On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 11:28:55 -0400, Bill Tippett wrote:
>Perhaps G4ILO simply needs a little more patience. Elecraft is
>probably the most responsive radio manufacturer today and
>does not deserve whining reviews...or their promotion.
I strongly agree. I've read what G4ILO has written and
corresponded a bit with him. I find his attitude and expectations
completely unreasonable. The user interface varies widely from one
radio to another. Those with good memories will recall lots of
complaints about Orion in that regard, and reviews (including that
by ARRL) noted "a steep learning curve."
That is NOT true of the K3. K3NA, led a fine (and disparate) group
of operators to VP6DX, with brand new K3s loaned by Elecraft. Eric
reported that the user interface was so intuitive that with
minimal instruction, virtally all the operators were using it
effectively within 15 minutes.
I'm one of the many older hams who was first licensed in the 50s,
and drifted in and out of active hamming as I went to college,
moved from one job to another, raised a family, and run my own
small business. I was essentially off the air from 1964 to about
1975, again from 1986 to 2002. I've lived with a lot of radios,
everything from Command sets and an S38C, to a BC348, to an SX101,
a DX100, an Apache, a TR3, an HT37, a Drake C-line, a Ten Tec Omni
A (new from the factory), Omni V, TS850, IC746, K2, FT1000MP, and
now K3s. I have managed to learn the user interface of all of
those radios well enough to like using them. Indeed, I upgraded
from one to the next for RF performance and features (the 746, for
example, was my 6M and 2M CW/SSB rig in Chicago).
Every one of these radios have some things in common and some
things that are different. Things change. Today's radios, designed
with microprocessors and and DSP, offer far greater flexibility at
far less cost (taking inflation into account) than the older
radios we grew up with. Every design team faces the challenge of
coming up with a user interface that they believe will be logical
and functional for the greatest number of users. As a former
teacher (DeVry in the 60s), I can tell you that every human being
on the planet thinks just a bit differently about things, and
something that is logical to some seems crazy or unfathomable to
As nearly as I can tell, G4ILO's most recent gripes come down to
the lack of a dedicated AM detector, the lack of a 0.5 ppm
calibration function, and memories that don't store both repeater
inputs and outputs for his use on 2M FM. That's because he's added
an Elecraft 2M transverter, and uses it to chat on his local FM
repeaters. As a K3 owner, I can tell you that it is stable enough
that it works peachy keen listening to AM in SSB mode. Those who
have made the measurements note that its oscillators DO meet 0.5
ppm specs, even though there is no dedicated function to test it.
As to use on repeaters -- most hams I know view radios like the
Orion and K3 as HF radios, primarily for CW, SSB, and data modes.
Those who would also use it on VHF and UHF with transverters are
primarily (exclusively?) interested in CW, SSB, and data modes.
Most hams who work 2M/440 FM have dedicated rigs that cost far
less than a K3 or an Orion. I paid $100 for the used FM rig that
sits on a shelf above my K3.
I'm a member of the Northern California Contest Club, a group of
very smart guys who are mostly very good operators. If I were
guessing, I'd say that there are close to 100 K3s in our club! I'm
in a relatively remote area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I
know of at least a dozen K3s within 15 miles. ALL of the guys who
own these radios already owned some very good HF radios -- MPs,
Orions, etc. We bought K3s because they are significantly better
than the radios they replaced, especially with respect to RF
performance in strong signal conditions. I bought the second RX
option for my K3 so that I could use it in diversity mode,
especially on 160M and 80M, and so that I could listen to my TX
frequency when working split.
Bottom line -- all of the rigs I've mentioned are nice rigs. Since
the K3 arrived on the scene, many of them have gotten a lot
cheaper on the used market. MPs used to fetch $2K, now you can
find them for $1.2K loaded with filters! I've been trying to sell
a TS850 and IC746, both in great shape and loaded with CW filters,
for more than a year.
Jim Brown K9YC
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