Elecraft K3 problem *SOLVED*

Since I arrived on Guam, I have been plagued with an intermittent error on my Elecraft K3. Seemingly at random, the radio would display a “12V ERR” error, and I would be limited to 12W output, bypassing the KPA3 100W module. Since I was busy with other things, I put the problem aside and used my FT1000MP instead.

Today, I emailed Elecraft with the details of my problem, and within 30 minutes had a detailed reply of things to check. And, better yet, they correctly determined the problem! It turns out that early K3’s used tin plated connectors for the KPAIO3 and KPA3 boards. I have an early K3 (S/N 678). Elecraft switched to gold plated connectors when some owners in high humidity climates suffered similar problems as mine. Well, I bought the radio when I was living in Key West and now here on Guam, two locations with very tropical climates. It turns out that the tin plated contacts would overheat and tarnish, causing a voltage drop and the resulting 12V ERR problem. My K3 has this problem.

The KPAIO3 board plugs into these connectors on the main board. See how the left most 6 pins are discolored?
This closeup shows the discoloration. The plastic even shows evidence of overheating

Elecraft will send me a new set of connectors, and I should be back in business, just in time for the low band DX season to start heating up for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

Kudos to Elecraft customer service!