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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

Remote Updates to Ham Shack Firmware – Daily Uploads? 20 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, US Islands.
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Quick stop at friend George W9EVT’s shack, to which I brought a thumbdrive of the latest firmware updates downloaded two days ago.

Loaded no sweat, only to find some of the updates have been updated in the last 48 hours!

The vastly improved internet infrastructure on Washington Island (US/CA Island WI-001L) made downloading the “latest latest” easy and a quick repeat brought things truly up to date – at least until the next firmware is released.

Very rough ferry ride out (I didn’t mind too much, but it wasn’t reasonable to read, so a quick kip substituted. Cold, but sunny (14F or -10c this morning early).

Hope to get some operating in tomorrow.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Collins S-Line Lessons – a Visit to the W9EVT Shack 14 - September - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW.
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Have arranged some Elmering – where the student is me!  At George W9EVT’s Washington Island WI-001L Ham Shack getting first hand tutorage in running Collins S-Line Radio gear.

Having collected enough gear for my own station, but lacking any boat anchor experience, it has been excellent to have George W9EVT walk me through the basics and the tricks of the trade. In his large S-Line collection George has exactly the same gear as what I acquired.

Also had a bit of time to meet John K9IY who has retired to the Island and has a small station several miles south of George’s QTH.  John has a wonderful place and is providing a community service as the Weather Observer for the Island, taking on the task when the couple who had done it for years couldn’t carry on observing.

Off to the W9DXCC now – see you there!

73

Steve
K9ZW

What happens to the BPL Systems with IBEC gone? 6 - January - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Some very interesting questions surrounding IBECs sudden closure and the BPL orphan systems like the one on Washington Island WI-001L:

Guys -

My question is, what happens if the hardware is left as is ?  Even assuming the BPL system use is stopped, won’t the hardware still be humming along and interfering ?

No, I never got an antenna up before the cold weather and the hard, hard ground showed up.

Here are some recordings I made last year during and after a power outage:

http://wb9kzy.com/bpl.htm

Chuck Olson, WB9KZY
Washington Island, WI

Chuck WB9KZY’s recordings catch the BPL non-interference pledge out – revealing that it was pure bunk and the BPL system is a major source of RFI.

There are some really sticky legacy issues, as the Island Coop can’t legally simply leave it up and running until it breaks or try to run it themselves.

Per Ed Hare W1RFI at the ARRL HQ [Bold Unline is Mine]:

If the system there follows the pattern I’ve seen elsewhere, it operates about 15 to 40 dB over the FCC limits and doesn’t notch the NTIA bands. Now that it is going to be disconnected, but powered up, it will continue to make noise, but have two additional rules violations associated with it — it is no longer controlled as to power level and frequency as required by the rules and it does not have an operator at all, much less one that is listed in the BPL database.

At this point, has anyone talked to the utility? Do we know what they intend to do?  They really need to get that system operating legally, or climb all the poles and disconnect the power. Simply turning off the head end is not sufficient, as that adds to the illegality by making the system that is still generating carriers uncontrolled.

It seems unless the Island gains full control of the whole system getting itself listed in the BPL database as a control operator and supports the system fully, it will be an illegal system with likely every increasing problems and liability for the Coop for its rule violations.

Perhaps a third-party manager could be brought in, though whether another provider could be found that would take over the ex-IBEC Access-BPL system isn’t very likely – especially if the system were expected to remain in continuous operation.

Presently it would seem the best choice could be to power down the head and disconnect every pole mounted unit, leaving everything in place until a long term solution is found, or better weather allows “havesting” of the orphaned gear for salvage.

What a mess! Worse is the costs may not end with a shut down, depending on how the funding repayment in respect to discontinuance works.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Washington Island looks to be loosing its BPL service 3 - January - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Looks like Washington Island is loosing its BPL service as part of the folding IBEC situation.

http://www.arrl.org/news/bpl-provider-ibec-announces-shutdown

http://www.nelsoncountylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IBEC-end-service-letter.jpg

While BPL remains in general not very ham-friendly and not likely to be missed by many hams not employed in the industry,  it is sad to see the Island suffer this loss as their direct investment wasn’t insignificant. It may have been that the financial risks were understated or not understood if the BPL service provider were to fold.

It will be a shame if the Islanders end up paying for years for an instantly obsolete system they won’t even be able to use.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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