Seeing the big picture with PowerSDR

PowerSDR screen
Over the last couple of weeks the sun gods have been looking down on us and smiling with record breaking sunspots and flux levels. Bands such as 10 meters normally quite has opened up world wide. Just this past weekend I was able to work Europe with just one watt. I found with these great conditions and wanting not to miss out on band openings the rig has been on lots more and the blog writing has gone down just a bit. One tool that has been in my ham radio pocket for some time now is my SDR Panadapter. What is an SDR panadapter you ask....in a nutshell it is a displays a segment of  radio spectrum for
the band that your radio is on. My setup is made up of the LP Pan, EMU 0202 Creative labs external sound card and the PowerSDR software.  The pan-adapter gives my QRP station some nice advantages the main one is the ability to see the entire CW segment at one time. I can see a strong station or week station then point and click and I'm there. Before I would be spinning the VFO from on end of the band to the other. I may just miss a station calling CQ and is now waiting for a response but to me its static with no one there and I move on missing this station for his

My LP-Pan unit below, new TS-990s
next CQ call.  Also I can flip to 10 meters and look at the pan-adapter to see if there is any action on the band or not....seeing if the band is open in a shorter time as opposed to spinning the VFO over the entire band. If you want to go down the Pan-adapter road at this time there are about 3 ways to do it. You can go all out and purchase a Flex radio system this is by far the most expensive way of going about it. Having said that it comes complete with all that is needed including a rig, processor for software and software all in one package. Or as I did you can order a pan-adapter, sound card and download the free software. Finally there is the stand alone Pan-adapter the only one at this time on the market I know of is the Elecraft P3.   This unit is plug and play there is not need for software or a computer...the only catch is you need an Elecraft K3. To be fair some of Icom's rigs come with a band scope. I am not sure how interactive they are. Also Yaesu has their DMU-2000 option that gives you more than just a band scope.  There is also some rumors of  Kenwood coming out with a new rig.  I have seen some pictures and along side is an
Elecraft type stand along plug and play Pan-adapter. Next question that most ham's ask is "how much for this toy" The option I chose I believe is the cheapest...the LP-Pan comes either as a kit or factory built unit. I chose the kit at 200.00. The EMU-0202 ran me 125.00 and the software is well what all hams want to hear....FREE!!! So for about 325.00 you can be in the Pan-adapter world. Oh and one last consideration is the speed of your PC. It is recommended  on the LP Pan site the following be used for your PC:

2.8 GHz processor (the more the merrier), preferably Core Duo or Quad.
1 GB RAM (the more the merrier, limited to 3GB on 32-bit systems, which are recommended)
16-bit sound card, preferably not integrated into motherboard. 24-bit preferred (lower noise floor)
48 kHz sound card... 96 or 192 KHz preferred (display width is roughly equal to sampling rate)
Separate video card, or integrated video with sufficient dedicated memory. Most of the SDR applications are video intensive.
So there you have it a pan-adapter setup...Christmas is coming and maybe it might be something you would like under the tree??

JUST WANTED TO ADD A NEW ADDITION TO THE POST I WAS EMAILED BY JOHN AE5X. HE REMINDED ME OF ANOTHER OPTION I NEGLECTED TO INCLUDE IN THE POSTING.  THE SOFTROCK AND IT'S A 20.00 KIT!!!! HERE IS A LINK TO GM0ELP'S BLOG DETAILING THE SOFTROCK. 
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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