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More Washington Island portable operations 28 - September - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, PSK, US Islands.
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This weekend is my 4th working the CrankIR and the Flex-6300 from Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, and my first running some digital mode from the farm.

I also brought two laptops , though I think one good one with dual screens would have been more effective.

Did a basic Ham Radio Deluxe setup and with DM780 worked a handful of PSK31 contacts.

Here is the two machines:

And here is closer look at the Toshiba running PSK31 via DM780:

I was able to work our local club president Scott W9JSB on 40m and again had some nice 12m contacts.

PSK31 operations were easy once I figured out the HRD/DM780 set up with SmartCAT and DAX. I will add in DDUTIL later.

My QSO count was down this weekend as I first arrived Saturday morning after catching the musical “Always.. Patsy Cline” at the Peninsula Players Theater in Fish Creek Friday evening (the XYL came to the mainland by private boat to make our theater date). Also I needed to be on my way noon Sunday, with a dinner out at The Sailor’s Pub and a morning coffee at The Red Cup Cafe .. and an a la fresco lunch at Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm’s bistro all squeezed into the 30 hours on Island.

It will be a couple weekends before I get back to Island operations and then end of October our lease at Rocky Ridge Farm ends.

73

Steve
K9ZW

K9ZW Home Station Redesign Project 22 - September - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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After a fabulous weekend out at the Chicago W9DXCC event, I’ve knuckled down to get my operating area redesigned. With new gear unopened in the box, some dating back to the Dayton Hamvention in 2012 and 2013, it is overdue.

First I am whittling down the gear I will keep “Action Ready,” making a list and populating the list with known sizing, weight and access needs. Here is the list as I am working on it:

K9ZW Home Station.pdf

I’ve measured the target area and existing bench work. Howard KY6LA corresponded about the ham radio adaption of the FleXy audiophile rack system he has been using, which will be the model for my under-desk and bench-top additional shelves.

In concept the station design is three radios selectable via Julius W2IHY switch gear. Radio 1 is the Flex-6700, Radio 2 the Flex-5000A and Radio 3 a TenTec Jupiter. I am ignoring the Collins S-Line station as it is pretty well self-contained and takes up too much room to co-locate with the other radios.

In addition to the list room needs to be found for basic VHF/UHF operations. Still thinking about this, as I am almost never on VHF/UHF.

Those who have followed my station development might recall that my operating position is one end of a small room originally intended to be our wine cellar. It isn’t time yet to move the station as two of the boys are staying with us while they attend university classes, so we still have a pretty full house and driveway.

Also I think I can reasonably expect to be able to remote at least the Flex-6700 if limited to within the coverage of our router, perhaps by Dayton 2015. So at that time I may well do more operating from my correspondence desk in the library area of our house than continue to hide out in the wine cellar!

Next step is to do some rough CAD sketching to fit & locate everything before I build the FleXy shelf units. Going to try for sketches by the end of the week.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, WI – Third Radio Activation 13 - September - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, US Islands.
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This weekend is my third working the CrankIR and the Flex-6300 from Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island.

Getting past the  learning curve.

Was too chilly to comfortably operate outside, so set up the radio inside one the kitchen table.

K9ZW at Rocky Ridge

K9ZW at Rocky Ridge

 

Easy DX this time and I’ve figured out the band change process pretty well.  Worked on 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m, 20m, and 40m.

Great fun!

 

73

Steve
K9ZW

Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, WI – First Radio Activation 1 - September - 2014

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, US Islands.
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Even though we have leased the farm for months, I first got around to setting up a portable station this weekend.  Usually when I am on Washington Island I have the luxury of guest operating from George W9EVT’s mega-shack, and even in this attempt George W9EVT saved the day helping me get on the air.

Equipment used was:

  • SteppIR CrankIR antenna with radial and 80m kits
  • FlexRadio System Flex-6300 transceiver
  • A Toshiba Laptop running Win7-Pro I borrowed from work
  • Power supply from my spares shelf
  • Cisco gigabit router
  • cables and power cords/distribution from my spares

This was our first use of the CrankIR and the Flex-6300, so we had a bit of a learning curve.  It was also a fresh install of SmartSDR, SmartCAT, DAX, and fldigi on the Toshiba which all had to be configured.

 

The SteppIR CrankIR Antenna

The SteppIR CrankIR Antenna


The working end

The working end


The Wires side of things

The Wires side of things


Logging on Cardboard

Logging on Cardboard


CrankIR Main Unit up close

CrankIR Main Unit up close


Rocky Ridge Farm Activated

Rocky Ridge Farm Activated

 

 

W9EVT saved the day...

W9EVT saved the day…

Pictures cannot convey the experience of doing a first time setup of the CrankIR – an easy task once you’ve done it, but a dickens the first time.  Winston KC9FVR helped the first setup and I don’t think I could have done it first time without my son’s participation.

I quickly discovered I had no audio out – I forgot to bring a headset or speakers, and ten Flex-6300 does not have an internal speaker, so my initial efforts were digital mode.

No joy there as my signal apparently wasn’t readable on PSK31 and without audio out the portable stup wasn’t going anywhere.

So the next day, hat in hand, I borrowed a headset from George W9EVT and switched to SSB.

Fairly quickly I was able to work a good number of stations on 20m and 15m phone, including several DX stations.

Found that the software juggling on the laptop was a pain, and ended up doing all the logging on the cardboard tabletop cover I used to have a mouse-ready surface.  Later I entered the QSOs into eQSL and I’ll import the adi log file into my main log later.

Mother Nature ended my activation early as it started to rain and the winds started whipping.  Knocking everything down went smoothly and with Labor Day still windy & rainy, further Rocky Ridge Farm activation will wait for another day.

Of course I have updated my gear checklist to include headphones and speakers for the next activation.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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

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