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[CQ-Contest] Elecraft K3 - more impressions

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Elecraft K3 - more impressions
From: Tree <tree@kkn.net>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 12:26:51 -0700
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
Made it back from KL7 over the weekend.  I took my beta test K3 with me 
and we did a multi-single from KL3R in the IARU contest (with K6AW and

This 8 pound box sure packs in a lot of performance.  One option we suggested
to Elecraft is a set of covers made out of lead - just to make it feel like
it has more stuff in it.  

If you take off the top cover - the initial response is something like "where
is the radio?".  It turns out most of the radio is comprised of surface
mount components on the bottom side of the main PC board.  

For those of you who have read their brochure, you know that the first IF
is 8.2 MHz and this is where your "roofing filter" is.  I have two in my 
radio currently - 400 hz and 2.8 khz.  There is room for five of them.
You can either switch between the filters and have the DSP match the
roofing filter - or continuously vary the bandwidth and have the roofing
filters automatically switch to the smallest filter that can be used to
support the desired bandwidth.  The combination of the roofing filter
and DSP results in a receiver that will hold its own in any situation I
can imagine.  

The receiver sounds great and is a joy to use on SSB or CW.  It even did
well decoding RTTY signals directly to the diplay during the recent NAQP
RTTY contest.  Too bad the firmware isn't all done yet - or I could have
made some QSOs by sending information with my paddle and have the radio
send it out in RTTY or PSK.

On SSB - the transmit audio sounds very clean and I have gotten good
reports on the air (including a rag chew with KC7V on six meters).  

The flexbility of the hardware is mainly determined by the firmware.
Elecraft has obviously packed plenty of power into the processor that 
executes the firmware as the controls are all very responsive.  I was
impressed to find out that the squlech knob can be used for the RF gain
of the second receiver if installed.  The second receiver is an exact
copy of the main receiver (again with up to 5 filters) and will enable
diversity reception amongst other things.

The transmitter puts out 120 watts - so you have a bit of extra drive
power for your pair of 3-500Zs.  :-)

The operating controls are easy to use.  It didn't take me long to become
"at one" with the radio.  The VFO dial can be setup for 8 khz per rotation,
which is responsive enough for those fast sprint QSYs.  This is with 20 hz
resolution - so you don't hear the frequency steps (which I consider to be
very hard to listen to).

And the radio didn't turn into a pile of parts after about 7K miles on the
tough KL7/VY1/VE7 roads.  :-)

I understand Elecraft is close to publishing their performance numbers.  They
want to make sure they have enough data from several units before doing this
and they tend to put some safety margin into them.  I understand they will
give even the $10K radios a run for their money - and probably finish ahead
in many areas.

I am not a numbers expert and go more by the sound of the radio - and this 
one sounds great.  

Elecraft is hard at work finishing up the firmware.  Some of the 
functionality is new as of a few days ago and we are getting constant
updates to fix bugs and add new features.  

73 Tree N6TR
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