Most of 2010 was spent thinking about adding the Elecraft P3 Panadapter to the small list of my station equipment. On December 1, I purchased the kit and my dear wife was kind enough to wrap it when it arrived and place it under the tree. That is some Christmas present!
Yesterday afternoon I pulled the kit out and built it over about two hours. It is really a mechanical assembly, with all circuit boards pre-assembled. The instructions match those developed during my days at Heathkit. It went together very well and I really had no doubts about any of the assembly and certainly didn’t have any concerns about it operating just as soon as I plugged it in.
The only assembly step that caused me some concern was the modification that was required to my Elecraft K3. Since it was build prior to 2009, I needed to remove an SMD resistor and place a smaller resistor in it’s place. Elecraft provided excellent instructions (remove only one cabinet panel from the K3 and you had access to the board, see photo). The daunting part was actually looking at the SMD resistor and contemplating installing it! Fortunately, they also provided a resistor with leads and a way to install it instead.
This was also the first time that I’d put my new soldering station to work — the Aoyue 937+. I had never used a temperature controlled soldering station, even with my training in the Air Force to qualify to NASA standards. It performed very well indeed. I feel that I got a real bargain in paying roughly $50 for this soldering station. Next project is a NorCal Power Meter which I hope to complete over the New Year’s holidays.
I fired up the P3 and it worked like a charm. Installed the P3 Utility Software on my MacBook, downloaded and transferred the latest firmware. Confirmed also that the K3 utility worked, also tested the MacLoggerDX software. Everything is working like a champ and I’m rapidly gaining insight into using the P3. So far I really like the instant assessment of the band and how many stations are operating and where. I’m looking forward to seeing my first contest pop to life precisely at 0000 hours and burst into activity. I’m also beginning to gain some insight into how better to navigate pile-ups. I hope to use split transmit/receive to monitor the frequency of the current QSO and make my call right on the same frequency. I need to truly apply skill and cunning for my QRP operations!
I hope you gain some insight into this great panadapter and the really clever folks at Elecraft in developing this wonderful K3/P3 set.
73 and Merry Christmas!