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Ham Transceiver Diversity Reception – Current State

transceiver diversity reception

For me, ham transceiver diversity reception is the holy grail. How close are we now to turnkey solutions with the feature fully functional?

A little over three years ago, I did a current state assessment of Dual Channel Coherent SDR receivers. Slim pickings for diversity reception. Since 2018, I have been using two SDR solutions, the SDRplay RSPduo and Afedri AFE822x. You will find these both do a good job of diversity reception using SDRuno and PowerSDR software, respectively. Both use 12 bit ADC with limited front-end filtering and thus are occasionally subject to overload and IMD.

Recently, my mind turned to finding a ham radio transceiver diversity reception solution. Ideally, I would like to use my wideband loop array for reception on lower bands while transmitting on my regular ham antennas. So, I started looking at mid-range transceivers currently available.

To my pleasant surprise, there are now five ham transceiver diversity reception solutions on the market, shown above. To my chagrin, four of these only do audio diversity with one channel for each ear. Sigh.

All five of the above have dual coherent channels with phase-locked VFO. Elecraft K4 at $5000 top left. ICOM IC-7610 at $3000 top right. Yaesu FTDX101D at $3100 center. Flex Radio 6600 at $4000 bottom right. And, Apache Labs ANAN-7000DLE MKII at $2800 lower left.

You will find that all of these rigs have dual 16 bit ADC, extensive RF filtering, and great receiver specifications for ham, SWL and BCB operation. But you will also discover that only one of these does true diversity reception with I/Q phase and amplitude adjustments at baseband: the ANAN-7000DLE.

Ham Transceiver Diversity Reception Details

So, maybe you could build your own diversity decoder and just use the dual I/Q data streams from the receiver? Good luck with that. Yaesu does not export any baseband data. Your most recent IC-7610 firmware will export one I/Q channel at a time, but not combined. Elecraft says “streaming protocols are being refined and will be fully documented in subsequent revisions”.

As for Flex, it might be possible to export two channels simultaneously using DAX, but I doubt they would end up coherent enough in your PC for baseband manipulation.

So, three years later, despite all advances, Apache Labs remains the ham transceiver diversity reception to work out of the box. Perhaps I need to buy one of these.

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