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write your own review of the Alinco DX-SR9T.
Oct 16, 2013 21:00
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An interesting and challenging introduction to SDR
Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this rig to get an introduction into the world of SDR transceivers. Having used the Alinco DX70TH for a number of years (I still own it), I decided on the new SR9T. The radio is solidly built, looks great and works fine as an ordinary analog transceiver. You will need an external speaker, however, if you want it to sound good. The front firing speaker leaves much to be desired. I use ClearSpeech DSP speakers and filters on ALL my radios, including mobile HF's. These improve any and all hf rigs. In analog mode, you can run all modes and hooking it up for PSK is easy using direct line-in / line-out to your computer sound card. For RTTY, SSTV, etc., an interface like West Mountain will be required. Overall, a good basic analog hf rig.
BUT .... lurking inside the SR9T is an SDR transceiver that is pretty impressive. Your computer and the KG-TRX software available to everyone on the Alinco website, gives you full control of the rig on both receive and transmit. Alinco recommends that everyone download the software, run through it, play with it and read the software manual before you purchase. Aside from turning the radio on and off, no other operator interaction is required in SDR mode. You can put the radio virtually anywhere, restricted only by the length of the interconnecting cables.
At first glance, understanding the SDR concept and getting the computer and rig to talk to each other seems daunting. But the more I researched SDR and the way it works, the less concerned I was about getting it going. Hook up is easy. You need two stereo cables with 3.5m connectors on each end and an Alinco interface cable, either USB or serial, depending on your computer. I use a notebook computer with an Intel i3 dual core processor running at 1.8 gigs.
One thing to keep on mind. You MUST use the line in jack on your sound card for the RX I/Q to function. The mic jack will not work. Since my laptop does not have a line-in jack, I'm using an external sound card made by SIIG. Cheap, small and it works perfectly. All of this is explained in detail in the software manual that comes with the download from the Alinco website.
The other critical piece of the system is the mic. The mic in the radio does not function in SDR (unlike the Elecraft KX3). I am using a computer mic, specifically, a "Frisby FMC-220" desk mic. Provides wonderful audio quality and comes with a nifty, weighted little mic stand. Looks very professional and costs about $15 - $20 bucks online brand new.
Getting the whole thing going was done in stages. Receive was easy and the quality is excellent. The ability to control volume,squelch, make your own RF/IF filter settings, AGC, receive gain, etc. adds versatility. Getting the proper mic and adjusting the audio output takes a bit longer. Remember, you have both computer sound card settings AND the KG-TRX settings to tweak. Nothing hard about it, but it will take some patience.
The software is very easy and intuitive to master. Nothing fancy, but its all there. You can tune the rig in 1hz to 20khz steps, your choice. You also key and unkey via the screen using your mouse, or in my case, the touch screen, either one. Frequencies are quick change by mouse or by typing it directly into the readout window. A real time S meter works in transmit too, to help set your audio output. Output power can be set to 1, 10, or 100 watts. The system keys my Ameritron ALS 600 just fine and so far, no hint of any rf issues.
The only issue is a slight latency on transmitted audio if I monitor my signal on another receiver. This is not an issue when using the rig. I'm not sure if this latency is present when using a headset. I don't have one. I'm guessing a faster processor in my computer would avoid this conversion latency.
I would highly recommend that anyone considering SDR study the concept, become familiar with all aspects of it, and follow recommendations closely as they relate to your choice of computer. You'll need at least a dual core processor of reasonable speed, and 2 or more megs of memory. The KG-TRX software manual and other fine articles about SDR on the internet are worth the time and trouble to research.
Overall, I like the concept (even though it does seem to be "the long way home" at times). Alinco gives me the opportunity to explore SDR in a reliable, cost effective way. I will review again after I've had it on the air for a few more months.
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