A few days ago I noticed that the VOL control on my KX3 wasn’t working. No matter how much I turned it the volume level never changed. It’s a multi-control encoder that in normal mode handles the volume but with a quick press it becomes the RF control and with a long-press it controls the Monitor level.

I’ve read these encoders are notorious for failure though this was the first time I had seen any indication of a problem. My first inclination was to order a few new encoders from Elecraft so I could replace the problem control and have a few to keep on hand. Replacing it is just a solder job and I figured to do it myself.

But the more I thought about it the more I decided to send it back to the factory for the replacement and for a complete checkout to make certain it’s in tip-top condition. After all, time is short until I retire (19 days) and while it would be gone 4-6 weeks for service I would appreciate knowing all is well with my favorite transceiver.

Before sending it off I wanted to look a little more closely to see if there were any other problems to report so I set it up with a battery and the little AX2 portable antenna on the kitchen table and turned it on. 20 meters was slammed with a big contest, the CW edition of the North American QSO Party as it turned out.

You see where this is headed…

All these loud stations calling CQ, and here I was with five watts and a small, portable antenna perched on the kitchen table. What’s a fellow to do? I called one of them. Boom. Done. Logged. It happened so fast and was so easy that it occurred to me that I could probably work three in total and the circumstances and contest entry soapbox would be chuckle-worthy.

So I worked three. Done. Logged. That took all of two minutes and then I thought, five. I’ll work five. Done. Logged. Then I thought if five was that easy, why not ten? Five more in the log. Ten. Done. Logged.

By that point I was convinced I could work twenty, thirty, or maybe even fifty. But this was getting me nowhere with regards to potential problems with the KX3. Besides, now the VOL control seemed to be working properly and I was doubting my initial observation. Was the problem intermittent or had it been my imagination all along?

In the end I decided not to ship the transceiver back to the factory, but will just keep an eye on it – though I did order a couple of replacement encoders. At five bucks a pop why not, just in case.