Promising start to the new TA MF season – KOMO 1010 kHz Seattle WA was heard after dawn in the coastal Wirral lands.
I picked up the new Elad FDM-S3 receiver a couple of months ago. Its headline feature is a 24 MHz recording bandwidth along with a price tag of almost a grand. What follows is a very concise review.
It’s a very solid, heavy, well built rig. Comes with BNC connectors for the sma sockets and a top quality usb3 cable. Small point but I like the fact it’s powered by 12V DC and has a powerpole connected DC lead in the box. All my DC gear uses powerpole connectors.
I’m using SDR Console V3.027 and the reception of MF and 6 MHz is excellent – not tried other bands. You can add up to 8 hardware bandpass/hi/low pass filters if needed. Also more options for above 108 MHz will be released. The price of a filter is around £20. I’m really not sure how much they are required. In any case most are amateur band bandpass filters though LF and MF high and low pass are also available. Really depends on your individual environment but good to know the options exist.
As I said it runs on nominal 12V DC (e.g. 13.8 V ham quality power supply) which is extremely convenient for portable operation. Any LiFePo4 battery that you’d consider for sota activations such as the Zippy ones should be perfect. Obviously the larger the capacity the better for extended recording sessions.
The manual is available here: http://sdr.eladit.com/FDM-S3/ELAD%20FDM … ev%204.pdf and contains information on recommended PC specs. Use your common sense though – if you think your PC may not cope with a 24 MHz recording then it probably won’t cope. You need a fast processor (i5 or i7) and, most importantly, a fast large capacity ssd with plenty of free space.
Like the Perseus it is certainly not plug and play and the Elad requires drivers to be installed. This is done as part of installing the FDM software which should be done before trying to use SDRC I believe – that’s the route I followed anyhow. Most SDRs require a driver and are not plug-and-play; even the cheap dongles require Zadig. The only SDR I know which is truly plug and play are the Airspy Discoverys.
Finally – what made the Perseus such a great receiver was its front-end. All other consumer-grade SDRs up to then (and sometimes after…) suffered from no or poor front end protection and could overload badly. This is why the FM+ was such a disappointment – it was basically massively over-priced and worked no better than a dongle. The S3 appears to have the same level of high quality front end hardware protection. This rig is cheaper than a Perseus/FM+ combination and has the ability to be expanded with, hopefully, high quality modules.
I’ve done a quick and dirty 2 minutes video to demonstrate MF and HF reception https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkjkmZ4h4pU A small taster… 🙂
It’s not cheap and it is driving the Band II benefits dxers wild as they can’t afford it (get a job springs to mind…). You may need to spend the same again (if not more) to improve your IT set-up but it may be the last receiver you need to buy in your lifetime. It’s a serious rig for serious dxers. It exudes quality and with the additional options for vhf/uhf will surely becomes the reference semi-professional rig. To compete with it you’re going to need to spend thousands on professional monitoring rigs aimed at governments and agencies with 3 letter initials….
www.rsgb.org/propquest – FoF2 critical frequency and extrapolated MUFs
www.rsgb.org/predtest – ITURHFPROP-powered predictions (G4FKH)
www.rsgb.org/proppy – ITURHFPROP-powered predictions (HZ1JW)
www.rsgb.org/voacap – VOACAP-powered predictions (OH6BG)
www.rsgb.org/g0kya – At-a-glance hourly VOACAP predictions (G0KYA)
www.predtest.uk – Predtest ITURHFPROP predictions
soundbytes.asia/proppy/ – Proppy ITURHFPROP predictions
www.voacap.com – VOACAP Online
So my last post on wxsats was with a pretty stable system running wxtoimg on my main desktop PC using Nooelec Smartee/Nooelec Sawtree LNA/filter dongle combination with a Turnstile antenna. And all was working not too badly – sometimes the extremities of passes are noisy and I’m going to try a quadrifilar antenna at some point to see whether that improves matters.
However the original plan was to run headless on a Raspberry Pi. I had to abandon this idea as the command line version of wxtoimg won’t generate the web site upload which I like. So I took a gamble and purchased a mini PC – to be precise a Beelink GTi Mini PC Windows 10 Pro,10th Gen Intel i3-1005G1 (Up to 3.40 GHz),16GB DDR4 512GB SSD WiFi 6 Triple Display 4K Mini Desktop Computer. I installed WxTrack/wxtoimg/SDR# with Zadig and started generating images from that machine. I use AnyDesk to connect to it from my main PC and run it headless (I was using teamViewer until it started to say I was using it commercially…wtf? I would buy a single-user licence for TV but it is ridiculously expensive).
All worked well but after several hours without passes (normally overnight) SDR# would stop communicating with the dongle, and the pass would be blank. I’d have to kill the SDR# process and start again. I tried all the options from turning off usb ports going to sleep and all eco power options to no avail. And then I disabled automatic Windows updates after checking the system logs and seeing Windows Defender updating definitions every night. And that seemed to fix the problem!
This is a good example of what the system can do:
So – I do recommend these mini-PCs – they are solidly built, have plenty of ports and work well. Cost 20 times a much as a Raspberry Pi mind….
Bit of a mystery this one playing an old offshore tape from Radio London. Heard in the western coastal scouselands on 1494 kHz 14.52z 28 April 2021 on Perseus SDR and Wellbrook 1530LNP. Checked online Kiwi SDRs and only carriers seen on 1494 are on the Chester and North Wales Kiwis. Nothing in Ireland, West or East Midlands, Manchester or Yorkshire.