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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-13-2018, 1:37 AM
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Default Would you get an HF+ if... (Subjective opinion)

I understand this is an entirely subjective opinion I'm asking for, but I just need some thoughts on this.

If you had an AirspyR2/Spyverter combo (Antenna is irrelevant here), would you consider the Airspy HF+ a worthwhile upgrade, or is the improvement too little to be worth it? (In your opinion)

Thanks.
jacob.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-13-2018, 6:42 AM
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Honestly, it depends upon what you want to use it for. If you are interested in MW Dx-ing and live in an area with very challenging dynamic range conditions, then I would say yes. The phase noise performance of the HF+ is way better than the R2/Spyverter combo. On the other hand at VHF, the HF+ has real problems above the VHF FM band with spurious images from UHF. For me the Air band was unusable because of spurious Tetra signals. The only solution is apparently to add an external UHF filter. I got rid of my HF+ because of this.
At HF, there is probably little to choose between them, but the HF+ will probably have fewer spurious responses, particularly if you buy the promised pre-selector board, but I never saw much if any difference.

Cheers

Geraint
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Old 06-13-2018, 2:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHFgeraint View Post
Honestly, it depends upon what you want to use it for. If you are interested in MW Dx-ing and live in an area with very challenging dynamic range conditions, then I would say yes. The phase noise performance of the HF+ is way better than the R2/Spyverter combo. On the other hand at VHF, the HF+ has real problems above the VHF FM band with spurious images from UHF. For me the Air band was unusable because of spurious Tetra signals. The only solution is apparently to add an external UHF filter. I got rid of my HF+ because of this.
At HF, there is probably little to choose between them, but the HF+ will probably have fewer spurious responses, particularly if you buy the promised pre-selector board, but I never saw much if any difference.

Cheers

Geraint
Thank you very much, Geraint.

I really wanted it primarily to cover both VHF-airband and HF-airband, and then secondarily the amature-bands at 80- and 40 meters (I also wouldn't mind a receiver that could experiment a little in VLF though, although I understand the HF+ won't go there without some hardware-modification)

But from what you say here, which unfortunately echos what I read elsewhere, the HF+ doesn't appear to be the best choice for aviation-uses.
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Old 06-13-2018, 4:43 PM
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As mentioned before there are many possibilities, depending on what you want to use it for. The SDRPlay models are very popular, and for HF (that includes HF aviation) , I would strongly consider them. Depending on your environment, you may need to add some front end filtering for FM and/or MW stations; these low cost SDRs still don't have a front end like, say, a Palstar desktop to resist overloading and spurs in strong signal areas. They may claim they do, but it's often smoke and mirrors; you can't always test in an actual strong signal environment that replicates use by a typical user.

There are TONS of models out there now, and you should do some research before deciding on a model. Don't necessarily go with the newest and greatest; here's an article from our wiki that has numerous links to reviews along with models...

SDRs with HF Coverage - The RadioReference Wiki

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Old 06-14-2018, 3:54 AM
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Further to Mike's comment, when I sold my HF+, I bought an RSP1-a from sdrplay. For scanning the Air band I was able to get hold of V1361 of SDR# and it works nicely with the Scanner plugin. It is a good upgrade from the R2/Spyverter in my view as the frequency stability is very good and the VHF and UHF noise performance is excellent. Sdrplay say that they have a scanning feature coming in the next release of their software, so it will be interesting to see how that compares if it becomes available.

Cheers

Geraint
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Old 06-14-2018, 4:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka3jjz View Post
There are TONS of models out there now, and you should do some research before deciding on a model. Don't necessarily go with the newest and greatest; here's an article from our wiki that has numerous links to reviews along with models...

SDRs with HF Coverage - The RadioReference Wiki

Mike
Thank you very much for the link. I skimmed it but need to spend a bit more time with it to read some of those reviews more in depth.

I've been researching for a couple of months now, and been on and off regarding getting the HF+ during that time.

Since, as far as I know, SDR# is the only software that has a scanner-plugin (And a very effective one at that), I'm limiting my choices to devices that are compatible with SDR#.

That excludes the SDRplay for now (But if their software gets a good scanning-capability, as Geraint hints at now, I might reconsider)

I just found out that the Airspy-people are about to release a 'band-aid' for the HF+. Some device that people are apparently supposed to buy and build into their HF+ to fix the problems it reportedly has.

It could just be a cultural difference, since I don't come from the HAM-community (And therefore don't usually build my own hardware-devices), but I can't help feel it's almost disrespectful that the Airspy-people expect their customers to do their homework for them to fix the product (And even having to pay for this fix) they put out for sale before it was apparently really ready.

All this really puts me off that company, but maybe I'm judging too harshly since I'm not from the HAM-community.

On the other hand; I think the Airspy R2 and Spyverter is a great product-combo. Although I think it would have been a smarter design if the Spyverter would allow a bypass, so it didn't have to be physically disconnected from the Airspy to allow VHF reception. In fact it was this feature about the HF+ that first got me interested in it (But then all the back and forth talk about the HF+'s problems rose and that has kept me on the fence for quite some time now. Maybe an "HF+2" will be more lucky)

An other device I have considered lately, is the Elad device. I haven't found any info on the S3 yet, but that one seems interesting (And Elad seems to be a more professional company, although that could just be because I don't have a HAM-background and therefore perhaps just misunderstand how the Airspy-company is operating)

Or the S2, since that is, as far as I know, compatible with SDR# (The scanning ability is make-or-break for me, and Elad's own software seems geared towards manual use)

Doing research is always a good idea, but at some point you also have to reach some kind of conclusion and I really hoped I was getting close to that point
But back to the thinking-box I guess.

Thanks for your input, Mike.


Quote:
Originally Posted by VHFgeraint View Post
Sdrplay say that they have a scanning feature coming in the next release of their software, so it will be interesting to see how that compares if it becomes available.

Cheers

Geraint
Thank you.

The lack of scanning-ability is what has kept me from even considering the SDRplay for now.
If they introduce such a feature, and it's effective and flexible, it could be, at least for me, a major game-changer.

I understand HAMs don't often need a scanning-ability for their needs, but I'm sure most scanner-hawks would welcome it
(And the scanner-plugin for SDR# is very good and will be very tough to beat unless they make a really serious effort at it)

Is there an ETA on the next software-release from SDRplay?
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Old 06-15-2018, 2:22 AM
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Hello JELAIR
I may be mistaken, but don't think the "Band-Aid" will help with the UHF images as it is a pre-selector for the HF path only.
Sdrplay haven't given an ETA for scanning other to say that it is in the next release. Presumably that means it is being worked on, but who knows?

Cheers

Geraint
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Old 06-15-2018, 3:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHFgeraint View Post
Hello JELAIR
I may be mistaken, but don't think the "Band-Aid" will help with the UHF images as it is a pre-selector for the HF path only.
Sdrplay haven't given an ETA for scanning other to say that it is in the next release. Presumably that means it is being worked on, but who knows?

Cheers

Geraint
Ok, thank you
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Old 06-15-2018, 8:56 PM
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On the issue of passive HF preselectors - there are only 2 companies that I am aware of that make them - MFJ and for our friends across the pond, Cross Country. You really don't need to 'wait for the official version' - that's marketing trash. Here are the links, in case you're curious...

MFJ Enterprises Inc.

Cross Country Wireless HF Preselector

Yes, these are mainly for HF use, altho the MFJ does go a little way into the 33 Mhz area, and the other one goes to 55 Mhz. These would work just fine with any SDR, not just the Airspy

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Old 06-15-2018, 9:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka3jjz View Post
On the issue of passive HF preselectors
Thank you Mike.

I apparently misunderstood what it was then.
I thought it was an addon-PCB that Airspy was building that users were supposed to purchase and build into the HF+.

But I understand now it's basically a type of adjustable pass-band filter you attach on the antenna-cable, and I can certainly see a device like that being handy to have

You live and you learn
jacob.
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Old 06-16-2018, 1:52 AM
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Hello Jacob
There are a couple of things going on here. Firstly Airspy is developing an add-on pre-selector board for the HF+ to improve the performance in the HF bands. Previously they had stated that such things would never be necessary with the HF+, but I guess you live and learn. The major issue in my mind is that the user has to solder this board in themselves and so you need to have access to and be handy with a soldering iron. As you say though, for many hams, this is not a problem. As far as I am aware, they haven't published the cost of this yet or said when it will be available, but looking at the groups.io for Airspy, I am sensing that it won't be too long now.

What Mike is talking about is that there are commercially available external devices that do essentially the same thing that needs manually adjusting. With the board for the HF+, the selection of the band-pass filters is automatic and linked to the frequency selection.

Neither of these things will address the problem of UHF signals appearing across the VHF band though.

Cheers

Geraint
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Old 06-16-2018, 3:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHFgeraint View Post
Hello Jacob
There are a couple of things going on here. Firstly Airspy is developing an add-on pre-selector board for the HF+ to improve the performance in the HF bands. Previously they had stated that such things would never be necessary with the HF+, but I guess you live and learn. The major issue in my mind is that the user has to solder this board in themselves and so you need to have access to and be handy with a soldering iron. As you say though, for many hams, this is not a problem. As far as I am aware, they haven't published the cost of this yet or said when it will be available, but looking at the groups.io for Airspy, I am sensing that it won't be too long now.

What Mike is talking about is that there are commercially available external devices that do essentially the same thing that needs manually adjusting. With the board for the HF+, the selection of the band-pass filters is automatic and linked to the frequency selection.

Neither of these things will address the problem of UHF signals appearing across the VHF band though.

Cheers

Geraint
Wow... so it IS a PCB you have to build into the HF+ yourself
Well, that was my first impression and I'm sad to see it confirmed.
But thank you for clearing it up.

I haven't taken a radio apart since I was a kid and all my adult life I have only used commercial equipment (Which would be called back and re-fitted by the company, or representing supplier, if there was ever a reason to do so)

I don't want to sound overly harsh, because I do actually have a soldering iron and I do like to do small experiments building my own antennas and such, but for serious work I want the company building the equipment to be serious about what they do and own up to their failures when/if such happens (If I wanted to play with LEGO I would buy LEGO, but I would be very disappointed if I owned an HF+ and was told to purchase the fix for it rather than getting it covered by the product warranty. Especially since the product it's not even a year old yet. That's just not good enough by the Airspy people)
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Old 06-16-2018, 8:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JELAIR View Post
I really wanted it primarily to cover both VHF-airband and HF-airband, and then secondarily the amature-bands at 80- and 40 meters (I also wouldn't mind a receiver that could experiment a little in VLF though, although I understand the HF+ won't go there without some hardware-modification)
Everyone has their own listening desires and styles, and no one can tell you yours is wrong. However, you seem very dedicated to wanting a scan capability, and for the most part that is not a very useful feature on HF. Sure, on VHF Air it is an absolute requirement, but if you scan on HF Air and the ham bands you will miss a lot of signals. Scanning SSB signals is just not a great technique.

Have you considered a dedicated RX for VHF and up (with emphasis on scanning ability) and another for HF? You may find that a better fit, with broader options and better performance.

T!
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Old 06-16-2018, 6:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
Everyone has their own listening desires and styles, and no one can tell you yours is wrong. However, you seem very dedicated to wanting a scan capability, and for the most part that is not a very useful feature on HF. Sure, on VHF Air it is an absolute requirement, but if you scan on HF Air and the ham bands you will miss a lot of signals. Scanning SSB signals is just not a great technique.

Have you considered a dedicated RX for VHF and up (with emphasis on scanning ability) and another for HF? You may find that a better fit, with broader options and better performance.

T!
So far I have only been at HF with the Spyverter/AirspyR2 combo, and as you say; scanning is very difficult there with the constant fading and low SNR.

I am very pleased with the AirspyR2 at VHF-airband. It runs brilliantly there.

The reasons I am (or was) considering the HF+, are because the Spyverter needs to be physically removed when using the airspyR2 for VHF and because I was hoping to improve reception on HF-airband.

The first problem could perhaps be alleviated by using an antenna-splitter, which is obviously easier than having to disconnect the device, but still requires access to where the radios are physically placed. Being able to operate everything from the computer would be my preferred option, which I could do with the HF+.

So yes, currently I'm thinking about the Elad device for HF. The S2 looks good, but I'm curious what the S3 is able to do (I haven't found any reviews or demos of that one yet though, but it seems the release is close so I'm currently waiting to see if anything happens there)
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