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Software Defined Radio A forum for general discussion of software defined radio (SDR) receiver equipment.

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2013, 12:02 PM
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The term SDR has several meanings. I believe the general assumption here is that the term SDR implies a radio similar to the RFSPACE SDR-IQ. I have one of these and enjoy using it as a bat evesdropping device when used with an ultrasonic transducer, and for more traditional SWL and ham purposes. It's a lot of fun, but somewhat limiting when I travel or just want to be 'casual'. You need to set up the computer, and use a mouse, USB knob, or some other 'less than fun' human interface. There are advantages and disadvantages of this radio.

The CR-1 on the other hand is a full superhet design with the inherent advantages that come with being a superhet - including wider frequency coverage, especially in the VHF/UHF realm. Being an SDR, meaning the functionality of the receiver is defined by the software excuted by the processor, the functionality can be upgraded, or modified by uploading new software. New demodulation modes or techniques, new or modified filtering techniques, etc. can be uploaded through the USB port. In this way, if the manufacturer is of a like mind, the hardware can be somewhat 'future-proofed'. The CR-1 has a pleasant, more traditional user interface. A real knob! Push-buttons for functions, just like a real radio! It does not appear, at this time, that the CR-1 has SDR-IQ like capabilities. I'm OK with that. Just like the SDR-IQ, there are advantages and disadvantages of this radio also.

One of my first tasks when I get my CR-1 will be to run it head-to-head in an objective comparison of it's capabilities against my Racal 6790GM. The Racal is my standard of excellence, but because of it's size and age is generally considered to be in the boat-anchor category. I hope to have a feature-by-feature comparison, along with my opinions of the relative performance of each written up for posting.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:48 PM
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Again, and to be clear, I am not "bashing" this device at all. After reading your explanation I understand better how they are defining "SDR" in this case. Kinetic Avionics uses a similar definition about their SBS-3 receiver.

I own RFSpace's SDR-14, which I use both as a shortwave receiver and panadapter for my AR5000A+3. I guess this is the type of SDR I've cut my teeth on, so I approach with this definition. I guess ultimately those devices should be defined as "SCR" (software controlled receiver) instead?

In any event, I continue to watch this device with interest. I think some good suggestions have been made in this thread, to include better frequency steps, and wider coverage in the VHF/UHF range to name a few. Based on your definition, these are changes that could be implemented via a firmware upgrade, I would think, or am I off-base? Cutting UHF reception off at 468 MHz continues to baffle me, for one thing. I expect part of it is my in-depth lack of the technical end of such things...
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Old 01-11-2013, 6:43 PM
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Originally Posted by KA2ZEY View Post
GMRS?? That's not a strong buying point for me. It's great to see new SDR concepts coming out but that just seems like a weird way to market this radio.
What new concept? Based on the web site description the basic design of this radio is one that has been in common use, with over a dozen examples, for more than 10 years now, a traditional superhet with a DSP in the final IF. It is nice to see it applied to a receive only device in a price range lower than the Icom R75, and I will probably be interested in trying one out once they ship, but it is not an SDR as that term has come to be known in the hobby community.

If you want to see other radios that use the same techniques look at the Yaesu FT-2000, FT-3000, FTDX-5000, Kenwood TS-2000, TS-480, TS-580, Icom IC-746, IC-756, etc, etc. Now, all of those radios are transceivers, and as I said it is about time someone applied the same technique to receive only. Well, someone other than WinRadio, their G3XX series has been using this DSP in final IF of an RX only technique for many years (I am not talking about the G3X series, that series are more "true" SDRs).

So, what is going to be possible advantages of this device? Upgradability, for one, but that might not ever be needed. It is probably going to have fully adjustable filter settings, from very narrow to very wide, in each mode. The filters have the potential to have very steep skirts.

From the description on the web site it does not appear that you will have a spectrum display option. It does not look like you will have the option of recording chunks of spectrum for later review. And it does not look like the radio needs to be tethered to a computer.

Think of this as an IF level DSP radio, not an SDR. It is not wrong to call it an SDR, it is software, or maybe firmware, defined for signal detection, but as I said above it is not, does not have the features (judging from the web site description) that hobbyist have come to expect from an "SDR".

T!
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Old 01-11-2013, 8:00 PM
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I was fortunate to work on one of the first software defined radios in existence during the early 1990s which was the Hughes Digital Transceiver or HDT. This was by definition then and now, an SDR and had several RF front ends, mixers to a very wide IF which was digitized by a then state of the art silicon D to A converter. I can't remember the exact specs of the D to A but it was either a 12 or 14 bit 60MHz unit.

This radio could simultaneously receive and demodulate cell phone calls, FM radio, AM aircraft and some HF SSB, plus it also had transmit capability.

The big deal at the time and still now is the SDR part of the radio was software and digital processors that emulated IF BW filters and various demodulation formats. AM, FM, SSB were simply waveforms that the software gurus diddled 1s and 0s to get the desired results.

One of inherent problems of the SDR is keeping the A/D converter from getting spanked by more input signal than the A/D converter is rated for, which can easily happen on the USB dongle SDRs. A/D converters are light years ahead of what was used on the first SDRs but I don't believe they exist with enough dynamic range to survive a VLF to GHz range receiver with no preselection (or IF) ahead of the A/D to limit unwanted spectrum. A superhetrodyne with digitized IF approach is probably the best way to currently make a high performance SDR

So, in my opinion, a traditional superhetrodyne receiver with a digitized IF and upgradable software to receive various waveforms fits the true definition of an SDR. Its all about the upgradable waveforms. The tiny high frequency A/D converters with a few other parts on a USB dongle is a late arrival on the SDR time line and not the only definition of SDR.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
What new concept? Based on the web site description the basic design of this radio is one that has been in common use, with over a dozen examples, for more than 10 years now, a traditional superhet with a DSP in the final IF. It is nice to see it applied to a receive only device in a price range lower than the Icom R75, and I will probably be interested in trying one out once they ship, but it is not an SDR as that term has come to be known in the hobby community.

If you want to see other radios that use the same techniques look at the Yaesu FT-2000, FT-3000, FTDX-5000, Kenwood TS-2000, TS-480, TS-580, Icom IC-746, IC-756, etc, etc. Now, all of those radios are transceivers, and as I said it is about time someone applied the same technique to receive only. Well, someone other than WinRadio, their G3XX series has been using this DSP in final IF of an RX only technique for many years (I am not talking about the G3X series, that series are more "true" SDRs).

So, what is going to be possible advantages of this device? Upgradability, for one, but that might not ever be needed. It is probably going to have fully adjustable filter settings, from very narrow to very wide, in each mode. The filters have the potential to have very steep skirts.

From the description on the web site it does not appear that you will have a spectrum display option. It does not look like you will have the option of recording chunks of spectrum for later review. And it does not look like the radio needs to be tethered to a computer.

Think of this as an IF level DSP radio, not an SDR. It is not wrong to call it an SDR, it is software, or maybe firmware, defined for signal detection, but as I said above it is not, does not have the features (judging from the web site description) that hobbyist have come to expect from an "SDR".

T!
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2013, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by prcguy View Post
One of inherent problems of the SDR is keeping the A/D converter from getting spanked by more input signal than the A/D converter is rated for, which can easily happen on the USB dongle SDRs. A/D converters are light years ahead of what was used on the first SDRs but I don't believe they exist with enough dynamic range to survive a VLF to GHz range receiver with no preselection (or IF) ahead of the A/D to limit unwanted spectrum. A superhetrodyne with digitized IF approach is probably the best way to currently make a high performance SDR

So, in my opinion, a traditional superhetrodyne receiver with a digitized IF and upgradable software to receive various waveforms fits the true definition of an SDR. Its all about the upgradable waveforms. The tiny high frequency A/D converters with a few other parts on a USB dongle is a late arrival on the SDR time line and not the only definition of SDR.
prcguy
Can’t, and won’t, argue with that, particularly the part about the widebanded design. In the military and commercial world that is indeed an SDR. In the hobby community such radios (superhet/narrow band ADC) have been called DSP for a long time, and neither term are “wrong”. That is also why I was pretty careful to state in my post “but it is not an SDR as that term has come to be known in the hobby community”.

I will also say that I agree such an approach (superhet/ADC) is “SDR” when it brings something else to the table rather than just demodulation in the DSP. You say the radio you worked with had a very wide IF. Another example very similar to what you describe, and in the hobby community, is the WinRadio G39DDC. It is what I would call an SDR and it is also a superhet down converting to the ADC. Another example would be the Alpha-ONE. At work we recently developed a wideband signal monitoring system based on the Aeroflex 3036 digitizer, this system is a superhet design with a wideband digitizer, and I would call it SDR vs DSP.

Doing the demodulation and IF filtering in an ADC/DSP is, technically, an SDR, no argument. But, unless it brings something additional to the party, like say a wideband display or unusual modulation techniques, it is more of a marketing ploy (in the hobby world) to call it SDR instead of the more widely used DSP. If it just does standard modulation techniques and standard bandwidths, even if very adjustable, how does it differentiate itself from a traditional superhet/DSP? I know it is no kind of a standard at all, but in my mind I see “SDRs” starting at something like 32 kHz of IF BW.

Why do I make such a distinction? Because of questions that have been asked in this thread so far (and threads about other, somewhat similar, designs), the expectations of what an SDR can do in the hobby market. “What software does it use”? Not needed with the wider definition of an SDR. Call it opinion if you will, and yes I know it is technically incorrect.

I honestly feel in the very near future all radios will be “SDR” in the description as has been applied to this radio. The demodulation and final IF filtering will be done in an ADC/DSP even for simple applications. SDR will loose meaning and what hobbyist have come to know as SDR will need a different designation to differentiate. “Wideband signal monitoring system” or something like that. Or maybe just go back to the old standby “panadapter” for a wideband display. The hobby community has gotten used to “SDR” meaning a spectrum display and ability to record chunks of spectrum, however incomplete that application of the term might be. This radio appears marketed to the hobby community, but it uses terminology that is not incorrect but also not similar to other vendors in the same market. I can understand the confusion, and have to wonder if it is accidental bleed over from another market or if it is just marketing?

I myself am very interested in the radio, and look forward to seeing the hardware hit the market, regardless of what anyone calls it. Who knows, maybe this will be the radio that clarifies what "SDR" really is to the hobby community, instead of what the term has come to mean.

T!

Last edited by Token; 01-11-2013 at 11:40 PM..
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:27 AM
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No argument from me on this one either.

BTW, I still encounter people referring to some of the early ham radios that are conventional superhet receivers and analog demodulation with DSP based audio equalization and/or noise reduction as SDR radios and also remote controlled radios via Internet or other means as an SDR because software is used. That obviously misses the boat completely in the "what is an SDR" debate.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
Can’t, and won’t, argue with that, particularly the part about the widebanded design. In the military and commercial world that is indeed an SDR. In the hobby community such radios (superhet/narrow band ADC) have been called DSP for a long time, and neither term are “wrong”. That is also why I was pretty careful to state in my post “but it is not an SDR as that term has come to be known in the hobby community”.

I will also say that I agree such an approach (superhet/ADC) is “SDR” when it brings something else to the table rather than just demodulation in the DSP. You say the radio you worked with had a very wide IF. Another example very similar to what you describe, and in the hobby community, is the WinRadio G39DDC. It is what I would call an SDR and it is also a superhet down converting to the ADC. Another example would be the Alpha-ONE. At work we recently developed a wideband signal monitoring system based on the Aeroflex 3036 digitizer, this system is a superhet design with a wideband digitizer, and I would call it SDR vs DSP.

Doing the demodulation and IF filtering in an ADC/DSP is, technically, an SDR, no argument. But, unless it brings something additional to the party, like say a wideband display or unusual modulation techniques, it is more of a marketing ploy (in the hobby world) to call it SDR instead of the more widely used DSP. If it just does standard modulation techniques and standard bandwidths, even if very adjustable, how does it differentiate itself from a traditional superhet/DSP? I know it is no kind of a standard at all, but in my mind I see “SDRs” starting at something like 32 kHz of IF BW.

Why do I make such a distinction? Because of questions that have been asked in this thread so far (and threads about other, somewhat similar, designs), the expectations of what an SDR can do in the hobby market. “What software does it use”? Not needed with the wider definition of an SDR. Call it opinion if you will, and yes I know it is technically incorrect.

I honestly feel in the very near future all radios will be “SDR” in the description as has been applied to this radio. The demodulation and final IF filtering will be done in an ADC/DSP even for simple applications. SDR will loose meaning and what hobbyist have come to know as SDR will need a different designation to differentiate. “Wideband signal monitoring system” or something like that. Or maybe just go back to the old standby “panadapter” for a wideband display. The hobby community has gotten used to “SDR” meaning a spectrum display and ability to record chunks of spectrum, however incomplete that application of the term might be. This radio appears marketed to the hobby community, but it uses terminology that is not incorrect but also not similar to other vendors in the same market. I can understand the confusion, and have to wonder if it is accidental bleed over from another market or if it is just marketing?

I myself am very interested in the radio, and look forward to seeing the hardware hit the market, regardless of what anyone calls it. Who knows, maybe this will be the radio that clarifies what "SDR" really is to the hobby community, instead of what the term has come to mean.

T!
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 01-12-2013, 5:15 PM
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How can it be 'Software Controlled' or 'Software Defined' when it has knobs on the front? My old Kenwood R2000 controls a microprocesser from the knobs on the front - does that make it an SDR/SCR - certainly not.

I does have DSP though, since I added a SoftRock receiver to the IF strip!

Methinks WB2KTG has more than just a passing interest in pushing this 'receiver'.
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Old 01-12-2013, 7:21 PM
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The "software" defined part is the instructions to the A to D converter and DSP that determine the received frequency(s), IF band width, demodulation modes (waveforms) possibly AGC and other tasks the DSP is performing. The software instructions can be internal embedded in firmware and controlled with knobs or from a separate computer or whatever.

The key point of an SDR receiver is hardware components like IF filters, AGC loops, AM detectors, FM discriminators, SSB product detectors and so on are emulated in digital signal processing and software by converting the RF spectrum (right from an antenna or from a superhet IF) to ones and zeros and diddling them to achieve the desired results.

For an SDR transceiver in transmit mode your voice is digitized from the microphone circuit then the DSP creates the AM, FM, SSB or whatever waveform from software instructions made up of ones and zeros. Then a D to A converter translates that into an RF waveform, usually at a low IF frequency, then its converted to the final transmit frequency and amplified to the desired power.

No external computer is required for this to be deemed an SDR, its the A to D, D to A converters, DSP and associated software instructions that make it an SDR.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majoco View Post
How can it be 'Software Controlled' or 'Software Defined' when it has knobs on the front? My old Kenwood R2000 controls a microprocesser from the knobs on the front - does that make it an SDR/SCR - certainly not.

I does have DSP though, since I added a SoftRock receiver to the IF strip!

Methinks WB2KTG has more than just a passing interest in pushing this 'receiver'.
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Old 01-17-2013, 9:28 PM
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I believe the CR-1 does have a spectrum display across the bottom of the color OLED display. I don't know how it's invoked, whether it can coexist with the text/numeric data, or whether it is stand alone. And for the record, I DO have more than just a passing interest in this receiver. I consider the creator of the CR-1, Don Moore N0HDX, to be a friend, and have been aware of his development progress for the past year or two. I know the hard work and dedication that go into the design and production of a product as 'cutting edge' as this radio, having been a design engineer throughout my professional career. My interest is in seeing that a small business, run by a person I consider to be a gentleman and super-engineer, has the opportunity for his product to see the light of day, fairly, while in competition with mega-multi-national conglamorates, with multi-million dollar budgets. You know, the whole American-Dream thing... :-)
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Old 01-19-2013, 9:26 PM
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I am intrigued by this radio. From the site:

Dual conversion super-heterodyne with low-IF , I-Q digital sampling, 16 bit DSP with digital audio CODEC
DSP algorithms for all demodulation: DSB-AM, SSB, CW, WBFM, NBFM and channel filtering

So I assume that I-Q data must be given over the USB port? Looks plausible. Would be neat if it is a radio with a proper knob and able to use the I-Q as a "panadapter" type setup from within one rig.

Looks neat and I have a credit card ready if this is an option.... lol
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Old 01-19-2013, 9:43 PM
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Usually IQ is baseband and fed to the audio inputs of a sound card from a consumer SDR, limiting the panadapter to whatever the upper BW limit of the sound card is. 192KHz of panadapter span for a higher end sound is probably the max.
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Originally Posted by corbintechboy View Post
I am intrigued by this radio. From the site:

Dual conversion super-heterodyne with low-IF , I-Q digital sampling, 16 bit DSP with digital audio CODEC
DSP algorithms for all demodulation: DSB-AM, SSB, CW, WBFM, NBFM and channel filtering

So I assume that I-Q data must be given over the USB port? Looks plausible. Would be neat if it is a radio with a proper knob and able to use the I-Q as a "panadapter" type setup from within one rig.

Looks neat and I have a credit card ready if this is an option.... lol
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by prcguy View Post
Usually IQ is baseband and fed to the audio inputs of a sound card from a consumer SDR, limiting the panadapter to whatever the upper BW limit of the sound card is. 192KHz of panadapter span for a higher end sound is probably the max.
prcguy
I agree.

But with the actual specs that are being offered, and trying to put pieces together... There is nowhere for I-Q data to be fed from the receiver. Look at the back of the radio and there is no low level out for pc interfacing in that manner.

So I-Q served over USB? That would be the only place it could come from. Then would it be a in league like the SDR-IQ? I don't see where else this data could come from.
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Old 01-20-2013, 9:40 AM
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Nice looking new radio, and good price. Does it have onboard sync-AM feature (synchronous detector)? I could be interested if this can compete with Icom R-75, Palstar R-30A, Alinco DX-R8T. Would like something I can take in the van to the beach.
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Old 01-20-2013, 2:11 PM
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Nice looking new radio, and good price. Does it have onboard sync-AM feature (synchronous detector)? I could be interested if this can compete with Icom R-75, Palstar R-30A, Alinco DX-R8T. Would like something I can take in the van to the beach.
On the surface of it, based on what is said on the web site, it probably will compete with those radios. Since the filters will be completely adjustable if everything else is equal the CR-1 should have an advantage.

As for SAM (Sync-AM), since the detection/demodulation is done in the DSP/SDR section of the radio SAM would be an algorithm. The hardware itself will support any kind of detection you want to do. It only remains to be seen if the developer implemented SAM, it does not say anything about it on the web site.

T!
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Old 01-23-2013, 6:23 AM
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Questions that I asked a few weeks ago.

1. How many memories will these have?
2. How will the memories be partitioned? By band ?
3. When will be specs like MDS, S/N ratio etc for each band be published?
4. When will the operating manual, schematics etc be published?
5. Will there be a squelch circuit for FM?
6. What is the default the frequency step for VHF 137-225 MHz?
7. Is there mode override for VHF?
8. Will there be other IF filter bandwidths available or programmable?
9. Is the 7.5 KHz bandwidth filter selectable for AMBCB?
10. Is there software compatibility with any SDR such as spectravue?
11. Will there be any software control available or a list of commands
that would allow programming of bandwidths, modes, loading memories etc?
12. Is the I-Q output available via the headphone jack or USB ?
13. The photo on the Aerostream website shows a spectrum analyzer display.That would be a highy desireable feature. Is that a feature included in the production models? If so, how much bandwidth does it show at once?

Answer received from Don "...lots of questions and so little time getting it ready. Basically it is a standalone with an internal DSP. I won't initially have I-Q samples available (10-12) , but in future models could if there is demand. I don't want to be 'me-too' on the SDR-PC area of the market. Take it with you and have fun. Most every feature you mention is provided in software (sql, etc). No schematics."
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Old 01-23-2013, 3:01 PM
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Originally Posted by wa8vzq View Post
Answer received from Don "...lots of questions and so little time getting it ready. Basically it is a standalone with an internal DSP. I won't initially have I-Q samples available (10-12) , but in future models could if there is demand. I don't want to be 'me-too' on the SDR-PC area of the market. Take it with you and have fun. Most every feature you mention is provided in software (sql, etc). No schematics."
So no advantage over my R75 except price? I already own the R75 and not going to buy this as a "just because".
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Old 01-23-2013, 7:31 PM
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So no advantage over my R75 except price? I already own the R75 and not going to buy this as a "just because".
That may make sense for you with an Icom R75 already on the desk or me with a Palstar R-30A, but for the person who doesn't own a tabletop radio the CR-1 may be the best choice on the market. Aside from price, the fact that it has updateable DSP firmware is a big deal, offering an avenue for future improvements. As soon as CommRadio adds S-AM detection in the firmware, the CR-1 may well replace my R-30A radio and Sherwood SE-3 Sync Detector.

This is an enthusiasts radio for sure and is very modern in design, its technology is a generation newer than the R75 and Palstar radios. I, for one, am pleased to see it released onto the market and I'm looking forward to the performance reviews.

On paper, there's a lot to like about the CR-1.
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Old 01-23-2013, 8:52 PM
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Don'r forget the additional frequency coverage with the CR-1! And the smaller footprint, more portable, even battery powered 'portable' operation.
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Old 01-24-2013, 1:08 AM
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Originally Posted by mondomusique View Post
That may make sense for you with an Icom R75 already on the desk or me with a Palstar R-30A, but for the person who doesn't own a tabletop radio the CR-1 may be the best choice on the market. Aside from price, the fact that it has updateable DSP firmware is a big deal, offering an avenue for future improvements. As soon as CommRadio adds S-AM detection in the firmware, the CR-1 may well replace my R-30A radio and Sherwood SE-3 Sync Detector.

This is an enthusiasts radio for sure and is very modern in design, its technology is a generation newer than the R75 and Palstar radios. I, for one, am pleased to see it released onto the market and I'm looking forward to the performance reviews.

On paper, there's a lot to like about the CR-1.
I agree with everything you said.

Now reviews can change my mind (no one can ever have to many radios lol).

We shall see and my wallet may open. Alot depends .
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Old 01-24-2013, 2:16 PM
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Originally Posted by wa8vzq View Post
Questions that I asked a few weeks ago.

1. How many memories will these have?
2. How will the memories be partitioned? By band ?
I would also add:

3. How will the scanning function work in relation to Questions 1 and 2?

This could be a very neat radio to have nearby the TV chair, etc. I'd program it with a recent list of utility stations and put it on scan.

I'm curious if they keep their price range. I hope it's not $500 plus another $250 in options.

I'm game to buy one on launch day.
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