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Reviews Categories | Specialized Amateur Communication Products | Elecraft P3 Panadapter Help


Reviews Summary for Elecraft P3 Panadapter
Elecraft P3 Panadapter Reviews: 44 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $699.95 kit, 749.95 assembled
Description: The new Elecraft P3 Panadapter display adds a visual dimension to signal hunting with fast real time spectrum and waterfall displays of band activity. The P3 offers superior sensitivity and DSP processing, giving you the ability to see signals down to the K3's noise floor. The P3 can also be used with any other radio that provides an IF output of 455 kHz to 21.7 MHz.
P3 features:
  • High-resolution, full-color LCD
  • Fast, real-time spectrum and waterfall displays
  • Excellent sensitivity and advanced 32-bit signal processing
  • Simple, 5-minute plug-in integration with the K3; no PC needed
  • 200 kHz max. span; 2 kHz min. span (wider spans with future f/w update)
  • Point and click by tapping "select" knob to move K3 to desired signals
  • Cursors show K3's VFO A and VFO B locations and main/sub RX bandwidth
  • Multi-pass signal averaging mode shows weaker signals, averaging out noise
  • Peak detection mode to show total activity on the band
  • User calibration of display to show absolute signal level in dBm
  • Programmable function keys for both P3 and K3 commands
  • Programmable IF input (455 kHz to 21.7 MHz) for use with other transceivers
  • Supplied software utility can send screen captures to a PC
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.elecraft.com/P3/p3.htm
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<— Page 2 of 5 —>

KK5JY Rating: 1/5 Oct 1, 2012 21:20 Send this review to a friend
Try Again, Elecraft  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The P3 in concept is a really neat device. It provides a nice visual tuning tool that is a natural extension to the K3. The SVGA port allows you to project the P3 visuals to a display of your choosing.

However, the execution of the P3 is poor.

First and foremost, it is underpowered. Changing some simple options can have drastic effects on the displayed frame rate, without significantly changing what is on the screen. Adding the SVGA board slowed my unit even further, even with the SVGA port disabled. My P3 draws just over 1.0A steady state. I would much rather it pull two or three amps, if that meant that it could have a processing core that can do everything in real time. An update rate of 1.0 to 2.0 fps is just not acceptable in a "state of the art" device.

Elecraft says the slow frame rate is "normal." Nonsense, I say.

Using the P3 with HRD has even more problems. My K3 communicates fine with HRD, but when I insert the P3 between the K3 and HRD (the officially-supported configuration), the P3 causes commands to be corrupted. After numerous exchanges with Elecraft, the best they could do was to blame my serial port, despite the fact that it works fine with the K3. Later, Elecraft released a patch to the K3 that helped prevent corrupt commands from executing. Itís a usable workaround, but doesnít fix the problem. If HRD is sending too much data for the P3, so be it Ė it is the deviceís responsibility to filter through the data and not forward or form corrupt commands to the K3. On that subject, how can 38,400bps be too much for a modern device? See my comments above about the device being underpowered.

The QSY function is unreliable. After positioning the cursor, I can press the QSY button several times before it will actually move the K3 VFO. Elecraft hasnít found a fix for this, except to blame HRD.

The SVGA board canít handle full 1080p monitors, despite this being a "supported" resolution. When I contacted Elecraft about it, they simply confirmed that there was a bug with that resolution. After several months, there is still no fix available.

The P3 generates birdies into itself that cannot be tuned away. There are certain bands where I get peaks that are always a certain number of kHz from the center frequency, regardless of the frequency. These peaks are often several S-units strong.

Speaking of tuning, the P3 software canít properly display a "slide" of the spectrum information while doing a tuning operation that causes the display to move right or left while tuning (i.e., "track" tuning). The result of doing so is that a great deal of noise is displayed in the spectrum until you stop tuning. This is really annoying when you are trying to track a specific signal. You have to tune, stop, wait for the spectrum to stabilize, then tune again, stop, wait, etc.

"Peak" display is useless because it doesn't decay -- at all. You have to reset it by hand to have it start working on a new "peak" curve.

The display is a full-color display. Why can I not choose custom colors for the various elements being displayed?

When using the P3 + SVGA with an external display, you cannot independently change the spectrum/waterfall size split on the external display. You can make either the P3 or the external display what you want, but not both.

For the $1000 it costs for a P3 + SVGA, I could have bought a complete PC with a high-end soundcard, attached a monitor and a simple I/Q adapter, and had a much better panadapter.

Elecraft really needs to reboot this design with all new hardware, so that the P3 can actually do all the things that they claim.
 
N0AZZ Rating: 5/5 Sep 10, 2012 04:28 Send this review to a friend
Beats any panadpter I have ever owned  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The P3/SVGA and the latest software/firmware is amazing the review before mine had no idea what the firmware would do for the P3.

I have used several SDR's and also LP-Pan and SDR-IQ and the P3 coupled with the K3 has them beat hands down. Now with keyboard support digital modes RTTY/PSK-31 is very easy to do with the P3 and easy to see with the larger monitor for transmitting and receiving all without a computer connected.

I have had it connected to my FTDX-5000 also works great but does not have all the features that it has with the K3.

All in all I would rate it a must have in my station and a great tool to find the DX's listening freq by watching the pileups on the monitor. A nice way to watch the bands for activity without having to go all the way through them manually. Plus a nice touch when in search and pounce mode very quick.
 
RFEXPERT Rating: 3/5 Mar 31, 2012 15:43 Send this review to a friend
P3SVGA Could be Better  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
A good novelty bandscope whose novelty soon wears off.

I was very excited about this accessory. The P3's screens is really too small. Everything about it says "cramped" With the announcement of
of the P3SVGA I got very excited about breaking away from the tiny P3 display which is a joke.

I got my P3SVGA and assembly was straightforward, usual good Elecraft instructions. The only problem I had is when mating the PCB
connectors which require a hell of a lot of force to mate them. Even when placing them on a hard surface the PCB board flexes dangerously and requires a lot of force to seat them correctly. This tough seating means long term reliability however it would be nice if the factory could break these connectors in before mounting them to the PCB.

Anyway the P3SVGA went together without issue.

Once it was all up and running I discovered you cant power the P3 and P3SVGA from the K3's accessory power socket. You would have thought that this would have been sorted out before the unit was shipped. I now have to use a separate power supply and turn off the P3 separately, a real pain.

I have tried 3 monitors and none of them will work with the P3SVGA at the highest resolution. They all current model new model monitors.
Personally I would wait till Elecraft sorts out this issue before rushing out and buying a new monitor. If you happy with lower resolution
settings any LCD monitor will work. Frankly speaking there is no real need for a 22 inch monitor for bandscope and waterfall, its just wasted because there is nothing that can be gleaned from the P3SVGA display that needs to be analyzed in great detail! Anything that is bigger
than the P3's tiny display is a massive monumental improvement. Going from the P3's internal display to even a old 18 inch display is huge step up for your eyes. Anything over 18 inches in monitor achieves very little. If in the future the P3 can display more bandwidth, is faster and can display a TX signal the extra resolution and size, might be useful when using the P3 as a spectrum analyzer. However this might happen in 20 years time!


The big screen is impressive, however the novelty soon wears off. Once you start using the big screen you soon want more of the K3's display
information to be displayed on the screen. Having a big LCD monitor just for bandscope is a waste of a good monitor. The P3SVGA really needs
a fully screen interface like the Icom radios where all radio information can be displayed on the screen. The P3SVGA's firmware is
primitive at best. It really lacks functionality that could make it a useful station accessory and operating aid. If the P3 could display information and break the screen down into areas like the Winradio G31DDC it would make much better use of the display screen.
It would also have been great if a you could page from full screen waterfall to full screen bandscope. Maybe in the future a full page display
for K3 display information.

The P3 with waterfall is poor. The waterfall is washed out with no real indication of what the signal levels are on the waterfall.
The waterfall sensitivity bias and averaging is very poor. Most SDR radios have much better waterfall displays. The P3 lacks on screen waterfall color scaling for strength. Every other bandscope SDR radio has this, and this should have been a feature when
the P3 was released. The P3's firmware updates have been almost non existent and is always lacking new features. The P3 is supposed to be
powerful in terms of its processing power however the firmware that delivers on this potential is yet to be realized.

The features that the P3/P3SVGA really need are these:

Delta Markers

Markers for signal strength that can be placed over the signal like TRX Pan.

More flexibility in the peak hold trace
Traces like that in SM5BSZ's Linrad which are fast and indicate what is happening in the real world.

More traces like average and maximum.

Ability to reset the peak hold every 1 minute or so. The sweeping propagation sounders always flat line peak hold.

More displayed bandwidth, 200 khz is not much better than the soundcard pan adapters.

Better integration with the K3 rather than standing on its own island!

More useful features like the Telepost LP500 Station monitor. The P3/P3SVGA is expensive and offers very few features.

Ability to set your own colors for background and display traces. Look how sexy TRXPan and Nap3 look.

A black background with with green trace like a normal spectrum analyzer would look great!

The trace fill has a horrible color, why cant we select what color trace fill we want?

I/Q outputs

External support for a tuning knob that plugs into the P3


The P3 really needs to be integrated with the K3 more seamlessly. Once you use the K3 and P3 you soon realize and want the K3 and P3 to be
to be integrated into one box. My initial thoughts were that the P3/P3SVGA is a workable concept, now that I have tried it I am not convinced.

The two units as they stand now are ergonomically dysfunctional. Elecraft should offer a big box option which combines a P3, K3 and a new front panel design that basically turns the K3 into a radio like the IC7800.

Having bad ergonomic pieces of equipment thats poorly integrated scattered over your desk is very frustrating. Its far easier to use a Flexradio, or Icom IC7700/IC7800
because the functionality and ergonomics are much better. At the end of the day the P3, P3SVGA plus the cost of a separate external LCD monitor
is just too expensive for what the whole package delivers. I have just gone back to using my Perseus and Winradio receivers with the PC
its much easier and provides better functionality and ergonomics.

Elecrafts thinking about how these products should work is very old school, like the old radios of the past. The K-line concept is turning into a modern version of old station setups up like the S-Line, FT901DM, Kenwood TS830S
station setups with a whole string of separate boxes on your desk. At the end of the day these many boxes like radios from yesterday provide
poor ergonomics and integration because they are discretely designed boxes not really designed to function as a ergonomic whole.

The moment you start moving information onto a big LCD display you need a method of navigating and managing the information that will be
displayed on the screen. Icom radios have this problem sorted out and the K3 and P3 cant behave like the Icom radios because their is no suitable way of making these two boxes play together. They were really designed from the onset to be on their own islands!

When Elecraft some day builds the K4 with the P3 built into the K4 they might have a super pan adapter radio, in its current form the K-line/p3 leaves a lot to be desired. Because of the primitive interface, poor ergonomics and general useability of the whole package is poor which is a real shame.

The P3/P3SVGA as a combination is expensive. In my view buying a SDR radio like the Perseus, QSR1, RFSPACE or Winradio is better option.
You will get a second receiver, and bandscope performance thats unmatched by the P3/P3SVGA. You also dont need a second LCD display cluttering
up the desk. Not having access to the I/Q stream also would have given the combination more flexibility.


SUMMARY

A good toy for your shack thats not a useful test instrument yet. If you have a leaning to eye candy buy it, if you have test equipment leanings buy a Perseus or Winradio G31 SDR it makes a better bandscope and you get a second receiver for free!

 
K6JEY Rating: 5/5 Mar 31, 2012 12:01 Send this review to a friend
VGA Adapter  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I added the VGA adapter to the P3 and played with several monitors. I settled on an automobile headrest LCD/TFT, VGA/composite monitor that is 10" diagonal. It is perfect. It was all about image scale. The 14" monitor was too big to see comfortably and the 22" TV was better across the room. the 10" can be put close to the radio and the wide screen is totally filled in. Doug K6JEY
 
WB6RSE Rating: 5/5 Jan 27, 2012 16:33 Send this review to a friend
INDISPENSIBLE DXers TOOL  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Years ago, a second receiver became THE necessary tool for chasing DX that was operating split. The ability to listen to the DX and the pileup simultaneously can significantly shorten the time it takes to make a Q. The dual audio allows you to tune to the split frequency that corresponds to the timing between the DX and the station being worked. Once youíre use to it, you can never go back. After that, find yourself using a non-dual receive rig and youíll feel like one hand is tied behind you back.

The same is true once you get to actually see the spectrum in a much wider view than the usual audio passband. Seeing where the split clumps are, when they start and stop and where the holes in the pileup are can once again provide a significant advantage towards getting the DX in your log more quickly. Get use to the P3, and sit down without one and youíll feel lost. Like a second receiver, you can never go back.

Itís not just a DXing tool either. Itís great for identifying sparse activity when a band sounds dead. And you donít need a computer with a rig interface running an SDR program. See a blip or two on the P3ís display and you can quickly move to that frequency to hear what you may be missing.

The P3 works seamlessly with and is the perfect complement to Elecraftís K3. The kit version assembles in less than an hour. The functions are customizable to fit your operating style. Itís one more tribute to Elecraftís superb engineering and attention to detail.
 
K6UI Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2011 12:35 Send this review to a friend
Perfect Addition to the K3  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I finished assembling the P3 that I received yesterday in "kit" form. It took an easy couple of hours to put together, but probably could have gone even faster, but I'm a stickler for process and organization. Anyways, after trying it out today on my K3 I must say that I really enjoy the P3 - it has really opened up my radio. Seeing all of the signals on the panadapter makes the K3 an even more enjoyable radio. I have and use other panadapters, such as the one built into my Icom 756 PRO II, but the P3's display offers much more. The viewing area on the P3's LCD is just right - it's not too small in size to be difficult to use or see nor not too large to be obtrusive. With a K3 at its side it just feels like a solid matched pair that gives you the flexibility to make your ham experience that much more enjoyable. Whether you want one for contests or just want the ability to see where the QSOs are happening, this one is a winner.
 
WA8EBM Rating: 5/5 Nov 9, 2011 18:54 Send this review to a friend
Completes the K3  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Up to a few weeks ago my K3 has been seldom used for almost 2 years. The reason was my purchase of a Flex 5000 SDR with lots of options. I tried using the K3 with the LPpan adapter but found it awkward, although it was functional. The addition of the P3 completes the K3 experience and I believe makes it the most versatile transceiver you can buy combined with the fantastic performance of the radio. Even though you don't have the click on display tuning and filter manipulation you also do not have latency issues. I still like my Flex but after all the decades I have spent twisting knobs I now have the best of the old and new in the K3/P3 package. I just added the one pound N8BX vfo A knob and cannot imagine any radio I would rather have.
.
 
NI0C Rating: 5/5 Nov 9, 2011 15:13 Send this review to a friend
Unexpected applications  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I purchased this (my first) panadaptor, I anticipated being able to "see" the band I was operating, to find holes in the DX pileups, and to quickly assess band activity. The P3 fulfilled these applications quite well.

Since then, I have come to appreciate being able to see and actually measure noise levels, and see changes, whether from far away thunderstorms, or the neighbor's elctronic devices.

It is also useful for checking antennas. For 160 meters, I use a short vertical antenna that has quite a narrow bandwidth. Using the P3, I can use band noise to see the bandwidth of my antenna, and detect any shifts in the resonant frequency. This came in quite useful last winter when ice buildup on my antenna caused the antenna to QSY dramatically.

I also appreciate the "freeze" feature, enabling one to store an image for future reference. I've e-mailed some of these images to stations I have worked. This Spring, I published an article in the K9YA Telegraph, that displayed some memorable moments on Top Band as recorded on the P3.

The P3 is also quite useful for evaluating the bandwidth of signals-- you can see SSB "splatter" and CW keyclicks.
 
K6JEY Rating: 5/5 Sep 24, 2011 16:22 Send this review to a friend
Versatile and Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have used a variety of spectrum analyzers, SDR receivers and Panadaptors, including a real Panadaptor and the Hallicrafters SP 44. The P3 was easily wired and put on the air with a Yaesu VR5000. It was very handy and worked very well with it. I was satisfied that it would be a help on EME S&P activity.
I then bought the K3 and added it on. Wow. Having the added features with the K3 makes it a spectacular addition. Having both of the receivers work on the display gives me a visual sense of where I am on the band. The image scale of the display matches works with the K3 in that I am not squinting at the P3 display or shielding my eyes. Finally, like the K3, the functions you need the most are easiest to use. If not, you can assign any function to the buttons on the bottom. So far averaging is the only one I have added. The P3 is also self-contained and makes one less computer to fuss with.
Worth the $600, even if I already have an SDR IQ? yes. The P3 is an extension of the K3, and the SDR IQ is a lab receiver. I've kept both.
 
NK8A Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2011 07:36 Send this review to a friend
Great Ham tool  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Not being the greatest with mechanical assembly ,or with high tech ham radio equipment,I bought my P3 already assembled.The settings from the factory are just what I wanted and needed.It is very easy to get a picture of whatever band you choose,as far as what signals are out there.Just see a small peak on the spectrum and go right to it.The P3 seems to be very sensitive to weak signals and is a great tool for me,only having it for two days.
 
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