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Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:52 am
by AE9RB
I thought it would be fun to compare the Peaberry V2 and SoftRock RXTX pricing.

Since the RXTX has no built-in sound card, we need to add in that cost. Folks on the SoftRock40 mailing list regularly rave about the performance of their $12 USB sticks. Mind you, this raving has never been accompanied with actual test results beyond an anecdotical "works fine". So it's not clear how this compares to the Peaberry's 99dB of dynamic range as tested by the ARRL.

Regardless, let's use $12 as the price of the sound card. Perhaps shipping is about $3. An unshielded audio cable is $2.50 each (you need 2). A word of caution is that nearly every eBay seller claiming their cables are shielded is lying and betting you won't cut the cable open to check. Fortunately, the shielding doesn't seem to matter much in most cases.

So we're up to $20 for the audio bits of the RXTX. We'll assume you get lucky and don't have my experience with cheap USB sound cards...

Card #1 - Junk. Spurs. Lumps. Poor sensitivity.
Card #2 - Audio out had some kind of "bass boost" that you could only turn off under Windows.
Card #3 - Audio in could only be switched to stereo mode under Windows.
Card #4 - Died after a month.
Card #5 - $125 E-Mu 0204.

The next thing we need to normalize for is the number of bands. The Peaberry includes an extra band. It seems reasonable to divide the total cost of the radio by the number of bands it supports. For example, a Flex-1500 costs $649 for 11 bands, or $59/band. Most people build the Peaberry for 4 bands and the RXTX for 3 bands. This is also the best case scenario for both radios so it makes sense to use those numbers.

We'll include an enclosure so the Si570 doesn't drift, parts don't short out, burn you, start fires, get knocked off, etc. We'll stick the RXTX in a cheaper case just to put the Peaberry at a disadvantage.

The RXTX requires an external filter for many builds. Let's assume you have a junk cable you can cut up for this. The RXTX requires a second USB port for the USB audio device. We'll assume you don't need to buy a hub for the second USB connection. Again, this puts the Peaberry at a disadvantage.

Now, the math:

89.00 SoftRock RXTX
3.54 Shipping
19.00 Acrylic Case
3.58 Shipping
20.00 Audio card and cables
------
135.12 / 3 bands = $45.04/band


149.00 Peaberry V2
2.68 Shipping
22.00 KM5H Case
3.90 Shipping
------
177.58 / 4 bands = $44.40/band

Let's say you wanted to cover all bands between 40-10m. You need 2 Peaberrys ($355.16) or 3 RXTXs ($405.36). That's $50 more for a RXTX! Now, when someone asks if you thought the extra cost of your Peaberry was worth it you can smirk and ask, "what extra cost?"

Re: Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:16 am
by W4MMP
Well done David, well done :)

Re: Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:41 pm
by therrick
I personally believe the Peaberry is the much better deal as the sound interface is much more balanced for the application than any cheap sound card. I have many Softrock's and one Peaberry running on several computers. Each Softrock has it's own sound card of course. The sound cards I use are not the cheap $12 cards but the more pricey 96 or 192 kb models that run in the 100-200$ range. Even with these I get small mirror images on louder signals that put out false spots via CWSkimmers. Most people can't "see" these as they are only looking at a small filtered bandwidth where I use it wide open.

On the other hand the Peaberry has great mirror image rejection. I wish I had populated my Skimmers with Peaberry receivers rather than the Softrock ones.

Re: Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:51 am
by W4MMP
therrick wrote:I personally believe the Peaberry is the much better deal as the sound interface is much more balanced for the application than any cheap sound card. I have many Softrock's and one Peaberry running on several computers. Each Softrock has it's own sound card of course. The sound cards I use are not the cheap $12 cards but the more pricey 96 or 192 kb models that run in the 100-200$ range. Even with these I get small mirror images on louder signals that put out false spots via CWSkimmers. Most people can't "see" these as they are only looking at a small filtered bandwidth where I use it wide open.

On the other hand the Peaberry has great mirror image rejection. I wish I had populated my Skimmers with Peaberry receivers rather than the Softrock ones.


Hi,
Yes, I could not agree more. After researching existing product offerings, the Peaberry in my opinion is better in almost every aspect when it comes to SDR offerings. All inputs/outputs have ESD protection (where needed). The rig has all the connections necessary allowing it to function the same as any other non SDR rig (Key, AMP, even an ATU port). The firmware is easily upgradable. Only one connection (USB) to the host computer is needed. Four bands verses the three of closest rig available (Softrock RXTX). Even little things like a LED to indicate power and activity.

From a feature stand point (not performance specifications, I did not do that comparison) the only rig I have seen that comes close is the Flex 1500. And a reason I say this is, the Flex has a 5W power output. I don't know if that big deal, but it is a fact.

I for one really like the Peaberry regardless of the flack I take on another forum when I mention the Peaberry ;)

Re: Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:51 pm
by n9seo
Hello,

I think at this point having built both, the peaberry imho is easier to build despite the many more tiny parts to solder. Im rather new to building kits so I am learning. Having to tshoot no tx out but I will start with checking/rewinding the output transformers. I suspect t3 may have had one too many on the primaries as that sucker was very challenging to wind and count. It all had to be done in head with out any means to recount the windings. Other than that tho its a breeze to work with.

I wish i had just bought two peaberrys!
73
-k

Re: Is the extra cost of a Peaberry V2 worth it?

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:26 pm
by bubnikv
An important reason to buy the Peaberry is the simplicity and reliability. No messing around with the sound card setting, no unnecessary cables. When tired, you want to enjoy riding the waves, not to troubleshoot the wire nest or the Windows audio mixer.
73, Vojtech OK1IAK