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Alpha 4040 Tuner someday soon? Alpha 9500 Amp now. 22 - August - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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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.

73

Steve

K9ZW

Adjusting Gear and Forward Thoughts at K9ZW 7 - August - 2014

Posted 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.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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

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