Thursday, June 10, 2010

KREF3 let-down

I often use WSPR, the very narrow band, low power, automatically reported beacon mode, which operates in a 200Hz wide band and reports the frequencies of received stations to 1Hz accuracy. I also sometimes use other digital modes where I want to be able to set my transceiver to a specific frequency with confidence. So one Elecraft K3 add-on that I had been eagerly awaiting was the KREF3 board that was supposed to allow you to lock the K3 reference oscillator to an external frequency standard. In fact, readers of this blog may recall that only a couple of weeks ago I posted an item about rubidium frequency standards being sold on eBay.

A few days ago Trevor G0KTN, who is actually the person responsible for turning me on to WSPR in the first place, posted a question to the Elecraft reflector asking for a comment from Elecraft as to when the KREF3 might be available. When no answer was received he asked again, and eventually received this reply from Eric WA6HHQ: The KREF3 is not in current planned development. I thought we had removed the references to it in all of our docs. Is it still showing up somewhere?

It is still showing up in the copies of the manuals I have. There is still a labelled, blanked-off hole for it on the back of my radio. More importantly, it showed up in the specification and brochure that Elecraft produced at the time I ordered the radio.

In the past I have been flamed quite harshly by members of the Elecraft fan club for suggesting that Elecraft had broken promises or even acted dishonestly by failing to provide advertised features. But is it being honest, when deciding not to provide a feature that was initially advertised and promised, to quietly delete all references to it and hope no-one notices? Perhaps Elecraft figured that since most hams are in their 60s or later we all have Alzheimer's and will have forgotten the KREF3 was ever offered.


Theodore said...

You are very brave Julian.
The K3 "fan club" is more like a cult which requires groupthink in all statements mentioning the K3.

There is no doubt that the K3 is a fine transceiver, especially the receiver, but the abuse heaped on even mild critics is noteworthy.
Perhaps it is the illusion of user inclusion that Elecraft nuture - the "personal ownership" gambit used by sales organisations,
but in any case, I would not like to be the dissenting voice at a users group meeting.

Nevertheless, it is a nice transceiver, and at least you can speak to the makers, perhaps that is worth the brainwashing.

telli said...

I have bought 2 K3s to use them for digital modes and was still awaiting the K3Ref board. Now after the statement of Eric, that the development has stopped, I am deeply dissapointed. I did send a personal mail to Eric. After being an Elecraft customer for nearly 10 years and buying gear for abt. 10k$ this is the first time I am not satisfied with the firms policy. They cant sell a product with some promises and then suddenly stop to fulfil them. Maybe I will sell my K3s and go for Flex radio - they are offering the reference option right at the sale. Sad to tell, but that is my opinion!