Monday, July 2, 2012

It's time for surgery...........

Ready for action
The time has come for me to open up my Elecraft K3 and preform some surgery. When I purchased the Elecraft P3 to enhance my K3 all was fine until the P3SVGA board was added to the P3. Since the power source for the P3 comes from the K3 with the addition of the P3SVGA board to much power was being  drawn. A
Diode to be removed
resettable fuse in the K3 now and then would trip out. So Elecraft (as they always do) came up with a mod for this problem.  The mod was sent out free BUT it meant opening up my 4k plus radio and removing one SMT diode, inductor and resettable fuse and replacing them with beefed up components. I didn't mind opening up the K3 and adding plug-in components....whole different story when it comes to De-soldering and soldering on the boards!!! For that reason the mod kit sat on my self for about 2 months, after all the P3 was now plugged into it's own power source so the problem was more or less solved.  This weekend in Canada is a long weekend (Canada day) and as always I get bored when I have to much time on my hands.......a little bird whispered in my ear that the board-um can be solved by doing the long over due K3 mod!!!  The board-um got the best of me along with that dam bird!!  I removed the K3 from service and I will say there sure is lots
Fans removed
KPA3 removed
of cables that go into the rig!! With the rig on the bench and beads of sweat starting to form I was off to the races and I hope with a celebration when I hit the finish line!!  As many times in the past I took the covers off and dove in. The first step was to remove the SMT diode easer said then done. This thing is very small it came out with
very little trouble. Installing the new one was another story and it did take me several attempts. When all was said and
 Old F2 and RFC 48
done it was  not a pretty site at all but it's in and I hope it works. I was so nervous about screwing the SMT install up that it caused me to hesitate and be over cautious. So that resulted in the SMT not looking professional at all BUT I have fallen into this trap in the past, trying to make it look good and in the end totally screwing the install and or component up. I told myself "it may not look great but if it works thats what counts in the end" The other two component replacement required me to remove the KPA3 cooling fans and the KPA3 unit. The
Ready for new parts

instructions did say the KPA3 unit did not have to be removed if you were very very careful it could be done. Not feeling at all brave out came the KPA3 unit as well. The inductor and resettable fuse that had to be replaced were in plan view and HUGE compared to the SMT diode. I now had to DE-solder the two components and this is were the Hakko 808 was stellar. In under 30 seconds both component were
Great tool to have
out and not a drop of solder was left on each pad. The Hakko 808 is well worth the money that was spent on it, for removing components it's the cats behind!! Soldering in the new components was a breeze and it was time to put the rig back together and do the smoke test.
back home and working

New parts installed
Oliver gives the ok to power up


  1. Can't wait for the results of the smoke test.

    I saw the title and thought you meant a different type of surgery.

  2. Good afternoon Traveller, Sorry did not mean to cause alarm and thanks in advance for your concern....and you never know when it may be my turn to go under the knife!!! It was (as you know now) surgery for the K3.
    The smoke test went just fine and the rig is up and only if the sun would stop producing these dam solar flares.
    Have a great week

  3. Thank you for posting useful and well-documented information about the K3 that's actually relevant, rather than showing it waiting on your doorstep, unboxing, assembly, and other drivel. It's refreshing to see real information, instead of demonstrating that one can follow a bulletproof assembly manual. Thanks!

    1. Good morning, thanks for the comments and I am very happy you enjoyed the info and found it to be helpful. I found that in the blog world things are very diverse. Some are technical while others are like a diary. I do find that most are a mix of both. There are certain flavors for all.

  4. Good job and nice documented thanks for sharing. I have to do some surgery too. I have to replace 1 broken FET of the LPA.
    Top foto the middle of the 3 FETS. I suddenly had the TXGERR and could not adjust PWR level. Elecraft diagnosis was fast and seems correct. Awaiting this FET 7€ to fix it.
    An other surgery a real difficult one: I had to replace the header connectors at the KPA3 and its connection board to the main-board. Be careful to plug the KPA3 back-in. Or check the connectors for corrosion before. But Elecraft never lets you do down and replies quick.

    1. Good morning Jaap, thanks for the comment regarding the post. Good to hear you were able to fix the K3. Your repairs make my removing a few components seem like a walk in the park compared to what you had to do to your rig. Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment.

  5. I did not understand most of what you did, so in many ways, I think you really did perform surgery here! Well-written post though. Even though I didn’t understand all the technical stuff, I could tell that it was definitely tense inside the “operating room”.