Initial impressions of the ALT-512 QRP transceiver

So the ALT-512 QRP SDR transceiver has landed at SWLing Post HQ. This little rig is on loan from Aerial-51 and I’ll be spending the next month or so putting it through the paces.

I can already tell that the ALT-512 has some strong points:

  • It’s incredibly portable and easy to take to the field, providing you have a battery and resonant antenna (or external ATU).
  • The color backlit display is quite readable at any angle despite being rather information-dense.
  • I really like the waterfall display. It’s large enough to be quite useful.
  • The ALT-512 can connect directly to your computer for digital modes like FT-8. No external sound card needed.
  • The menu system contains a wide array of features and options for granular tweaks and modifications.
  • The ALT-512 includes the European 4 meter band.
  • Although I prefer using headphones with small radios, the ALT-512’s small internal speaker does a fine job.
  • Rob Sherwood tested the ALT-512 (indeed, this very unit) recently and added it to his receiver test data. It performed quite well especially considering the price.

Any negatives so far?  Nothing major:

  • No internal ATU or battery options. At this price point (799 EUR), I wouldn’t expect either of these.
  • The ALT-512 is not general coverage. This is a negative for those of us who like SWLing, but a positive for ham radio use as the ALT-512 sports band-specific bandpass filters to reject out-of-band strong stations. You can tune to some stations above the 40M band and also the full mediumwave band and below (down to 100 kHz), although I wouldn’t expect stellar performance in those regions.

So far, I’m very pleased with the ALT-512’s performance.

Next, I’ll be taking it to the field and see how easily I can activate a few POTA (Parks On The Air) sites! Stay tuned!

Click here to check out the ALT-512 at Aerial-51.

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4 thoughts on “Initial impressions of the ALT-512 QRP transceiver

  1. Ivan Cholakov

    I know the designers went to an extraordinary length to make this radio a top performer in every technical respect. Hopefully that effort does not get drowned into poor box design and usability.

    Reply
  2. RonF

    It’s an interesting beastie, but the layout, ergonomics, and usability of the whole UI/UX looks like a nest of screaming horrors.

    Thomas, I look forward to your impressions about that after you’ve used it for a while…

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      I’ll admit that the buttons are rather close together and the labels, at first glance, aren’t intuitive. Still, there’s enough room even for my big fingers to make selections pretty easily. The buttons have a deep responsive touch, which also helps. Once I had used the transceiver for a few hours, I had memorized most of my most commonly used functions (mode, band switch, tuning steps, VFO).

      Reply

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