Comparison Part 2 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Finally I’ve arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

There is no question the PT-8000A delivers the goods.  Compared to other than the FlexRadio System 6×00 series radios it easily waxes my other radios.

There are a couple quirks that sent me back to the PT-8000A’s manual:

  • Setting Up Split lacks some of the confirmation of TX frequency that has become customary.  The TX frequency is in the Sub Window and the Split indicator the opposite side of the screen and then an inverse of soft key colors if that menu is showing.  Shooting a frequency into the Sub is not horrible, but again is across the radio ergonomically.
  • The PT-8000A’s key touch courtesy tone adjustment/mute is not documented, and I have put in an email requesting instructions on toning this down.
  • While no worse than many modern high-end transceivers, I don’t have the operating hands across the radio face quite sorted out, and I’m slow setting things up.  Some things are my foibles, like:
    • I would prefer rotating controls that also have a push control to be a click & stay push-pull rather than a silky smooth momentary push button.  My ideas is if you have tactile feedback, make it persistent and intuitive.
    • I would prefer an indicator at the control, rather than having to look around on the screen for a different shaped & different sequenced indicator.  Make it simple.
    • Seldom manipulated controls could have been made to disappear nearly flush to the faceplate rather than left proud.

Working DX the amazing ability of the Flex-6×00 does dig a bit deeper, but the Hilberling is no slouch.  That the PT-8000A is up an operating in seconds running 200w barefoot is certainly an awesome feature compared to booting hardware & software for an SDR radio with PC of any type.

More as I work across the bands in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

Comparison Part 1 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance.

I’ve finally arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

Initial impressions – the radio drips of quality.  High grade connectors, small details well executed, use of best available technology – the PT-8000A delivers the goods.

So far the only quirk I haven’t figured out is how to reduce the volume of the courtesy key-touch beeps.

Walking through things – the connectors are high grade N-connectors for antennas, a unusual power-supply to radio connector that looks aerospace in origin, and everything is polished/chromed or finished in the Hilberling Blue finish.  Everything about the PT-8000A reminds me of an upscale European Stereo system – like a Revox or B+O grade build quality.

Using the PT-8000A is much like running any high quality transceiver, with the exception that the menu system is shallower and the precision of adjustments impressive.  I’ve always been frustrated with the 6-7 levels deep menu systems many transceiver deploy, and much prefer the Hilberling style of menus.

The display is awesome – and actually the software at its present level doesn’t really do justice to the high grade display.  The power supply meg-meter is current draw, which is fine but hardly seems the first choice to dedicate such a large bit of front face real estate to display.

Initial SSB reports have been enthusiastically positive, with several QSO partners commenting about the broadcast-like sound quality.

I like the supplied desk mic, as it is clever in appearance and in performance.

More, including some contrasts with the Flex-6700 in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

Very interesting… Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

Have arranged to have a very rare radio in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance. More as I get some Qs on the rig.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

RF Concepts (Alpha) has a major update on the 4040 Tuner Project

RF Concepts (Alpha) has a major update on the 4040 Tuner Project:

alpha_4040

 

 

 

NOVEMBER TUNER UPDATE

In the last 45 days, we’ve made a lot of progress on the Alpha 4040 DreamTuner. As you know, when we tested the tuner under full power, we discovered that the switches weren’t delivering the performance we needed. Dissatisfied with the test results, and knowing it would push the delivery out, we undertook a massive redesign including a new, commercial pad cap, custom antenna switches, and a new layout. The fruit of our labors is a very efficient tuner that is an industry leader in both matching range and power handling.

We ARE shipping beta units this month.  Our first unit already shipped to the owner of RF Concepts, Michael Seedman, AA6DY and he was pleased with the changes and overall design of the tuner.  This is a different tuner than we showed at Dayton last May.  Here’s a picture of the insides.  We’re planning on posting a new section in the website with lots of photos and details.

Thanks for sticking with us over this insanely long period of time.  We’re almost there…

73,
Ken N0QO
President and CEO
RF Concepts

P.S. We are accepting pre-orders. These orders are non-binding, with no deposit necessary.  Click HERE to learn more.

A4040_inaction_10-3-14

 

Whole Unit

Here’s the unit with redesigned exterior sheet metal, up and running. The Alpha 4040’s enclosure is designed to support the weight of an 80 pound plus amplifier. There are no protruding screw heads, this allows for easy stacking and placement of a whole variety of gear atop the tuner.

A4040_interior10-3-14

 

Interior

  • Capacitor mounts and shaft couplers redesigned to limit stray capacitance. Inductor design changed and resonance breaker added to reduce stay inductance.
  • Coupler design changed to improve overall Vector Network Analyzer performance.
  • Antenna and bypass switch changed to handle the voltage and current they will be subject to at high VSWR. Another benefit of the new switch design is that the bypass VSWR, even at 6m, is excellent. This design will also allow you to combine two of the antenna ports.
  • Capacitors were moved towards the back to decrease stay inductance and reduce overall length.
  • The new design allows for easier assembly and repair along with a much lower weight.
  • New mounting of stepper motors designed to simplify sheet metal and improve electrical shielding.
  • Computer upgraded to newer higher performance 1GHz model. All software was ported to utilize the new PC.
  • Printed circuit board assemblies were changed to fit into new metal design.
  • The reduction in minimum capacitance and inductance has dramatically improved the matching range of the tuner, especially at higher frequencies.

A4040_back_panel_10-3-14

 

Back Panel

  • The back panel redesign was driven by the new switch design. It accommodates Bird type QC connectors. If the A4040 is used to transform high SWR at high power different connectors will be required, e.g. 7/16 DIN. You can easily destroy SO239, PL259 connectors with the voltages that could be present at the connector location with this tuner.
  • The repositioned LAN port allows for convenient wired connectivity. The Alpha 4040 is fully network enabled for remote control and online software updates.

 

A4040_front_panel_10-3-14

Front Panel

  • Front panel display has been moved to the left to allow for reducing the overall length.
  • Bezel depth decreased to facilitate greater viewing angles.
  • Tuning knob moved down to facilitate length reduction.

Check out the RF Concepts Website at http://www.rfconcepts.com/ for further details!

73

Steve
K9ZW

An Excellent FlexRadio System Write-Up on the Origins of the 6000 Series Online

There is an excellent FlexRadio System write up on the origins of the Flex-6000 series SDR radios and SmartSDR software online :

The FLEX-6000 was born out of a government project we did that involved direct sampling. At the time in 2010 we all believed (as Elecraft has publicly stated) that it would not be possible to build a direct sampling receiver with as much dynamic range as a superhet or direct conversion radio. When we did the government project, Gerald worked a lot on the numbers and RF architecture and we discussed how to get the best dynamic range out of a direct sampling receiver. We were able to use a very early sample of an Analog Devices ADC in that project and found that we were getting better dynamic range than even Analog was reporting, largely because of how we selected key parameters. Gerald realized that we could build a better direct sampling radio than anything we’d built before.

Once we realized it was possible to build a direct sampling radio, all the “what if…” conversations started. What could we do if we did this? What would someone do with that? Would it be better if we did this or that?

….. (much more at the link)

FRS Steve N5AC on “The Chicken or the Egg” development of the FRS 6000 series article LINK: https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/chicken-or-egg

Scroll down that page for N5AC’s excellent write up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

What started as nothing more than an Amplifier and Computer upgrades to the K9ZW Radio Room has escallated in to a full ham shack redesign project.  It was very quickly obvious that the space & layout changes needed to rearrange to swap my Expert 1KW Amplifer for a new Alpha 9500 was the catalyst for an overdue radio room redesign.

First step after doing some rough sketches was to get the non-radio items that could be moved out the intended increase area of radio space.  It took four of us and some serious electrically power moving dollies to relocate the larger non-radio cabinets out of this former wine cellar.  The effort was successful, nobody got hurt and anything broken can be mended.  It is amazing even in a very clean room what accumulates in over a decade behind cabinets.

Remaining to move out are two knock-apart shelving units – one a very industrial fiberglass unit that presently holds all of our internet connectivity gear and our Sonos Media Server NAS/RAID units.  That unit goes elsewhere.  The remaining Swedish Wood Wine Rack and Spirits Storage unit needs to remain, though within limits it can be moved/reconfigured.

The cellarkeeper’s sink and workpsace is built in and I’m considering it one of the “given conditions” of this room.

Like a good Win Cellar the room is all textured plaster, painted off-white with a white tile floor.  When I first located into one end of the space I added several ceiling lights, a smoke detector wired into the whole-house smoke detector system, lots of electrical outlets including 240v for amps, internet and phone jacks, and the pass-thru for grounding, rotor/switch controls and feedlines.

When the sink area and the wine storage that needs to remain are factored out, I am left roughly 100 square feet of high quality space for my new layout.  Rougly 8ft by 13ft with 7ft 6in plaster high plaster ceiling.

I’m mentioning the surfaces as they are accountically “hard” and I should figure out how to control reflection.

The room is fully lockable, has a fire escape window(barely large enough though), already has a high quality grounding connection, phone line, internet cabling, TV cable connection, 115/240v power, two feed lines to the tower (one is spare), two Cat-5 control cables to the tower (again one is spare), roto cble to the tower (I have to check if I pulled a spare or not) and lighting.

Design goals will be to accomidate for HF the rack mountable Flex-6×00 radios, the Flex-5000, the computer workspace for the Flex Radios, a premium conventional transceiver operating position and a Collins S-Line Station.  An additional VHF/UHF operating station and romm allocation for future satellite operations gear are considerations.

Next step is to collect the equipment dimensions, air/cable/operation space needs for each bit of kit, weights and start sketching designs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 799 other followers