Monday, May 8, 2017

Elad FDM-Duo on the way



My KX2 is gone and an FDM-Duo from Elad is on the way.

I love the KX2 and have nothing negative whatsoever to say about it - quite an amazing radio to have so much performance and capability in such a portable package whose weight is best measured in ounces.

Stand-alone mode
But my operating has changed, as have the bands themselves...and I'm not necessarily talking about propagation.

Anyone new to this hobby sees band activity as it is. It is their "normal". Going on 40 years as a ham, I'm able to see the trend of declining activity in stunning bold technicolor. Not just on CW (though particularly there) but on phone as well. Gone are the days when I would come home from work or school, turn on the rig and hear numerous CQs on 20 or 40 meters. Calling CQ almost always resulted in an answer.

These days, even those intrepid participants in QRPTTF and other similar events report dismal results. Part of this is band conditions but declining activity and a thinning of the ranks is the main factor. I say this because band conditions are not as bad as some would have you believe. WSPR and big DXpeditions confirm this for me. If I can routinely be copied with 25mW on WSPR in Europe every day (and via long-path in VK), then 100-watt stations should have no trouble with QSOs on phone and CW.

But tune around...the band will support it but no one's there.

Enter SDR...or, more accurately, the pan displays associated with them.

When I bought my Flex, the entire band was visible at once. Tuning around with a 3 kHz audio
Software (PC) controlled mode
window to find activity soon became the radio tuning equivalent of drawing water from a well, foregoing the ease and convenience of indoor plumbing. With the Flex and a 32" monitor, I could instantly see where any activity was. With a click of the mouse, I was there.

In one fell swoop, the lack of band activity was rendered irrelevent as far as finding where the activity was.

When NPOTA ended, along with the increased weekend activity it generated, I was turning down the power on my Flex to operate QRP rather than reaching for the KX2 when I wanted to operate at low power.

The Elad FDM-Duo appeals for several reasons:

  • It will operate stand-alone just as I was using my KX2. Not as small but still easily portable for those times I want to go afield
  • At home with the computer on the desk, it is an extremely capable full-fledged SDR rig with amazing software driving it (check out the videos below)
  • It is nigh on impossible to find a negative review on anything from Elad, especially this one
  • Support is there if needed and well-regarded
  • Price is just a bit more than the KX2

I in no way mean to imply that the KX2 and the FDM-Duo are competitors. I'll say just the opposite - they are not. But for my style of operating and for the information I want available while I operate, the FDM-Duo is, I believe, the best choice.

Should be here this Thursday...
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Videos from W8KFJ:
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3 comments:

  1. John, I am eagerly awaiting your observations on this amazing piece of kit.

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  2. I've been interested in this radio for quite some time. It's between this or one of the KX line. I currently use the Elad FDM S2. Interested in your findings!

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  3. UPS tracking says it will arrive late Thursday. I'll certainly post my impressions here as I become familiar with it.

    N2DTS received his Duo yesterday and posted the following on eHam SDR forum:

    "The good:
    No latency through the radio.
    Great sounding RX audio on the aux and headphone out, I put it into my old Marantz audio amp and it sounds great.
    The built in speaker is not bad.
    The software loaded trouble free.
    The display in software looks fantastic.
    The radio menu system is fine, if a bit limited.
    TX audio sounds clean and punchy, on AM at max power output the positive peaks are reduced a bit, but not at lower powers.
    Its nice that you can tune the radio and the software display follows, like a great band scope, or you can click on a signal with the mouse and be there, it tunes the radio.
    CPU usage is very low, 7% on my crappy I5 box.

    The not so good/different,
    The IF window does not stay on top if you do anything on the main screen,
    You can not change the filter on the main screen waterfall/spectrum, you have to change it in the IF screen , why?
    No band stacking registers, no band buttons, moving between your favorite spots is hard. Must have band stacking registers in the software at least!
    The vfo to memory button does not act like I expect.
    The software does not seem to save settings.
    There is a big delay through the software, just on RX is about 500 ms, thats the USB port issue."

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