Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A new receiver

I have owned the Cross Country Wireless SDR 4+  SDR receiver for a couple of years now. I wasn't sure how I would get on with an SDR, as it turned out I have really taken to it. I am probably more active as an SWL than I am as a transmitting radio amateur but since having the SDR in the shack my Kenwood R1000 and R5000 traditional analogue receivers have been hardly used. there is a link on this blog to a short review of the SDR4+and I will soon be updating it with my views of the receiver two years on, but basically I have been really pleased with it. It is still in almost daily use and coupled with my elderly Windows XP laptop acting as a server works well remotely.
One of the big plus points of the SDR is than I can control it remotely over the internet using my compact Acer Netbook computer and I have had a lot of fun doing this. I suppose the next step would normally be an SDR transceiver like the flex radio but for my ham radio activities I still prefer the traditional "knobs and buttons" approach of my rigs.

However on the receiver side, early in December I ordered  a Elad FDM S2 direct sampling SDR.
This receiver covers from 9khz up to 160mhz and comes with its own bespoke software. Due to a stock shortage the receiver was not delivered until 24th December, this meant that with the Christmas festivities and visiting family  I have not had much time to use the receiver until the last week or so.

Here it is sitting on top of the SDR4+. Although  almost the same width the Elad is only half the depth. Its facilities are more complex than the SDR4+ and the software takes some getting used to although I can also use third party software such as the "SDR Radio"  package which I am more familiar with. First impressions of this receiver are excellent, although it is more demanding of the PC hardware. My main machine here in the shack is a dual core processor with 4Mb of Ram but struggles with the receiver on some of the wider bandwidth settings-possible an upgrade of the shack PC will be required.
I have no doubt I will be posting more about the Elad as I get to know it better.

Just prior to the Christmas break a fault developed with my main station antenna the Western HF10 doublet. I checked all the obvious things, the coax cable was OK, no breaks in the Ribbon cable feeder (which seems to be the antennas only weak point-it is otherwise extremely well made), The antenna element itself was checked for continuity as were the loading coils. All seemed ok but the antenna would not tune on 80 metres. As I was short of time I have taken the antenna down and replaced it with a half size G5RV for now. I will give the balun connections on the HF 10 a good clean up and replace the ribbon feeder and hope that will cure the problem. I am keen to get it back up in the air as I have found it to be an excellent antenna.