Prologue (if you have read my other reviews, please skip the Prologue and the Disclaimer)
A lot of my fun in Ham Radio is the tinkering with these software defined radios. I have had the great fortune to own and have reviewed several at this point, the Flex 5000 Dual RX, Anan 100D Dual RX, the MB1, The DUO, Afredi, Ettus, Funcube, RTL, QS1R, KX3, Winradio, (if you want to count it as one) and also reviewed others and perhaps plan a few more for the future. As you can see by the shack and other articles on the site, I like to see what all I can do with them and experiment a bit. I hope you'll enjoy the this review as it takes the experience from all the others, my enthusiasm and passion and explores this newer SDR and shares my thoughts on operating with it. I have been a licensed Ham since 2011, wow time fly’s, I dug right in to HF and SDRs not too long after that and never looked back. I hope you enjoy the review!
I have no affiliation with the vendor nor am I compensated in any way for these reviews. I do not have an alliance with any Ham Equipment Manufacture and try to retain a very independent and unbiased view. I simply don’t care about brand loyalty, I care about great products so I try to tell it like it is and focus on what’s good and what seems bad. I also try to write these reviews so all level of hams can read and enjoy! If you know of a great product and would like to see it reviewed here, let the manufacturer know about SDRZone so they can contact me and arrange a loan the review equipment. Much of the equipment reviewed here was purchased by me directly and then sometimes later resold. Far too much of it has remained with me though as I am an enthusiast and in general share the excitement of SDR Radio.
Review Setup - feel free to skip if you know what radio servers and slices (DDC's) are already
I think a little background might be in order before we dive in to the details. Some will be reading this without a lot of SDR knowledge and a common question that arises is: “what is a slice, DDC, or virtual receiver?”
When we think of a traditional super heterodyne receiver transceiver, it has one or two receivers in it with 1 to 2 sub receivers. Sometimes the second receiver is the sub receiver and in more modern incarnations there can be two dedicated receivers and as many as 1 sub receiver attached to each. I am taking great liberty here in speaking to this at the very high laymen level since its not my intent to present a course on radio architecture.
In the digital realm, slices could be thought of as virtual sub receivers created from a larger digital receiver. The larger receiver captures a larger swath of spectrum and presents it in a way that it can be digitally carved up in to multiple smaller virtual slices, or AKA slice or virtual receivers. Since the slice receivers are only virtual they can be created and destroyed as needed. The # slices for all practical purposes are limited by larger receiver’s total bandwidth capture capability and the slice processors ability to simultaneously carve out and serve them up to an end user. Hence why you see Flex and or other SDR makers speak in terms of 2,4 and 8 slices.
In general, in SDRs the ADC is the capture unit and the FPGA/CPU and DSP/CPU are the slice processor where a computer or device can represent the CPU and or the DSP or they could be circuitry onboard the radio with a radio operating system to do the processing.
The more ADC's and Processing power the more elaborate the slices can be and or the larger quantity of slices can be had. A more precise overview in Flex terms can be found on the flex website at the link above in the user’s guide. This was meant to be a more general synopsis related to SDRs overall.
I mention this also because the concept of a slice or virtual receiver is a foundational element on how modern day SDR manaufactures can tend to think in terms of SDRs. Functionality must be available to each slice so that the slice may cover whatever need the user assigns. This might be working QSO’s or skimming bands for local spots or gathering and or displaying other information that could be fed and or used in another program.
What we end up with in essence is more than a software transceiver. In the bigger picture we get a radio server that sits on a network and feeds a client or possibly clients as the future looks to unfold. Clients might be anything from a device such as an iPad or computer end user or eventually users to software consuming and processing data for enhanced operations.
In turn this created a paradigm for a thin client. A fat client is a full blown software package that sits on a computer or device and does all the data processing and manipulation to serve a client. Its generally bulky but also usually fully featured. Data is sent to the fat client to be processed to its end result.
A thin client might be thought of as processing the data to the fullest extent that makes practical sense and sending a much lighter data feed to a much smaller less capable client. In the old days we had main frames and terminals attached to the mainframe. The main frame did all the work and the terminal was an interface to that work product or a means of requesting more work product. The terminal was a client and the mainframe was the server.
We then moved into a world where the desktop started doing the work in a distributed manner and servers were used to store the resulting work product and make it available to others.
Today we have a mixture of paradigms out there and ironically Flex Radio Systems has examples of both in its older architecture with good ole fat PowerSDR and its newer thinner offering of SmartSDR.
The PC was used to do the heavy lifting in the old model and the radio server now does the heavy lifting internally and sends out lean work product for the end user to consume.
The arguments between each camps fan’s goes something like this:
- The fat client can do more for my individual needs.
- The thin client is more nimble and portable and thus more powerful.
Your cheerful SDRZone site owner will tell you that they both have great argument and that he has seen these models come and go and come and go again over and over. Today we call the cloud the server and everything else clients.
So in summary, we get a radio transceiver that is a server, does the heavy lifting and serves its clients with slice receivers.
The Anan 8000 DEL was ordered new and this review may leverage some of the Anan 100D review. I will rewrite most elements of this review to the extent needed to accurately represent my experience with this new model. While the format from the previous review is being used as a template, its likely 90% of this review will be newly written.
In the previous Anan review I produced a PowerSDR MRX Fast Settings Guide in the Yahoo Group files area and it definitely makes that part of the setup easier. I will make sure that document is reposted with this review along with a PC guide I created. The link to the old one is provided for your reference.
The HPSDR nomenclature differs a bit from the Flex terms, we really don't think in terms of slices, we think in terms of DDC or Digital Down Conversion Receivers. Sometimes they are referred to as virtual receivers.
The primary software used to facilitate full ham operations currently is a variant of the original FlexRadio Sytems PowerSDR. The HPSDR variant used with the Anans is PowerSDR Mrx and is maintained as Open Source by a volunteer team of developers.
The Yahoo Group and Apache-Labs Community are your primary means of software support. Some of the original designers of the Hermes and Mercury projects have chimed in and helped or even exchanged personal e-mails answer some of the numerous questions I asked both present and past.
When buying an open source transceiver such as the Anan 8000 DLE its very important to understand that the people supporting you are all volunteers and work for free, and may not consider it their responsibility to support you. As such, one should take the citizen approach and participate and help other users when they know the answers as to make the overall response faster and easier.
Reading the Yahoo group the initial experiences of those receiving their radios appeared to be a little bit rough. These ranged from the front panel display SWR issues to power output questions and concerns. In general there seemed to be a back log on orders, however, I have to say that when I ordered mine it was shipped to me the next day. I cant really say if the order delay is a vendor stock issue, however, I ordered mine on a Friday and it shipped that it Monday. It should also be noted that I am not really hearing of new issues given the initial rollout and current firmware updates.
I found it surprising to see some first time SDR users buying these radios. That is definitely a difficult path to follow as I know my second radio was a Flex 5000 SDR and it was definitely a time of frustrations and lots of head scratching.
Since the Anan 8000 DLE requires a higher watt PS, I went with an RD Power KW power supply and have included it in the unboxing.
Vendor Specs and Information – Pulled directly from the apache labs website.
- Architecture: Direct Sampling DDC/DUC Transceiver
- Interface: Ethernet
- Phase Noise (Clock): -149dB @ 10Khz
- TCXO Stability (Typical): /- .1 PPM
- Modes: CW, SSB, NFM, AM, Digital
- Antenna Ports: Three SO-239 50 ohms Software Configurable Ports, One BNC for RX2
- Frequency Resolution: 1 Hz
- 13.8v DC @ 35A, 3A Receive/35A Transmit
- 12Kg (approx. Weight)
- Dimensions: 483MM (L) x 123MM (H) x 320MM (D) (Not including extrusions)
- Stainless Steel Chassis and Aluminum Heatsink
- Receiver Architecture: Direct Down Conversion
- Dual 16 bit Phase Synchronous ADCs
- Independent filter banks for each ADC
- 10/6M LNAs
- Frequency Coverage: 9Khz to 60Mhz
- Attenuator: 1-30dB step attenuator
- Reciprocal Mixing Dynamic Range (RMDR): 116dB @ 2Khz
- Receiver Phase noise: -149dB @ 10Khz
- Image rejection: 100dB
- Hardware support for 7 independent receivers assignable to either ADC
- Transmitter Architecture: Direct Up Conversion
- DAC Resolution: 16 bit
- RF Output Power: 200W SSB, CW, FM, RTTY, Digital; 1-50W AM, 6M 175-200W SSB, CW, FM, RTTY, Digital; 1-50W AM
- IMD: IMD3 typically -72dB @ 200W output on 20M
- Harmonics: Typically better than -50dBc on HF and -60dBc on 6M
- Carrier and Opposite Sideband Suppression: Better than -80dBc
- Transverter IF Output: 0db to 15dB
- RCA Line In, Line Out, PTT in, PTT Out
- DB9 Seven Software configurable Open Collector Outputs
- BNC XVTR TX Out, 10Mhz Reference Input
- 6.25mm Barrel Mic, CW Key, Headphones and Speaker Outputs
- SMA PureSignal (Predistortion) Loop Input and Output
- RJ45 Ethernet LAN Connector
Ordering and Shipping
Gigaparts was very seamless to work with and questions on ordering and shipping were answered promptly, the staff was friendly and helpful. The Anan 8000 DLE is my second Anan, the first being the Anan 100D also reviewed here and available in the article and review archive.
For many, trusting your radio investment into an overseas little known company is a big deal. Each person has to make their own decision on this. Mine was based on my previous experience buying the Anan 100D directly from Apache labs as well as my very positive experiences with Gigaparts as a US vendor.
After lots of research on the forums, searching for videos, visiting websites with relevant information, YouTube videos, ect, I decided to place my order. Note that there is not a lot of concrete info out there on this newer model and it’s my hope that this review helps those who are interesting in potentially purchasing this radio.
The prepurchase rationale for purchasing this radio primarily is for the new improved 50 volt amplifier to make PureSignal even more impressive and the new diversity reception and noise reduction modules in PowerSDR. While much of this could be had on a cheaper 200D, or now the Anan 7000 DLE I am hoping that the newer design will be a good longer term investment. I expect up to 5 years of life from this radio. I am of the camp that expects a radio investment to last 5 years and typically sell equipment at 3 years to recuop my investment and then reinvest in newer tech. Dual ADC’s with Dual Filter Banks, Gigabit Ethernet, highly functional software and a group seeking to innovate are also strong reasons that drove me to invest in an 8000 DLE. Will I keep it? Yes!
Despite the excitement and the desire to open it all up quickly, I did take a moment to snap some pictures with my Cell Phone of the unpacking.
The box was well taped and sealed.
The radio inside was double boxed counting the outer box
Styrofoam protected the radio itself. The envelope has a sheet inside with links to fast setup instructions.
This is how it looks when removed from the Styrofoam.
The back of the 8000DLE and the RD Power Supply.
The Power Cord is substantial, the leads nicely tinned!
The radio is substantial, the case solid, nothing rattles!
I put the radio on my rack, plugged in all the cables I had already waiting for it and powered it on!
First note to consider is that you will need a 40A Clean Power Supply for this radio. You do not want to get a PS that is noisy as that noise is likely to be reflected in your Panadapter display and become annoying. Astron as well as others have offerings that will work. I opted for an RD Power 1KW Power Supply at 75A and said to be clean. This power supply is not your average PS, so shop carefully. I should also warn that the fan noise level from this power supply is a bit loud and may not be ideal if its not located away from your ears and mic. I do like it though and its very cleaned as advertised and has lots of power to spare! The video shows you what it looks and sounds like. https://youtu.be/jucbtaxcHLY
I had some minor complications setting up the radio, my previous SDR and Anan 100D experience in setup mostly translated over to the Anan 8000 DLE with the exception of the Mic and Hand Trigger setup and the DJ Console.
The DJ Console I purchased was not yet supported, however W2PA kindly helped me by adding code to support it fully, all buttons, wheels and knobs. I mapped enough of what I needed and found comfortable for now to help me facilitate testing and writing the review. I will need to create a full final mapping and labeling later this year. The Behringer CMD Studio 2A was a little different than the other Behringer consoles, however Chris graciously worked though it until he had it working.
My second complication was with the Mic Jack on the 8000 DLE, it is different than what my 100D had, so I had to dig into the why and eventually sharpened my mind up to figure it out. This is an example where what I needed was in the manual but i glassed passed it not recognizing the value of the diagram showing the plug and base, ring and tip functions. Below you'll find the setup diagram and a view of my final ugly cable I made as well as a picture of it hooked into the front of the 8000. I will now use a 1/4 to 3/8 converter adapter and move the cabling to the back of the radio.
Ugly home brew cable!
Cable with Ground Loop Isolator deployed
The manual is overall decent to get the initial setup completed. Overall if you’re willing to read through it a few times though, a great deal of what you need to know is covered and you will be able to get everything up and running. The Open HPSDR support team is extremely open to feedback and help in improving the manual. I even made a small contribution myself in the 100D manual. There is additional information that can be found in the the links here in the form of a Digital Modes Guide and the SDR PC Help Guide and PowerSDR MRX Fast Settings in the Apache Labs Yahoo group. This old Digital Modes Guide may help we well if your new to digital modes and setting up SDRs to work with them.
If you are overall new to SDR's and interested in these radios, I suggest signing up for the Apache Labs Yahoo Group and reading the SDR PC Help Guide first. It will help you get ready for owning your Anan SDR as well as other SDRs. What I am about to say next may be somewhat controversial however I am willing to stand behind this, if you plan on owning an Anan long term and plan to use it to its full extent than a above average PC is recommended. The SDR PC Help Guide discusses an approach to selecting parts for and building your own SDR PC. Since its writing a few things have changed in the PC landscape. AMD makes some nice Processors now days and is about to release some even more powerful ones soon to compete with Intels new I9 CPUs. I highly recommend a setup with an I7 7700K, this CPU can be had for around $300 and can kick some ass, or you can spend more on say a I6950 and have a top performing beast. For fun I pasted a sample system that builds out at about $3000 before Tax. I will probably do an updated article later this fall on SDR PC's. Considerations for a system like this is running multiple 4K displays, multiple SDRs, Digital Audio Processing software and a full set of Ham Software. By all means you can certainly work with a lot less and to be honest most hams do just that, running on an i5 with minimal resources.
If you are a digital modes user then the Digital Modes Guide will help you understand what the setup for those modes looks like. Both guides offer a little theory here and there as well, explaining some of the basic whys. I highly suggest reading everything you can prior to your Anan radio arriving, if you do you will have a much greater chance of having a very positive experience like I ended up having.
If one plans ahead as to how they will connect their Anan via ethernet (Direct to PC or via Gigabit Switch) and also how they will use a Mic with their Anan, installation should be very smooth! I connected direct to the PC via Cat 5 at first and while I did have a PC network adaptor issue that created some strange behavior with VAC settings, simply deleting the interface in device manager and letting Windows scan and reinstall it cured all my issues.
Setup can be summarized as follows:
- Check Contents for completeness and or damage
- Decide how you will connect your power cord to your powersupply. I used PowerPolls.
- Place Radio in shack testing position
- Connect Mic (if you use a regular unbalanced Mic connection no Jumper changes will be required.)
- Connect Ethernet CAT 5/6 Cable to radio and PC or Hub (No Crossover cable needed)
- Connect Dummy Load and or Antenna depending on whether you wish to transmit
- Connect Power
- Connect PTT device if using one (You can use Space Bar with Power SDR MRX if you want to keep it simple.
- Connect Speaker if you plan on using it on front
- Power Up Radio
- Look for Lan and Power Lights and Fan sound
- Launch Power SDR Mrx
- Connect to radio
- Calibrate your PS using the Dummy load and Tune functions
- Follow manuals!
Setup Screen Shots
Today saw the setup of digital modes in DM780. I opted to use VB Cable virtual audio cables and bought the A+B cables for $12.50. I am trying to create a more simple install this time and I feel that both VB Cables and Advanced Virtual Com Ports are working well.
The COM Port setups
The VB Cable Setup
I was able to make a QSO just fine with PSK31 on 20M.
For fun I have included some of the Setup screens for a small taste of what they look like in PowerSDR Mrx.
SDR Manuals and Improtant References
- Anan Users Guide
- Anan Programer Tool Guide
- SDR PC Help Guide - A guide to help buy/build SDR PC's and or Troubleshoot SDR PC Issues.
- Digital Modes Supplement- A guide to help configure digital modes with PowerSDR
- Anan Fast Settings- A small rough guide to quickly get your Anan settings configured.
- PowerSDR MRX AGC Notes- A small guide to explain the AGC Controls in PowerSDR MRX.
- Adjusting Audio Chain- videos and information on adjusting the audio chain in PowerSDR.
About the Anan
Let’s talk about the physical aspects of the radio first. Some may disagree, however, I think the case seems semiprofessional. It’s rugged, solid and very large and heavy as compared to previous models. One may seriously prefer the 7000 DLE if size and weight are issues. There is quite a bit of horsepower when you think about the power that resides inside the case! The connectors all seem solid and other than that they are 259 on the primary receivers and BNC type connectors for the second ADC. (you may need adaptors if you are currently all 259), everything seems nice and tight!
Unlike previous models there do not seem to be any heat issues whatsoever. To be fair I hardly ever drive it full power given I have an amp and so mine seldom uses drive power over 22%. The addition of a LCD Display panel is nice! I think Flex removing it from the 6600 is a mistake, but thats how it goes!
If you are buying one of the Anan's you need to understand up front its not really able to operate at the full 100% of the duty cycle. Digital Modes should basically be run at 30% of the two hundred watts. Overheating or damage could occur if you do run it above the documented duty cycles.
The ethernet connection works really well! This guide I prepared may be helpful as well. You can locate this here: SDR Network Performance and Remote Access
The diagram below shows how remote access models vary from SDR to SDR.
Let me say that I am coming from the perspective of returning to PowerSDR MRX given I sold my 100D a few years ago and have since been living off the KX3 and then the MB1 and a Flex 6500 afterwards. I have to be honest I was not thrilled about returning to PowerSDR Mrx, however, with some window dressing in the way of skins I have realized once again that its a very full featured robust package.
The Hermes community has done a great job customizing PowerSDR for the many Open Source radios that one can find out there now. If you enable it, the Anan will stitch together receivers to provide more bandwidth and you can get a view of the entire band say on 20M for example. Stitching in case you are not following me is the practice of joining the RF from 2 or more receivers together to make a single receiver look like it has more bandwidth. Once Gigabit Ethernet is fully enabled in Protocol 2 wider bandwidth will be available. I have already used 1.5MB on SDR Console.
With the use of a splitter and optionally an [ MFJ-1708 or the DX Engineering T/R Switch] one can feed the same antenna into 2 different ports, Ant1 and RX2 for example, to leverage more of the SDR’s capabilities with a single antenna [main advantage being able to use RX2 in PowerSDR MRX with one antenna and additional receivers from both ADC's]. Again, keep in mind you need a full live second antenna to leverage the diversity feature.
While there isn’t any software currently available to leverage all of the DDC receivers for the Anan 8000 DLE, this should eventually come in time. SDRConsole by Simon Brown in Beta right now for the Anans looks to be very promising and will be tested as a part of this review. Keep in mind, all the developers out there working on all this are unpaid.
While one may be tempted to declare this a negative aspect of owning these radios, I don’t. Despite having probably rubbed a few people the wrong way a few times on the forums in the spirit of pushing for the software roadmap and other answers, I actually have experienced all this as a positive. A few developers have personally been in touch with me, helped me and seem very receptive to input, ideas, ect. It’s actually quite refreshing to actually work with the developers writing your software rather than being a request in a queue.
I have used both the MFJ and DX Engineering solutions referenced above and highly recommend the DX Engineering solution over the MFJ. I am able to transmit on Ant1 while providing additional protection for RX2 using the same antenna. While one in theory could use just a splitter, I have opted to use the TR Switch as it has nice connections that make this setup easier for me to facilitate verses just using a splitter alone. Alternately you can also set RX2 to ground on Transmit in the software and not incur the expense of an addon device.
Having a substantial investment in my Hex Beam it is nice to be able to use the antenna for both receivers [using both ADCs and Dual RX in PowerSDR MRX] rather than using a lesser antenna for RX 2 like I had to previously. The difference between my Hex and my receive antenna is immense and so this is useful to me in working split weak DX's. This will work in any shack BTW so I am not touting it to be Anan specific.
Incidentally if you want to have a dedicated receive type antenna that can not tolerate power, the DX Engineering device can help there as well by protecting your RX Antenna while your TX Antenna transmits. I am in no way advocating you need a TR Switch or even a splitter to enjoy the Anan. I use a special G5RV for my second antenna.
Inside the 8000 DLE
As it so happens, I wanted to look at the upgrade USB connector for LCD Panel Display Firmware and it requires opening up the radio. Since I had it opened it only made sense to share photos of the rigs innards to the degree they are exposed to view the Adrino upgrade. I also wanted to see if there was an easy way to install a cable to the outside of the radio for future upgrades eliminating the need to open the radio again.
Full view after lid removal
50V Power Amplifier Board
Let’s talk about PowerSDR MRX some more! Given that Diversity Reception are 2 huge selling points for the Anan's I thought it only fair to dig in extra deep on those topics and to that end you'll find an intermediate level of focus within this review.
It is worth mentioning that since Flex copyrighted the Tracking Notch Filter code, there are no TNF’s in MRX. That is the only down side I have found thus far other than you are limited to 2 virtual receiver slices at present. The upshots are there are lots more controls. I won’t cover them all, however the display settings for the RX1 and RX2 waterfall display is one difference. Optional display and audio attenuation for RX2 during RX1 transmit is another.
PowerSDR Mrx with W1AEX Skin
MRX diversity reception works well. Its rather fun to tinker with and you can see how it works when using different antennas and how it doesn't when the same antenna feed RX1 & RX2.
I have created a short presentation on leveraging dual ADC's and some video examples of the Diversity feature. I think this feature and its capabilities as facilitated through the Anan SDRs are often very confused.
I have also created a forum thread discussion in case you want to get in on the conversation and weigh in with your thoughts. I highly recommend reading the thread discussion as it was intened to be very imformative in laymans terms about how your Dual RX Anan can be more fully leveraged.
PureSignal can be a bit difficult to quantify as a real benefit for some. I went around and around with a few other hams on the topic and in the end I found my own way of looking at it since I was still undecided about it in real world practicality. It may simply be a case of semantics on ways of conveying its merits. Anyways, I finally found my way through it and took time to document my understanding of it below this section in the series of orange slides.
Simply stated, theoretically you are going to get a cleaner signal transmitted and for DXing its going to increase your odds of being picked up and heard and overall appear as a more desirable signal on panadapters with the splash of distortion likely far below everyone’s noise floors and steep sharp brick walls to either side. In affect as many argued, you'll certainly be a better citizen in keeping the airwaves cleaner as well. Also, theoretically your going to have world class transmitted signals that are not really replicated by any other brand of radio currently available to hams.
To get rolling I calibrated the PA again for each band... I had to reset the Database a few times and so after getting the issues that were quirky worked out, I redid it and then also got Pure Signal enabled.
With the above accomplished, theory in mind, I decided to see what PureSignal looks like real life on a distant end. To do this I had to find a remote SDR which could see my signal and capture screenshots. I used to do this using Simon Brown's SDR Console and simply access someone’s online SDR Remotely. Right now that doesn’t seem to be an option until Simon gets the new server code integrated into V2 of Console.
So I went out looking for other options and came accross sdr.hu. After fiddling a bit I found a panadapter and waterfall view which would work for my test case. K1RA has a receiver in Virginia and that seemed perfect for me. Well, the results were rather interesting. I used the 8000DLE in and out of PureSignal mode and then the EE MB1 as a control monitor as to have another SDR to compare results with. Here are your screen shots, tune mode was used with and without an Amp.
First your Barefoot Results
Notice the skirts on the Panadapters and the difference between the MB1 and the Anan in both models. I do realize these are small, you can Right Click the pictures and download a higher resolution version if you want to look at them closer.
Next I wanted to see what running the output through my Elecraft solid state KPA 500 with about 240-250 watts would do. I noted that there was a 10 watt power loss with Puresignal enabled.
With Amp 245 Watts Out
And while I was at it, might as well see what SSB voice looks like on the three tests:
As you can see, the visible differences are notable on the pandapter display with the wall going much more into the noise floor with Puresignal enabled verses disabled or on the control with the MB1. Also note though, none of the signals broke the boundaries of their set filter width in the panadapter. While the following presentation is a little bit reppetitive, I hope it paints the bigger picture for those still seeking the big deal about PureSignal.
The interactive presentation with active links can be viewed here: http://sdrzone.com/websitestorage/IMD_PureSignal.pdf
Knobs and Dials
Personally for me DJ Controller support built right into the code is a nice plus! No waiting for forks to be released when new versions are released is really very nice. Speaking of which, updates come quite frequently for the Anan. Over the past years additional DJ panels have become supported, the Beringer lineup has 3 now that are supported. Below is a picture of the one W2PA just added support for. It is new so its not fully mapped or labeled yet as that will require some thought on my part on how I want it to be fully mapped. After I decide on the mappings I can then label each button.
Firmware and Software are both works in progress. I can’t cover everything and honestly I am not even capable of covering it all. Suffice to say that on the average screen in PowerSDR one either finds improvements in functionality or expanded controls. Again the fast settings guide on the Yahoo Group I compiled will help you get going and allow you to learn over time how to tweak.
If you hang out with the group on Yahoo be prepared to learn things you didn’t even know you could do with an SDR. One thing I learned that I should have already known when I got my 100D was about being able to use a USB headset with mic with VAC for your mic and speakers over ethernet with no speaker or mic connection needed on the radio. While this was there for the Flex 5K all along, I just missed it. The hams that hang out there on the yahoo group are very sharp and have several years of SDR experience. You just never know who might reply to your messages as well! Some of the rock stars of SDR radio hang out there.
Let’s move on to audio. The Anan has very good audio. I have used it on three different sets of speakers and it sounds great on all of them. In my opinion, the receiver is a little quieter sounding than the some of the other radios I have owned. Overall Audio reports for the station have been very positive.
After all the playing around it came down to just spending some time operating the radio. It’s been very pleasurable. I have had really nice Rag chews on 17M and 20M. This afternoon for example I had a nice QSO with a gentleman who was mobile and just booming into KS with only 100 watts with an antenna on his minivan... he was 5 over 59 going 80mph.
I have started to run some PSK and RTTY again as well. It’s all working great! There have been no radio specific issues integrating Virtual Audio Cables and Virtual Serial Ports. It all works great! I have fought my PC on some issues though, its probably already time to reload Hamzilla yet again. I play really hard sometimes with lots of software being installed and removed on my workstation PC, not to mention running multiple SDRs.
I purchased and setup a gigabyte switch and router solution recently for the Anan100D and added another switch as well to create an additional network. One network exists for SDRs and sits on Lan Jack two of the PC. That switch is connected to a second switch which has access to my entire network and Lan Jack 1 on the PC. Wether there is an actual benfit to this is debateable. One good switch is likely enough in most cases.
The home router gets out of the way and allows high speed communications between the radio and PC. The dedicated IP then can be set in PowerSDR and startup becomes instantaneous! This also allows you to set the dedicated IP addresses up in your firewall for uninhibited communications. Very cheap solution overall!
Note, Thetis and SDR Console may not like having multiple active network adapters. Simply turning off your additional adapters and running with one will greatly improve your enjoyment with those software offerings.
The outlook for the Anan is very exciting. You can order and have one now and everything works for your basic radio operations. You get a fully functioning radio and can access fully functioning software now. Compared to the commercial competition you get a substantial radio at a pretty nice price. You have three models to choose from as does the competition. Ironically they are similar in the way they would appeal to end users. One being low power, one being higher power and the most capable having two ADCs and 14 possible receivers.
Sometimes writing reviews like this causes one to reflect and that reflection leads to more revelations. The Anan 8000 DLE has many of the future promised goodies that are really still in the works with some of its compettiion and its already here and ready to use now. There has been much talk about Fat and Thin clients and while in general people tend to think of PowerSDR as a Fat client, it really isnt all that fat and in many cases the fat clients will almost always be able to offer more features than thin clients. Just one example of this is the concept that through VAC we can hook a USB mic to a laptop and truly operate wireless with the Anans already today. See my new article on Remote Access SDR Models, it should be very informative on this topic if you have not already partaken.
All this reminds me of my days in astronomy when there were some lower profile manufactures of remote control telescope astronomy software that were way ahead of the game, even though their software did not have all the commercial glitz, hype and marketing that other platforms had or said they were developing. Behind the scenes advanced amateur astronomers were using this software while others were merely only talking about it and waiting for the big guys to produce it. I used some of that software and it was seriously cool and way ahead of its time. I am starting to have that same familiar feeling with my new Anan 8000 DLE now that I have gotten it to jump through all the classic hoops and am starting to push the envelope and trying to tap into its real power!
Other SDR Software for use with the Anan 8000 DLE
SDRConsole by Simon Brown
I had fun playing with SDR Console on the Anan 8000 DLE and there is a very promising future ahead for Anan users with console becoming a premium option to use with their Anans.
After some initial setup snafu's I was able to really enjoy SSB and PSK via the SDR Console V3 software using Protocol 2 on my Anan. Many thanks to Simon for pointing me in the right direction on how to resolve this issue on my PC.
I have made a video for this review running PSK31 and SSB with SDR Console and made some QSO's with great audio reports and I dare do say that the audio in my situation seems to far better with SDR Console.
Using PSK manually transmitted pushing the TX button in SDR Console, I simply haven't fully integrated it yet. For PSK and RTTY it looks like I can just enable Vox and disable the DSP to obtain the best results while also making sure the gain is set to a lower level, say 50% as to not overdrive the output.
I am seeing some funky stuff with my Hex beam on ADC 1 in SDR Console, however, we have to remember this is all pre beta so its way too early to worry about things like this, I am only mentioning it in case you experience this yourself. This is a noted bug and Simon will address this in the beta or final release. So essentially, I was receiving on ADC 2 and transmitting on ADC1.
While I won’t let the cat out of the bag, I can tell you Simon has some really neat features planned for future versions of the software that should set it ahead of the others for some time to come. Please don’t ask me about these features though!
I would stay on Protocol 2 with SDR Console if not for the ADC1 Receive bug, and lack of diversity support. Pure Signal is not ready yet, however you can see the stubs for it already in the preview version.
All that said though, when those functions are ready, I will be completely wowed and moving over to Simons offering, hopefully sometime next year.
Of note, Simon has really done a tremendous job with V3 of his software and its likely to become one of the very top offerings once it is completed. I particularly like that audio controls and processing on both Send and Receive. The waterfall and panadapter displays are top notch and have very nice high-resolution views. Audio quality is absolutely top notch!
Here's my video on SDR Console for now to give you a small taste.
PSK 31 Receive
PSK 31 Transmit
Thetis as I understand it is the future of PowerSDR. I am not going to go into it much here, even though I did load and play with it for a bit. I am working on a few videos and I will post here into the review when they are ready so that folks can view them and get a better sense of Thetis.
In having already compared screens there are subtle differences between Thetis and PowerSDR. I plan to play with and learn more about it, however, given my current issues its hard to make use of it and get a better feel for it and given that it looks very much like PowerSDR, I believe the feature changes will be subtle for the short term and perhjps more aimed towards performance and better leveragign the hardware in the radios.
Thetis has one goal of improving parallism which if you do not know what that means is basically about enabling more parrallel processing so tasks and fucntions can operate simulatanteous to get work done that supports operating the radio. Do so ultimately will allow users to get more from the radio as it enables tapping into more of the power of the hardware.
This also opens the doors for new and more complex functionality in the future as well. Short video on Thetis here: h
cuSDR (text from 2014)
This brings me to talking about cuSDR, it looks like it could become a highly promising and exciting software option for the Anan radios. I see no reason why one shouldn’t be able to get all receivers or variants and combinations of them in the future either independently or via stitching. As code gets reworked and rewritten we should see the doors open up for lots of new cool functions to come along.
cuSDR has great audio and I have already had fun listening to Shortwave Radio Broadcasts and using its full spectrum few to poke and peak around the Anan's full spectrum range with the click of the mouse. The drill down in the waterfall is awesome as well and you can see CM and PSK if you zoom in enough.
There doesn’t seem to have been much activity with CUSDR over the past few years so I am not sure where we really stand with it right now.
cuSDR Video - made with the Anan 100D some years ago.
Anan 8000 DLE Cons
- Its big and heavy!
- One must still open it to perform and LCD Update
- The documentation still needs work
- Software support is Open Source based
Anan 800 DLE Pro's
- World-class Transmit Capability
- 200 Watts Drive Output
- Diversity features
- Expandable with Pie based displays and MiDi based controllers
Other Videos with the Anan 8000 DLE in action:
So, it’s time to sum things up! Right now I am a happy camper. I have lots to play with, lots to learn and lots to explore and even more to look forward to. That’s a nice place to be! I have met and continue to meet lots of new fascinating hams along my journey. The radio is seemingly rock solid stable for me right now and other than a few computer glitches it is amazingly quiet and trouble free to operate. I have had good signal reports after I was able to get everything tuned and many users have told me the signal on the panadaptor looks tight and dead on.
Take what you will from these comments as I have no desire to sell you one of these radios, its not my goal. It is nice though to have a positive report so far, after all I did buy one to ultimately become my future primary SDR.
If you have come to this article as a non SDR user interested in SDR's they can be fabulous radios in your shack! They may not be quite prime time for contesting, I'll leave that to others to decide as I don’t contest. I do know others who do contest with SDRs and say they do not feel inhibited or restricted in any way though.
The fact that they are so flexible due to the software you can surround them with makes for a very rich hamming experience.
There are many variables to consider, performance, features, price value.
FLEX Slignature Series
The Flex 6600 with a maestro will likely be the top performer at a cost of about $5200 US - its 20DB pre-amp will allow it to perform better than the MB1 and Anan 8000DLE. With this option you have 2 ADC's and may operate with diversity reception. It’s hard for me to say right now whether the Flex diversity option will truly compare to the ability of the Anan's.
You can expect the Flex 6600 to perform a little better than the Flex 6500 and 6700. Software controls overall have less options for fine tuning. With maestro or the iOS app you have very good Remote Access. Maestro also provides the users with a limited set of knobs and dials. Support is probably best of the 3 as it is a very commercial offering. The Flex 6500 has 1 ADC and 4 virtual receivers and can be purchased on used market for about $3000 US. A new 6600 with two ADC’s will run about $4000, from there one can decide on an integrated Maestro with the M model or a addon on one purchased separately.
Expert Electronics MB1
The MB1 at $6000 US will operate like both a traditional transceiver and an SDR, it is nicest of the SDRs to operate, however, it is limited to one ADC. It is a beautiful transceiver and a very high solid performer. With Pre-amp off it tested as best performer. With Pre-Amps on the Flex 6500 was 8DB better. ExpertSDR is a very nice software to operate with but still has some bugs. Essentially 4 virtual receivers are supported. It is the easiest SDR to use and operate and has the most robust set of knobs and dials on the market. Customer support in US and Europe seems pretty good. Software development is slow. At present give the current state of software, it has more slice receivers than the Anan’s.
Apache-Labs Anan DLE series
The Anan 8000DLE has cleanest transmit IMD on the market with its PureSignal and is truly innovative. PowerSDR MRX while old is very mature and offers many features. Diversity reception with 2 ADCs awesome as witnessed in the videos I made. Virtual receivers in full transceiver mode are limited to 2 in PowerSDR and rumored to be a full 8 in a future version of SDR Console. This is most complicated SDR to use of the 3. New software is being developed eventually. Cost is $4000 US. The new Anan 7000 DLE is similar with a lower transmit IMD performance but overall smaller and a better value at $3000 US. You must add your own knobs and dials via a midi controller such as Behringer Studio CMD 2A or other similar. Support is via the Anan community and can be time consuming to resolve issues.
You can even look at the numerous DDC tranceivers on the market and I can tell you after playing with some, only a few come close in quality and capability. Given that this is my second Anan I can tell this unit greatly improves over the 100D I first owned. It’s very impressive indeed!
Scoring: All categories are weighted equal and averaged then rounded up or down to the nearest 10th.
*Score 1-10 is high
Excellent Communication and Packaging
Very solid Semi-professional Build
Power Output and Power Connectors are well done
Ease of Setup
How hard is it to setup and Operate - one needs to have a little know how and intuition to get up and running.
Easy to locate and follow, user generated
There is lots of room to add on and experiment, history shows lots of new innovation via HPSDR
Software is very mature, not much lacking at all, very complete software.
Very clean receive audio, good on weak sigs, awesome for mitigating interference via Diversity Feature.
Fast Hardware Support - Software Support not included
Cost as compared to specs and other SDRs
Overall Score (Average)
*8-10 = best in class, 5-7 Above Average, 3-4 Below Average, 2 Poor, 0-1 Unacceptable
If you can manage supporting yourself and being patient and resilient when you need help from others then the Anan 8000 DLE is simply an incredible value for your SDR dollar. This assessment is based on comparing the Anan the Anan 8000 DLE to the Flex 6500 and Expert Electronics MB1. It factors in the functionality avilable now as well as price. The assesment might change after the new batch of Flex 6600 series are completed and or as new radios become avilable.
If not for the documentation and thus the impact on setup, this radio woould score a lot higher, for those who dont care about that your looking at a highly excellent rig.
We suggest keeping an eye on Thetis and SDR Console as these two new platforms evolve for uises witht eh new Anans.
About the Reviewer
You can learn more about Mark [NI0Z] on the site at the link below.