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Dayton 2014 – a recap of K9ZW’s Hamvention 19 - May - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Dayton Hamvention 2014 was interesting, though less profound that past years.

First products and exhibits:

  • An awful lot had nothing new to show.  Nada, boring nothing that I couldn’t read about on the internet.
  • Same no reason to be here applied to pricing – almost every vendor has figured out they can increase sales by offering “Dayton Hamvention Pricing” on-line.  Many include free shipping and it is sometimes the case that the sales tax due is less if dropped shipped.
  • Still plenty of “vaporware” with prototype products being shown year after year with no real product to sell.  One questions how many years hams will show up at Dayton with cash in their pocket to buy antenna auto-tuners that never go into production (Alpha is not the only vaporware tuner, where is that long promised Kessler AT-AUTO-II updated unit? [EDIT:  as Don Kessler pointed out he was showing a new remote tuner at Dayton 2014 - more on this to follow]) or amps/transceivers/antennas that are “almost there” but have no ship date?
  • Dayton remains a place where the one-man-band is on equal footing with the robust corporations and mega-corps.  Unfortunately many interesting product offerings are “one heart attack” away from being unsupported/out-of-business.  Not a terrible thing if one is buying a couple hundred dollar unique product but a real concern if one is considering investing thousands in piece of gear that might be orphaned by the smallest of issues.  Ditto on products by companies where the sole proprietor is elderly and hasn’t worked outa  succession plan.  If you ask there are some surprises where small firms have this wired, bit most don’t.

Let’s talk about Dayton itself:

  •  Less Road Construction at Dayton – sees that some of the “forever projects” have finally finished, though downtown is still a mess.
  • The Hara still sucks.  Same holes in the pavement, leaks in the roof, and grubby nature.  Being cool this year odor was down.
  • More restaurants have been built nearby, which opens up opportunities.
  • Staff seemed happier.  People are people, and the ones I dealt with this year were plainly nice folk.
  • The affiliated hotels suck.  Tales of no hot water at one hotel, heat stuck on full blast at part of ours, messed up reservations and catering (one banquet I attended the hotel staff for the second year running couldn’t manage to open up the cash bar having forgotten criticals like ice, cups, mixers…. or change..) from hell.
  • The interstate getting there was hammered, under construction, overcrowded and not much fun driving.

Then may particular interests/purchases:

  • AlphaSpid RAK purchased from Alpha Radios in Alberta will be replacing my Ham-IV.  This looks to be the easiest high-resolution replacement.  Once the unit arrives I will schedule a lower lowering to do the rotator swap.  The Green Heron controller I have should work for the AlphaSpid with a few internal jumper changes inside the controller.
  • Green Heron will be doing the station integration for my ArraySolutions RatPAK-N remote antenna switch.  This is a left over Dayton 2013 project that I arranged to pick up a few bits for as I finish it up.
  • W2IHY station selector system needs finishing off, again a Dayton 2013 purchased project I didn’t make time to complete.  Got my questions answered at the W2IHY booth, so my excuses have to end…
  • qslradio supplied the rig runners and power pole connectors for Rocky Ridge Farm Station.
  • Spoke with Mr Hilberling, and while it would be a budget buster right now I do hope to have one of his radios with amp in the next year or so.
  • Spoke with Jay at ArraySolutions and I sure am interested in the VNA gear.  Maybe this winter, I will get one to learn about it.
  • Spoke with several of the team at Alpha Amplifiers and they have no idea when I could buy a  combination package of an Alpha-4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner and Alpha-9500 Automatic Amplifier.  I decided not to buy an amplifier even with the nice show special being offered.

Banquets I attended:

  • Friday Night – the Collins Collectors Association 80th Anniversary Banquet.  Met some really great people but this is the one where the registration was very slow, the bar wasn’t ready nor stocked, and the presentation & drawing prizes were extremely introspective to the hardcore Collins collector.  I actually cut out to take a phone call (son Tom KC9JGD relocated that day to near Rapid City SD) and decided to not return.  This group faces some challenges as its membership ages which I don’t have a solution to suggest.
  • Saturday Night – The Flex Radio Systems annual Dayton Hamvention Update Banquet was a pleasant contrast with quick & slick registration, dual stocked cash bars ready to serve and a lot of information about where FRS is going.  Only think I think the FRS folk missed is dishing out to each dinner attendee some special swag – pens/hats/pads/pins.  Fairly lame door prize drawing for a couple hats, two oversized re-discover radio button/signs, a flex control and a Flex-1500. Seemed like nine or ten items was not enough for nearly 190 attendees.  Not enough to build a buzz in the crowd.  Otherwise a nice banquet.

Family Matters:

  • Riding with me to Dayton were my friend George W9EVT from Washington Island and my cousin Bill KC9YBL.  Made for a truck full of Extra Class Hams.
  • Living in the area we met with cousin  Kuby N6JSX (Dale to me) and his wife Becky N9KUV.
  • We meet with more family in Ohio, Chicago and Wisconsin.  Good time had by all!

Again I wonder about Hamvention 2015 – should I attend or is next year the one to try Hamcation or Hamcon instead?

It wasn’t for the ease of seeing family and the control of driving, the answer could be pretty easy to go to one of the other shows.

I’ll have to do some pondering and decide….

 

73

Steve
K9ZW

What we saw new at Dayton 2014! 17 - May - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Following up on my predictions of “What will we see new at Dayton 2014?” here are some notes:

  • A merged Alpha Amplifier/Ten-Tec potentially offering positive news on the long overdue Alpha-4040 Antenna Tuner – no date yet on the 4040 as at least one more major revise is in the works for the prototypes.  Closer but no cigar.
  • Several new evolutionary radios from Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu with continuing emphasis on attractors like D-Star, Remoting, Emcom, integrated GPS/Bluetooth and Contesting. – yup, lots, with the IC-7800 Upgrade of special interest as it is net plug and play.
  • The brand new Flex Radio Systems Flex-6300 transceiver offering much of what the Signature Series is about at a mass market price point, along with the end of April SmartSDR v1.2.1 which added the awaited Waterfall/Panafall with many other features. There may be a remote possibility of a further SmartSDR update at Dayton. – off to the FRS dinner tonight and hope to have news afterwards.
  • We should get a first look at the HPA-8000A 1kW Solid State Amplifier rounding out the high performance PT-8000A Transceiver desktop. – they had a single amp in the booth with USA hams likely to get a supply in later 2014 due to FCC approval lead time.
  • Several Antenna Manufacturers have announced new models, with several interesting LPDA (Log Periodic) offerings tailored to meet the new Flex Radio Systems Signature Series radio requirements.
  • Connectivity Galore with Bluetooth, In-Shack and Remote connectivity options of every type and style. Expecting to see everything from ZigBee Modules you can solder into your project to desktop setups you can use to remotely operate one of the rent-by-hour stations.

I am sure there will be much more, and hopefully a few surprise product launches too! See you there!

73

Steve
K9ZW

What will we see new at Dayton 2014? 13 - May - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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What will we see new at Dayton 2014?

  • A merged Alpha Amplifier/Ten-Tec potentially offering positive news on the long overdue Alpha-4040 Antenna Tuner
  • Several new evolutionary radios from Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu with continuing emphasis on attractors like D-Star, Remoting, Emcom, integrated GPS/Bluetooth and Contesting.
  • The brand new Flex Radio Systems Flex-6300 transceiver offering much of what the Signature Series is about at a mass market price point, along with the end of April SmartSDR v1.2.1 which added the awaited Waterfall/Panafall with many other features. There may be a remote possibility of a further SmartSDR update at Dayton.
  • We should get a first look at the HPA-8000A 1kW Solid State Amplifier rounding out the high performance PT-8000A Transceiver desktop.
  • Several Antenna Manufacturers have announced new models, with several interesting LPDA (Log Periodic) offerings tailored to meet the new Flex Radio Systems Signature Series radio requirements.
  • Connectivity Galore with Bluetooth, In-Shack and Remote connectivity options of every type and style. Expecting to see everything from ZigBee Modules you can solder into your project to desktop setups you can use to remotely operate one of the rent-by-hour stations.

I am sure there will be much more, and hopefully a few surprise product launches too! See you there!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Boomset Upgrade – Arlan RadioSport RS60CF Headset 27 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Uses.
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RadioSport RS60CF Headset

RadioSport RS60CF Headset

One item I noticed at the Dayton Hamvention but was unable to buy there was the Arlan Communications RadioSport RS60CF Headset and related listen only headphones.

Several manufacturers were using the listen only version to demonstrate their radios.

I’d also recently read Stu K6TU’s account of how much he liked his new RS60CF.

Alas a search of the Hara from end to end didn’t find anyone selling the RadioSport headsets.

But they are featured on line:

http://www.arlancommunications.com/products/amateurRadio/radioSport/RS60CF.asp

These are in the same price range as a moderate to good basic aviation boomset, putting a a setup in the $350 price range.

Initial impression out of the box is these are above expectations and hugely comfortable.

I’ll post a report after I get some hours in using the RS60CFs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems Banquet 2013 – Highlights 21 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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I enjoyed the 2013 FlexRadio Systems banquet though the Dayton Grand needs taking to task for not measuring up.  Over 180 hams attended!

Announced was the end of Flex-5000 series – see other article I just posted.

We’re told a new PowerSDR version 2.7.x expected over summer.  PowerSDR development will continue.

Flex-6000 roll out will ship 6700’s ahead of 6500’s, with a voluntary Beta-Software program available.  The 6700 firmware/software is a few weeks ahead of the reduced set of the 6500.

Annual Subscriptions for Beta-Software will start with the release of a non-Beta software package, expected to be some weeks (not many months) aftr the Beta-Software gooes live.

Demonstrated remote access to a Flex-6700 with a Windows Tablet by handing it around for all 180 of us to have a chance to play with it!

InnovAntennas developing an optimised Log Periodic to work with the Flex-6000 Series and it’s enhanced reception capabilities.  They also will have some optimized antennas for exploiting the diversity reception capabilities of the 6700.

The Flex-6500 and Flex-6700/6700R are SDR “Radio Server Appliances” in the new lingo.

FlexRadio Systems is moving towards being a software house that happens to also provide “Radio Server Appliances.”

The gap between the PowerSDR Flex-3000 and the SmartSDR Flex-6500 will eventually be filled with a new SmartSDR radio below the Flex-6500/6700 in both ultimate capabilities and pricing.  This new radio won’t start development until the 6700/6500 are released and established.

SmartSDR is only one GUI/HMI offering and is not the meat of the high value software.   Other GUI/HMI programs are highly likely over time.

API developer licensing will be available and some 3rd party development is underway under NDAs.

Expect a hardware Remote Station I/O Manager Device to work with SmartSDR – a way to hook your headset, PTT and key to your remote tablet/pad device.  FlexRadio Systems did not put a timeline on this accessory.

Expect SmartSDR apps for more than Windows devices – iPod and Android were mentioned.

Initial Beta-Group Flex-6700/6500 software will expect a direct connect to the SmartSDR computer, later upgrades will allow remoting within a workspace and eventually full remoting should be possible.

There is substantial professional interest in the Flex-6700R for other than Amateur Radio useage.

The data time-stamping from the GPSDO option will open up a lot of opportunities to combine data streams.

These topics will be fleshed out and discussed over the new few months.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Dayton 2013 – Saturday Report 18 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, FlexRadio Systems, Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Continues to be an interesting Hamvention.

Tonight was the FlexRadio Systems Dayton Hamvention Dinner where I heard much more about the new series.

During the day I attended some of the Forums and did a bit of a Flea Market walk.

As I have promised to do a Radio Club Meeting presentation Monday night, my main Dayton recap will wait until after that presentation.

Tonight it is off to get some sleep before the seven hour drive home tomorrow.

More on my Dayton observations soon!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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