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Topband: Fw: [Elecraft] Random thoughts from a K3 Field Tester

Subject: Topband: Fw: [Elecraft] Random thoughts from a K3 Field Tester
From: Bill Tippett <>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 09:46:43 -0400
List-post: <>

         The following was written on the Elecraft list by Bob
Locher W9KNI.  It has some very good news in the last few
paragraphs about blanking the Chinese Dragon, assuming
the 40m Dragon is like that on 160m.

                         73,  Bill  W4ZV

  I received my K3 several months ago; one of the very last in the group.
I still am not sure why I was selected for field testing - I am an
operator, not the sort of person who loves to "break" software and do
the detective work to see where a bug is.

  It is interesting to see the Field Test work. Various bugs are found
and dispatched, and operator options smoothed and streamlined. What
really amazes me and says so much for the K3 design team is that thus
far there have been only four hardware changes in the radio that Field
Testers have had to make, all of them trivial.

Anyhow, that said, I can happily  report that the K3 has exceeded my
expectations - and they were high. The receiver is incredibly quiet. The
crystal filters are the best I have ever had - and over the years I have
had some top line expensive radios, though none of the recent series
such as the 7800. The K3 is an absolute joy  to tune a band with.

When I built my K2 I was so delighted with its performance that it
became my station transceiver for the last 7 or 8 years. One of the
things I really loved about the K2 was the superb performance while
retaining a very simple interface. There were a number of "set and
forget" menu entries in the firmware that allowed the operator to tailor
the radio to his or her desires. Well, at first blush the K3 has more
controls, and there really is a bit more to learn, but they are
intuitive once one understands the philosophy of the radio - much the
same as the K2, and in return offer a lot of additional power and

I regularly used the RIT and XIT in the K2 - well, let me tell you, the
RIT and XIT of the K3 is a clear generation ahead. It was a useful
capability in the K2  - is a powerful tool in the K3.

The A/B VFO capabilities exceed that of the K2. An example - you are
chasing a DX station who is operating in a lot of QRM, so you sharpen up
the filters making copy a lot easier. But, the split pileup the DX
operator is working  is spread out all over the place, and looking for
the station he is working is really tough with the narrow filter. With
the K3, if you want, it is easy to set VFO "A" to a 200 hertz bandwidth
(or whatever) and have VFO "B" set at say 800 hertz bandwidth so that
you can easily look for the station the DX is working.

One of the things I loved about the K2 was the AGC - in the passband you
could easily tell who was strong and who was weak, while having perfect
copy on both of them. But a lot of operators prefer a flatter. more
processed signal so that all signals, weak and strong, sound alike. No
problem - the menu lets you set the AGC gain so you can have it your way.

The hardware noise blanker has not yet been distributed to most field
testers except for two who have both reported great results with
electric fence or power line problems. However, we all have the DSP
noise blanker function available. I have had some personal experience
with this. CW DX'er on 40 meters are sadly aware of the over the horizon
radar popularly called :"The Dragon", apparently radiating from China.
It comes on about one out of three mornings, and when it comes on it
simply kills the band. Well, I tried the K3 DSP noise blanker, which
allows the operator to set the level of intensity. I started cranking it
in and lo and behold, the Dragon virtually disappeared. I could still
tell it was there but it was no longer a factor in copying weak
stations, and with no noticeable artifacts. I switched it out and the
Dragon was right back there obliterating the band.

Trouble is, other people on the band lacking the K3 Noise Blanker still
get chased off the band. After it came on all the DX disappeared, except
for two Japanese stations ragchewing, obviously with strong enough
signals for each other to not have a problem. They were S4 here and
perfect copy with the K3 DSP noise blanker. I switched it off and they
got blasted away. Back on and they were easy copy. I am anticipating
great things this winter from the noise blanker when North American
stations are typically suffering from the Dragon while long path
European and Middle East stations are not hearing it at all.

  The K3 definitely will require a bit of study to use the huge number of
operator options in it - it is indeed  a feature rich radio. But it can
be used in a simplistic manner if desired, or the operator can exercise
all the bells and whistles. Wayne has promised to write Quick Start
guides for each mode to get the operator up and running quickly, and has
also promised an extensive tutorial  to accompany the manual.  I think
these items will be a great help to all new owners, no matter what their
level of experience.

  My comments here only scratch the surface of what is a marvelous
operating tool. I know I am thoroughly delighted with mine.


  Bob Locher W9KNI

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