also spent this time totally reorganizing our sales, operations, production, and test areas for proper social distancing along with extreme cleaning and health screening procedures as per the new local and national COVID-19 guidelines for manufacturers. (Wearing masks at all times, Daily health screening upon entry to the building, additional spacing and partitions between work stations and ‘you touch it, you clean it’ procedures, etc.) This is a required change as per our local and state health departments.
Many of our local sub-contractors (sheet metal fabrication, circuit board assembly, etc.) have also been impacted by shelter-in-place orders. Over the coming weeks, as the State and local health authorities slowly allow more activity, we should be able to get better delivery estimates from them as they can ramp back up. Like us, they are eager to get back on line. National and international parts suppliers have been similarly impacted.
So what does this mean for first K4 shipments? Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were projecting the first K4 deliveries beginning sometime in the April - May window this year. Obviously, the pandemic has thrown out those estimates. Based on a gradual reopening in California and other areas, our current feedback from suppliers, and taking into account unexpected delays, shortages, last-minute engineering changes, etc., I estimate that the first K4 shipments will begin somewhere in a window of late July through the end of August 2020. We’ll keep you informed as we get better information.
As a side note, I’d like to thank everyone who has ordered a K4 for your support. We anticipated seeing cancellations during this pandemic delay, but we have received very few. Our K4 order backlog has actually continued to increase over the past 9 weeks. Wow! You, as our supporters and customers, have continued to energize and amaze us as we have created new products for you these past 21 years. Thank you.
Also, as with all of our products, our engineering team keeps designing new features during the product‘s lifetime. They certainly have not been idle on the K4 during the shelter in place order. (Our DSP S/W defined radio architecture allows us to continually give you a ‘new’ radio with each new SW release. :-)
Keep an ear out for us on the air too. While making a few short test transmissions with my K4 this morning, I ended up in a very nice QSO on 20M SSB! If you hear me, or others on our team, please say "hello." We may be on a K4!
We hope you, your family, and your friends stay safe and healthy.
To all who have ordered a K4:
Our engineering and production teams have been hard at work these last months getting the K4 finished and ready for production. While engineering always takes longer than expected, we have also encountered longer than expected lead times on several key components. Needless to say, our manufacturing team is working hard with our suppliers to pull in the schedule for these long-lead-time parts. We've been successful in getting a number of these lead times down and we are continuing to push hard on the remaining few items.
At this point, our current target for the first production K4 shipments is April-May. We are working hard to get this pulled in and we'll post regular updates as we progress.
During the interim, we’ll continue to make refinements, add features and make software additions based on feedback from early testers, as well as those of you who’ve seen the K4 demonstrated at club meetings and hamfests.
We'll also start posting more detailed information on the K4, including pictures and screenshots of a number of features we've added since we first demonstrated the K4 at Dayton, including touch to tune to a signal, mouse click to tune, dual panadapter display mode showing A/B VFOs (same or different band), and integration of the K-Pod external tuning knob. We'll also post new external monitor screen formats as we add them.
Your amazingly strong response to the K4, including many orders with deposits, has proven invaluable in helping us move production forward. This vote of confidence in Elecraft is taken very seriously by our whole team. We're having a blast testing K4s on the air and are working hard to get them into your hands.
We realize this delay may be of concern for some who have placed orders. If you wish to make any changes to your order, please contact our sales team at email@example.com and we'll gladly help you out.
We’re very grateful for your patience.
The K4's user interface provides a symmetrical display of settings for VFO A (main RX) and VFO B (sub-RX). There's a full set of icons for each, as well as dual S-meters. Each also has its own high-resolution fine-tuning aid -- the mini-pan -- which can be displayed by touching a signal of interest or by tapping the associated S-meter.
This symmetry extends to the main and sub panadapters as well. The screen capture below shows dual-panadapter mode, with side-by-side displays that maximize waterfall height.
In the example shown, the receivers are on two different bands, in two different modes, and are using two different antennas. This flexibility allows the operator to monitor any two bands at once, switching transmit bands with a tap of the A/B switch. A planned future mode will allow the operator to specify several bands of interest -- as many as six -- to do a quick check of activity over a broad spectrum.
Controls such as SPAN, REF LEVEL, WATERFALL HEIGHT, AVERAGING, SCALE, etc. can be applied to the two displays independently. If an external monitor is plugged into the video output, its panadapter parameters can also be separately adjusted, or they can be individually linked to the LCD settings, saving adjustment time.
The K4's powerful, extensible processing architecture provides unlimited expansion possibilities. In future articles, we'll illustrate such features as built-in text decoding, the K4's easy-to-use menu system, and context-sensitive help screens, among others.
We are continuing to take deposits for the K4 - the first shipping group will be filled soon. At this time, we don't have final pricing for the K4 models. We are still gathering material prices from our suppliers; however, the full deposit for the K4 and the K4D will be close to the price of the radios.
Our Modular Architecture allows you to upgrade from K4 to K4D to K4HD over time with easy to install plug-in modules.
The K4 family also supports modular field upgrades when new technology becomes available. -Includes potential upgrades to even higher performance analog to digital converters in the future.
Built-In plug-and-play K4 remote control over Ethernet connection, including streaming audio and panadapter display data. -100% Control one K4 from another K4, or from S/W apps
A direct-sampling SDR you’ll love to use
Our new K4 harnesses the latest in signal processing while retaining the best aspects of the K3S and P3. The resulting user interface makes the technology transparent, allowing you to focus on working the world.
160-6 meter, all-mode coverage & dual RX
The K4 includes dual receive over 100 kHz to 54 MHz. Since it utilizes direct sampling, there’s no need for crystal filters in the K4 or K4D (see Models, back page). For extreme-signal environments, we offer a dual superhet module (standard in the K4HD). An internal VHF/UHF module is also planned.
High-resolution mini-pan for each receiver
Our advanced fine-tuning aid, with its resampled bandwidth as narrow as +/- 1 kHz, is displayed separately from the main panadapter.
Simple operation and setup
The K4 features a large, full-color touch display, combined with a rich set of real controls. Per-VFO transmit metering makes split mode completely foolproof. Band-stacking switches and per-receiver controls are both intuitive and versatile, adapting to operating context. Usage information on these and other features is just one tap away, thanks to our built-in help system.
Rich I/O complement
The rear panel includes all the RF, analog, and digital I/O you’ll need to complete your station. All K-line accessories are supported, including amps, ATUs, and our K-Pod station controller. The video output supports an external display with its own user-specified format.
Full remote control from multiple devices
The K4 can be 100% remote-controlled, via Ethernet, from a second K4 as well as a PC, notebook, or tablet. Panadapter data is included on all remote displays.
Modular hybrid architecture
The K4 adapts to your needs, with three models to choose from:
You can upgrade or add options as desired, or as new technology becomes available. This extensibility applies to software as well. The K4’s powerful CPU provides unlimited expansion opportunities.
Fast signal processing
The RF signal chain in the K4 incorporates parallel hardware processing of data streams, including a dedicated DSP subsystem. This, combined with silent, PIN-diode T/R switching, ensures fast CW break-in. Data and speech-processing delays are also minimized.
Standard DSP features include easy-to-adjust, per-mode RX/TX EQ; clean, punchy RF speech processing; full DVR capabilities; and several built-in data decode/encode modes. Direct-sampling technology results in an ultra-flat passband response for clean RX and TX audio. Since the signal chain is software-defined, the DSP can be field upgraded to add new algorithms and operating modes.
KAT4 ATU Option
The KAT4 ATU has a nominally 10:1 matching range. It includes 3 antenna jacks, any one of which can be selected as an input for one or both receivers.
Internal VHF/UHF module (future 2021 option)
An expansion slot is reserved for a high-performance VHF/UHF module (covered bands to be announced), with an output of approximately 15 W. This module will support all modes.
Kit version (future version)
A no-soldering kit version of the K4 is planned for later release. Builders will learn about advanced radio technology as they proceed. All modules are pre-aligned and tested.
Basic K4 transceiver provides 160-6 m, all-mode coverage; 100 W output; five receive RF sources; and wideband dual watch, allowing the main and sub receivers to be set for the same or different bands.
Adds KRX4 option, with a second set of band-pass filters and additional direct-sampling ADC module. This allows the two receivers to use different antennas – a requirement for diversity receive. Having two sets of band-pass filters also optimizes signal handling when the receivers are on different bands and/or antennas.
Includes all of the above, plus our dual superhet module, the KHDR4. Ideal for competitive field day, contesting, and DXpedition stations. Each superhet receive section includes two crystal filters: one SSB/data bandwidth, one CW bandwidth. The superhet’s 8 MHz IF has an excellent dynamic range, so additional crystal filters are not required.
Size: 4.5”H x 13.5”W, 10” D
Weight: Approx. 10 lbs
Supply Voltage: 11-15 VDC
Current: 2-3 A RX, 4-23 A TX
Frequency Range: 100 kHz - 54 MHz (VHF/UHF range to be determined*)
Stability: +/- 0.1 ppm typ. (internal TCXO)
Modes: CW, SSB, AM, FM, Data
LCD: 7” color; touch & mouse control
Text modes: CW, PSK31/63, RTTY
KAT4 ATU: 10:1+ range; 3 ant. jacks
RX antenna sources: Up to 5
A-to-D Converter(s): 16 bit
I/O: USB-A x3, USB-B (two virtual com ports + audio), RS232 (DE9), Ethernet, video output. front/rear mic, front/rear phones, LINE in/out, speakers, PTT in, KEY out, paddle, key, ACC,12 V out.
CW QSK: Silent, PIN-diode switched
Other: RX/TX EQ, real-time clock,100% remote control including panadapter data, remote antenna switch control*, custom in-box software apps*
A: The K4 is our new top-of-the-line transceiver, a direct-sampling SDR with a user interface that incorporates a large color LCD. It covers all ham bands from 160-6 meters, with planned coverage of VHF and UHF bands as a future option. Main and sub receivers each cover 100 kHz to 54 MHz. It operates in all modes (SSB, CW, AM, FM, and DATA), and includes built-in text decode/encode (CW, PSK31/63, RTTY). Power output is nominally 100 W (10 W for the QRP version). The KAT4 antenna tuner has 3 jacks, and there are up to 5 receive antenna sources. I/O is extensive, including video output, Ethernet, 4 USB ports, and a superset of K3S analog and control connections.
A: Yes. Elecraft is committed to providing dual-use transceivers, even at the high end, in support of Field Day, DXpeditions, RV travel, etc. At 4.5 x 13.5 x 11.0” (less projections) the K4 is larger than a K3S, but it still weighs only about 10 pounds. It’s also very power-efficient for a radio in its class (2 A typical on RX) and can run from as low as 11 V, e.g. from a vehicle battery.
A: Yes. There’s the K4’s companion amplifier, the KPA1500, as well as the new SP4 speaker, one or two of which can be directly connected to the K4. Both the amp and speaker are the same height as the K4 and have the same styling. The K4 is also compatible with our K-Pod station controller and MH4 microphone, as well as other K-Line gear such as the KPA500 amp and KAT500 ATU.
A: In two ways. First, you can tailor the K4 to your own requirements at the initial purchase, adding advanced options or upgrading to a K4D or K4HD at any time. (The three models and other options are discussed below.) Second, modularity allows Elecraft to quickly take advantage of new technology in the future by upgrading only the affected modules.
A: Yes: The K4, K4D, and K4HD. In most ways the three are identical. The K4D adds a second A-to-D converter and a second set of bandpass filters, allowing the radio to work in diversity mode or other situations where it’s beneficial to use separate antennas for the two receivers. (Thanks to direct sampling, neither the K4 nor K4D require crystal filters.) The K4HD adds a dual superhet module (discussed below), improving blocking dynamic range for high-signal conditions. Each of its two superhet sections has two crystal filters, one for SSB/DATA bandwidths and one for CW. Since each section has a high-dynamic-range I.F., no additional crystals are necessary. Note that a K4 can be easily upgraded by the user to a K4D, or a K4D upgraded to a K4HD, at any time. No soldering or alignment is required.
A: The K4 retains virtually all of the operational features of the K3S and P3 while adding direct-sampling technology, wide-range dual receive as a standard feature, advanced I/O, and a large (7”) display with touch capability. With its high level of system integration, the K4 takes up about 4” less desk space (horizontally) than a K3S + P3. Despite this, the K4 is still easy to operate, thanks to optimal use of its display and context-sensitive controls. Most of the “hard” controls are similar or identical to those of the K3S, making them immediately familiar to anyone who has used a K3 or K3S. And unlike most transceivers in its class, the K4 has separate optical encoders for VFO A, VFO B, and RIT/XIT offset.
A: Yes. You can control a K4 from another K4, or from tablet/notebook/tablet computers, directly via Ethernet. No USB to Ethernet adapter is required. Panadapter signals are displayed on all remote-control devices.
A: Elecraft may be unique in the number of CW ops we have among our engineering staff. Nothing gets out of the Elecraft lab until it has silent T/R switching (PIN diodes, not relays) and fast, clean QSK. Some SDRs and direct-sampling radios have serious compromises in CW mode due to the use of T/R switching relays and long signal processing delays that make QSK impossible. The K4 uses fast parallel processing of digital signals to ensure low latency during T/R switching. In addition, there are many features for CW operation, including our high-resolution mini-pan tuning aid, dedicated one-touch message play switches, text decode/encode, top-level controls for setting pitch and code speed, adjustable keying weight, and an audio peaking filter (APF) that works like magic on weak signals buried in noise.
A: Yes. The K4 incorporates a powerful, fast-booting, Linux-based computing module. This module manages the LCD and streaming I/O, including video output, Ethernet, etc. But it is also a general-purpose computer that can accommodate future in-box applications such as logging, external equipment control, even advanced data modes. Elecraft will seek input from the user community regarding such applications, then tailor them to the K4.
A: No. But we’ll be providing an API (application programming interface) to allow selected developers access to internal resources. Any applications or other software contributed by third parties will be thoroughly vetted by our team before becoming available.
A: A superhet depends on crystal filters to provide selectivity in both transmit and receive modes. The K4 uses true direct sampling at the RF input and achieves its selectivity through digital signal processing. In this scheme, a high-speed analog-to-digital (A-to-D) converter digitizes signals coming in from the antenna jack (we digitize at a rate of about 122 MHz). Signals in this form can be filtered, displayed, and demodulated using DSP techniques. This allows radio designers to add new operating modes, etc., without updating the hardware.
On the other hand, our K4HD model will give you the best of both worlds, adding a dual superhet module. It's a deal for stations that routinely experience high out-of-band signal levels due to proximity to shortwave (or neighboring ham's) transmitters. Each receiver is roughly equivalent to the K3S high-dynamic-range front end and IF. Each can be populated with up to three crystal filters. During operation, you can specify whether to use SDR or superhet mode. (For more on the K4HD, see the next FAQ item.)
A: In most circumstances, superhet and direct-sampling transceivers can both provide excellent performance and versatility. That said, here are the two most important differences: (1) In a direct-sampling radio like the K4, the DSP can “see” a wider bandwidth in its signal chain, allowing it to provide higher-performance noise reduction, noise blanking, advanced filtering, automatic signal tuning, and other advanced signal processing features. In contrast, a superhet’s DSP sees only the narrow bandwidth available at the output of its crystal filters, limiting it to audio-bandwidth signal processing. (2) The K3S, a superhet, has among the highest receive blocking dynamic range figures of any radio. The K4 can be outfitted with a dual superhet module that provides essentially the same performance if required. (See K4HD under "Models") This level of dynamic range is required only for stations that experience extreme signal levels, such as might be encountered in a high-power multi-transmitter installation without supplemental RF filtering, or if you’re next-door to an AM or SW broadcast station. Direct-sampling-only radios like the K4 and K4D can easily handle signals encountered by most operators during typical home or field use.
A: Yes, but in the K4 this technology is strictly “under the hood,” implemented in a way that is transparent to the operator. Instead, you can just think in terms of the main receiver (VFO A), sub receiver (VFO B), and panadapter, as you would for a K3S and P3. But since you asked: A “slice receiver” is a digitized receive signal stream. With direct sampling, a single A-to-D converter can in theory provide any number of such digitized streams, simultaneously. The trick is using them wisely! In the basic K4, which has one high-performance 16-bit A-to-D, we extract three such streams. One is a wide bandwidth, used for the panadapter. The other two are for the main and sub receiver streams, which are demodulated by a high-speed DSP. These are the streams you listen to. In the K4D or K4HD, there are two A-to-Ds, providing more independence for the receive signal streams. We can use the second ADC’s panadapter stream to improve performance for dual-pan mode and use one of the second ADC’s demodulation streams to allow diversity operation, which requires two separate antennas. You can think of these as “slices” if you like (as will be explained in the theory of operation). But you won’t see this term on the radio itself or in the operating instructions.
A: DSP features include easy-to-adjust, per-mode RX/TX EQ; clean, punchy RF speech processing; full DVR capabilities; and several built-in data decode/encode modes. Direct-sampling technology results in an ultra-flat passband response for clean RX and TX audio. Since the signal chain is software-defined, the DSP can be field upgraded to add new algorithms and operating modes.
A: This is possible with the K4D or K4HD. (A basic K4 can be upgraded to a K4D at any time by adding the KRX4 option.) For example, the main receiver could use RX ANT 1, while the sub receiver uses RX ANT 2, or either could use one of the KAT4’s 3 antennas. The transmitter can also use any of KAT4’s antennas. Transmit, main RX, and sub-RX antenna selections are all clearly indicated on the display at all times.
A: Variations on this internal module may cover one or two bands, including 2 m and 4 m. UHF band coverage may be available in the future. The target power level is about 15 W. The module will function in all operating modes. Controls for FM and repeater setup are included in the K4’s software. The ANT 4 jack on the rear panel is reserved for use with this module. If separate VHF and UHF antenna jacks are preferred, one of the 3 KAT4 antenna jacks could be repurposed for this.
A: A kit version is planned for later release, though no specific date has been set. This will be a no-soldering kit, like the K3S and P3. Builders will learn about advanced radio technology as they proceed. All modules will be pre-aligned and tested.
A: The K4 has one USB-A on the front, two USB-A on the rear. If more inputs are needed, an external USB hub can be used on any of these.
Mouse, Keyboard, Flash Drive, etc. can be plugged into these ports.
The K4 also has one USB-B on the rear (with an internal sound card and multiple comm ports like the K3S).
A: All three K4 versions start with one SO-239 for Hf-6M. Three total when the KAT4 is added.
There is a 4th rear position for an antenna connector when a future planned VHF/UHF dual-band internal module is released later next year. That will accommodate a SO-239 or type N socket.
A: Yes, over Ethernet.
A: The KAT4 ATU has a nominal 10:1 matching range. It includes 3 antenna jacks, any one of which can be selected as a receive input at a given time (bypassing the ATU’s L network). This selected antenna can then be used by either or both receivers, in addition to the other receive antenna sources (RX ANT 1 and RX ANT 2). The KAT4 stores up to 32 LC settings per ham band, recalling them instantly based on VFO frequency (recalled on transmit). In most home stations, ATU setup can be done one time for all bands/antennas.
A: Like on most of our radios, the KAT4 ATU is optional and can be added at any time. This allows those using the K4 full time via an external amp with ATU and external antenna switching to lower their cost. This also applies to those who are dedicating a K4 as an IF radio for VHF/UHF/Microwave.