I have had the very nice elecraft K3 here in the shack since November 2007. It’s an absolutely fantastic radio and it also has a lot of I/O connections on it’s crowded rear panel.
Elecraft for user convenience sake make all the audio connections using 1/8″ Jack sockets. This is of course very handy in that using a single standard audio connector makes for quick and easy reconfiguration. Unlike DIN or Mini-din connectors 1/8″ Jack plugs are available almost everywhere too.
The downside is that in a permanent shack setup reaching around to the crowded rear panel may be tricky and with the tight spacing it’s easy to remove or losen the wrong mini-jack plug as they do not have much holding force.
I have made access to the K3’s wide range of I/O connectors much easier by connecting all of the Audio keying and PTT lines via a 1/2 Normalised balanced jack Patchbay.
1/2 Normalised is particularly usefull for this purpose in that you can plug into the upper (black) Socket and be connected in parallel with the normal signal path. if you plug into the Lower socket you interupt the normal signal path.
Parallel connections are usefull if you wish to route the line out audio to two devices, or hook up two Morse keys.
The interupting connection is usefull for connecting a different microphone as you would not want to have 2 microphones connected in parallel
One of the problems with patchbays is keeping track of all the connections. I do this by using a simple wordprocessor table which looks like this (click on image to zoom in)
As you can see I have plenty of unused inputs for future use.
Patchbays are easily available new or second hand at low cost on e-bay and make a most usefull addition to the shack.