by William Eric McFadden

Note: Since I now have an Elecraft KX2, I have retired the KX3 Mini Travel Kit if favor of the much lighter KX2 Mini Travel Kit. This page about the KX3 Mini Travel Kit will remain active for archival purposes.

The KX3 Mini Travel Kit is a small but complete low-power, CW-only, HF station in a rugged and weather-resistant repurposed LowePro Nova 3 camera bag. The KX3 Mini Travel Kit is designed for transport by bicycle or foot.

The KX3 Mini Travel Kit is currently under development. Photos may not represent the current state of the station. This page will change as various ideas are tested and accepted or rejected.

(The following photos reflect the kit when it was built around a smaller LowePro Nova 1 camera bag.)

Quick Jump:  

The Rig
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Elecraft KX3 The heart of the KX3 Mini Travel Kit is an Elecraft KX3 low-power, transceiver equipped with the KXAT3 Internal Automatic Antenna Tuner, KXFL3 Dual-Passband Roofing Filter, Side KX Endplates and Cover (link), and Cooler KX Lite heat-sink (link).

The trail-friendly KX3's all-band (160-6m) coverage, all-mode (CW/SSB/AM/FM/data) capability, competition-grade receiver, truly generous feature-mix, small size, low weight, and battery-friendly design make the KX3 an extraordinary field-radio.

Portable Power
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The KX3 can operate over a voltage range of 8vdc to 15vdc. I do not keep battery cells installed in my KX3 so I must power my KX3 with an external power source. My battery of choice is a Bioenno 3Ah LiFePO4 battery (link).

Portable Antennas
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antenna & sundries The KX3 Mini Travel Kit includes a proven 28½' end-fed wire and three 17' counterpoise wires. This is the same antenna I've used successfully with my KX3 for hundreds of National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) and Parks on the Air (POTA) activations. I feed this antenna, without feedline, through a 4:1 impedance transformer or, sometimes, a BNC-to-dual-banana adapter. The KXAT3 autotuner in the KX3 can easily find a match for this antenna on all the bands of interest.

To hang the 28½' wire in a tree, I carry a 100-yard spool of dental floss and a couple of large fishing weights. When I don't want to fuss with throwing a line through trees, I use an inexpensive Goture Red Fox 7.2m carbon-fiber telescoping fishing pole that I strap to my bicycle or to an existing post and deploy the 28½' wire either as a sloper or as an inverted-vee. (I have removed the top three sections from the Red Fox because they're really too whippy to support a wire.) The Red Fox does not fit in the LowePro Nova 3 bag; it need to be carried separately.

The CW Key
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Whiterook MK-33 The KX3 has a perfectly adequate built-in memory keyer so I don't need to carry an external memory keyer with the KX3 Mini Travel Kit.

To key the KX3, I use a very lightweight Whiterook MK-33 single-lever paddle (photo | link).

The Whiterook MK-33 has become my paddle of choice for field operations and I have one in most of my various field-kits.

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The KX3 has a built-in speaker but I prefer to copy CW through stereo headphones. I carry a pair of iHip-brand ($5 at Big Lots) shoestring-lead earbuds in the KX3 Mini Travel Kit which sound good and might be rugged enough to last more than a few outings.

The Carrying Case
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The carrying case is a repurposed LowePro Nova 3 camera bag which I originally used to carry my digital SLR.

This well-padded and rugged bag accommodates the KX3 transceiver, the battery, the key, earbuds, antenna, unun or balun, cables, and other items. While not fully waterproof, the bag should provide sufficient protection for the KX3 while in transport from all but the heaviest rain.

The front-flap nylon clip had broken on this old camera bag, but I was able to make an easy repair using a Sea to Summit 25mm side release, two-pin, Field Repair Buckle (link).

Human-Powered Transport
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I built the KX3 Mini Travel Kit to encourage me to engage in human-powered-transport field operations, in particular, for the annual Adventure Radio Society Flight of the Bumblebees event.


To carry the Nova 3 on my bicycle's rear rack, I've added a pair of "Gravel Kirk" pannier-hooks from Universal Pannier (link) to the rear of the Nova 3.

The aforementioned Goture Red Fox 7.2m carbon-fiber telescoping fishing pole straps nicely to the bicycle's top-tube for transport.


The removable shoulder strap on the LowePro Nova 3 allows easy transport of the KX3 Mini Travel Kit while traveling by foot. A backpack can be used to carry additional items such as a clipboard with paper and logsheets, the Red Fox pole and stake, and a towel to sit on.