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A bit more Hiatus 27 - June - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, 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!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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

Hiatus Explained 4 - May - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Been weak on writing for With Varying Frequency as travel, work and commitments used up much mors time than expected.

Even my on-air time has been sharply curtailed.

Largely I do a lot of the overload to myself by not saying “no” enough when asked to help out.

Brief stops in five or six states and Europe used up a fair number of hours.

Some items that are coming up:

  • will be operating from “Rocky Ridge Farm” as well as Greengate Farm on Washington Island over the next six months.
  • have fully updated the Flex-6700 to the latest SmartSDR with Panafall displays.
  • hoping to get some /MM QSOs from my fishing boat project
  • and a whole lot more.

so please be patient while I get a few of the draft articles fleshed out.

73

Steve

K9ZW

 

 

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

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