Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

IQ Idiosyncrasies 

Ok, time for a little negativity here. There are some some idiosyncrasies with the IQ output that is worth mentioning here. These are some things just to note and do not hugely detract from using the DX-SR9 as an SDR radio. Frankly most beginners won’t even notice them that much. First of all, it was already mentioned that the DX-SR9 IQ output is inverted. This in no way is a problem but something to be aware of when using 3rd party SDR software. Just be sure that you check the swap IQ channels box in the software. The other issue, you will probably notice right away. Due to an imbalance in the IQ output allegedly caused by the filtering used in the DX-SR9, you will notice that the right side of the waterfall is weaker than the left. Not that you won’t see plenty of signals on that side of the display, they will just be displayed in a dimmer color. This doesn’t affect the signal and clicking on a signal on the right side of the display will allow the signal to be heard normally. More of a cosmetic issue really. This is not a fault of KGSDR, since all the 3rd party SDR programs showed similar behavior.  KGTRX does offer a work around by allowing a you to not show the right side of the waterfall area in the IQ tuning settingd. Of course this only allows you to see 24KHz of the tuning area. Again this is not particularly a huge problem, so it’s really not necessary to use this setting. You can also adjust the waterfall gain settings and reduce this effect somewhat.

A  possible side effect of this imbalance is that ghosts of very strong signals that show up in the left side of the waterfall will often be shown in the right side of the waterfall. This may also be exacerbated by your particular soundcard, so your mileage may vary on how much of this you will see.  When in SSB mode if you click on one of these images, you will not be able decode the audio correctly so you know that the displayed signal is just an image of a stronger signal that is booming in on the left side of the display. They way to combat this is to reduce the DX-SR9’s gain to -20. You won’t really miss anything by reducing the gain and it will help getting rid of some of these false signals. However, even with the reduced gain, you may indeed still notice the occasional false signal in the far right one third section of the waterfall display. The good news that if you use HDSDR, you can pretty much eliminate this small annoyance by adjusting the raw and fine settings of the amplitude settings in the Options / Input Channel Calibration for RX. Just tune to area where you see a strong signal being duplicated on both the right and left sides of the waterfall and fool with the sliders until the right hand signal is significantly reduced or gone.

Using the DX-SR9 with 3rd Party SDR Software

Receive Only

Fortunately thanks to the development of an ExtIO.dll file for the Alinco DX-R8 and the fact that the DX-SR9’s serial port command structure is the same, you can very easily use HDSDR and Studio 1 SDR programs for receive. Just download the the ExtIO file for the DX-R8 and using a text editor configure the included ini file to match the com port setting for your EWR-7 cable. Drop the ExtIO  and ini file into HDSDR’s or Studio 1’s  main directory and you will be ready to go. Both programs will allow you to set the center frequency of the DX-SR9. All you need to do is set the IO settings for the soundcard.

Using 3rd Party Digital Mode Programs

Thanks to DVOX, you can to this fairly simply. However you may need to acquire some virtual cable software for audio routing. Since everyone’s needs and settings my be different here, this will just be a general  discussion of how to achieve this. First grab some free virtual audio cable software if you need it. VB-Audio Cable is an excellent and easy to use virtual audio cable program. The first cable is free, but if you need a second cable then you will need to make a donation in the amount of your choice to the author. What you are going to need to do at minimum is use the virtual audio cable to route output audio of the SDR software to the audio input settings of your digital mode software. Now, this will mean you may not hear the audio from the radio, but if you want to you can. You will have to go into the input audio settings properties on your PC for the virtual cable and set the listen mode to on. Make sure you digital mode software is set to output to the appropriate soundcard input settings that will send audio to the DX-SR9’s Mod jack. Make sure the DX-SR9’s DVOX setting is one. Check your digital mode software and check if CAT controlled transmit is off. Some programs won’t go into transmit with the CAT control on. You should be able to use the digital mode’s transmit feature to key the radio, not the SDR software. KGTRX might be the easiest program to use this way, since it will automatically match the transmit frequency to the currently selected receive frequency as well as the proper transmit mode. HDSDR and Studio 1 cannot set the proper transmit mode on the DX-SR9. Remember, you had to set it to FM mode to get into the SDR Mode. Trying to transmit using these programs as the receiving front end will leave you transmitting in the wrong mode or frequency. Not good.

 

22 Responses

  1. AE5YJ says:

    Great review! Thanks for going so in-depth with this rig. 73

  2. George says:

    Excellent review! Nice to see a semi-major manufacturer embracing the improvements SDR offers and including it in their rigs.

  3. DL8YJ says:

    Thanks a lot for the review and the Omnirig.ini. It works well with SDR-Radio.
    Is there any (more or less official) list of the Alinco commands?

    73, Uwe

    • HRS Staff says:

      Check the Alinco Forum on this site. There is a list of DX-SR8 commands that seem to be pretty much compatible with the DX-SR9

  4. N4OZ says:

    If only it included 6 meters this would be a slam dunk. I think the KX3 still has the edge, even at 90 watts less power.

  5. AE5YJ says:

    Just curious which brands of usb adapters worked and which didn’t. I just ordered a sabrent 7.1 usb card with line in, stereo mic input, etc..

    • HRS Staff says:

      Actually one of the problem devices was the Sabrient SND8. The inputs were reversed. Even though they could be switched in the software for it, the setting wouldn’t always work correctly. The easy work around was to just swap the input cables around. The best performer by far was the Soundblaster SBX external box.

      • AE5YJ says:

        Thanks for the heads up, I will keep that in mind when it comes in. I just got it because it was economical and I am impatient, lol. I will also check on the soundblaster box, I noticed in the videos of the Tokyo Ham Fair that they were running the soundblaster unit.

  6. AE5YJ says:

    When you say swap the cables around, do you mean use a stereo to mono splitter and use the stereo mic input?

    • HRS Staff says:

      It would just me a matter of connecting the Left output to the Right input and the Right output to the Left input by using an adapter or by rewiring a 3.55 stereo cable so the inputs would be reversed.

  7. AE5YJ says:

    Sorry to keep making requests, but could you possibly post a youtube video of the SDR in action in a real receive/transmit environment? Counting down the days until my soundcard gets here lol

  8. AE5YJ says:

    I replaced my first faulty ERW-7 cable and now I have everything working in SDR mode thanks to the information here on this review and in the comments. I run SDR exclusively with this rig, and it works ok. Interesting note is that the I/Q imbalance is symmetrical in my unit, gain dropoff is severe and noticeable at both ends of the panadapter/waterfall. Annoying, yes but much easier to live with when symmetrical. Here is a YT video of the SDR in action:

    http://youtu.be/uaHAQCEwQck

    73 de AE5YJ

  9. kostas says:

    hello, I have not found the settings transmit filter

  10. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Hi there just set my dx-dr9e radio up with the erw-7 cable along with two 3.5mm audio cable one into line in and one into speaker output.Is there a certain mic I require for use on my pc ? 3.5mm into mic juck or would a usb version work I have tried a basic electric mic but when I key I get a high pitched squeal I then get a notification up on screen saying out of range using a cheap electret mic pluged into my mic jack on pc.Also is there another similar software which will work with the alnico? apart from kgtrx ? thx

  11. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Quick update radio with kgtx working well apart from the tx side when I click on tx I get a nasty squeal and a message saying out of range

    • Dub Campbell says:

      From what I understand the mic jack requires a mono plug and a dynamic mic. An electret mic cannot be used as a direct substitute for a dynamic mic without making some wiring or circuitry changes. The electret mic uses phantom power like a condenser mic and if you plug it into a jack that’s intended for a dynamic mic you’ll have a squealing problem or worse.
      Just plug in a simple, unbalanced dynamic mic and you should be good to go. That is, unless the voltage from the electret mic has caused some damage…but I think damage is unlikely with a low voltage electret. Good luck!
      Dub, k4dub

  12. Urmas says:

    How on earth you program memory channels? If you do what manual says it seems that frequency doesn’t save. Really seem to be overly complicated.

    Mainly now we talk cb-frequencies(receive/transmit same frequency)Mars-mod done to unit.

  13. Mentioned soon after introduction of the DX-SR9T Transceiver was the availability of an optional plug-in “filter board” (Part# EJ-59U) that is still available from ALINCO/REMTRONIX–but has not been mentioned in “factory literature” for well over the last year (2015 & 16). This “filter board” allows the substitution of up to three Eight-Pole COLLINS Mechanical Filters in place of the “stock” Four-Pole MURATA Ceramic Filters. Though not bad to begin with–the improvement in Selectivity is remarkable!! Refer to KZ4B’s comments regarding the DX-SR9T under EHAM.net for much more detail regarding this valuable option.

  14. Chris says:

    Hi. Where can I find now file: DX-SR9_Beta.ini?
    I need this emergency. May be somebody have it?

  15. DF1FN says:

    What a great review, actually it made me purchasing the transceiver. And what can I say? I’m very impressed, what Alinco offers with the DX-SR9, especially considering the relatively low price compared to other TRXs that dont’t offer as many functions, for example FM and the SDR option.

    What I like about the Alinco is the clear and simple design.
    I even don’t mind the three solid power output levels. Where’s the problem? You get a high, low and super-low setting with the possibility to fine-adjust everything on the circuit-board or to limit the high setting to 50 W by soldering a jumper. Working digital modes I set to the “high” level and adjust the output power with the sound level of the PC.

    Ok, what annoys me a bit are the many multifunction buttons at the front, but tell me a similar device that doesn’t have them.

    The KG-TRX software works relatively well but I had to update the TRX to a newer or special firmware to make it work correctly. Otherwise there always was a offset in the waterfall when I changed between LSB/USB/CW mode. I reported to the Alinco online customer service which could help me immediately.

    The Software itself is very basic and clear, what I like very much, because with more options it would tend to be overloaded I guess. Everything works including TX and CW TX.
    The 48 khz is wide enough for me. Ok, there is this signal ghosting but it can be reduced by a high quality soundcard.

    Would I recommend the Alinco? Yes!

    vy 73 DF1FN

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