Trial Phase at the K9ZW Shack – Expert 1K-FA Amp and Palstar AT-Auto Tuner in Place 19 - February - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: AT-Auto, AT4K, Expert 1K-FA, Flex-5000, Flex-Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, Palstar, SPE Expert, W9EVT
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Did the gear shuffle, putting the SPE Expert 1K-FA Amplifier and the Palstar AT-Auto Antenna Tuner in place at my operating station.
Everything went into place well, with only some fussiness with my dual computer monitors frustrating me briefly. Enlisted Victor KC9NWB, my 16 year old youngest son, to diagnose the computer graphics card. He correctly thought that the card and monitors auto-sensed themselves into an adjusted configuration that took only a few key clicks and a restart (even though it should have needed a restart) to fully correct – thanks Vic KC9NWB!
Added Anderson Powerpoles to the power cord for the AT-Auto and it fired right up.
Gingerly I fired up the Expert Amp, leaving it in Standby mode.
I’ve decided to initially run both items in their Frequency-Sensing Automatic Modes, and to deal with interfacing their CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) connections to the Flex-5000a and PowerSDR Software as a second phase for later in the week.
It was lickety-split and I was ready to make first transmissions as the 1.895 kHz 160m Everynight Net preamble was being read.
First reports from KD8KW were very favorable. In-between the two rounds of the evening’s 30+ member 160m roundtable, I did pop over to 14.260 for a 20m contact with K7UGA, the Arizona Special Event Station celebrating Arizona’s Centennial and using Sen. Barry Goldwater (SK) K7UGA call.
Returning to 160m was very quick and when I explained that I was on new gear more reports of booming easy to understand signals were received.
Band conditions and a call to late light dinner put an end to the first test session, which even though a session limited to a handful of QSOs on two bands, was an easier success than I had expected.
Hoping to give the revised station configuration a good workout this week and next weekend. More after I put a hundred or QSOs on the configuration.
Then it will be a matter of interfacing the CAT capabilities, followed with a stab at removing the station.
If it works out I would like to try to run at least some QSOs remotely from elsewhere in the house and perhaps from other locations over the internet. Would be a really thrill to be able to log a few QSOs while traveling if it can be made to work!
Morphing the K9ZW Shack – Expert 1K-FA Amp and Palstar AT-Auto 13 - February - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: AT-Auto, AT4K, Expert 1K-FA, Flex-5000, Flex-Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, Palstar, SPE Expert
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Tinkering a bit with the shack and at least for a while will be swapping out the Alpha-78 Amp and the Palstar AT4K(mil) Tuner for an Expert 1K-FA Amp and a Palstar AT-Auto Tuner.
Bought the Amp as a backup and field portable amp. I’d used this one before with a TenTec Omni-VII and Orion, and when my friend George W9EVT said he was going to sell it I quickly made him an offer which he accepted.
The original Expert 1K-FA Amp has a mixed history, with the USA dealership bouncing between firms, support being on/off, and importantly the original series I & II 1K-FA amps requiring upgrades to be reliable. This particular amp was fully updated by Bill Leahey, K0ZL (SK) a few weeks before he was injured & passed, and is ready to go.
While the Expert 1K-FA will be down on power from what the Alpha-78 can put out, I usually loaf the Alpha at about 60% which may bring the changes in ERP to a small percentage difference.
That the Expert is possible to remote and integrate in my computer driven station suggest it may be a great companion to the Flex-5000a.
The AT-Auto tuner is on “trial” as I am again interested in exploring how it will integrate into my station. Built by Palstar the AT-Auto is a bit of an orphan, as a legal battle ended with Palstar losing and Kessler Engineering wining. K.E. does support the tuner for repairs & accessories, but hasn’t any new units available. Last year at Dayton they said they were weeks away from launching an updated version – perhaps Dayton 2012 will see the new AT-Auto II launch?
With the Flex-5000a the AT-Auto should track band switching and be reasonably fast. Given that I only actually need a tuner for 160m and 80m with my main antennas, as 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m are all 1.3:1 or better untuned, I will likely avoid the one downside to the AT-Auto of a 45+ second mechanical inductor retune with a 160m-to-20m direct bandswitch. The AT-Auto is bit more a gamble, as if K.E. fails it could be an unsupported & unrepairable orphan. On the plus side the used prices reflect the risk and make it much more affordable.
If both the Expert 1K-FA and Palstar AT-Auto integrate well I will be narrowing down to the antenna switch and power-supply control to complete my station’s automation goals. In theory the result should be a Remote-Ready station 100% mouse controllable.
Oh, to answer the obvious question right away, neither the Alpha-78 nor Palstar AT4K(mil) are presently for sale. For the time being they will get put into heated storage.
I’m considering this more an experiment than a major station change, and I won’t even shoot new pictures until I decide exactly which of the possible permutations of Amps & Tuners I will run with.
Will be interesting!