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K4 & KPA1500

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KY3W, Oct 30, 2019.

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  1. KY3W

    KY3W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is anyone else planning on buying a K4? What do you like or dislike about it featurewise?

    Supposed to start shipping in January. I'll wait until fall.

    I'm also planning on buying a KPA1500. The internal tuner will work great with my Yagi. I'm pretty sure I can deal with the fan noise.

    WW2PT and K1OIK like this.
  2. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There was a time when Elecraft would have had my $4,000 deposit check already. But alas, life circumstances preclude that today.
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    The panadapter appears to be the same, slow, clunky, low-res display like on the P3. In 2019, I expect more, especially from a "premium" brand.

    Unless its receiver specifications are an order of magnitude better than the TS-590SG, I don't really see the advantage of a K4.

    One thing I really liked about the K3 was the option of having the RF I/O board on the back, so that I could add things to the signal chain (or a real outboard panadapter). If the K4 has as much or better connectivity, that could be a plus for people who have complex stations.
  4. N4OGW

    N4OGW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I also have used an outboard panadapter on my K3 for quite a while (way before the P3 was available). The picture of the back panel of the K4 on the Elecraft site does show transverter in/out and RX antenna in/out jacks. I did not see an IF out jack however, but they do say that I/Q data will be available over ethernet.

  5. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    The only thing preventing me from the K4 is the K3S I already have. It seems to me the only difference will be the ‘bells and whistles ‘ features the K4 adds I don’t care about.
  6. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The K4’s built-in remote connectivity is what appeals to me the most. I never added a second receiver or a panadapter to my K3. Wouldn’t mind them, but they’re not missed very much (though I do wish it had the more limited “dual-watch” capability that my KX2 has).
  7. KY3W

    KY3W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have not seen a good video on the K4's pan adaptor/spectrum scope but I'm currently using a 7600, which is not, in my opinion, a good scope. Specifically, I cannot see weak signals with it. Although the P3 is slow, it can. The K4 is supposed to have a DSP running at near 500mhz. Call it wishful thinking but I was hoping the spectrum scope would be superior to the P3 or 7600. I'm not certain the DSP speed is the only factor in the scopes speed, however. All I know is I have never been satisfied with the 7600's scope and the 7610 looks like a letdown too.

    The K4 is supposed to have a less fatiguing receiver due to an improved algorithm. It introduces band stacking registers, missing from the K3. And it's larger than the K3, something that bothered me. Also, it doesn't need all the serial cables. I doubt it's a big performance improvement over the K3S but the new features do interest me. If I already owned a K3S, this might be a hard sell but I do not own one.

    When portable contesting, my team uses me 7600 and a K3. It would be nice to have 2 Elecraft rigs to keep it simple and the K3 is quite similar to the K4.
  8. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    From Wayne N6KR, the founder of the “‘premium’ brand” in question:

    The K4's LCD has nearly 3x the area of the P3's, and 5x as many pixels. The resolution (pixels per inch) is about 30% greater. It's faster as well as brighter -- the K4 screen was easily readable in diffuse daylight during Field Day, while some other rigs' displays were not.

    The K4's panadapter area using the standard display format is 25% greater than the P3's. This doesn't include the per-VFO "mini-pan" displays that overlay the S-meters, when desired, for fine tuning of signals.

    Thanks to the much larger LCD, variations on the panadapter could be created that are much larger than this, at the expense of some per-receiver icons and the S-meters. So far we haven't felt the need, partly because the K4 includes an HDMI output that can drive an external monitor of any required size. This external monitor can be configured to display just the panadapter, with independent settings from the panadapter on the LCD.

    Beyond this the K4 display provides:

    - dual-pan mode (separate panadapters for main/A and sub/B)

    - single or dual text decode windows

    - far more digital signal processing horsepower (in aggregate, roughly an order of magnitude greater than the K3S+P3)

    - built-in IQ data streaming for use with computer applications

    - a configurable multi-band mode to allow a quick check of activity on your favorite bands

    - more flexibility in terms of display functions

    - overlays for various functions (e.g.: DX call station list,
    help information on all controls, RX/TX graphic EQ, alphanumeric keyboard for message/macro/menu entry, etc.);

    - virtually unlimited code space for future expansion; examples might include high-performance data decoders, AZ/EL display, custom station controls, image display, etc.

    In short, the K4's display is much larger and more versatile, providing the kind of control visibility and convenience that's only possible by integrating the display into the transceiver itself.​
    N0TZU likes this.
  9. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps, but only a fraction of those appear to be used for the panadapter.
    That's certainly what the P3 needed. It was very underpowered. The videos I have seen so far of the K4 don't look any better than the P3, which itself was already a relatively poor performer when it was released.

    I can get a tablet PC running GQRX or SDR#, plus a $20 SDR dongle, for a fraction of the cost of a P3 + VGA board -- and the tablet PC will look much better with a higher frame rate. The P3 is just not a competitive product in terms of features. And a lot of years have gone by since then. If e-craft wants to compete in terms of features and UI usability, they're going to have to up their game a lot.
  10. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps there are different view modes that better use the display for panadapter viewing, and others for when you want to see filter shapes, menu settings, etc. A pan adapter is more eye candy than anything else, the quality of the receiver is way more important (to me). I have a 10 year old K3 that I used for years with an SDR-IQ, which provided the pan adapter and could act as a second receiver. I wound up buying a used P3, and it's really not any better than my original solution, but my original solution didn't do much either. There are only a few times I find a pan adaptor useful - looking to a hole to call "CQ Contest" in, which I don't do much anymore, a quick view to see if there is anyone on a band (like 15M), and that's about it. Either finding where there is or isn't a signal. During Search and Pounce (again, in a contest) it can be useful to see where there's a signal up the band so you don't pass it if they are quiet when you're spinning the dial. Nice, but not critical. Most of the time, the P3 is off.

    If you primarily check into nets, or use FT8 (or other digital modes), they don't provide any benefit. I think Elecraft felt they had to have one because every other manufactures rig does these days. And given the computing power available for a few bucks, it's almost silly NOT to have one, but it certainly doesn't make a radio "better", IMHO...
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
    N0TZU likes this.

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