Adding a DX Engineering HEXXbeam Mk II

Had an opportunity to buy a DX Engineering HEXXbeam MkII from K0PJ, adding to my Hexbeam collection.

My thoughts were to carefully collapse the antenna and transport it collapsed to my Washington Island QTH.  Later I’ll run a bit of a shoot out between the SP7IDX and Radiowavz antennas.

I’ve included some of the wildlife at the QTH and a picture of the trenching (one is a future ham radio wire conduit):

One of the Gray Foxes

The HEXXbeam on a barrel.

Yard camera caught one of the five bucks that have been visiting.

A Sanhill Crane checks out one of the yard cameras

 

Trenching. Hitting bedrock eliminated my temporary antenna pole.

Notice the animals digging up the yard – raccoons are doing the most damage, the foxes dig for burrowing critters, and the Sandhills make tent-stake like holes everywhere.

The deer are opportunists grazing on wild apples and other deer treats.

In putting in the undergrounds the plumber hit bedrock only a few inches down.   One pipe is a sanitary drain for the sump pump and rainwater that really should have always have been there, and the second is a conduit for feedlines, control cables and the like for part of my ham station.

I think the near the house yard will drain much better as there was a bedrock ridge that restricted sub surface drainage that he excavated through.

The bedrock is why he couldn’t put in the 6×6 treated post at the end of the conduit run.  I had intended to mount a rotor and a short mast as an interim location for this HEXXbeam.

Looks like I will either end up with a concrete filled barrel as a base, or have a heavy steel tripod type base made up.

Even on the barrel, rotated by hand the HEXXbeam is doing really well.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – in Daily Use

 

Travels so often put a person in a hotel somewhere with idle time to fill.  My last appointment of the day in Milwaukee finished at 5:30pm and after taking my youngest two university students out for dinner, Winston KC9FVR and Vic KC9NWB, I’d decided to stay in town.  A morning appointment at 7 am made running home and then hitting the road by 5 am seem a waste.

A Speedtest showed that this Art Deco hotel, The Ambassador, has a guest internet that can support remoting my Flex-6700, so it was a no-brainer to run QSOs from the hotel room.

K9ZW portable SmartSDR setup

My setup is super simple   An older 2013 era iPad Air with and even older AblePlanet noise-canceling headset with a boom microphone adapter.

I think the AblePlanet setup is almost ten years old and had made many overseas flights over the years.  I’d bought the boom microphone  to do some of the earlier voip programs.  I’d bought five of the headsets so everyone had one for a U.K. Trip, but I was the only one with a microphone as the option was a silly price back then.

Some folk didn’t like the headsets or found then fragile, and when they were being sold off cheap I should have bought more.

On the iPad I’m using “SmartSDR for iOS” which is truly an elegant implementation.

Logging is handled with the in-App purchase Logger add-in for SmartSDR for iOS.  Simple but elegant.

Now I have to admit I played radio only for an hour or so, but it sure was a blast.

I’ll talk more about putting this all together in a further installment.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – Both my Stations are UP!!

One of my “Dreams” I contemplated when the Flex-6000 (Deep Impact, right?) was announced was the idea that I could control more than one of my own stations remotely.

I forgot to shoot a screen shot, as I was able to sit in the W9EVT Mega-Shack receiving the stations I worked, while alternatingly working them from my North and South Stations!

When I got back to the North Station I did shoot this screen shot the next morning:

SmartLink doing both of my Stations

Let’s walk through the four entries:

  1. K9ZW Home (South) QTH via SmartLink – this is in Manitowoc, Wisconsin running a Flex-6700 Limited Edition (#11) barefoot to a Tennadyne T-8 at 60ft.
  2. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via SmartLink – this is on Washington Island, Wisconsin (hence the WI-001L) running a later Flex-6700 barefoot to a SteppIR CrankIR portable antenna.
  3. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via Local Area Network is the same station and shows because I within the wireless router’s coverage.
  4. Demo Flex-6700 is built into SmartSDR for iOS, and I keep it enabled to do quick show-and-tell sessions where I don’t have good internet set up.

So what I was doing was using George W9EVT’s Maestro and Flex-6300 to listen as I switch back-and forth from the North and South stations.  I was also monitoring via those stations as well.

The North and South stations are roughly 190 km/118 miles apart in a largely north(NNE)-south(SSW) displacement.  The roads are slow and a ferry ride make this a 3+ hour trip each way.

K9ZW South to K9ZW North – 24 degrees

Very interesting experiment which I hope to repeat!

Next step may come in the future, as I would love to combine the two stations in one virtual-station!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – First Impressions

Working DX stations on my iPhone with SmartSDR for iOS from the local airport cafe….
Monitoring the band via SmartLink using a Maestro from my work desk….
Working DX from the doctor’s waiting room via SmartSDR for iOS on that iPhone (I went the cellphone area to keep the quiet)….
Then working lots of Parks on the Air and iota stations from SmartSDR for iOS on an iPad but locally (LAN connection) while doing bills….

What an awesome product! Okay there are some things the initial v2.0 isn’t ready to do yet: No native digital (DAX digital streams are perhaps down the road), No remote control of other station equipment, No built-in standby/start control, the 4o3a gear integration didn’t make this release. Stuff that can come later.

What is awesome is that lickty split one can remote into their setup Flex-6000 station without a PhD in networking!

Nothing on the net is truely always plug-and-play so you might need some help getting through the initial setup. And of course you need enough low latency, low jitter and modestly bufferless limited (like satellite internet doesn’t seem to work) to make the connection. Would seem as a good rule of thumb if your connection will support a good grade of gamer’s connection with voice and all that, you may be in the right direction.

Setup is a ready the manual and follow the steps sort of thing. Makes sense.

Good stuff!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems SmartLink and SmartSDR v2.0

Well I have half of my gear moved to the newest FlexRadio Systems SmartLink and SmartSDR version 2.0

From the main hamshack my earlier Flex-6700 (a Limited Edition model, number #11) updated very quickly.   I had some trouble with the AT&T UVerse modem/router getting the Port Forwarding sorted out, as most UVerse modems don’t do UPnP that SmartLink needs.

Putting SmartSDR for Windows v2.0 on my main shack computer was a breeze.  Don’t forget to then update your DDUtil to the latest.

Updating the iPhone and iPad to SmartSDR for iOS version 2.0 was simple.  You have to remember to “restore” any in-app purchases (I use the DX Cluster, the Log Book and the band plans) before they will operate.

I was a bit stuck upgrading the first Maestro in isolation.  Once I realized it had to be connected to v2.0 radio I whipped out the Raspberry Pi VPN to make that initial connection.  Pretty neat to have control of my Flex-6700 from work!

The blue rectangle says “SmartLink” confirming WAN connection to the radio.

This coming weekend I hope to upgrade my second Flex-6700 and second Maestro on Washington Island, though I am a bit far off from keeping that station live 24/7 yet. My internet on the island is just adequate to run SmartLink, though I may need to do some tweaking control bandwidth.

Kudos to FlexRadio Systems for making this HUGE upgrade so simple and easy.

73

Steve
K9ZW

SmartSDR v2.0.xx and SmartLink around the corner

By the time you might read this, the long awaited SmartSDR v2 and the new SmartLink may have hit the street.

 

SmartLink first screen

The whole idea on SmartLink is to make most internet connections between a Flex-6000 radio-server and the remote user (PC, iPad/iPhone, Mac, or Maestro) as user friendly as possible.

And as for SmartSDR v2.0 the remote feature figures large, but is only one of a raft of new features including performance improvements for the Flex-6300 and Flex-6700 radio-servers to new GUI features including pop-out SmartSDR windows and a raft of other improvements.

SmartSDR for iOS and the SmartSDR for Maestro also pick up the main improvements as well as platform specific features.

Somehow I don’t think we will make it through the week without a launch.

73

Steve

K9ZW