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Author Topic: KX3 SDR  (Read 55556 times)
NI0Z
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« on: September 02, 2012, 11:57:51 AM »

I have been playing with the KX3 as an SDR, it is actually an SDR, no less so than a Softrock or other soundcard based SDR.  This thread is dedicated to that topic.  I am going to ignore off topic conversation on this thread and would ask that you do the same.

Please feel free to post your comments here about the KX3 as an SDR.  I will add some later as I have a lot to report with actual experience setting one up and using one now as an SDR.

As always, I will advertise I am a newer ham, and as one trying to share in a timely manner, will likely make a mistake or two as I go.  My appolgies in advance, there is no intent to misrepresent anything here on my part.

Thanks for sharing in the discussion!
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NI0Z
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2012, 02:56:54 PM »

Today the KX3 whooped the Flex 5000A beyond any doubt as an SSB SDR.  The difference was completely convincing as far as receive capability goes.

The audio quality of the KX3 is amazing!  My advice for people about the speaker issue, forget it!  It would be like getting your cell phone speaker to play hiring music like your stereo.  That would not be a good expenditure of ones time, especially when you can plug in headphones or external speakers and experience ham radio like few probably have before.

The ability to pull weak signals out verses the Flex 5K today, same antenna same equipment and rf path, was nothing short of amazing.  I guess lab tests mean something after all unless I experienced a phenomena over the past two days.

I also continue to get great audio reports as well.  Today a user describe my audio as quality, smooth, and really easy to listen to.  This was default audio and just the hand mic at 23.

I think that if there were some high quality SDR software with all the features available there would be little question about what I am saying if you tried it yourself.

That's today's report, I'll be back after some more,fun on the radio!
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2012, 06:55:51 PM »

Today the KX3 whooped the Flex 5000A beyond any doubt as an SSB SDR.  The difference was completely convincing as far as receive capability goes.

The audio quality of the KX3 is amazing!  My advice for people about the speaker issue, forget it!  It would be like getting your cell phone speaker to play hiring music like your stereo.  That would not be a good expenditure of ones time, especially when you can plug in headphones or external speakers and experience ham radio like few probably have before.

The ability to pull weak signals out verses the Flex 5K today, same antenna same equipment and rf path, was nothing short of amazing.  I guess lab tests mean something after all unless I experienced a phenomena over the past two days.

I also continue to get great audio reports as well.  Today a user describe my audio as quality, smooth, and really easy to listen to.  This was default audio and just the hand mic at 23.

I think that if there were some high quality SDR software with all the features available there would be little question about what I am saying if you tried it yourself.

That's today's report, I'll be back after some more,fun on the radio!

1. The KX3 comes with an internal speaker.  It should work correctly regardless of silly justifications and other excuses given.  Otherwise it is just a case of poor engineering.  Here is another example of the problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAzP9SHKdxM&feature=youtu.be

2. It is not a surprise that the KX3 receives weak signals better than the Flex5K.  The phase noise is much lower for the KX3 than the Flex5K due to Elecraft using a si570 for the LO.  Like those of us who have had any experience at all with Direct Sampling Receivers, the effect of very low phase noise would have been obvious to you and is still better than the QSD based KX3.

3.  Since you have only really had any experience with the Yaesu 897D, ICOM 7000 and the Flex5K, your statement "you can plug in headphones or external speakers and experience ham radio like few probably have before" holds very little credibility.  Try actually operating some quality radios besides the clunkers you have experience with before declaring such nonsense as if the KX3 is some kind of miracle radio.  That statement of yours comes off as some over the top nonsense from a infatuated fan boy.

4. Using the KX3 tethered to a computer for its DSP is a complete waste of the Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor that Elecraft uses in the KX3.  It is more than capable of doing the DSP without using a PC like you are doing.  

Gene
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 07:08:27 PM by KE5JPP » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2012, 08:12:47 PM »

Elcraft today looks to have committed to resolve the issue with the speaker.  

Note this issue really doesn't impact using this radio as an SDR though so I won't be covering it anymore.  You can get updates from the Elecraft site.  

I am in no way afilliated with Elecraft, I only happen to have and use and experiment with their radios.

This discussion thread should be specific to the use of the KX3 as an SDR tethered to a computer or other device like the iPad.  It's use as a standalone transceiver can be covered in another thread if folks want.

On the flip side, I had a few more wonderful QSOs and am really getting used to using this radio as an SDR.  More audio compliments as well.

I got to try the Heil headset, works great and I even was able to run some front end audio into the KX3 so other than having full power to drive and amp  this is now able to function as a near replacement for my Flex 5000.

I am concerned about the ability of this radio to run 10 watts for extended periods, however, it does have temperature controls that will prohibit from running more than it can at higher power.  It would be really interesting if Elecraft next made a full size SDR rig capable of the full 100 watts, ect.

The rig control is running through HRD and so NAP3 and CommCat both connect to HRD.  This actually works fairly well.  There is an issue though on transmit I am still working on when connected through HRD where the audio comes through for 1-2 seconds before cutting off.  This does not happen connecting directly to the Kx3 with NAP3.

I have something up my sleeve though that may change all this and will share that with you all when the time comes.  Until then, feel free to share your own KX3 SDR experiences or thoughts.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 08:32:35 PM by NI0Z » Logged

KE5JPP
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2012, 05:00:43 AM »

Note this issue really doesn't impact using this radio as an SDR though so I won't be covering it anymore.  You can get updates from the Elecraft site.  

I am in no way afilliated with Elecraft, I only happen to have and use and experiment with their radios.

This discussion thread should be specific to the use of the KX3 as an SDR tethered to a computer or other device like the iPad.  It's use as a standalone transceiver can be covered in another thread if folks want.


1. How do you not use the KX3 as an SDR?  The KX3 is an SDR regardless of whether it is connected to a computer or an iPad.   How does connecting it to a computer magically turn in into a SDR? You are making a distinction that does not exist.

2. In fact, you may be degrading the performance of the KX3 by using it with an external sound card and with some SDR software.  The I/Q output of the KX3 is tapped off before the ADC in the KX3 and it is analog audio, which you then must digitize with an external sound card.  You have already run into problems with ground loops and isolation when connecting it to your sound card.  You also add the noise generated internally in you computer to the equation.  Connect it to a crappy sound card and the dynamic range becomes no better than what you would get with a SoftRock connected to the same sound card.

3. Have you even bothered to look at the KX3 block diagram? http://www.elecraft.com/manual/KX3%20Manual%20Block%20Diagram.pdf

4. The internal speaker problem does impact the KX3 SDR because the KX3 is an SDR no matter how you use it.

Gene
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 05:22:27 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2012, 06:48:15 AM »

1. How do you not use the KX3 as an SDR?  The KX3 is an SDR regardless of whether it is connected to a computer or an iPad.   How does connecting it to a computer magically turn in into a SDR? You are making a distinction that does not exist.

4. The internal speaker problem does impact the KX3 SDR because the KX3 is an SDR no matter how you use it.

This is the context in which I am using the KX3 right now, the configuration of my personal experiment if you will and the basis for which I will be sharing information.

Your question 4 is best answered by another question.  Why would I use the internal speaker in a base station installation when it's clearly the most inferior way I could listen to the output on the radio?  If I am not using it how is it relevant to the context which has been painted?

It would be like me sitting in my living room where I have a nice stereo and listening to music on my phone's built in speaker, why would any ham knowingly do that in a non field emergency situation when there is the equivalent of a hifi audio out jack on the side of the radio?

This is why the speaker issue is not relevant to this conversation.  I suggest if you want to talk about the KX3 speaker issue you start a thread on an appropriate forum for it, like the QRP forum for example where it may be more relevant.

Last but not least, I am using a middle range sound card, 24 bit sampling 192K, and it does not appear to be limiting the radios sound at all, in fact as an SDR it appears to haven even better performance than the sound coming directly from the jack. 

I have been comparing these to methods of audio if you will, side by side.  If you read above you'll see I have the Heil Pro headset which is taking the high quality audio from the phones jack on the rig.  While running this experiment it is interesting to run the radio as a hybrid if you will seeing how for example different filters impact the audio at the phones jack verses the audio coming through the sound card conversion. 

As I have openly claimed in the opening, I am not an expert, I am just sharing output of an experiement I am running.  If my input and feedback is not of value to you, then you are welcome to ignore me and move on to a different thread. 

I don't have any other agenda here than to just share the output of my experimenting and see if anyone else is experimenting with the radio in the way I am and getting there feedback.
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2012, 07:46:06 AM »

1. How do you not use the KX3 as an SDR?  The KX3 is an SDR regardless of whether it is connected to a computer or an iPad.   How does connecting it to a computer magically turn in into a SDR? You are making a distinction that does not exist.

4. The internal speaker problem does impact the KX3 SDR because the KX3 is an SDR no matter how you use it.

This is the context in which I am using the KX3 right now, the configuration of my personal experiment if you will and the basis for which I will be sharing information.

Your question 4 is best answered by another question.  Why would I use the internal speaker in a base station installation when it's clearly the most inferior way I could listen to the output on the radio?  If I am not using it how is it relevant to the context which has been painted?

It would be like me sitting in my living room where I have a nice stereo and listening to music on my phone's built in speaker, why would any ham knowingly do that in a non field emergency situation when there is the equivalent of a hifi audio out jack on the side of the radio?

This is why the speaker issue is not relevant to this conversation.  I suggest if you want to talk about the KX3 speaker issue you start a thread on an appropriate forum for it, like the QRP forum for example where it may be more relevant.

Last but not least, I am using a middle range sound card, 24 bit sampling 192K, and it does not appear to be limiting the radios sound at all, in fact as an SDR it appears to haven even better performance than the sound coming directly from the jack.  

I have been comparing these to methods of audio if you will, side by side.  If you read above you'll see I have the Heil Pro headset which is taking the high quality audio from the phones jack on the rig.  While running this experiment it is interesting to run the radio as a hybrid if you will seeing how for example different filters impact the audio at the phones jack verses the audio coming through the sound card conversion.  

As I have openly claimed in the opening, I am not an expert, I am just sharing output of an experiement I am running.  If my input and feedback is not of value to you, then you are welcome to ignore me and move on to a different thread.  

I don't have any other agenda here than to just share the output of my experimenting and see if anyone else is experimenting with the radio in the way I am and getting there feedback.

1. You have posted this in a public forum, so you do not get to dictate what is discussed here if it does not interest you.  If you want to only tell people about the things that interest you, then you would be better off limiting it to your web page instead of a public forum.

2. The KX3 was designed for portable, QRP operation with internal QSD and DSP so that a separate PC is not required.  Elecraft decided to include an internal speaker in the KX3.  Using the KX3 as a "base station", as you call it, is more of a fringe use.  Since Elecraft decided to include the speaker, people have the right to be upset with the problems with the internal speaker.  Just because you use the KX3 in a non-standard way does not mean others will be happy lugging around external speakers.

3.  You seem to be very confused given your statement "I am using a middle range sound card, 24 bit sampling 192K, and it does not appear to be limiting the radios sound at all".  If you connect your sound card to the external speaker/headphone jack of the KX3 to use it as an amplified speaker, then just about any sound card will do and will not affect the "sound".  If you are connecting the I/Q audio output of the KX3 to your sound card and then using a SDR program to demodulate the audio, the quality of the sound card does affect the dynamic range of the KX3 (not the "sound').  In that case what you are doing is bypassing the internal ADC and DSP in the KX3 and replacing it with your sound card and DSP done in the SDR software on your PC.

4. You have not addressed question number 1 in my last post.  How do you not use the KX3 as an SDR?

Gene
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 07:49:23 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2012, 08:15:03 AM »


1. You have posted this in a public forum, so you do not get to dictate what is discussed here if it does not interest you.  If you want to only tell people about the things that interest you, then you would be better off limiting it to your web page instead of a public forum.

This is an opinion, I respect that and since I am the one posting here it will be limited to the context I originally established.  I have asked nicely that people stick to that context and yes, there is nothing I can do if that request is not honored.

2. The KX3 was designed for portable, QRP operation with internal QSD and DSP so that a separate PC is not required.  Elecraft decided to include an internal speaker in the KX3.  Using the KX3 as a "base station", as you call it, is more of a fringe use.  Since Elecraft decided to include the speaker, people have the right to be upset with the problems with the internal speaker.  Just because you use the KX3 in a non-standard way does not mean others will be happy lugging around external speakers.

It is a minority use case for the radio, however, it is the use case this thread is intended to cover, please revist the opening two posts.

3.  You seem to be very confused given your statement "I am using a middle range sound card, 24 bit sampling 192K, and it does not appear to be limiting the radios sound at all".  If you connect your sound card to the external speaker/headphone jack of the KX3 to use it as an amplified speaker, then just about any sound card will do and will not affect the "sound".  If you are connecting the I/Q audio output of the KX3 to your sound card and then using a SDR program to demodulate the audio, the quality of the sound card does affect the dynamic range of the KX3 (not the "sound').  In that case what you are doing is bypassing the internal ADC and DSP in the KX3 and replacing it with your sound card and DSP done in the SDR software on your PC.

I have been clear in my use case here, please read the opening two posts.  Please read the rest of the posts as well for the answer to this question as well as the others.  If you don't find your answer there that you are looking for then perhaps someone else will answer it for you.  Again, you may have better luck in the QRP forum.

4. You have not addressed question number 1 in my last post.  How do you not use the KX3 as an SDR?

Simple answer, technically you don't, the KX3 is an SDR.  There are different use cases for it though, one as a QRP transceiver, one as a transceiver and another as a more traditional sound card based SDR.  This latter use case is the one covered here.

Gene


My responses are above.  I may not be able to respond to your questions or needs for this thread, in those cases I may not simply respond at all, perhaps another user will be able to address the questions you have.  I believe you are somewhat of an SDR expert, so I am not sure why you are asking me some of these questions.

I'll just be sharing with regards to the original context I established at the beginning.

Thanks for your interest in this thread!
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 12:20:31 PM »

Kind of sounds like you're trying to control the conversation.  I doubt you'll be successful at doing that here at eHAM, and I hope not.  I learn a lot about SDR from those who make comments you don't seem to want to hear.  Just an observation.

Censorship is alive and well here on eham. It is hardly an open forum. Posts get deleted regularly.
Gosh they deleted your post N0YXB. Wonder why? It did not seem offensive. Fortuantely I already had it quoted.  Wink Cheesy

I agree 100 % with "I learn a lot about SDR from those who make comments you don't seem to want to hear." We are a diverse group here on eham with differing views. If one only wants to see their view discussed they are not going to learn much.

Unfortunately lately we only get to see what the  Truth Restrictor eham moderator deems necessary

Stan K9IUQ
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NI0Z
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2012, 12:31:07 PM »

Elcraft today looks to have committed to resolve the issue with the speaker.  

Note this issue really doesn't impact using this radio as an SDR though so I won't be covering it anymore.  You can get updates from the Elecraft site.  

This discussion thread should be specific to the use of the KX3 as an SDR tethered to a computer or other device like the iPad.  It's use as a standalone transceiver can be covered in another thread if folks want.

Kind of sounds like you're trying to control the conversation.  I doubt you'll be successful at doing that here at eHAM, and I hope not.  I learn a lot about SDR from those who make comments you don't seem to want to hear.  Just an observation.



I am sorry you feel that way, maybe if you ask a question that you think I failed to respond to I can take a stab at it.

If its about the question on the block diagram, I believe I covered that, however, here is a bit more of an explanation.

When your using a Panadaptor and SDR software you have a hybrid situation, where you have the Kx3 as a standalone SDR receiver and then the hybrid SDR Reciever which you can manage through both the software and through the radio controls.  We don't have too many SDRs that I have seen that can operate like this.  You see, either way you use it, your still using an SDR as this was pointed out and somewhat obvious.

In some ways it can be like adding a Panadaptor and using the radio for everything else.  So you can listen to the sound through the audio jack while viewing the Panadaptor and tuning to signals with it via cat control. In this way we are not bypassing the block diagram and simply using the free Panadaptor support that comes as a result of buying the radio.  That said though, your still using an SDR.

In the other case though we can also demodulate using PC or other software like iSDR on the ipad. With the right software we can apply filters, and use the software, and yet still have the VFO knob on the radio and it's display to use.  

We can also switch back and forth on the fly between the two modes.  In this case we bypass the block diagram.  It may be interesting for some to know that we can also do both!  In this mode I have powered speakers on the audio jack and powered speakers on the PC and you can listen to both simultaneously.  This allows you to choose more options to recover a weak signal.

While a suggestion was made that bypassing the block diagram results in an inferior experience, I would disagree based on real actual usage of these modes I have described.  This may just be a difference in the speakers though.  I am not going to attempt to debate this issue technically much.  This is what I do know, a 24bit sound card in theory can handle 121DB of dynamic range when running at 192K.  I am not suggesting that you get this performance when running that way.  I don't have test equipment to use to get the actual answer.  Perhaps someone can take a mathematical stab at it.

Of course all of this I just said applies to the receive side of the SDR and the transmit side follows the block diagram.

I don't know how Sherwood tested the radio, it would be interesting to know exactly how this radio would fair running like this.  I am not sure though how well it would do in a lab environment because the software was not made to support this radio specifically.  What would be nice is some full featured software to use with it.  

As it was mentioned and I have said elsewhere, the use of an isolator may have some impact on performance running this way.  The notion of it being degraded is not supported in my unscientific experiments thus far.  It would seem that I am better able to recover a weak signal better through the software than the radio.  It would be cool to find out the impact of the isolator.  I don't have lab equipment though nor the resources to buy differing isolators.

Of course I can't control what's asked and answered here, I can only ask kindly that we keep on topic.

As I said earlier, some of the questions asked really belong in a QRP discussion in my humble opinion.  I honestly don't care that there are speaker issues.  Mine works well enough for me for QRP and I'd be more likely to just use the Heil Pro headset I got or headphones and the hand mic.

Other than responding to some insults made above I think I have responded to everything.  I don't care if people want to bash the radio, I am just trying to use it, experiment with it and report on the experiment.  I don't care about radio wars, it's not my thing and if you had a QSO with me you would know that.  I own the radio and use it now.

I have already received offline feedback and appreciation for restarting the discussion.  

Unfortunately these forums can get rather hostile at times which has prompted many hams to just go into silent mode.  These people have been referred to poorly by people here.  When we don't treat people nicely and with respect thats what happens.  

So the idea is to not make this about radio or people bashing.  I have said this in the spirit of asking that we all just try to get along, not to cause grief.  

It would appear though that people like me, newer hams don't belong here commenting, reporting or expressing opinions.  The thought seems to be that we are not qualified.  Perhaps it's just time to move on.  I will give it a little more time and see how it goes.

I have been told by many that it won't work out though for me to stay here, that all conversations will be controlled and thats the irony of the comment you made and that's a shame.  Someone can start the KX3 stinks thread and you won't see me participate.

Thanks for weighing in!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 01:21:14 PM by NI0Z » Logged

KE5JPP
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2012, 01:49:01 PM »

What the heck is the point of a one way conversation.  NI0Z, eHam is not your personal blog.   Roll Eyes

Unfortunately, when someone tries to discuss a feature of the KX3 that he doesn't want to talk about or he thinks is negative, NI0Z considers this bashing the radio.  Same when you ask a question that is technically way over NI0Z's head - he automatically assumes that you want to bash his shiny new toy.  When NI0Z makes incorrect statements about the KX3 and those incorrect statements are pointed out, NI0Z avoids discussing his errors and just uses the excuse that he is "not an expert" then proceeds to suggest that you are asking off topic questions in "his" eHam thread.  

NI0Z says he does not like bashing, yet the second post to this thread he created, NI0Z begins by bashing the Flex-5000a.

I think that the only reason he posts here is to get traffic to his website and advertise his book.  If he wants only to tell you his view without feedback or questions from others, NI0Z already can do that (and does that) on his website - the only thing missing is website traffic which he gets from posting a link to his website in every post he makes here on eHam.

Gene
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 01:59:01 PM by KE5JPP » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2012, 02:07:57 PM »

What the heck is the point of a one way conversation.  NI0Z, eHam is not your personal blog.   Roll Eyes

Unfortunately, when someone tries to discuss a feature of the KX3 that he doesn't want to talk about or he thinks is negative, NI0Z considers this bashing the radio.  Same when you ask a question that is technically way over NI0Z's head - he automatically assumes that you want to bash his shiny new toy.  When NI0Z makes incorrect statements about the KX3 and those incorrect statements are pointed out, NI0Z avoids discussing his errors and just uses the excuse that he is "not an expert" then proceeds to suggest that you are asking off topic questions in "his" eHam thread.  

NI0Z says he does not like bashing, yet the second post to this thread he created, NI0Z begins by bashing the Flex-5000a.

I think that the only reason he posts here is to get traffic to his website and advertise his book.  If he wants only to tell you his view without feedback or questions from others, NI0Z already can do that (and does that) on his website - the only thing missing is website traffic which he gets from posting a link to his website in every post he makes here on eHam.

Gene

Which ones have I not answered?  I think the only thing you mentioned here was the speaker and I addressed why I believe it was not relevant to the conversation.

Why all that stuff in the quote?  I happen to own and use the other radio, I don't consider my comment bashing and in fact, I don't think the speaker comment was bashing either, it was brought up, I addressed it as far as I am capable.  I also believe I answered your other questions about the block diagram, so what's the issue here?
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NO9E
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2012, 02:08:37 AM »

I used KX3 portable. It is absolutely amazing on SSB transmit. Take miniature (to save weight) but lousy electret microphone. Transmit very bad. Equalize and then it sounds very well but weak, like a 10W radio. Turn on speech processing to the middle and stations start copying. Crank the speech processor to the max, and KX3's signal is copied with ease. My setup is 4 lb total in a small box including wires, ant connector, extra battery, CW key..

Ignacy, NO9E
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2012, 02:55:23 AM »

Crank the speech processor to the max

Yep, that is the way to do it. The bands are full of "all knobs to the right" operators...   Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ
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NI0Z
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2012, 08:35:25 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3TsFBKhzxE&sns=em

I am finding that the default settings are the default settings for a reason.  This is with default settings and that horrible hand mic.  Smiley  Mic  gain at 23.  Using little cheap iHome speakers for the sound.  The video was recorded on a cell phone.

Best way to know if the audio in a rig is decent is to just try one yourself.  Find a ham in a local club that has one that will invite you over to play, field day, ect.  Hands on and ears on, there is no substitue to find out if the issues being reported are real or hype.
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