[CQ-Contest] RX Heresy?

Tom Haavisto kamham69 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 20:29:32 PST 2010

Hi Pete

Good question.

While I am not a top 10 guy, I will offer these observations.  I have a
FT-1000 MP with Inrad filter and a K3 and am a SO2R wannbe type guy.  Been
doing SO2R for a year or two, but its a work in progress.  Last year in the
CQWW SSB when 20 was a zoo and 15 was dead, I got to the point where I made
up my mind NOT to use the MP on 20 - just the K3.  I cranked the K3 down to
around 1600 Hz, and it was comfortable to operate on 20 phone.  With the MP,
I found there was little room if any, and operating was very tough.  The K3
handled the situation very well.

During the ARRL DX CW, I commented to a friend that I had been stupid for
not having tried diversity receive with the K3 using one antenna.
Basically, I was doing SO2R, and at times , there would be someone calling
me on the K3.  They would be weak, but very hard to copy.  I would move the
headphones over to the K3, and do the diversity RX trick.  This is with just
one antenna feeding both receivers.  WOW.  QRM would be off to the side -
only in my right ear/easy to ignore.  The most amazing thing I found was
that the CW was centered inside my head. It was not stereo, and I initially
thought there was a phase difference between the two receivers causing what
I was hearing.  Then I recalled an email on the Elecraft mailing list where
someone asked the same question - this is how the K3 is designed to
operate.  Its amazing.  The different signals are separated inside your head
is the best way to describe it.

Takes a minute or two, and the worm has taken hold.  After that, there is no
listening to weak CW *without* a K3!

What I found (over and over) was on a weak signal, I could simply not make
them out with just one ear.  Listen to both receivers in the K3, and 90% of
the time, they were Q5 copy.  The FX mode with just one receiver will
simulate the effect.  I think this also explains why VP6DX was able to hear
so well.

The other thing I have found is that with the MP, it can be hard to find a
hole on a crowded band.  As I commented to another ham a while back, its
easy to tell the guy with the K3.  Find two strong signals close together.
The guy with the K3 is the one in the middle who figures there is lots or
room between them!

Try a K3 in a contest, and you will understand.

Tom - VE3CX

On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 8:46 AM, Pete Smith <n4zr at contesting.com> wrote:

> I have watched with some amazement as the Elecraft K3 has seemingly
> taken over the top dog's spot among contest radios, both among the top
> ops and the rest of us.
> This impels me to wonder, though - how much does improved RX strong
> signal performance really improve your ability to score in contests?  My
> suspicion (showing my going-in bias) is that most of us have long since
> developed responses to our receiving problems that tend to minimize the
> damage they do. Knowing when to abandon a run frequency, QSYing just a
> bit ("skootching"), riding the gain instead of using AGC, all of these
> devices have been useful since the dawn of time.
> And so the question - how much do serious, full-time, top-ten contesters
> feel that improve RX hardware has really improved their scoring ability,
> compared to other improvements in their stations over the years?

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