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New K9ZW Custom QSL Cards by Jeff K1NSS 9 - February - 2014

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Operations, US Islands.
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Just finished today is the design phase of a trio of new QSL card designs commissioned from Jeff K1NSS.

I’ve segmented my operating QSOs recently into those where I’ve been on my new Flex-6700, those where I’ve been using vintage gear, and those made from my frequent visits on Washington Island.

Jeff K1NSS Eyeball QSO Card Designs for K9ZW

Jeff K1NSS Eyeball QSO Card Designs for K9ZW

Jeff K1NSS was brought to my attention as an illustrator and featured name in the K9YA Club Newsletter and by word of mouth.

We exchanged a few emails working out a strategy to a portfolio of designs, each with print and web versions, plus a coordinated Eyeball QSO Card.

Jeff has great talents suggesting viable themes and asking great questions to draw out what I was hoping for.

The Flex-6700 feature reflects the “magic decoder ring” that this piece of SDR equipment has brought to my operations. If you receive the full actual card there are “Easter Eggs” hidden in the design.

A “Voice of Steve” card seemed a natural to give a feel for the reverence of operating with vintage gear. I’ve gear spanning the WWII period onwards which I put to use when I can.

The third segmentation are those QSOs I make as a guest at the George Ulm W9EVT mega-shack at Greengate Farm on Washington Island, Wisconsin. The card gives tribute to this significant radio operation and also a way to highlight any other Washington Island QSO I make.

The reduced designs are the Eyeball QSO Cards illustrated. Eyeball QSO Cards is an Amateur’s way to say “calling card” and have taken the full card themes in a form adjusted for the purpose.

A highly rewarding experience, the process was a lot of fun! I spent more with Jeff than many of his projects, as I asked him to do not only the three designs, but also a WI9DX Washington Island DX Club version and a club member version of that card as well.

Oh and I asked him to do custom reverse sides to blend with the cards designs.

I’ll trickle some examples on the blog over the next few weeks.

Hope you like them as much as I do!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems new Flex-6000 Radio Owners Reports Start Coming In 5 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Flex-6000s in Production 1

Flex-6000s in Production

Our first FLEX-6000 ships while proud parents look on.

The first Production FLEX-6000 ships while the FlexRadio System team watches.

With  the first production radios delivered, as would be expected FlexRadio System’s new owners will be speaking out about their experiences.

As posted to the Flex Reflectors:

Revelations of a secret 6700 alpha tester

The rumors have been out for a while that a few (incredibly lucky) folks have been alpha testing the FlexRadio Systems 6700.

With production shipments underway, I can confirm this is true.

I am one of 6700 alpha testers.

I also write a blog about my ham radio activities which has been silent for a while as I’ve been testing the 6700.

BUT NO LONGER! Over the next few weeks I will be posting my experiences and real world operating practices with the 6700. You can find the first of these posts at:

http://bit.ly/16zCnmJ

The next one will be towards the end of this coming weekend and will share the experiences of building the first FlexRadio 6700 demonstration station which was in use at this years International DX Convention in Visalia.

With production unit in hand, I’m pretty busy so please excuse me if I don’t jump into discussions on the reflector ? I’ll be earwigging on the side!

73 and CU on the air!
Stu K6TU

Mandatory Disclosure: I do not speak for FlexRadio Systems; I am an unpaid advisor/consultant and receive no compensation from FlexRadio Systems. In fact, I pay for the privilege including my own expenses. All views (including errors, mistakes etc) are all mine and FlexRadio Systems doesn’t have editorial review of what I write. So have at it! :-)

Expect that FlexRadio Systems is putting an extra coat of wax shining my new radio up before they ship it (smile!).

73

Steve
K9ZW

Spring Antenna Service 28 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack.
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This winter and early spring have not been kind to outdoor equipment.

This weekend finally the weather broke and it has been nice enough to spend some time on the antennas.

Original plan was to do a lower, inspect, service & repair in a few weeks, but some obvious impact from exceptionally high winds has made it prudent to start now.

The two log periodics are on the same mast, and winds have tweaked the larger (T-8 10-20m) about 5-10 degrees from the upper smaller (T-28 1.3ghz-6m) most likely by slipping the larger boom.

My T-8 predates the “Slipp-Not” brackets that Tennadyne offers and a set will be on order (I make pick it up at Dayton).  This should reduce the chance of one antenna slipping in relation to the other.  Beam Width coverage is wide enough the little tweak is more an offense to me than it is to performance, so it may wait until the next lowering.

My Tri-Ex/Tasjian Tower has feedline stand-offs that I user large UV resistant o-rings as the cable retainers in the forked ends of the stand-offs.

Wind and time took out the second from top o-ring and the wild winds caused the feedline to be hooked about the clamp.  It is amazing to think how wild of wilds would be needed to raise that much triple-coax-feedlines-plus-rotor cable around enough to whip it about – must have been a monster wind.

The cable is not hugely at risk, but it would be better to get it back in place.  Again I will have to decide if I deal with it now or in a few weeks.

When the tower is lowered and tilted over I use a set of scaffold I bought from work – a handful of rings from a manufacturer long out of business that don’t connect with any other brand (not that you should).  Useless for work but just what I needed and makes an ultra safe work platform.

WHen it comes down next the coax seals will all be inspected and renewed as needed, each cable gets a visual and wipe down, plus gets a check with the TDR for any electrical problems.

I have upgraded lightning protection that will get installed.

A decision to be made is whether to swap out the rotor (a Ham-IV) for a freshly overhauled Ham-IV or whether to leave well enough alone.  Plan was to swap in the fresh overhaul and then have the long serving unit overhauled as the spare.

Decisions will hing on whether I can disengage the displaced cables for now (I lower the mast but haven’t tipped it over yet) or whether I need to hand crank the tip-over now.

It is also time to get the buried feedline in to do a second HF antenna on most bands.  Originally I was going to make the vertical just another setting on the remote antenna switch, but I am now thinking it should be on the second feedline to the shack so two can be used at the same time.  The Flex-5000A could use the dual antennas now and the Flex-6700 will take the diversity capability to a new level if I get my antennas sorted out correctly.

At least it is warmer out once I figure out the plan!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems has updated their delivery forecast for the new Flex-6000 Series Radios 7 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Flex-6000s in Production 1

Flex-6000s in Production 1

FlexRadio Systems has updated their delivery forecast for the new Flex-6000 Series Radios:

LINK to a PDF of the Announcement:  The Flex Insider – March/April 2013 Edition

Basically the radios start shipping on a limited basis end of this month, with preorders finishing shipment sometime this summer.

Flex-6000s in Production 2

Flex-6000s in Production 2

Expect that FlexRadio Systems is doing a phased roll-out to improve everyone’s new radio experience.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Where are the Positive Hams? And How to Tell? – Solutions Offered Part IV 25 - July - 2012

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, The Positive Ham.
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Following on the questions posed “Where are the Positive Hams? And How to Tell? – Part I” here are my thoughts:

Recognition of Elmership

This is one the first of the keys of developing teaching & mentoring resources in your local amateur radio community – Publicly recognize those who are effective & willing Elmers.

I know some have bristle at the use of “Elmer” as the amateur radio enthusiast’s label for “a good mentor.”  Our club used to have a member who really disliked calling the club meeting room the “Club Shack” too.  Feel free to adopt whatever names are comfortable and effective for you and your amateur radio community, but recognize that just like “Ham” in Ham Radio, these names have a place in the jargon & history of our shared hobby.

So for tradition’s sake I’ll use “Elmer.”

Your Elmers should know they are special.  Continued public recognition of their contributions should be regular, repeated and widely shared.

That doesn’t mean you praise some guy who back in the 1980′s helped someone out – that is ancient history.

It does mean that the guy who is working with a handful of homeschool kids on getting licensed, the guy who just helped another person get their PSK software and station on the air, the person who just took time to show a few of us how to put on cable connectors – - these people should be praised!

Use words of “thank you,” quiet congratulations to them on a personal level, club certificates and awards.  Include them in press releases, make sure their students tell them “thank you” and give them credit.

Repeated public praise of the successful and willing Elmer will nurture that Elmer and inspire others to join the Elmer ranks.

….

So these are a few of my observations and thoughts – what are yours?

73

Steve
K9ZW

Where are the Positive Hams? And How to Tell? – Solutions Offered Part III 22 - July - 2012

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, The Positive Ham.
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Following on the questions posed “Where are the Positive Hams? And How to Tell? – Part I” here are my thoughts:

Technical Hermitage

Ok – this one is bait of stretch, but perhaps asking the new ham to “go away and teach themselves” isn’t such a bad thing.

In my development of interest in the hobby I had found none who were either willing or equipped to Elmer.  Some of the hams lacked time, and many just didn’t Elmer.  Some were themselves lacking technical depth to teach & mentor.

So I undertook a “Technical Hermitage” actually withdrawing from the local club and searching out books, web resources and later on-line & classroom learning sessions.

I started my notes and approached planning with the knowledge that I simply could not divert needed resources from family needs and what I did save to invest in my interests needed to be effective.

My “Technical Hermitage” took several years, along the way which I not only read & researched, but slowly tried my hand at various ham hobby tasks.

The hermitage was not absolute, as I would make a beeline to any opportunity to operate or learn.  I just moved past the limitations of poor Elmers, anti-Elmers and the overly busy possible Elmers put in my path.

I also quickly learned to not waste time on foolish faux-Elmers who were willing to spend some time only if it was to toot their own horns.

EDIT – This quote was sent to me once I put up this post:

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”

— Isaac Asimov

Like a musician going off to “woodshed” – that is to practice on his own until he had mastered the horn – breaking away on a “Technical Hermitage” has a role.  In a “Technical Hermitage” I only encounter the most positive ham I then knew – myself – while teaching myself.

….

So these are a few of my observations and thoughts – what are yours?

73

Steve
K9ZW

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