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.
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….
Tuesday 16 June 2015 saw a big Sporadic E opening in the UK. I managed to work SV2RJO on 6m cw which was confirmed on LOTW – super fine business! He’s a distance of 2,154 km from me which is about the furthest I’ve worked on single hop Es. Last night we had some interesting short range Es and I worked F2DX in Sorges France which is a distance of 704 km – two 6m single hop extremes!
I’ve almost achieved my very modest goals for this season which was to get to 60 DXCC on 6m (achieved with Macedonia and Greece) and 225 locator squares (1 to go).
On Tuesday I checked for Italian STLs on Band I and found:
52.60 Radio Radar, Castel di Casio/Casola (bo)
54.37 Simply Radio (tivoli) (rm)
56.50 MEP Radio Organizzazione (P. Net), Rieti/Frazione Campoforogna (Monte Terminillo) (ri)
During the Whitsun week I tested the Perseus FM+ against the Elad FDM-S2 at the Carcassonne QTH. Now here’s the rub……..I identified a dodgy F female to BNC male adapter. And on testing the FM+/Elad/XDR I found they are all about the same sensitivity on 93.3 RNE Radio Nacional Cataluña from Rococorba – slight edge to the XDR. So I take it back (see previous post 21 April 2015) – the Elad is not deaf on Band II. Leaves me with some egg on my face but I’m happy that the discrepancy between receiving in London and Carcassonne has been resolved.
So why do some dxers find the Elad deaf? Dodgy connectors? Sample variations? Hmmmmm………….
I was at the Carcassonne QTH over Easter and I was wanting to do a test on Band II in between the Elad FDM-S2, Sony XDR (Konrad modded), E4000 generic dongle and an ezcap R820T2 dongle. The QTH is in a rural location and I can hear several Catalan stations over 100 km away through the gaps in the Pyrenees.
First I had to order and have delivered a 6m 3mm thick 50mm diameter alum pole to replace a 2mm thick one which had collapsed at the top bracket due to the high winds – the worst part of living in the area – no doubt. I reinstalled a couple of FM5s in H and V orientation. Feedlines come into shack and into a Maplin 2-way F switch. Then output from switch goes into a Maplin 4-way splitter (no pre-amp). So with one switch I can switch between H and V signals.
For the tests I beamed at 120 degrees on 102.2 Mhz – Catalunya Ràdio from Rocorba – 25kw and a distance from me of 139 km. (data from FMlist), and used H polarised twig.
Sony XDR was as usual superb – good signal on 102.2. Next came a generic E4000 dongle which gave up some audio in SDR# – not good though.The Elad and the R820T2 dongle had no audio on 102.2.
I was surprised the Elad was so poor – I can now see why pre-amps are required. I did not bring the Perseus FM+ but I will do next time.
I finally checked the powerful 103.6 Flaixbac outlet from Maçanet de Cabrenys at a distance of 103 km. FMlist says the power is 0.2 kw. I’m pretty sure it’s much higher than that. It’s audible in many locations in Aude and Pyrenees Orientales. At my QTH it powers in, and the XDR was rocking, both dongles were about the same while Elad had audio but trailed the dongles.
I was so surprised by how poor the Elad was that I by-passed the 4-way splitter on 102.2 – to no avail. I am very surprised that there has been no real outcry about high poor the Elad is out of the box on Band II. It certainly is not deaf on MF.
Well it’s been a while since the last post. DX activities have been neglected in favour of the excellent World Cup and this year’s cricket test match series which has seen the beleaguered English team actually deservedly win a couple of matches.
Sporadic E wise I have easily surpassed my season’s targets (200 squares and 50 DXCC) on 6m. At the time of writing I have 214 squares and 58 DXCC. Still got some supposedly easy ones to go as well such as Z3. I’m well pleased with this year’s season and feel set-up for next year to stretch and get beyond 225 squares and 65 DXCC.
We have had one or two excellent TV DX openings and OIRT as well. Here’s a couple of videos from 3 July 2014 and the mainly Belarus OIRT logs on the same date can be seen at:
I had a triple whammy identification process: audio was parallel to web stream at http://www.streamsolution.it/onair/RadioDelta.asx, RDS PI Code 5362 appeared on XDR GTK display and there was a clear jingle id!
FMLIST is a simply superb resource. It does get very slow at times and I wish the operators would accept donations or adopt a membership scheme – something like £20 or €25 per annum would be excellent value to take advantage of this resource. Something akin to the QRZ.com XML subscriptions for automated lookups which are around $30 per annum.
I have not bothered too much with Band II this season. It’s a zero-sum game in London with Ofcom’s abdication of its responsibilities for keeping the band clear. In any case my priorities were 6m and some Tv DXing before the latter becomes impossible due to the digital uhf take-over.
It’s mid-August and the NA MF season has started already! We’re still getting some LA DX as well with a good Peruvian opening on 5 August. More details on that one in the next update!