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.
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