Elecraft P3 vs LP-PAN2

So I recently have purchased an Elecraft P3 panadapter to go with my K3.  Since I bought an LP-PAN sometime last year, I should probably compare them both so people on the fence can decide which one to get.

Initially after adding the IF-Out board on the K3, I wanted to add some sort of panadapter.  I mean who doesn’t have one now days.  Since I had built a few Softrock SDR’s, I already had the equipment (ie: professional-grade USB sound card) needed to decode the I/Q signals into something my computer could understand.  So getting the LP-PAN2 was a no-brainer.  Just plugged it in, cranked up NaP3 and off I went.

Then I really saw the power of a panadapter.  I wanted something that I could go portable with (like deer hunting) or to Field Day and not lug my shack desktop around.  Enter the P3 (I got the SVGA card as well).

  • P3
    • + Plug and Play with K3 with regard to CAT control and frequency sensing.
    • + No external sound card needed.
    • + No ground loops or driver issues with Windows.
    • + Powered by 12v jack on back of K3 (<—HUGE PLUS).  This means that its 100% self contained and doesn’t require any external connections short of what it plugs into the K3 for power, CAT and IF-out.
    • + Typical awesome Elecraft support.
    • – Screen is small, but SVGA card (few hundred bucks more) fixes that issue
    • – Visually functional (I like it, but I also like the command prompt) but not very eye-candyish.
    • – Cant QSY with the mouse clicking on the frequency you want.
    • – Expensive
  • LP-PAN
    • + Lets you run whatever panadapter software you wish
    • + Can plug into the 12v plug on the back of the K3
    • + Cheaper than the P3
    • – Requires a highish-end soundcard to be really functional
    • – Requires a pretty powerful computer if you want to do other things on your computer and have the panadapter running.
    • – Although the box itself is very portable, the computer and other accessories needed to make the box useful isn’t.

If I was just starting out and didn’t have the Softrock experience before (meaning I didn’t have the sound card and cables laying around) I would have probably ordered the P3/SVGA right off the bat.  However since a good chunk of the panadapter project involved existing equipment that was already paid-for, I opted to go the LP-PAN route just to see how much use it would be.  Am I selling the LP-PAN? No.  There are times where I want to use NaP3 or some other software that the P3 cant run (like CW Skimmer).  Fortunately, the P3 has an IF splitter which allows me to daisy-chain the LP-PAN on the back of the P3 and run both at the same time (although it does have a 3db signal hit for splitting the signal).

Now Elecraft has the PX3 which is the P3 in a tiny case that uses the I/Q outputs on the KX3. Cant wait!

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