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Reviews Categories | Specialized Amateur Communication Products | PSKMETER by KF6VSG Help

Reviews Summary for PSKMETER by KF6VSG
PSKMETER by KF6VSG Reviews: 29 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $39.35
Description: Microprocessor-based RF signal sampler that periodically checks your RF output, computes its IMD locally, and automatically sets the sound card's audio level to provide the highest RF output with minimum distortion.
Product is in production.
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AA5NI Rating: 2/5 Jul 19, 2008 07:08 Send this review to a friend
PSKMETER  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently purchased a complete PSKMETER kit with USB and case. Assembled the kit in quick order and attempted to get it set up. The comments in the instruction manual were that his young son built one and it worked right away. The fact is it goes together pretty quickly. Initial testing showed everything worked perfectly. My problem started when I tried to mate the PSKMETER to the USB cable. While I had both a male and female DB-9 connection, both connectors had bradded in hex standoffs. This made the USB feature unuasable at least until I found an accessory mating plug. I emailed the seller and never received a response. It is currently on the work bench and hopefully I can get it together soon. A great concept but may have bugs.
WA1KBE Rating: 3/5 Jul 1, 2008 13:06 Send this review to a friend
Nice but needs work  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have unfortunately experienced a number of issues with this device:
1. Sensitivity to RF - solved by winding an 8 turn coax choke on a plastic bottle where coax enters shack
2. Auto level control - does not work properly - reduces RF to very low level - no fix found yet..
3. Needs well filtered DC - use a battery or a regulated well filtered supply - wall wart alone is NG!

I have got it to work OK in the manual mode and use it to monitor my PSK xmit signal routinely. Usually run 20 - 30 W RF output without issues. Deffinitely tells you if you are over driving the rig - useful addition to shack
KE4CXP Rating: 5/5 Nov 3, 2007 10:14 Send this review to a friend
Great Add On For PSK  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned my psk meter fo about 2 weeks and have noticed a good sized up swing in the number of QSO's that I have been able to make.
The PSK Meter is a little fiddly to set up but once it is set you are ready to go.
KI4KFS Rating: 0/5 Oct 15, 2007 17:49 Send this review to a friend
Garbage. Pure Garbage  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been operating PSK31 for about 12 months with my Icom 746PRO and have always been able to manually adjust the master volume and wave balance levels to achieve about 30 watts output and no ALC. However, it became a hassel having to make minor adjustments as I moved up and down the DigiPan 2.0 waterfall.

When I ran accross Software Science's website and read about the PSKMeter I thought I had found a way to take the hassle out of PSK31. I ordered the product along with various accessories necessary to connect the product to my computer which increased the total price to $94. The product was delivered quickly and I had it together in about 3 hours. Diagnostic tests performed upon completion showed I had assembled it correctly. Things went downhill when I connected it to the 946PRO. While PSKMeter said my signal was OK, the 746PRO ALC reading was off the chart. I emailed Software Science's tech support with my problem and the only response I received was to disable the ALC which can't be done on the 746PRO. Subsequent emails to Software Science have gone unanswered.

My recommendation: save your money and make the adjustments manually or find some other product. This thing is Garbage. Pure Garbage.
N4LQ Rating: 4/5 Apr 5, 2007 15:35 Send this review to a friend
Poorly marked diodes but works  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was overjoyed when I plugged this thing in and it worked exactly as advertised. The manual is very good but the one weak point in the kit is lack of component identification.
For example:
"The zener diode may be black with a white band, or light gray with a dark gray band, or even glassy with a black bank on one side and copper appearance on the other".
Yes....a "black bank"!
Considering there are 2 other diodes with similar descriptions, don't expect to get it right the first time. I spend many anxious moments trying to remove 2 of them that I had installed in wrong places. I recommend you read ahead a few pages and study those parts before soldering! Thru-hole eyelets are used throughout and unsoldering is almost impossible.
Really, all they needed to do is label these parts somehow. Obviously their parts supplier changes the appearance of the parts often and it's difficult to describe the parts.
Now it's over and it works fine. Seems like a lot of work to go to just to check your IMD. Once you check it and find out all is well, you're likely not to ever need it again, unless you buy a new rig.
BTW: So far, no RFI problems. The meter is not mounted in it's box yet, rather it's just hanging in mid air between some cables. I've tested with it connected to the antenna at full (200w) power from the IC-7800. Even at that power level, it get -26 imd. In fact, the only way I could make it read less than the recommended -22 was to reduce my drive and crank up the audio drive to insane levels.
Overall, a good experience but could have easily gone bad. Be careful! 73
K4SC Rating: 5/5 Feb 18, 2007 18:09 Send this review to a friend
All thumbs and it worked first time  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Man! The last kit I assembled was a Heathkit Oscilloscope around 1978. These new double sided circuit boards are intimidating, especially to 54 y/o eyes. But I followed the excellent instructions and check out procedures and Voila, it worked. I was able to directly connect my laptop and IC-746PRO data port and the PSKmeter adjusted the TX audio, where I had been unable to after countless hours of trial and error. Got a -26db IMD on first QSO, much much better than the -12 I was getting before.

Also wanted to praise the quick delivery; 3 days by USPS. Kit went together in about an hour, I'm definitely glad I ordered it. I sent back my $279 interface and got a refund; don't need it anymore for simple PSK-31 ops.
W5GW Rating: 0/5 Jul 10, 2006 05:49 Send this review to a friend
Poorly designed product  Time owned: more than 12 months
My first bad experience with PSKMETER was bad components, a voltage regulator, KF6VSG was very responsive, but eventually I had to send it back as the micro-processor was also bad.

The next issue is it's susceptability to near RF fields. My shack is not even within 200 feet of my antenna (Cushcraft A3 at 65 feet in air some 200 plus feet away) and I have high quality coax and good, well soldered coax connectors, yet there is not enough shielding or susceptability protection in the PSK meter to prevent it from overloading and giving erroneous readings. To his credit, KF6VSG warns of this issue in his instructions. I tried placing in a metal enclosure, still no joy.

I could finally get it to work (kinda) by reducing output power to 5 watts or lower.

But because I typically operate PSK31 at 25 Watts, it is useless. It has been disconnected from my transceiver and is in the junk box.
KC9GGV Rating: 5/5 Jul 7, 2005 09:44 Send this review to a friend
Good Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I see the "sour grapes" from a few of the reviews on here and I think if they were to price what it would take set up a good oscilloscope they would realize the PSK meter is a real bargain. The PSK meter is a well thought out design. George, KF6VSG you did a great service to the PSK community. Bravo. Yes it is a kit and you have to build it and realize that you need RF connectors and a power supply or 9 volt battery to complete it. I purchased a universal power adapter from Radio Shack (273-1662) and run it at 9 VDC. I also puchased the RF BNC connectors at Radio Shack. A good o'scope to use in place of the PSK meter would cost a several hundred dollars. Plus the average ham would have to learn how to use it. The PSK meter is simple with the software written by George Rothbart. The kit is not hard to build although if I have any complaints I just wish the enclosure was pre-drilled. Good job George.

As for those detractors that complain that the PSK meter is too aggressive at controlling your signal, it is a matter of learning how to adjust all the variables. Every rig is different and does take a little practice to get it right.
VA3ROM Rating: 4/5 Dec 5, 2004 10:14 Send this review to a friend
A Neat PSK Tool  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I find it a real pain to setup for PSK. Especially when my radio and computer have been doing other things. That is, it was a real pain before I bought and built the PSK Meter kit.

The PSK Meter does the job of getting the levels setup properly. When I did it manually, I could run around a -20 to -25 IMD. Of course, it took me a while to get everything setup properly as well. But, now, with the PSK Meter, I'm getting IMD reports of -25 to 30 consistantly. Of course, I did have to make sure that I read and fully understood the manual, and setup my PSK interface and radio as describe in the instructions.

This device does the job and does it very well. I run PSK at 20 watts or less. In the power level control mode, PSK Meter keeps my transmissions at an average power level of 15 watts. I found this to be the best mode combined with the automatic level control.

Great add-on tool and very useful
AB5Q Rating: 3/5 Aug 15, 2004 01:16 Send this review to a friend
Will Improve Over Time  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
From a cost, hardware quality and ease of assembly standpoint, the PSKMETER is a really nice addition to the shack. The software, which is really an important part of device operation, really needs work. However I will not shelve the unit or sell it because I suspect that it will improve over time. Automatic IMD control is a nice concept however simply providing gain adjustment in a control loop is not enough. In practice, the IMD automatic control does not work all that well. Introducing a PI or PID algorithm to the control loop with IMD averaging might fix the problem.
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