Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, WI – First Radio Activation 1 - September - 2014Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, US Islands.
Tags: CrankIR, Flex-6000, Flex-6300, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, Rocky Ridge Farm, SmartSDR, US Islands, W9EVT, Washington Island, WI-001L
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Even though we have leased the farm for months, I first got around to setting up a portable station this weekend. Usually when I am on Washington Island I have the luxury of guest operating from George W9EVT’s mega-shack, and even in this attempt George W9EVT saved the day helping me get on the air.
Equipment used was:
- SteppIR CrankIR antenna with radial and 80m kits
- FlexRadio System Flex-6300 transceiver
- A Toshiba Laptop running Win7-Pro I borrowed from work
- Power supply from my spares shelf
- Cisco gigabit router
- cables and power cords/distribution from my spares
This was our first use of the CrankIR and the Flex-6300, so we had a bit of a learning curve. It was also a fresh install of SmartSDR, SmartCAT, DAX, and fldigi on the Toshiba which all had to be configured.
Pictures cannot convey the experience of doing a first time setup of the CrankIR – an easy task once you’ve done it, but a dickens the first time. Winston KC9FVR helped the first setup and I don’t think I could have done it first time without my son’s participation.
I quickly discovered I had no audio out – I forgot to bring a headset or speakers, and ten Flex-6300 does not have an internal speaker, so my initial efforts were digital mode.
No joy there as my signal apparently wasn’t readable on PSK31 and without audio out the portable stup wasn’t going anywhere.
So the next day, hat in hand, I borrowed a headset from George W9EVT and switched to SSB.
Fairly quickly I was able to work a good number of stations on 20m and 15m phone, including several DX stations.
Found that the software juggling on the laptop was a pain, and ended up doing all the logging on the cardboard tabletop cover I used to have a mouse-ready surface. Later I entered the QSOs into eQSL and I’ll import the adi log file into my main log later.
Mother Nature ended my activation early as it started to rain and the winds started whipping. Knocking everything down went smoothly and with Labor Day still windy & rainy, further Rocky Ridge Farm activation will wait for another day.
Of course I have updated my gear checklist to include headphones and speakers for the next activation.
Alpha 4040 Tuner someday soon? Alpha 9500 Amp now. 22 - August - 2014Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Alpha 4040, Alpha Radio Products, Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, TenTec
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With Ten-Tec and Alpha/RF Concepts merged some good things are happening.
Some of the Amps and Radios have really aggressive sale pricing. Example the Alpha-9500 Amp which had been raised this year to $8,750 is available for $6,995 – a combination of a $755 drop in list price and another $1,000 off in sale pricing. In my case they threw in the plug (usually another $50) and shipping was an affordable $125 for a net $7,120 vs. what would have been $8,925+ before the merger and the summer mega sale.
Amp pricing is also being affected by the pricing jostling between the different manufacturers, and Alpha as a similar hot deal on their manual tune model.
The Ten-Tec radios are also aggressively priced for the sale. Tempting to pick one up as a backup radio…
I’ve read where some hams are worrying that the Alpha Amps might become orphans – a valid consideration if the new merged company gave signs of anything other than success. Right now many of their products went from in-stock/overstocked to short backorder which means they don’t have to move the inventory, their sales are up, and enough of us are ordering to make forward sales positive.
The best news is that the Alpha 4040 Tuner project seems to have been given new life, with announcements that the design is stable, testing (including abusive high power switching testing) has gone well, the form factor has been reduced and stabilized and the processor upgraded. No delivery date yet or confirmation of meeting the price target either, though this latest communication sure is more transparent and encouraging than the silence or limited communications during the long wait.
Good stuff happening.
Adjusting Gear and Forward Thoughts at K9ZW 7 - August - 2014Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, K9ZW Uses.
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Added a couple bits of kit – picked up a Flex-6300 from a ham who tried it and didn’t really take to a computer driven rig. Worked out for both of us as I avoided the backlog so I could get another Flex-6000 series radio to use up north on weekends, and he can change to a rig he is comfortable with.
It is worth commenting that there are some basic truisms about equipment that include the absolute that “Not every ham has the same style, interests and goals, so by definition no one radio will be the perfect rig for every ham.” “Horses for Courses” as they say.
In working on my Collins Vintage S-Line Station it has become pretty obvious than an antenna coupler/tuner would be an advantage if I wanted to be able to switch-in the S-Line station with my present antenna setup. I found a British Decca/K.W. 107 SuperMatch that will do the job while blending in with the S-Line gear form-factor.
The S-Line Station has been 18 months or more in the assembly, so it is time to get it on the air! This should do it.
Summer 2014 K9ZW Shack Upgrades 11 - July - 2014Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack, K9ZW Uses.
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Have a bunch of things in the works – swapping rotors for an AlphaSpid unit and a major home shack computer upgrade (details in a later post). Bought a copy of the latest Ham Radio Deluxe to try out.
For the remote station intended for Washington Island use, a SteppIR CrankIR antenna with 80m kit will be put in use, and have acquired a Flex Radio Systems Flex-6300. Initially I’ll push the old shack computer into service there, but have another box that I’d like to put into use there.
Slow evolution, but very positive improvements!
4th of July at W9EVT’s QTH 5 - July - 2014Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio.
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About 11-12 of those gathered for Greengate Farm’s 2014 4th of July picnic are licensed hams, the newest George and Susan’s daughter Amy KD9BTF who was licensed a few days ago after spending a few years teaching in Micronesia.
A great time was had by all, the the little ones participating in the children’s parade and then off to the fireworks.
Fabulous time with great group of people!
A bit more Hiatus 27 - June - 2014Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Amateur Radio, K9ZW Just Rambled
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Life continues to be very busy and in the midst I’ve been working to correct some vision issues, a process which sharply limits my computer time.
Have done a bit of operating a few weekends at George W9EVT’a shack, as I have not set up the gear at Rocky Ridge Farm yet.
So this is much a place holder post to assure readers not all is forgotten!