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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.
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W8MSP Rating: 5/5 Oct 4, 2016 09:55 Send this review to a friend
Works like a charm  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Helpful working split.
Helpful finding a station in a contest pileup
Helpful seeing an interfering signal and shifting the right direction the first time.
Beautiful display
I have the SVGA card and it's output to a 20 inch widescreen.
Working together with my K3S it's awesome.
K4VUD Rating: 4/5 Oct 5, 2015 16:10 Send this review to a friend
Works as advert; very small  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a review of only the panadapter (bandscope) function of the P3.
Like the K3, the P3 is just too small. If you have used the built-in bandscopes on the IC-7800 or FT-9000d, the P3 size and span limits will disappoint you. It is possible to adjust the P3 for a whole band, but the resolution falls off and the instructions advise narrowing the portion of the band you wish to see best. Thus, one overall use of a bandscope to check fast for band openings is quite limited. However, when narrowed down to, say, 50kc, the P3 does give details about the received signal that is missing in the other radios.
Almost everything is adjustable via a, what else on an Elecraft, a menu. All the buttons are double function and the adjusting knob is tiny and cheap feeling. That knob is important beyond setting menu choices because it can also select a signal on the band by turning the knob to that signal and then selecting that frequency to bring the K3 to that spot. (This is done with a mouse click on the IC-7800, for example, which is easier.)
The P3 works better with a K3s due to more sockets on the "s" but works ok on the plain K3 very well, but some older K3 need two mods, beefing up the amperage on the "12VDC out" socket and increasing IF output power--both adaption parts are included with the new P3 with good instructions.
I can not recommend building the P3 from a kit unless you like that kind of thing, but the kit assembly instructions are just super and in good English. Price of new factory assembled is worth it to me because it is right and ok just out of the box.
I added the SVGA adapter built in by the factory. My very new monitors have no VGA socket, so to go to HDMI, an adapter is needed (not supplied). I can not recommend strongly enough sending the P3 video to a large screen added monitor due to the small size of the P3.
Elecraft instructions are helpful if you want to use the P3 on a non-Elecraft radio. Read the P3 manual if you have these plans.
Fearing the small size, nevertheless I got the P3 for its providing RTTY and CW keyboard sending; the K3 does decode. The P3 plus the SVGA board has a USB socket for a normal keyboard. I got this package specifically to add KEYBOARD sending, hoping thus to not need my 7800*. I need more testing to fully report these functions.
Overall, the P3 is a cute addition to the K3 but oldsters will need their best glasses to read the busy and small display. Unit works as advertised !

*I will not give up my fav, the FT-9000d.
KC9EE Rating: 5/5 Mar 19, 2015 06:36 Send this review to a friend
Best set up for my station  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My fiirst rig after getting back into the hobby was a kx3. Setting up a pan adapter off that rig is pretty painless and I enjoyed HDSDR and NaP3 software. Once I upgraded to the K3 using a second receiver off the K3's IF output for the pan adapter was way too cumbersome for my station. The P3 freed up a lot of my computing horse power. Nothing wrong with LP Pan and the NaP3 set up, it's just personal preference for me to use the P3.
AE7G Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2015 00:12 Send this review to a friend
long term review  Time owned: more than 12 months
After having used a panadapter for a long time, I can't imagine ever being without one. Instead of wandering blindly up and down the band, I know pretty much exactly what is happening around me. I can quickly snap to the new location with a quick knob turn and button press.

I have tried using panadapters that operate through a computer such as the LP-Pan. The problem is that computers have all sorts of configuration and hardware issues that make this sort of work cumbersome and unreliable. The software programs allow adjustment to the display, but you almost have to be a programming engineer to figure out how to do it.

The P3 is not only a reliable plug and play device, it is also well designed for the serious operator. The key adjustments you would want to make to the display are right at your fingertips and only require the turn of a knob or the tap of a button. I can broaden out to view a large portion of the band, or I can move in quickly to closely examine what is going on in a pileup.

The SVGA option is useful but not essential. It is nice to have a bigger screen for viewing, especially with spectators. Very useful for Field Day. It also provides the ability to use a keyboard and I understand you can run some digital modes direct from the P3 without having to add a computer.

The SVGA screen can bog down at times, but lowering the screen resolution solves the problem with no dropoff in visual appearance.

All in all one sweet tool and highly recommended.

K2WU Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2015 09:50 Send this review to a friend
Perfection  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I don't know how I lived without one of these. Great for 1) finding the DX listening frequency in a split pileup, 2) tuning in RTTY signals, 3) casual band surveys, etc. I have mine hooked up to a Yaesu FTDX-3000. Absolutely no comparison to the anemic band scope in the 3000.
W6BP Rating: 5/5 Dec 11, 2014 10:01 Send this review to a friend
An outstanding panadapter  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After using NaP3 and an LP-PAN for a couple of years, I found my hardware/software setup to be somewhat unreliable. (That's no criticism of either N8LP or F5VNB; I have the highest regard for both. The real problem, I suspect, is my laptop.) So I decided to buy a P3 without the SVGA adapter, since I'd heard that the SVGA's frame rate was rather low. Through a happy accident, I purchased an assembled P3 at Pacificon, but when I got it home I found that the unit had an SVGA adapter. It was Saturday, so I figured I'd contact Elecraft on Monday and arrange a swap for a non-SVGA unit.

In the meantime I tried the SVGA feature, and I'm very glad I did. While it is true that certain settings can slow down the frame rate below a point I consider acceptable, I found that if I (a) kept the sweep range to 10 kHz or greater and (b) kept the resolution set at 1280x1024, the frame rate was just fine. I usually object to running monitors in anything but their native format, but if I run my 1920x1080 monitor with the P3 set at 1280x1024, the resulting display is excellent, with no noticable aliasing. So when Monday rolled around, instead of returning the unit, I told Elecraft that I wanted to buy the SVGA option.

I love the tight and smooth integration of the K3 and P3. At first I missed NaP3's ability to use the mouse to move the panadapter cursor, and while I'd still like to see that as a feature, I'm now used to turning the P3 knob or K3 tuning knob to move it. Just about everything you need to do to operate the panadapter is intuitive, and anything that isn't can be figured out by reading the manual. And as others have noted, using a good panadapter completely changes one's approach to monitoring the band.
AA4BQ Rating: 5/5 Aug 1, 2014 04:39 Send this review to a friend
A new way to find DX  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
In 50 years of CW operating (and operating in general), I have not had a tool more useful than the Elecraft Pan Adapter. I have a K3 and that is a marvel in and of itself, but the P3 adds a dimension I couldn't quite anticipate as to its usefulness and effectiveness. Instead of the slow back-forth searching of the band, the visual display of, say 50 Khz at a glance, lets you quickly spot the presence of signals. I have found that you can quickly pass up a station only to be able to look back at the spectrum display and see him "pop" up AFTER you have tuned past. So, without the P3, I would have missed the station completely. But by far, the most useful feature has to do with pileups. By being able to see the station that is currently being worked by the DX, I can simply match his freq (during split ops) so that when the contact has finished, PRESTO, my signal is there and centered in the DX's bandpass. It works beautifully. While I still enjoy searching the bands without such aid, my P3 is getting addictive. Without it, I know that I am missing stuff. It's a beautiful thing and I recommend adding the SVGA adapter to get the big video display going. See my page photo. You can see it clearly there. All the gear I have from Elecraft is just top notch stuff. I sure hope it all keeps working a very long time.
VE4AMN Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2014 09:11 Send this review to a friend
New experience  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have never owned a radio with panadapter capability, so I have no standard of comparison. It has opened a new dimension of operating. With a little experience, it is easy to identify signals and use the markers to change frequency, then pounce on the signal. The integration with the K3 is seamless and it is fascinating to narrow the bandwidth, watching the display marker narrow as one slices away the interference. This is very powerful in cw. Great piece of gear and worked immediately. Minor quibble - would have appreciated a Y RCA splitter so that I can use both the 6m pre-amp and the panadapter from the K3 power outlet. Oh well... time to be a real ham and make one up!
N1UW Rating: 4/5 Mar 16, 2014 20:22 Send this review to a friend
Almost Perfect  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have used the P3 with my K3 for almost a year and with HRD 6.1 for several months. I find no filtering or command conflicts with the K3, the P3 and HRD. They all play together flawlessly. Whatever problems earlier reviewers may have had with this combination, I cannot duplicate them now.

Immediately before I owned the K3, I owned an Icom IC-7600 and before that a Flex 5000. The panadapters on the 7600 and all other bigger-box radios are a joke so there is so sense comparing them in this review. The panadapter in the Flex 5000 was incomparable. The main benefit of the 5000 panadapter over the P3 was the point-and-shoot feature.

Having said that, I can say that going from a radio with a real-time panadapter to one without is like losing one's eyesight on the air. The difference between efficiently seeing what is happening on a band and moving from station to station compared to blindly twiddling the dial around looking for signals is staggering.

For a number of reasons I switched to the K3 and bought the P3 without hesitation. It does not have the point-and-shoot operation with a mouse that I miss but that is likely to change soon. (Hopefully at Dayton 2014.) It may not have the band edge-to-edge capability that the 5000 has but, really, if I am working CW on the low end of 20M, I really don't care what is happening at 14.345 MHz. It really does well what I am focused on at any given time.

Although it does not have the point-and-shoot capability that I miss (yet), it does have an interesting ability to listen to one QSO while tuning around the band with VFO B as indicated by a second marker on the display. It is cool to move the magenta marker down to another signal and sample it with the push of a button and either stay there or immediately move back to VFO A without disturbing any settings.

This is extraordinarily helpful in pile-ups and/or split frequency dx operations where you can discreetly move your transmit VFO to a currently transmitting station (you can see he is the only "blip" where there were many before) while still listening to the target (DX) station. If you have to decide to spend your money on a second receiver or the the P3.

I am old and my eyesight is not what is used to be. I bought the P3 with the SVGA adapter and, whatever your age or whatever your eyesight is, I strongly urge that you get the SVGA adapter with the P3. It is a killer combination.

M0TRN Rating: 5/5 Feb 23, 2014 00:51 Send this review to a friend
A great DX tool for the K3  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought the P3 + SVGA having read the reviews here and knowing about its limitations compared to a SDR+computer panadapter solution, in terms of FFT speed and flexibility. But, as I had expected, having a dedicated tool paid off.

It's very well integrated with the K3, the controls are simple and quick to use once you learn them, and the sensitivity of the panadapter display is simply great - I can see signals I can't hear.

The FFT update speed on very narrow spans on the SVGA isn't ultra fast, but everything shows up and it doesn't cause any problems for me.

It's an incredible help in a pile-up, and also when searching a quiet band for signals. I couldn't live without this now, I used to have a hoembrew solution with a SoftRock IF, 192 kHz sound card, Linux PC, and Quisk, but I have to say I very rarely bothered to fire it up in practice. Now I always have panadapter display and I use it constantly.

The unit looks great next to my K3 and KPA500. I use an old 14" 1024x768 TFT monitor as well, which is more than adequate.

Highly recommended.
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