Saturday, April 28, 2007

Did you feel the earth move?

Did you feel it? There were rumblings throughout the Amateur Radio and QRP worlds today! The epicenter was in Aptos, California and shock waves are still being felt throughout the Amateur Radio community; and probably this will continue right throughout the time of Dayton Hamvention.

Today, Elecraft announced the new pinnacle of its line of Amateur Radio transceivers as they rolled out the K3!

You know, I cannot do justice to the explanation of this radio; so I will just post what Wayne Burdick, one of the co-founders of Elecraft posted to the Elecraft and QRP e-mail reflectors:

Greetings!

This afternoon at the DX Convention in Visalia, CA, we unveiled a new top-of-the-line transceiver -- the Elecraft K3. This is the culmination of three years of design, test, and refinement, and we believe the K3 will set a new standard for performance and value in its class. It has features and performance comparable to present radios ranging from $4000 to $12000.

(We'd like to thank the many surprised convention attendees. What they all said boils down to something like "Yes!")

A full K3 web page will be set up by Monday, complete with order form and other details. Meanwhile, please take a look at the temporary page:

http://www.elecraft.com/K3

Among other things, you'll find a very high-resolution front panel photo (as well as other photos):

http://www.elecraft.com/K3/K3_big_v2.jpg

And the K3 data sheet:

http://www.elecraft.com/K3/K3_Data%20Sheet_rev06.pdf

There's also an order form that could be printed and mailed, but sometime on Monday the on-line order page will be up and running, which is the preferred method.

As explained on the order form, you can reserve a K3 now for initial shipments in July. A 50% deposit is requested if you'd like to secure one of the first 200 production units (serial numbers 20-220, probably).

Here's a quick summary of the K3's specs:

- K3/100 and K3/10 models (the K3/10 can be upgraded very easily, internally, to a K3/100)

- Basic K3 price ranges from $1399 to $1989 depending on whether you start with the
10-watt or 100-watt model, and whether you choose factory assembled or
modular, no-soldering, kit (this is the subject of the next email).

- Desktop/portable size: 4"H x 10"W x 10"D (10 x 25 x 25 cm) -- optimized for both
home and travel use

- All modes (SSB, CW, DATA, AM, FM, plus AM-sync receive, and built-in PSK31/TTY decoder)

- High-dynamic range, down-conversion architecture, plus 32-bit I.F. DSP
for software-defined capabilities (and lots of room for future expansion)

- Optional subreceiver with *identical* performance to the main receiver,
including a fully independent front end, its own set of roofing filters,
its own DSP, and low-noise synthesizer; binaural or combined receiver audio

- Up to five crystal roofing filters *per receiver*, with bandwidths as narrow as 200 Hz

- Narrow ham-band filtering, plus optional general-coverage receive filters
(can be added to either or both receivers)

- Internal 100-W ATU option with two antenna jacks

- 100 W PA module includes two large fans, circuit breaker, full parameter monitoring

- All signal sources phase-locked to common 49.380 MHz reference oscillator;
1 PPM TCXO option, firmware-correctable to better than 0.5 PPM

- Built-in PSK31, RTTY, and CW decoding and display allows use of
digital modes with or *without* a computer; use CW keyer paddle or
attached computer for casual, two-way data QSOs

- Advanced noise reduction; auto- and manual notch. Noise blanker included (both
I.F. hardware pulse blanker and DSP noise blanking)

- Easy-to-use DSP shift/width and locut/hicut controls with automatic crystal filter
selection based on selected passband width (in real-time -- no filter calculation delays)

- Dedicated CW/voice message buttons; optional digital voice recorder

- 100 general frequency memories with alphanumeric text labeling, plus 4 scratchpad memories per band

- Full-custom, optimized, segmented LCD with two VFO displays, alphanumeric text, and
dedicated filter passband graphic

- Rich I/O set: stereo speaker outputs, fully isolated soundcard interface, dedicated RS-232
I/O (and optional USB adapter), receive antenna in/out jacks (for patching in RX filters, etc.),
and both front- and rear-panel mic and headphone jacks

- One-click PC firmware download program checks for updates automatically and quickly
updates microcontroller and DSP firmware

If you have any questions on specifications, performance, etc., that are not answered by the data sheet, feel free to email wayne@elecraft.com.

Sales questions should go to Lisa:

sales@elecraft.com

We'd like to acknowledge the hard work of the following colleagues:

Lyle Johnson, KK7P (DSP, digital I/O, audio I/O, many of the PC boards, and countless critical tasks)
Bob Friess, N6CM (RF deck, ATU, high-performance 1st mixer, noise blanker, other receiver design)
John Grebenkemper, KI6WX (synthesizer, general receiver architecture)
Brian Broggie, W6FVI (manufacturing engineering -- say hi to him at Visalia tomorrow)
Paul Russell (purchasing)
Lisa Jones (who somehow held down the fort during the entire process)

Eric (WA6HHQ), as usual, applied pressure in all the right places to ensure that this would be the best radio we could make: he's Mr. Performance and Features. Wayne (N6KR -- yours truly) was the principle designer, and also got to do all the fun parts (packaging, firmware, and Owner's manual). And that's why he gets to answer your questions :)

We'd also like to express our thanks to our very patient 15-member focus group. Over a period of about a year, they endured a never-ending series of concept drawings, refinements, and feature discussions. They're a distinguished bunch! I'm sure you'll hear from some of them as the K3 is discussed at length.

Finally: thanks to all of you who have generously contributed ideas for a hypothetical K3 during our many on-line "fishing expeditions." You had wonderful input, and I hope we've created the radio you've always wanted.

73,
Wayne, N6KR
Eric, WA6HHQ

Thanks Wayne, Eric and all the folks at Elecraft! If this radio is even as good as the K2, you have a proven winner on your hands! Now all I have to do is start saving and maybe in about 5 years, I'll be able to afford one! (I guess there's always the lottery!)

73 de Larry W2LJ

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