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Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series – Ethernet Impact 31 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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What will the use of Ethernet between the Flex-6000 hardware and the Thin Client mean to the new Flex-6000 series?

This is also huge – no longer will the PC need to be physically next to the Flex-Radio.

Almost certainly there will be some issues with network latency, but the physical configuration possibilities are massive!

Again this picking low hanging fruit, but I am predicting that the operator of the  radio will be back back in the “family part of the house:”

  • As only an Ethernet connection is needed, the Flex-6000 Operator will be positioning themselves in the Study, Den, Living Room or other “family part of the house” rather than tucked away in a “ham shack” space.  Where you operate from will not need 240v for that amp, grounding, and coax feedline routes.
  • The same connectivity, with a bit of IT department help to configure things, the Flex-6000 Series will be the new darling of the desk bound worker looking to make a few QSOs during lunch/breaks.  Wondering if you will hear the various Flex-6000 operators all come on at the start of whatever local lunch hour they live in, signing off at the end of that hour?
  • High Speed Wireless will allow the Flex-6000 Operator to Operate while traveling.  No longer will it be rare to have a mobile operator running their home station.
  • Those Antenna Restricted will locate their Flex-6000 Station at friends or “hosting sites”  putting every QTH on an equal footing.
  • Remote operations to difficult/rare/dangerous Flex-6000 transmitter sites will offer unique challenges to many programs like DXCC, IOTA, SOTA and Others.  If the Flex-6000 is on site at DX Country, is that what matters even if the operator is back home in his armchair in New Jersey?
  • Running QSOs while physically active, jogging, biking, hiking, would be a whole lot easier to do.  Again using high speed wireless.
  • Mercy/Compassion Flex-6000 Operations could allow the handicapped/bedridden to operate.  Whether dedicated or by donation of otherwise “down time periods” from otherwise active stations, those in need could be comforted by being put on the air.

Again I’ll leave the possibilities of through Ethernet one operator controlling more than one Flex-6000 for a later thought.

73

Steve

K9ZW

……………….

First post of this series Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series

Planning in a few weeks to have another first hand look at the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 series radios at the W9DXCC Convention in Illinois.

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

……one can imagine, dream and scheme can’t one?

Reading the Flex-Radio literature, Insider newsletters and reflectors there is one massive amount of promise to this new radio an architecture!

I’d like to touch on a few items that have caught my eye, and what I imagine they might offer for the future of amateur radio.

Be absolutely certain I am speculating, I have no extra insight or sources (nor would I betray information given to me in confidence) and I am doing analysis based on what it out there.  I’m going to have fun speculating what might be.

Putting some guesses and construction to the pieces of information over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I guess right on anything announced at the W9DXCC or later when radios ship.

I’ll try to get a thought out every few days in the lead-up to the W9DXCC Convention and then an assessment in the week or so directly after the event.

I’ll link them to this “Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series” starter and again in the wrap up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series – Thin Client Impact 28 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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What will Thin Client mean to the new Flex-6000 series?

This is huge – no longer will the PC be a vital part of the Flex-Radio.  It will – to be certain – control the radio and provide an I/O path for the radio (notice I say “an” not “the only”).  It will do most of the HUI (Human User Interface) for most of us.

But call this picking low hanging fruit, it is a easy prediction that pushing 100% of the actual radio back into the hardware box will allow:

  • Use of Window AND non-Windows control devices – you will  also be able to use your Mac, iPad, Android Tablet and other reasonably capable net-able devices to control your Flex-6000 Series Radio.
  • I/O options for audio or digital signals with the Flex-6000 Series will have a lot more choices, including direct with that same control device, or via VoIP in its variations, or even dedicated wiring.  A special net-ready device might be appropriate to handle I/O duties separate from the control device.
  • Legacy/Orphan connectivity issues disappear (or go “long”).  The present Firewire (and higher speed  version USB in the case of Flex-1500) interfaces eventually could have issues if Firewire or USB starts to fade.  As long as we still hook to the greater network with Ethernet, or have legacy techniques to hook Ethernet to whatever comes next, the Flex-6000 Series should be viable.
  • Headless or VM-Headed configurations are possible.  A Flex-6000 could be setup & set running and perhaps the control software disconnected (or partially disconnected) or the control software could be running on a VM (Virtual Machine) somewhere in the “Cloud.”

I’ll leave the possibilities of a slightly “less thin” thin client controlling more than one Flex-6000 for a later thought.

73

Steve

K9ZW

……………….

First post of this series Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series

Planning in a few weeks to have another first hand look at the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 series radios at the W9DXCC Convention in Illinois.

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

……one can imagine, dream and scheme can’t one?

Reading the Flex-Radio literature, Insider newsletters and reflectors there is one massive amount of promise to this new radio an architecture!

I’d like to touch on a few items that have caught my eye, and what I imagine they might offer for the future of amateur radio.

Be absolutely certain I am speculating, I have no extra insight or sources (nor would I betray information given to me in confidence) and I am doing analysis based on what it out there.  I’m going to have fun speculating what might be.

Putting some guesses and construction to the pieces of information over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I guess right on anything announced at the W9DXCC or later when radios ship.

I’ll try to get a thought out every few days in the lead-up to the W9DXCC Convention and then an assessment in the week or so directly after the event.

I’ll link them to this “Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series” starter and again in the wrap up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series 27 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Planning in a few weeks to have another first hand look at the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 series radios at the W9DXCC Convention in Illinois.

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

As advertise on the W9DXCC Website:

Greg Jurrens K5GJ, VP of Sales and Marketing for FlexRadio Systems, will bring us up to speed on the latest developments in Software Defined Radios. FlexRadio Systems was the first to market SDR radios to radio amateurs, and has just recently introduced the innovative Flex-6000 with SmartSDR.

Ok, what does that mean – another look & drool session, or something meatier?

Unlikely to learn much until I see Greg K5GJ there.

But one can imagine, dream and scheme can’t one?

Reading the Flex-Radio literature, Insider newsletters and reflectors there is one massive amount of promise to this new radio an architecture!

I’d like to touch on a few items that have caught my eye, and what I imagine they might offer for the future of amateur radio.

Be absolutely certain I am speculating, I have no extra insight or sources (nor would I betray information given to me in confidence) and I am doing analysis based on what it out there.  I’m going to have fun speculating what might be.

Putting some guesses and construction to the pieces of information over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I guess right on anything announced at the W9DXCC or later when radios ship.

I’ll try to get a thought out every few days in the lead-up to the W9DXCC Convention and then an assessment in the week or so directly after the event.

I’ll link them to this “Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series” starter and again in the wrap up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Flex-6000 Series – Newsletters, Armchair Speculators and My Impressions 24 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Flex-Radio has released two “Insider’s Newsletters” for those with Flex-6X00 pre-orders in their system.

The pdf flyer on their website is now updated as version #2 to do some updating and minor corrections.

The corporate discipline is impressive in that they are not giving out guesses, hunches, maybes or other unofficial signs of the Flex-6000 series progress or ship dates.  I know, as I have tried getting a bit more information with the results being carefully told  what was just repackaged official information.

Yet a few things are out there – if you are not in the pre-order list of Flex-6500, Flex-6700R and Flex-6700 Limited Edition radios with a deposit in place you are now being told you won’t see your radio until early 2013.

And the official company reflectors have had some really important bits of information, like this recent post about combining signals from several Flex-6X00 series receivers:

There are many forms of combining signals for better reception.  In the 6700(R), the two SCUs are completely synchronized (ALL LOs are synchronous).  This is not a trivial assertion — there are very few radios that can make this assertion and no other commercially available amateur radios.  This gives rise to some exceptionally easy combining that gives immediate benefits in terms of sensitivity and dynamic range.

The 6000 series also has an optional GPS module that is designed to help in the synchronization of receivers that are or are not next to each other.  Combining signals that are generated with a separate LO/sampling clock, that have not been synchronized is a harder problem.  The GPS makes this easier, but also allows us to send signals across the Internet and combine signals knowing both where and when they originated.  The benefits from this will come later as the software is developed.

Incidentally, our CDRX-3200 is a blade-architecture receiver that can synchronize 32 receivers.  It also costs in the mid-five-figures.  The cost of developing and build a blade-architecture system is significantly more than what we came up with in the 6000-series.  We did consider a blade system, but every time we added up all the connectors, separate PCBs,
hardware and sheet metal we would realize that the ME’s in the office weregetting more than their fair share of the product cost.  We want product cost to stay in the EE/SW side of the house.  And we wanted the radio to be as affordable as we could make it.  ;-)

Steve

Stephen Hicks, N5AC, AAR6AM
VP Engineering
FlexRadio Systems

Just think about the possibilities of synchronizing multiple signals, and the HUGE importance that Flex-Radio has already done this task in their commercial products.

Remaining a silly a part of our hobby is the forum trash that you can read at a couple of the famous ham websites, where with the exact same official releases, reflector postings and official statements, these forums allow imagined negativism to flow unbounded.  The forum trolls, without any superior sources, without hands on experience (remember the Flex-6X00 hasn’t shipped), or any superior expertise in this new brave world of amateur radio, liberally slather (and outright slander) in some sort of madness.  It is unfortunate that some of our fellow hobbyists find their only bit of personal joy in making baseless doomsday speculations.

Sorry killjoys, but I just don’t think the Flex-Radio folk are doing all this as some sort of MLM or Ponzi scheme….  With the product technology being established in their commercial line (which none of these killjoys ever claims to have even seen, much less have operating experience with) the Flex-6X00 is an exercise in bringing established technology to a price point that radio amateurs will pay.  Not every radio amateur (and I couldn’t recommend a highly complex radio as the starting point for each & every ham, rather for the few who have the technical prowess from other related life experiences) is going to either aspire or be able to afford the new series.  For most of us this new series is a heavy savings, selling excess gear and scrape & struggle effort if we want to have one.  At least let me tell you it is all about saving, scrape & sell, and looking for loose change in the sofa – anything you can manage – if you have two in college and one a high school senior likely to successfully finish a semester early. ;-)

But then even the loftiest of the series, the Flex-6700 with GPSDXO and every possible feature is no more than a new quad-runner, or a decent riding mower with a blower & all the other attachments.  Well at least in the general range.

Is it needed to have one of the elite top model transceivers to enjoy the hobby?  No way – plenty of us also find joy the couple hundred dollar used (vintage preferred) transceiver or even the $50 kit we soldered up.  This makes so much sense.  You don’t need a Silver Plate new professional saxophone to have fun playing either!

Yet is is a blast if you get a chance to either operate as a guest or operate your own Tier-I level rig.

The forums are also full of the fearful prophecies that the Flex-6X00 series will obsolete 99% of other gear out there (usually the forum armchair guru’s add their further killjoy of “if Flex ever can make them” or some other baseless cheap shot).

What a load of rubbish.  Every new wave of amateur radio technology has been similarly bashed baselessly by those either too scared, not will to change or just crabby sorts.  And yet we have not seen every old tube radio put out on the curb for recycling despite 40+ years of solid state transceivers.  Unlike the dire predictions we’ve not seen CW (and even some claimed AM & RTYY) go the way of the of teh Dodo Bird when these forum hacks predicted these modes would die out.

I’m off focus wasting time about the anti-Fun crowds – what is really going to happen when the Flex-6X00 series ships is that a whole lot of hams will be having a blast working with technology never before widely available to any radio amateur willing to plonk down the coin.  Will everything work perfectly?  Secretly I rather hope NOT perfectly but good enough to make each wave of new software & firmware a treat!  “Dancing on the Leading Edge” even if by checkbook proxy is still a rush for many folk.

And to the killjoys and naysayers, I hope we connect in an on-the-air QSO so I can extend an invitation to come visit and join in the fun when the Flex-6×00 day arrives!

73

Steve
K9ZW

A bit of Station GAS at the K9ZW Shack 21 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
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GAS is sometimes defined as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or other descriptives to describe how one somehow keeps acquiring more radio gear.

I’m a learner when it comes to tube radios – boat anchors – and had been looking for a small transceiver to get started.

From Kurt WA9KMB I was able to acquire a Swan 350 with its XC117 Power Supply.  A couple pictures of this type of gear I grabbed off the web are:

Swan 350 Transceiver

Swan 350 Transceiver

Swan XC117 Power Supply

Swan XC117 Power Supply

Again thank you to the hams who put pictures up on the web, appreciated as I didn’t grab the Swap.QTH.com photos before they came down.

The Swan is pretty basic and radio that is noted to need to be steadied by being allowed to fully warm up.  Kurt WA9KMB certainly keeps his gear in fine shape and has helped encourage me in getting my feet wet with tube rigs.  Making the acquisition work smoothly was an opportunity that my eldest Tom KC9JGD had to pick up the radio & power supply in the course of his travels.

My good friend George W9EVT has for a few years been encouraging me to acquire a Collins station.  I’ve been putting this off as I know less about Collins than I would need to know to make such an investment.  I know the method to George’s plans to see I get a good start with Collins gear, as in the course of other trades/swaps and just out of his kindness he has seen to it that I have a start with a Collins 75S1 and Speaker.  Again borrowing a photo, here is what this receiver looks like:

Collins 75S1 Receiver

Collins 75S1 Receiver

I’ve been trying to find a matching 32S1 (2 or 3) Transmitter with its power supply, which look like this:

Collins 32S1 Transmitter

Collins 32S1 Transmitter

So far I have not found a 32S that either was high risk (untested, or “all sales final” with weak descriptives like “loads on the one band I tested, but I didn’t put it on the air…” or higher priced minty collector radios.)  Patience I guess.

GAS has also lead to a couple tool acquisitions – nothing expensive actually, just a new Dymo Labeler that will emboss metal tape labels and a very neat tech’s pocket screwdriver (I bought a couple to give one each to the boys).

Now to get on the air with the Swan….

73

Steve

K9ZW

Now for something completely different…. 20 - August - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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What I felt needed to be said on finding the positive hams in our hobby posted in 14 parts over the last several weeks.  I think most of you will recognize a lot of the suggestions as things that have appeal and utility.  Many thanks to the hundreds who read each smal post as they went up.  Would be I’d be thrilled to share the ideas wider, but perhaps word of mouth/email will eventually do just that.

For the next few months I’ve a smattering of equipment, operations, book reviews and out right “ponderings” in mind.

Again thank you for hanging in with me and lets see where things go next….

73

Steve
K9ZW

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