I got a note from Flex this morning that the 3K was released to production. Here is the link. Scroll down to the announcement.
I saw the 3K at the Orlando hamfest, and I think it will be a great addition for those who want to give SDR a whirl but don't want to commit to a big investment. Gerald wrote a series of articles called: A Software Defined Radio for the Masses, and from my point of view this radio is the fulfillment of that promise, because it is so richly featured, and yet reasonably priced. I'm hoping to get a comment or a review from a beta tester one of these days regarding the experience with the new radio. Its about the size of a laptop.
I have one on order but I'm not sure where I line up in the production run. This should be a great value for the guy who just wants a nice little radio station. The BASIC performance should be virtually identical in terms of the functionality that I have described in PowerSDR. It won't have the fancy things like a second RX, or dual diversity, full triplex or the fancy antenna and I/O switching, and SO2R in a box that I have described. The F5K has a better A/D and likely better dynamic range. The F5K will make a better nerve center for a contest station or a big time VHF station, but this radio should be right up there in its basic performance compared to any other radio on the market.
I've had a great time growing up with these products. The SDR-1000 was like an experiment. It required a fair amount of work and had a steep learning curve to get the most out of it. You needed some form of external RF, like a signal generator and a power meter dummy load to set that radio up. It started out that you had to do all the image rejection and level setting and power amplifier adjustments yourself. Then Eric started to develop algorithms for the radio to set itself up. With the advent of the 5K and full duplex, the radio became its own signal generator and the setup became automated.
This radio on the other hand should be pretty much plug and play. As the software continues to evolved with things like Bob's self correcting image rejection, the whole experience has become much more user friendly and with each iteration the performance improves, BUT there is still a ton of stuff you can customize and play with and optimize for your particular station, like combining the functionality of all the 3rd party software I have described.
I heard President Obama talking about how the citizens of the country need to shift to a model of life long learning. In my professional life I do that all the time. I take at least 120 hours of continuing medical education a year to stay current in my field. He said we need to involve ourselves in the future, constantly retraining ourselves for what lays ahead. This is what lays ahead. This radio can basically be plugged in, and the drivers and software loaded, and away you go, engaged in the future. You can passively enjoy the radio as it improves, or you can subscribe to the SVN or possibly get involved in some aspect of beta testing and be part of creating that improvement. You often hear people complaining about Ham radio, but for me I NEVER have a boring day. There is just too much to discover. There is always something else to learn, or some new wrinkle to consider.
If you're interested in writing something interesting for this blog regarding your SDR experience let me know. I would like to include things like how your SDR contest station is set up, or your VHF station that uses SDR as the system center, feats of weak signal work or how well the SDR works in various challenging situations. If you are a foreign ham and would like to comment on the growth of SDR in your particular part of the world. Bring it on!
I reserve the right to publish or not, but I'm pretty open to documenting a wide variety of honest experiences from users, for readers to explore. The understanding of SDR in our hobby is so nascent, that I want the reader to be able to see the value of SDR through the eyes of YOUR experience and enthusiasm.