- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

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

Reviews Summary for Elecraft P3 Panadapter
Elecraft P3 Panadapter Reviews: 51 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:
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Elecraft P3 Panadapter.

<— Page 2 of 6 —>

K6JEY Rating: 5/5 Oct 17, 2013 22:20 Send this review to a friend
Great Panadaptor  Time owned: more than 12 months
When you think about getting a P3, I think you need to decide on whether you need an SDR radio on the IF port or the P3. I have had both for about a year. They both do different things on purpose. As a DX'er, I wouldn't be without a P3. It makes split operation a breeze and gives you an advantage a second receiver alone doesn't give you. The limited control of the P3 is there on purpose- to keep you out of trouble. It is maximized to give you the information you need for DXing. I have used the VGA card, but prefer the original when I am contesting. I use N1MM logger and the total combination is excellent. For what it is designed it is excellent. I have no hesitation in recommending it.
K9TWO Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2013 17:44 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought my P3 to use with my Yaesu FTDX-3000. That rig has a panadapter but much to small.
The P3 works great. No it's not like a 21 inch monitor, but I did not want one that big. I have limited desk space because I have a lot of rigs and I need room to play with them. Plug and play.
Set the IF frequency on the menu, plugged a patch cord from the P3 to my FTDX and away it went. It also works much better than my Icom 7600

I have been reading some chatter on the sensitivity of the P3 vs other gear and I would like to say it will display signals one inch tall that can be barely heard. I connected my IFR-1200S service monitor to the FTDX-3000, injected a .15 uv signal and observed an inch tall signal. I think anyone that believes it has poor sensitivity may have theirs set up wrong.

It will not do everything it does with the K3, but I am not using it with a K3. I don't care about all the fancy point and click stuff so it's just fine with me. Great addition to the FTDX-3000. Of course it takes some time learning how to operate it and what you are looking at.
I had no problems because I work with a commercial spectrum analyzer for a living.

73 K9TWO
AB9TX Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2013 13:33 Send this review to a friend
QSY!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After a year with the K3 decided to buy this great "option" for my radio. After looking at the panadapters built in to other rigs, other than the new Kenwood- they all appeared to be eye candy, as others have described- having the waterfall split screen in real time detecting signals right down to the K3's noise floor is a large advantage detecting those weak dx signals.
I find I most like the qsy function, zipping around the band with one push on the knob.
I think I would like 400khz of display, but not complaining.
Not haveing to tie up my PC with I/O boxes, and software- leaving extra cpu power for other important fuctions is great to have. If the power goes out I can run the P3 on DC along with the K3.
Well worth the money- nice job Elecraft.

KF1C Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2013 13:52 Send this review to a friend
P3 review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Don't listen to the 1 or 2 out of 5'vers. They are obviously spoiled and no doubt have 12x12 radio rooms filled with gear. Its perfect for what its intended purpose is (finding dx) . I have no idea why you would buy one of these for another purpose. Integrates to the K3 perfectly.Its the perfect pan adapter for the majority of us with 1 desk to fill up.
W6LAX Rating: 5/5 Dec 29, 2012 10:14 Send this review to a friend
Has become center of my station  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought the P3 on impulse while I was ordering the K3 kit about a year ago; I immediately experienced “buyer’s remorse” for having spent a couple of hundred bucks on what I assumed would be a not very useful piece of “eye candy”.

However, the P3 quickly and surprisingly became a central part of my operating. Now I can see my way through pile-ups - for example, easily spotting where the last station called as well as open spots between signals. The result is that I am breaking pile-ups more quickly, and more often not going QRO. It allows me to spot scattered stations on the band, quickly pouncing on CQ’s, and it makes tuning RTTY much easier.

For me, the size of the P3 is just right, although I know many people are sold on the external monitor options.

The P3 turned out to be a great purchase.
NO9E Rating: 5/5 Dec 15, 2012 04:28 Send this review to a friend
Useful and reliable  Time owned: more than 12 months
I used SDR-IQ as a panadapter. Pretty good with amazing NB but too many software crashes. So unsuitable for contests.

P3 never crashes and does not need computer for operations. Fast changes via buttons and knobs.

P3 became indispensable for me in contesting. First to identify and adjust the run frequency. Second for spotting weak signals. With 2 KHz span in CW, one can see more than one can hear.

The only feature that I am missing from SDR-IQ is NB.
W1NEJ Rating: 5/5 Nov 26, 2012 07:08 Send this review to a friend
New Firmware Reinvents P3  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This review is for the P3 with the P3SVGA option when used with a K3 transceiver.

The most recent firmware makes a lot of the (few) negative reviews below incorrect, and adds data capabilities.

I really like the ability to operate RTTY/PSK31 directly from the P3. I would rather have this feature than bringing out all the radio's functions to the external monitor because it allows for a simple and compact set-up.

You divide the external monitor only to display the transmit and receive windows for RTTY/PSK31, and can operate those modes without a computer or any other external equipment. You can configure the size of these windows. No need for a Rigblaster, etc.

The small monitor on the P3 continues to just display the pan adapter / waterfall.

You can set up 50 memory locations for CW, RTTY, or PSK31 that are stored in the P3SVGA's non-volatile memory

You can also set up macros on the P3 to control the K3. Again, these are stored in the P3SVGA's non-volatile memory.

The waterfall display on the external monitor can be adjusted to suit the band conditions, noise, etc. You see the changes you make immediately without leaving the menu.

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. It’s a usable workaround, but doesn’t fix the problem. If HRD is sending too much data for the P3, so be it – it is the device’s 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 hasn’t found a fix for this, except to blame HRD.

The SVGA board can’t 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 can’t 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.


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!

<— Page 2 of 6 —>

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.