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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Elecraft K3/0-MINI-F Help


Reviews Summary for Elecraft K3/0-MINI-F
Elecraft K3/0-MINI-F Reviews: 3 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $699
Description: Mini Control Head for K3-Remote system. Controls the K3 transceiver over internet connection.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com/K3-Remote/k3_remote.htm
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W1VE Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2016 10:26 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a review of the K3/0 Mini, not RemoteHams or RemoteRig -- they are applications and hardware which allow you to use the K3/0 Mini with your Radios.

When properly connected, the K3/0 Mini gives you the "being there" experience of the K3. Everything that is available on a K3, you have on the mini.

In order to get all the features, you have to use the proper solution. For full performance, I use the RemoteRig 1258 boxes. When you have these set up properly, the operation is flawless. I operate contests, and have exceeded 200-QSO-per-hour rates running on the mini with the RemoteRig boxes. This is with an internet latency of between 80 and 120ms.

If you are using the RemoteRig boxes, I recommend you get the manufactured cable from Elecraft. It connects to the 37-pin DIN on the back of the Mini.

The K3/0 Mini has a USB port. When connected to a PC, it looks like a USB Sound Card, and Serial Port interfaces.

IF you use RewmoteHams.com, you can use the K3/0 Mini to control not only a K3, but any other radio supported by RemoteHams. The setup is not complex, and, you get a subset of controls (IE the K3 will have more controls than a lot of radios.) However, VFO switching and filters seem to work with most radios I've tried. The drawback, as called out by other reviewers, is the latency on RemoteHams... It adds 50-100mS to overall latency. Fine for casual work and DXing but not for contests. This is a reflection on RemoteHams, not the K3/0 Mini. Both RemoteRig and RemoteHams can provide many hours of Remote pleasure with the K3/0 Mini! I highly recommend it if you are contemplating remote operation.
 
K4FWJ Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2015 21:25 Send this review to a friend
Good experience with K3/0-mini  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
My experience with the K3/0-mini has been good. Most of the year I leave the RRC-1258 remote controlled system set up at a weekend fishing cabin. Once or twice a year it'll be taken on a formal vacation. In the 6 months I've had it it's been used about 7 or 8 different times at the cabin. There's been zero reliability issues. The K3/0-mini doesn't fully duplicate operation of the K3/100 back home but it comes very close. The fact that control of a 5 element Yagi and RF amplifier back home is fully retained makes up for the few minor K3 features that aren't controllable with the mini. The system is used with a laptop running Windows 7 and DXLabs software. All DXLab functions work exactly like they do back home. The RRC-1258 box has built-in wifi. Cable Internet characteristics at the remote site are fair. Latency is usually 60ms or less and has proven to be no problem with default RRC-1258 settings. DF9GR's RS-232 PCB kit was used to bring an ancient HAM-IV antenna rotator control box into the modern CAT controlled era of ham radio. Coupled with YO3DMU's "PstRotatorAz" app and one port of a Lantronix EDS2100 serial server I have full remote control of the beam mounted on its' 100' tower back home. The other port of the server is used with SPE's "Term_2K_232.exe" software to provide complete remote control of the Expert 2K-FA amplifier. Living in the lightning capital of North America it seemed prudent to figure out a way to remotely connect/disconnect the antennas. This was accomplished by using a 12V linear actuator to move a plywood plate along a pair of drawer slides. Push-on style PL-259's are mounted on 1/8" thick aluminum angle fastened to the plate. The actuator causes each PL-259 to slide onto its' corresponding Polyphaser lightning arrestor SO-259 port. Upon applying opposite polarity the actuator disconnects the PL-259s. There is also provision to simultaneously connect/disconnect the 8-pin HAM-IV rotator cable. A video of the mechanics of this connect/disconnect system can be found here: http://vimeo.com/133917999. Constructing the described K3/0-mini system and getting it all to work was challenging but well worth it once finished.
 
KN2M Rating: 4/5 Dec 29, 2014 18:17 Send this review to a friend
Pretty close to actually being there, BUT...  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been experimenting with remote control of my HF station for over 10 years. My station and experience are well known to many operators. I had previously used a Ten-Tec Orion with software remote control. I had experimented briefly with dual IC-7600 transceivers. Each iteration left me with the stimulus to continue to improve my station in order to make the remote station function better because I notice so many videos on line that seem to demonstrate quite successful operation. When I saw the K3/0, I thought finally this was it! Well, not so fast. It IS pretty good, but NOTHING is like being there, I assure you.

The K3 is a pretty good radio. I ordered mine nicely equipped with a subreceiver and extra CW filters in both. There are several ways to control the system, including HamRadioDelux software, the Remotehams software or the Remote Rig 1258 boxes. I see the Remote Rig as a way to operate fixed in a semi-permanent configuration because the setup favors a wired connection. Wireless access to the 1258 box is planned but not introduced. I have not tried the HRD interface but have played with the Remotehams software, interfacing my wireless laptop with a USB cable to the K3/0. For me, this is a great combination. Certainly one that would allow me to vacation with a laptop, find internet and operate.

Several points to make before I start with the K3/0. First, maintaining a remote station is very exhausting and frustrating. Things break and things fail all the time. The simplest failure will take the station down and cause another unexpected travel day to the station. This is possibly not for a compulsive perfectionist. Secondly, audio latency is an unavoidable nuisance. Mine runs between 0.2 and 0.3 seconds, ONE way. For a simple QSO, this is not too bad but try to put that into a pileup situation and one can easily see by the time you decide to call the station and complete your transmission a DXternity has taken place. Any good operator can pop his 4 letter call within a second. Here it can be a second and a half by the time you speak and wait for the receive audio to start again. Remote VOX is not instantaneous. So you can do it, but expect frustration. Third, due to processing algorithms and compression in the link, stations do not exactly sound louder when presenting with stronger signals. Stronger stations sound better and are easier to copy but they must be much stronger to be appreciated as such.

So, I said this not the perfect device (or at least not the perfect combination with Remotehams software) and I am now going to discuss why. If you really like the K3, you will really like the K3/0 remote. Having never used the K3, I think I am pretty objective.

The fine print does not say, the K3/0 does not control EVERY function of the K3. So far, here is what I found it can not do.

1.) Change or program CW memories. This is a big one for a cw operator. It can SEND the memory transmission because the front panel is an exact duplicate. If you want to use the memories, I guess you are expected to do this in person before you leave the cabin on the mountain. This is particularly bad because of #2.

2.) The Key input on the K3/0 is not transmit functional at this time when used with the Remotehams software. I am not sure if this is a permanent issue. I happen to like to my WinKeyer because of automatic character spacing. It is vastly superior to the keyer in the K3 and the memory buttons are easy to find. So all the CW I am doing is with the paddle alone.

3.) The K3/0 sets up 2 virtual computer COM ports that emulate the K3 via the USB connection. I presume this is intended to provide interface with logging or radio control programs, like HRD. I am not done trying but have been unable so far to use either N1MM or Winlog32 to control the remote K3 and log QSOs.

4.) One can not control VOX delay, radio MIC input or CW Delay at the remote site using Remotehams software. All these must be set in advance.

5.) I made considerable changes in the BAUD rate between the K3 and my computer (a new very fast laptop using the latest Windows OS). It would only become stable at 9600 or slower as demonstrated by a smooth tuning response and/or responsiveness to button activation. Again, this is using Remotehams software, but I haven't seen this written anywhere else.

What can it do? It now allows me to play radio, turn a knob and hear radio again. Before, I was relying quite a bit on software to grab a spot and move the radio around. It has an awesome CW reader. I have never had one in a radio before and used it a bit to copy contest transmissions but only because I did not have the logging program connected to the rig and this really complicated my operation. For SSB operation, I have decided on 2.5 kHz as an optimal bandwidth to copy stations best. That is easily achieved by using the front panel controls. In general, stations I contact do not know I am remote unless I tell them. That is quite an accomplishment.

Speaking only about the K3/0 right now. If I was with product development, I would make the following changes. There should be an internal rechargeable battery available to eliminate the wall socket and make it even more portable. I would also add an extra set of feet to the bottom and allow it to stand on its own with out tipping.

All in all, this is a wonderful achievement of electronics for amateur radio. Like many offerings, it is not quite perfect but I think as time goes on the device will become more user friendly. My next plan is to use and review the 1258 boxes as well as attempt to setup the K3/0 for digital operations.
 


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