I'll listen again at home tonight and yes, I do plan on making a few more videos showing the Panadaptor, front end audio and CommCat integration. Videos are not a strength of mine, so be forewarned.
Seriously though, this is not my end-state game with this radio, I have something that I hope will be awesome up my sleeve. The way I am operating right now is not ideal! There is a plan though that I am working my way towards making this all work like I want. Lol and by then a better radio will come out and that will be that!
. I am not sure where I am at with my Flex these days, it's not being used a lot right now because of the fun I am having with the little radio.
Here is the real scoop on the KX3 in my humble newbie opinion.
Yes, I can overdrive the external speakers very easily, to me that's a setting issue though and I can get what I want in the way of audio. How easy is it, just start cranking the knobs clockwise.
Honestly, I think a lot of all this is going to be up to the end user and how they set things up and how much effort they put into getting it the way that want. IE, buyer beware, this is not a fool proof radio.
I use a mixture of getting others feed back and recording my own transmissions while making changes and then play it back to hear if its what I want. And please note that what I want may not be what others want.
Radio is still really beta, there are still features not implemented yet and little bugs. Apparently if you build one of these radios yourself, you need to know how to calibrate it and have the right equipment to do it. Its not about putting the radio together, can can happen in as little a few hours. I see many kit builders experiencing issues that those of us who bought the readymade radio don't.
Elecraft is listening to user feedback and implementing lots of nice little changes. Yes, they actually make them, hand the requesting user a alpha revision in the code and let them test and provide feedback before they add it to the main code base. Actually quite impressive but no, not unique to them. It's nice to know that there is more to come. Honestly, a lot of this stuff seems like advanced feature requests. The likes of me may never touch or use many of these features.
There is a real speaker issue. Not everyone has it and it's somewhat subjective. What do I mean? Well I am sure the little speaker will sound awful if you have your AGC set certain ways verses others. Is that a technical radio problem, or a user problem? Honestly don't know and don't care because I am not having those issues the way I am using it. It looks like some of the speakers though may have physical defects with the cone causing the issue. If that's not it then this may be a real tuff one to solve because it could be also come down to being an acoustical phenomena with the speaker they chose, the audio dynamics and the case itself.
The radio can get rather hot running 10-12 watts with a PS hooked up. There is temperature control that will drop the power if it gets too hot.. But for me it seems too hot during long QSOs so I feel like if one were going to dedicate this to is minority use case of a desktop base station then fans will be in order in my humble opinion. Maybe heat syncs. I am not an EE so honestly, I can't say. Also can't say if it's a real issue other than I do know enough that temperature variances can skew component performance.
Because the radio is so small you can literally end up with a pile of spaghetti cables laying around your radio. Just one more thing to make sure you understand if your wanting to use it like I do. A box with fans is probably what I will build for it. That will hide the cables away and act like a docking bay of sorts as well as keep it cooler.
NAP3 is far from ideal for use as a real SDR software package if one wants to use the KX3 bypassing some of the radios architecture. Hybrid operation is fine where one uses the knobs and some of the radios features. I still have a nasty Xmit issue in my setup that prohibits me from having the audio on in NAP3 while transmitting. This does not happen if I cat control direct from NAP3 to the radio, but does happen through Ham Radio Deluxe. Why do I use HRD? It allows me to use both CommCat and NAP3 together. There is LPB2 that I will try to see if I can bypass HRD. Remember, NAP3 is a Panadaptor package.
The Panadaptor display is amazingly crisp in my opinion. Very very nice! There is the typical dip you see in the center. I believe I read or saw somewhere this is common with sound based SDRs. Lots of people are struggling to get it setup, it's easy to have a ground loop issue with this radio. In my case an Isolator was an absolute necessity. While I say tricky I will also say than if you know all the right things going into it, it's actually really simple. I think the isolator is the real secret to success. You may need more than one if you run digital modes using the phones jack audio to the PC.
I can't help but think PowerSDR could have been soo much more if someone were dedicated to working on it more. This isn't a slam on anyone, it's just a feeling that NAP3 leaves you with, even lacking all the features of PowerSDR, as compared to using the Flex 5000 with Power SDR. You can see some screenshots in my updates on my blog if you haven't seen the NAP3 version of PowerSDR
There is a noticeable and audible difference when comparing the KX3 and the Flex 5000. Visually it's surprising to see that on the flex Panadaptor it shows a weaker signal than the NaP3 display does. But listening is where you hear a difference. This is again completely unscientific though and could be just the difference in the receive EQ settings. More time comparing is needed. Honestly, with the time I have available, it may never happen either.
It's ironic that we now have an SDR of sorts with knobs but we don't talk about it more. It really is nice being able to reach over and tune with a real radio interface with knobs and having physical buttons to change bands, adjust gain, ect. If one wanted to set things up just so, you could literally switch between SDR architectures on the fly or listen simultaneously in real time. It's literally like having two SDRs in one when you use it this way.
Remember, on Xmit, it's not going to be like a flex radio or some others, your going to go through the physical radio architecture and not the PC. In this regard, i am guessing there is not much difference in using a physical transceiver with an SDR receiver handling all the receiving. So as exciting as it seems, in the end it's all not really that special and not really very new technology. The upside is you have one box. The down side is you have 12 watts max without an external amp.
In this use case, one is also forcing a box do do something it wasn't really intended to do. With this said we can compare it to high end transceivers but in my humble opinion given its cost and real intended use as a mobile QRP rig it's not reasonable to think its going to excel as a replacement for a high-end base station transceiver and there are far easier and perhaps even less expensive paths to get there. If you stop and think about it for a moment. You could buy just the base SDR and couple it with better software and use it as a sound card SDR for $900. Say a QS1R and a TS-590 for example?
Remember, what's intriguing for me about all this is that it's another SDR, I can take it with me, it's small and the lab tests out it at the top of the receivers chart. It's not because of who makes it, and it wasn't too expensive to purchase all things considered. There isn't really any more to it for me. I wanted to experiment with this cool new radio.
Last but not least, keep in mind a few things about all my comments before considering them. I am playing with all this for lure fun! Fun in this hobby is my primary objective. I am not looking for a place in the Ham hall of fame, don't chase awards, ect.
This is all with regards to SSB, I have not tested digital or other modes yet. I build systems a step at time so I can keep track of issues I create verses real issues. Digital modes will come in time. Also, I am far from an expert, again, not an EE and a pretty new ham.
Finally, I am not here to sell you on these radios. I am not here to sell you off these radios either. It's your hard earned money and you need to decide for yourself how to spend it or not spend it.
I admit making a joke there with Gene.. Sorry about that Gene, it's not passive aggressive. I wanted to make light of all that has passed here. If you met me you might think me one of the nicer people you'd meet. And then again you might not, lol. Who knows! Sorry man, none of this is personal for me and I hope it never becomes so for you.
Fact is, each ham here makes or breaks their own image, so it's not my job to settle any scores here. I won't play around with people here either. That's why if you play with me it usually doesn't work out too well. Thats why if people struggle dealing with me, its because I am only really here to talk about SDR radios, thats really it. Seriously!
Yes, I have been side tracked and made some mistakes. I have been known to enjoy a good debate, but not so much these days. Life is too short. Ha ha, some people got me! Jokes on me I guess if that was the goal!
I'll admit a mistake when I make one because I don't want to pass misinformation or be responsible for any decisions you make based off of listening to me. That's my disclaimer, read me and decide at your own risk.
I came back here because people wrote me and asked me to try one last time. So I am here right now, wont be as much as I was. If it ceases to be useful to others or ceases to be fun then I will move on.
One last thing that I was reminded about in an e-mail. While Stan might seem hard on Flex radios and hard on Flex owners, flex radio users ought to thank Stan because his hounding definitely accounts for a lot of fixes that made their products better. Stan gets no credit for that, only grief plus the pain and troubles he had with the radio itself. Thanks Stan!
If I find anything else of interest good or bad with the Kx3 I will share it.
Sorry for this long post!