If you had to ask me what my favorite niche is in ham radio, that would probably have to be Software Defined Radio! Though, just about everything in ham radio is cool! I don’t think Software Defined Radio is better in anyway compared to conventional superheterodyne radios. It’s the integration with computers, brick wall filtering, panadapters, and the ability to update the transceiver with firmware that usually expands the radios capabilities is what interested me in SDR. I think each has their unique strengths/weaknesses that are specific to every user.
I can’t express enough excitement through words in how excited I am about the future of Software Defined Radio. Not only more efficient (by removing the mixer hardware chain), but software has gotten to the point to where some powerful things can be done, that could not have been done a decade ago. The cost of ADCs & FPGAs has dropped. Flex is now developing some pretty sweet signature series radios, but their 3000 model is still sold. This is in effect, a replacement for my Elecraft KX3 I sold many months ago. I went through enough paralysis analysis, but found that the 3000 is a great deal in the world of 100w SDRs. It came highly recommended by many others. Although I was a bit concerned that it was ‘older technology,’ the hardware is still top notch stuff, and the software (PowerSDR) is continuously being worked on by KE9NS. My other option I was considering was the Elad FDM Duo, a fine standalone rig in itself. I remember having frustrations with my KX3 & QRP. I still consider myself a new ham, and as you might have read elsewhere, QRP is never recommended for hams just starting out.
So I drove up to FlexRadio Systems, conveniently located in Austin (how cool is that?), and picked up this beauty & met a few folks at Flex. Their storefront isn’t exactly setup for walk-in customers, as I’m sure 99% of their business comes from elsewhere! Their mailroom was pretty busy! When I had mentioned that I was a new ham and coming from RTL.SDR dongles & the SDRplay, the staff there mentioned that those products are indeed generating interest in higher end SDR radios like the Flex series, Anan, Elad, etc. I won’t lie, the fact that FlexRadio was here in Austin did have some bearing on my decision. Not only did I want to support a local company, but a ham radio one to boot!
I’m working on getting everything setup/downloaded, etc. Time to learn PowerSDR! Luckily KE9NS has a pretty neat website with lots of info.! SDR is the future of radio no doubt. Still in its beginning stages I believe, but some pretty big leaps & bounds have been made in the last decade or so. This is unfortunately the only downside to SDR IMHO, is having to set everything up, getting everything talking right on your PC, but hopefully my experience with the SDRPlay & other dongles has given me a bit of insight to the process!
Oh.. and don’t worry, my 590SG won’t start collecting dust, it’ll get just as much use, if not more, now that I have a 100w rig to take portable with me!