Dividing Up Gear between QTH’s

I’me starting to get a clearer idea of how to handle having to QTH’s

Presently I’m kind of leaning this way on my radio matrix

HF
QTH          Main Rig       Knob Modern Rig   Amp (for Moderns)      Vintage Rig           Amp for Vintage
Home        Flex-6700       TenTec Jupiter              Alpha 9500                        Collins KWM-2A       Alpha-78
Island        Flex-6300      TenTec Paragon II        Expert 1KW                        Collins Full S-Line    Collins 30L1
HF Antennas
QTH         Antenna 1           Antenna 2                    RX HF                Vertical
Home      T-8 LPDA           W9INN 1/2 Sloper     Pixel Loop         TBD – 1
Island     Hexbeam            W9INN 1/2 Sloper     n/a                     GAP Titan DX
VHF/UHF
QTH            Transceiver   Directional Antenna    Omni Antenna
Home          Yaseu 1800         T-28 LPDA                          TBD – 1
Island          Yaseu 1000        TBD – 2                                 N6JSX Copper J-Pole
TBD-1 – looking at a “flag pole vertical” which may cover both needs
TBD-2 – Initially not a priority
Note the Island would also gain a Pixel Loop RX Antenna but only if I added a rig that would use it to do diversity reception.  The Flex-6300 cannot do this.
Of course there are a lot more things to set up for each QTH.
A lot of choices are based on what I have on hand, and I haven’t listed my back-up gear for each QTH, or each go-kit’s gear.
Each QTH gets a Windows-7 PC and an iMac, and most likely a Linux GP Box that will double down as a Music Media Server (I feed my Sonos speakers at home with a headless Linux device already).
I may have to build a dedicated box to control the tower at the Island remotely when off the Island, which then can pick up some other monitor-and-measure tasks.
Hmmm….
73
Steve
K9ZW

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

The Tri-EX/Tashjian TM-370HD Skyneedle is here at a friend’s trailer yard, where we will do some light refurbishment (scrape and paint some light tin parts that are showing surface rust) and fit the Alfa-SPID RAK Rotor, while we wait for the new base and a few added accessories to arrive.

Here are a few pictures of the tower being removed from storage and transported to my friend’s trucking yard:

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_02

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_03

A bit about the TM-370HD – this is a motorized 70 foot tubular tower that has some pretty impressive numbers.

I have a full set of engineering calculations and the wind loading they cite is roughly five times what my array will be, and perhaps 35 times the weight load is available.

Not certain if the numbers they provided are after application of the designer’s safety factor (would presume so, as they were done for code compliance rather than product engineering) so the ultimate wind loading and weight bearing is truly impressive.

Initially going up is a SP7IDX Hexbeam HD Mark II antenna currently in production, and a W9INN Half-Sloper which I had on the ready.

The Hexbeam will cover 6m to 20m and the Half-Sloper will carry onwards 20m to 160m.

I thought I had another Tennadyne T-8 antenna locally sourced, but the present owner decided he didn’t want to sell it even though he’d just advertised it. I’d been interested in having both the LPDA and Hexbeam up to do some A/B comparisons.

Karl and Norman at Tashjian Towers Corporation have been super as usual.

They have in production a new base for me, and I am adding the work platform (tower already has the ladder) which will allow me to do 98% of service work without a lift.

That the work platform will make an awesome birdwatching and other outdoor pursuit platform hasn’t escaped me either! It is quite likely that it will also open up a way for my getting very high speed internet to this QTH, as aDSL isn’t going to quite cut it for remoting a full Flex-6000 based station.

There are a lot of logistics to go – I have verbals from the professional help to get the base in and the tower up, and I have access to a DitchWitch to bury the conduits needed. ( want to run the power separately from the coax feeds and other control wiring.)

I even have some nice touches to add features, like a set of industrial/maritime intercom units so one will be at the tower and the other in the shack.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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A Northern Station for K9ZW

Having secured a long term QTH on Washington Island, Wisconsin (US Island WI-001L), I’ve started putting together a station.

Here is what is planned:

• Transceiver – Main – FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300 w/ATU
• Transceiver – Back-Up Unit – TenTec Paragon II
• Transceiver – Vintage Net – Collins KWM-2A
• Amplifier – Expert 1Kw Solid State
• Tuner – Palstar AT-Auto fully upgraded by Kessler Engineering
• Radio Computer – Custom Built Win7 “blade” (or possibly a Neal Campbell PC)
• Audio Gear – full set W2IHY gear
• Frequency Reference – Homebrew Rb-Source
• Tower – Tasjian TM370HD SkyNeedle
• Main Antenna – 20m through 6m – SP7IDX Hexbeam II HD
• Main Antenna – 160m through 20m – W9INN Half-Sloper
• Vertical Antenna – 80m through 10m – Gap Titan DX
• Rotor & Control – Alfa-SPID RAK with Prog1 Controller
• Antenna Switch – 4O3A Signature/Sky Sat 1A2R Switcher with PTT Router (TBD – under review)

I’ll use my usual BuryFlex Coax as supplied by DavisRF with N-Connectors as usual where possible.

The only items to acquire are the Antenna Switch, a Watt/SWR Meter, possibly a station microphone for the Flex-6300 and possibly a Neal Campbell FlexReady PC if I decide not to use the customer server style one I have.

The SkyNeedle, the HexBeam, the Collins Transceiver (with all the extra bits) and a second Palstar AT-Auto tuner were acquired for the new station; everything else came from my back up unit collection. The Expert Amp is coming out of my main shack as I will finally put in the Alpha-9500 that has been sitting in the box for a while.

I have power supplies and lightening arrestors to match my home QTH gear.

Down the road I will most likely add a 4O3A Signature Station Genius SSC-XL and replace the Flex-6300 with another Flex-6700 GPSDO/ATU transceiver to make the Northern QTH and Home QTH closer in design.

Eventually I would hope to share SmartSDR Radio “Slices” between the two QTH’s, with a long term goal of being able to remote one or both stations.

Now to get the Island QTH on the air while everything is put together, my SteppIR CrankIR Antenna with Flex-6300 setup, as used at Rocky Ridge Farm last year, will be pressed into action.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Dayton Hamvention – R.I.P. ?

I recently posted in a discussion at the FlexRadio System community my thoughts, which I will share here. Reports are that attendance is off and importantly those hams who spend significant dollars are doing other events rather than Dayton.

The DARA or the HARA appear to have posted a sketch of what the updated HARA Center might someday look like, but that doesn’t correct the rest of the city.

Here is what I posted:

 

The “laws of the market place” are taking care of the Dayton as a hell-hole problem.

I planned Dayton 2015 as a favor to a dear friend and to visit relatives near Dayton, but had to cancel for “Eldercare” reasons a few days before – and couldn’t be happier!

For 2016 I’m planning one of the other events – debating between Hamcation and Ham-Com.

I have no intention of paying over the odds to stay in one of Dayton’s flea-bitten hotels.

I have no intention in dining out in Dayton where armed guards often are needed as bouncers.

I have no intention parking 20 minutes away in Dayton’s otherwise abandoned parking lot.

I have no intention spending the days in Dayton’s so-call exhibition center that isn’t fit for showing livestock.

Maybe People will change my mind, but Dayton as a destination is not someplace I’d regularly go unless I was being paid to do so.

Just a couple hours west to Indy would be an awesome move – the trade shows I’ve attended there were matched with enough quality to be a consideration.

A person has only so much time, so much money, and so much luck – Dayton doesn’t seem to be a decent return on the time, the money and the risks of hanging out in a dying example of urban decay simply are not worth it.

A recent article in the Economist talked about the issues of dying/shrinking cities, and to paraphrase said there is no reason to give CPR to road kill.  Tear it down and return it to nature.  The Hara and Dayton are doomed.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adding a 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius to the K9ZW Shack

Working with an evolving slightly complex station, AND wanting to using the LAN-Remote features of SmartSDR V1.4 with the Flex-6700 requires some planning – plus some electronics help!

Not point in reinventing the wheel when really sharp mins have created just the missing pieces to integrate my station.

Enter the 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - overview

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – overview

The SSC XL allows control of Antennas, band-pass filters, 4-square antenna systems, beam stacks, beverages, Six Packs, rotators, RS-232 devices and more, per the website information.

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - Front

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – Front

Force12 expands further saying it is easier to say what you cannot control.

The main unit seems to have enough connectors to hook up to about anything:

403a SSC XL - Rear Panel

403a SSC XL – Rear Panel

An outboard Relay Board called the SCC-OM controls the various devices:

403a SSC XL - Remote Module

403a SSC XL – Remote Module

Mine just arrived and I am digesting the the manual as I get ready to implement.  As a plus the device is said to be FlexRadio System Maestro ready!

LINK:  http://www.4o3a.com/index.php/products/station-automation/ssc-xl

LINK – USA Distributor Force12: http://www.force12inc.com/products/station-genius-ssc-xl-by-4o3a.html

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Using a High Performance Radio – Operating the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiverl

Hilberling PT-8000A with George W9EVT

Hilberling PT-8000A with George W9EVT

Using a High Performance Radio – Operating the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver

This last week I finally had the opportunity to use the top-notch Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver with an amp & antenna farm worthy of the radio.

As QST readers may recollect, the ARRL recently tested & reviewed the Hilberling PT-8000A – actually they tested and review exactly this particular PT-8000A as we acquired it from them after their testing.

The Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver is much like a new high-end AC Cobra sports car – a classic format product fine-tuned to as close to perfection as the manufacturer can engineer, executed with near-jewelry precision & finish. The PT-8000A is absolutely a work of art in a classic style.

How is it in use? I really enjoyed knocking out DX QSOs with the radio behind George’s antennas and amp. There are some quirks, many with have to do with my operator-error failure to read and understand the manual. In terms of the manual and how the radio is designed, this is a very much bespoke radio meeting the design criteria Mr Hilberling set, even if the function strays from typical operations.

Hooking up the amp requires building a cable from the serial port type connector (use the HF PTT pair of pins, which is different from the trigger for a VHF Amp where the VHF PTT and a Ground work) to the Alpha 9500’s RCA connector. The first one I built this winter was too fragile and had failed, so this time I used a breakout board. I also soldered up a cable so George W9EVT would have a backup on hand. Personally at this price point an adaptor like what TenTec provided with the Pegasus Transceiver should have been included where the various functions were brought out to industry standard connectors. Not everyone has a lab grade workspace to build cables like the factory does.

The ARRL benched test this radio and then had it at the W1AW shack for a period. Not certain if they fiddled, but we did spend a fair bit of time chasing down gremlins that were actually extreme user settings. We have an upcoming coaching session with Hilberling-USA to complete the normalization process of returning the trimmer pots, and soft settings to normal ranges.

It is easy to overdrive the Alpha causing all sorts of issues unless the gain is carefully kept down. We added toroids to some of the cables which benefited some issues, as the W9EVT shack is complex enough to induce problems normally never seen in an average ham’s shack.

Once the user gets accustomed to the Main/Sub windows and the summoning of an appropriate Softkey Menu running the radio is a smooth. While I personally prefer every command to always be in exactly the same place, the number of button pushes can vary based on whether the appropriate Softkey Menu needs to be fist called up, or if it is already active. This is nothing unique to the PT-8000A, rather a personal preference that comes from my operating style.

The weighted VFO knob is silky, and while high-end old school the controls are positive. Band changes are quick and I developed a rapid drill to switch bands/antennas, retune and return to QRO operations quickly.

The split operation is easy, though at first I was going about it a complex way that was solidly based on my missing a bit of information that was in the manual if I had only paid more attention when reading the directions. Received numerous complements on the audio, but every now and then someone would complain saying I was distorted. Checking each time I would find I had run the power up enough to cause splatter, and simply backing down a couple hundred watts would do the trick.

Calling into pileups it was awesome to mostly a one call and then picked up by the DX station sort of operation.

Contrasting the PT-8000A with the Icom IC-7800 next to it was interesting. The Icom is a less “edgy” radio, perhaps easier to set up, but hands down the Hilberling was able to distinguish itself by digging DX out from deeper in the noise, and there is no arguing with its TX being a pileup-breaker. Where the Icom appeals is with the native output to a monitor for a Panadapter view and the comfort level of familiarity. Eclipsing both is a well set up Flex-6700, but until the Maestro FlexRadio Systems add-on is fully released the difference between a Faceplate w/Knobs Transceiver and a Computer with Mouse Transceiver favors the Hilberling/Icom ergonomics for many radio amateurs.

I’m comfortable either way, and found the Hilberling a relaxing experience to run DX with – basically using it was a lot of fun, and that is what radio is all about.

Some hams question whether the price tag is too high, and I’m sticking my head out and saying it is not only fine, but appropriate for the build quality. It doesn’t pretend to be an everyman’s radio any more than the AC Cobra we started the article discussing pretends to be everyman’s car.

Just like driving a sports car won’t make sense to someone who values low investment costs, fuel economy, and low running costs as their main auto ownership goals, a radio like this belongs in a shack where raw performance and appreciation of build quality comes before economics.

Interestingly several Hilberling owners as said to own several PT-8000A Transceiver each, presumably in the various faceplate colors.

All in all and excellent radio that was a huge blast to work behind now that I’ve had a chance to do so in a first class station!

Of course YMMV.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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