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Re: [CQ-Contest] Lost leading 'dit' - summary

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Lost leading 'dit' - summary
From: VR2BrettGraham <vr2bg@harts.org.hk>
Date: Sun, 07 Mar 2004 03:47:22 +0000
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
W4ZV replied to VR2BG:

The Elecraft community is not interested in the least in what is needed by the
contesting community in a product & are quite unreasonable about anything
that they don't like & they don't like contests to begin with. I suspect the
contesting community is probably a bigger portion of the active equipment
market, so the idea is either to establish that the contesting community
really does use something, that it could be added & everybody could be happy,
or the contesting community can sod off & take its custom elsewhere.

I agree that we are confusing "community" with "company". It really doesn't matter to me what the current community thinks, because that's composed primarily of QRP'ers, backpackers, tinkerers, etc. They could certainly care less about what the contest community needs, but so what...what is important is what Elecraft THE COMPANY thinks.

The thing is that with Brand-E, the community appears to have some weight. The line between company & community is somewhat blurred & as one contesting K2 owner pointed out, the tinkerers have made some significant contributions to the radio (various modifications & even options). The community matters & the company is closely tied to that community, with largely benefit for all as a result...

         I know for a fact (via some direct communications with Elecraft's
owners) that they are very interested in a contester/DXer friendly
implementation of the K2.  Remember that the K2 evolved as a portable
QRP radio, and has only recently gotten the attention of contesters
and DX'ers because of its excellent receiver performance and because
the 100W version recently became available.

I agree with you about the interest from having had the same direct communications. The community wouldn't have anything to do with another suggested change to firmware which would be of benefit for the contesting segment - very negative & even not understanding what it was that was going on - the response from the company was like chalk & cheese, even going so far as to explain the limitations & talk about how to deal with them. End result, suggestion was implemented.

Sadly, CW PTT - something that looks to be something that more would
benefit from than the other (way to clear RIT in transmit) - met with an even
more hostile reaction from the community & appears to be something that the
company has no interest in looking at, or has been put off for another day.

         Elecraft is definitely interested in a version of the K2 aimed
at the mainstream market of contesters and DXers.  IMHO, there are
relatively few changes needed to make the K2+ into a superb product.
On my list are:

1.  Ergonomically-friendly product design (think LARGE like Orion
or the FT-1000 family) both physically and functionally.

I'm getting used to the small box - though I continue to be a lid at times & fail to engage SPLIT mode & transmit in the wrong place. My gut feeling - based on comments from the company whenever a K3 or K2+ thread starts on the Elecraft list, plus their heritage, I suspect this one would not be taken on board.

2.  Offer optional 8-pole filters in addition to the current programmable
filter.  The K2's IMD performance is already exceptional, but it falls
apart rather badly for signal spacings under 5 kHz, and how many contests
do you recall with signals spaced 5 kHz apart?  Simply adding an 8-pole
500 Hz filter would probablly put the K2 into Orion-class performance,
and possibly even exceed it at 1 kHz spacings.

Another firmware issue. An alternative filter of the calibre contesters are used to is available _now_. There are what - five? - filter "choices" in the current firmware, but for want of lines that actually wiggle differently when four of those five are selected, nobody can use the INRAD filter that's been available for the K2 & that will probably dampen anything more W2VJN might do for the K2. A firmware fix for this would appeal to not only the contester, but also the DXer & most importantly, the tinkerer.

         What I pray is that Elecraft not get carried away with "whistles
and bells" which would add unnecessary cost and little value to the
current product...no dual-RX, no spectrum scopes, no general coverage,
no FM...yada, yada yada.  If Elecraft could deliver an assembled product
in the $1500-2000 range (most of which could be done by subcontracting),
I believe they could absolutely dominate the mainstream contester/DXer
market.  With two K2+'s, a SO2R contester would have an outstanding
station for about what one Orion costs.  For reasons I do not understand,
Ten-Tec says they are not interested in pursuing this market, although it
could easily be done by downscaling Orion (strip out dual-RX, spectrum
scope, FM, etc).  Of course Ten-Tec also said they would never do CW PTT,
but customers and markets (a.k.a. $$$) have apparently caused them to
rethink their stance about CW PTT.  ;-))  Having faced issues like this
myself when I was in business, I can tell you it will be far easier for
Elecraft to upscale the K2 than it will for Ten-Tec to downscale Orion.
Time will tell.

An assembled product is a significant deviation from anything Elecraft has done, so I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. I really miss the sub-RX & sometimes the filtering gymnastics possible on other rigs, but otherwise I've adapted well to the K2. It's been a long time since I worked in that industry, but I suspect it will be hard for anyone to break into, should they decide to take the plunge, for a more mainstream transceiver product since it would have to appeal to the other segments of the market, who I think are probably now hooked on the equivalent of motorized wing mirrors (bells & whistles matter more than raw radio performance).

         I also know that there are some excellent contesters local to
Elecraft that are providing input into a next generation K2+.  If
Elecraft listens carefully, and I have no reason to believe they won't,
I suspect we'll see an outstanding product from them in the future.

A few firmware changes to the K2 whilst we're waiting for what has been repeatedly denied would be helpful. Other ideas might surface that might be taken on board for this next product as a result of engaging the contesting community.

RIT clear, CW PTT & filter selection - I'm kicking myself for not having brought
all three up at same time as there may have been a chance... the K2 looks
to have reached a plateau & I wouldn't be surprised that the firmware release
cycle will only get longer as a result.

73, VR2BrettGraham

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