Monthly Archives: July 2009

Flex Radio Pre-Built/Pre-Configured SDR Computers

When I bought my Flex-5000 I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to computer specifications, having been unwisely lulled into the logic of newer, faster, bigger had to be better for SDR use.

Simply put “Not!”

Once I stopped playing “Three Chairs” with this computer has too new of a 64-bit system to be supported, and this old system doesn’t have the horsepower to run PowerSDR correctly, and when I purchased a dedicated tailored system, well then I was in business.

Buying my new system from Dell I spend a fair bit.

I also spent some time installing software, configuring it and re-doing stuff once I purchased a paper manual to read. Time I could have been operating, rather than fiddle-faddle playing technician.

Flex-Radio has announced a partnership arrangement with a custom builder, who will pre-install, configure and test run a machine to run for your Flex-Radio!

From the Flex-Radio announcement:

“FLEX Ready” PCs for a complete turn key solution.
Posted by: “Tim Ellison” w4tme
Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:31 am (PDT)

Over the past several months, there have been many discussions on the Reflectors regarding PC setup and configuration for use with the FLEX family of software defined radios. For those who are not very “PC savvy”, this may seem like a daunting task and may have prevented you from experiencing the new and exciting world of software defined radios.

Several weeks ago, Neal (K3NC) put together a parts list of components for the DIY ham who might want to build a cost effective high performance PC for use with FlexRadio SDRs. At that time there was some interest in having Neal provide a system that was already integrated for the non DIY crowd.

With the blessing of FlexRadio Systems, Neal is providing these custom systems for sale through his company, Abroham Neal Software. In addition to having the computer components integrated into a ready to boot system, Neal is providing additional “value added” services to his “FLEX Ready” line of PCs. These include installing and optimizing a systems specifically for the Firewire based FLEX software defined radios. Each system is assembled and configured specifically for a customer and the SDR hardware they will be using with it.

This includes loading the current FLEX Firewire driver, PowerSDR, FlexLoader, HotWheel and all of the necessary .NET software needed for it to operate. He will also connect either a FLEX-3000 or FLEX-5000 to the system and perform a 24-hour “burn in” to make sure that the system is a true turn key solution.

In addition to the core PowerSDR software, there are options for installing VAC, virtual serial port software, freeware loggers and digi mode programs as well. For the SDR experimentalist, there is also an option for installing and configuring SVN so that you can easily download the latest alpha and beta code in order to test the new cutting edge software.

With any turn key provided system, there is always the chance that you may inadvertently mess up the PC configuration some how and not be able to get it back to a working configuration. This is not a problem with the Acronis Secure Zone option, where you can easily recover your system back to the exact default configuration as it was when you received your “FLEX Ready” PC.

If you are interested in the “FLEX Ready”, use the following URL to find out the technical specifications of the systems along with pricing


From Neal K3NC’s website:

“One of the critical success factors in using modern software-defined radios (SDRs) is often overlooked during the decision process of buying a new radio: your computer. In the early days of experimentation with SDRs, we thought that processor speed and overall computer utilization was the critical success factor. A holdover of this school of thought is that many SDR consoles show the system utilization on the main panel.

It was a bit of a shock, however, when new SDR owners, who do not spend days tuning their systems, started running into troubles. They would buy the latest desktop computer from the local big-box store, plug in the radio and start seeing problems. These problems are evident by the console freezing up or losing communications with the radio (which is just on the other end of the FireWire cable!) These computers normally had the latest in CPU technology and their computer system had every bell and whistle ever imagined, yet it couldn’t run a program that a small system such as an Intel Atom 330 could run with no problems (if set up correctly).”

Definitely a solution worth considering!



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RIP – The Man Who Pushed WD-40 Forward

Today’s UK newspapers had an obit for John S. Barry, the man who turned a small product for coating missiles into WD-40

Barry died on 3 July aged 84, is credited with turning WD-40 into worldwide product:

“Employees of what was then the Rocket Chemical Co. in San Diego were selling their rust-preventer out of car trunks when Barry joined in 1969 as president and CEO. WD-40 was used to coat missiles but also had a smaller following among consumers who used it to lubricate everything from bicycle chains to fishing reels. Barry, who held a business degree from MIT, suggested renaming the firm after its product and went on to help build the company’s place in the global market.

WD-40 was invented in 1953 when Rocket staff set out to develop a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for the aerospace industry. It took them 40 attempts to work out the water displacement formula; the name WD-40 stands for ‘water displacement, formulation successful in 40th attempt.'” (UK Independent Newspaper, from AP press releases)

Originally marketed as “Rocket WD-40” the product is now marketed in over 160 countries. WD-40 was first used by Convair to protect the outer skin of the Atlas missile.

The WD-40 company says surveys show that WD-40, the slippery stuff in the blue and yellow aerosol can, can be found in as many as 80 percent of American homes.

I’m guessing, but I suspect there is hardly a Ham Shack that doesn’t have a can of WD-40.

How many stuck antenna clamps, rotors, tower cables, and 1000 of other radio items have been helped with WD-40?

A nice account of his role in bringing Norm Larsen’s “Rocket WD-40” to a worldwide product can be found at:



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TWIARi – This Week In Amateur Radio International Edition

Just a reminder about one of the great Podcasts that are out there.

The International Version is NOT suitable for American Amateur Radio Transmission, as it adds musics and commercial effects to the content of TWIAR.

This is the version I download as a Podcast and listen to while driving each week. Using iTunes it is downloaded to a Blackberry Curve via the Blackberry Desktop Tools with several other Podcasts, and played via Bluetooth to my car’s audio system.





“This Week in Amateur Radio International (TWIARi) Edition #235 for the week beginning July 26th has been released. The program will be available at our web site at for direct download, or via podcast-RSS subscription later today.

Program highlights include all the latest amateur radio news headlines, and this weeks special features:

“The Random Access Thought” with Bill Baran, N2FNH. This Week, we travel “Below The Molecules” for a chat with some free-banders.

Our very own amateur radio historian, Bill Continelli, W2XOY travels back in time for a visit to “Olsen Electronics” in Buffalo, New York.

TWiTs Leo Laporte will have all the latest technology news effecting you , your shack computers, and the internet, plus a lot more!

This Week in Amateur Radio International is distributed in full stereo.

The program is available in both a high bandwidth (192/44) mp3 stereo file or a lower bandwidth (128/44) stereo mp3 file at our website Subscribe to our RSS/Podcast feed!

Be sure and listen for This Week in Amateur Radio International (TWIARi) on shortwave broadcast station WBCQ on 7.415 megahertz, Saturday afternoon at 4pm eastern time.

The TWIARi podcast is now available via at Apple I-Tunes, OurMedia, and several other podcast sites. Links to archived programs are available at our web site

This Week in Amateur Radio International is proud to be officially archived on “The Internet Archive”

TWIARi is also distributed on geostationary satellite Access America/Sky Scanner Satellite Networks.

Our all volunteer staff and crew hope you enjoy our program. Please let us know if you do!

For an official This Week in Amateur Radio QSL Card, (with asteroids!) Send an email to our QSL manager,, or if you prefer, you can write to us at This Week in Amateur Radio International, P.O. Box 30, Sand Lake, New York 12153.

We would like to tell the world about your product or service too. If you would like to advertise on the next edition of This Week in Amateur Radio International, please send an email to for details.

If you would like to help support the program financially, visit our web site and click on the “PayPal” logo on the top right.

All contributions go to offset program production and transmission expenses, and air time on WBCQ Shortwave, and Access America, our satellite distribution network.

Thanks for listening to us! Send us an e-mail, and let us know your out there!

We’ll see you next week!

73 – W2XBS (for the entire staff and crew)
Executive Producer
This Week in Amateur Radio International

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Winter Reads – 2008-2009 – Batch VI

A further quick update on my sixth batch of books read so far during my 12 month reading log. I have added the previous lists a cumulative list to help me keep track of my reading goals:

Terrorist Trail – Backtracking the Foreign Fighter, by H. John Poole
Adventure Motorcycling, by Robert Wicks
Torch, by Lin Anderson
Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart
Term Limits, by Vince Flynn

Previously Read This Year are:

  1. Seed to Seed – Seed Saving & Growing Techniques, by Suzanne Ashworth
  2. Molon Labe – Come and Take Them (A Novel), by Kenneth W. Royce
  3. Everything You Know is Wrong, by Russ Kick (ed.)
  4. YASME – The Danny Weil & Colvin Radio Expeditions, by James D. Cain
  5. Earth Sheltered Houses, by Rob Roy
  6. Small Strawbale – Natural Homes, Projects & Designs, by Bill Steen & Others
  7. Building Green, by Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan
  8. The Age of Bede, by Betty Radice (ed.)
  9. Ten Years Behind the Mast – The Voyage of Theodora R, by Fritz Damler
  10. The Polically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman
  11. When All Hell Breaks Loose, by Cody Lundi
  12. Transfer (A Novel), by Jerry Furland
  13. The Electric Car, by Michael Westbrook
  14. The Adventure Motorbiking Handbook, by Chris Scott
  15. Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
  16. Patriots – Surviving the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles
  17. The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why, by Amanda Ripley
  18. Celsius 7/7, by Michael Gove
  19. The Blacksmith’s Craft – A Primer of Tools and Methods, by Charles McRaven
  20. Leaving the Left, by Keith Thompson
  21. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
  22. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades
  23. Rocket Mass Heaters – Superefficient Woodstoves You Can Build, by Ianto Evans & Leslie Jackson
  24. Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental, by Marc Gerstein & Michael Ellsberg
  25. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman
  26. The Third Revolution, by Anthony F. Lewis
  27. Dreaming of Jupiter , by Ted Simons
  28. Middle America, by Anthony F. Lewis
  29. The Last of the Mountain Men – Sylvan Hart, by Harold Peterson
  30. Tappan on Survival, by Mel Tappan
  31. Radicals for Capitalism, by Brian Doherty
  32. Carbon in the Solution Not the Problem , by Donald VanDusen
  33. American Farmstead Cheese , by Paul Kindstedt
  34. The Cheese Primer, by Steven Jenkins
  35. Brotherhood of Darkness, by Dr Stanley Monteith
  36. The Driver, by Garet Garrett
  37. Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
  38. Mad Science, by Theodore Gray
  39. The Secure Home, by Joel Skousen
  40. Boston’s Gun Bible, by Boston T. Party
  41. Managing Interstation Interference (Rev. 2nd Ed.), by George Cutsogeorge W2VJN

I am continuing to better my goal of reading a book-a-week, and it looks like the continued cold weather will let me maintain the pace.

Let me know if you want information on a specific title, as unless it is Amateur Radio focused they won’t be reviewed here.

73 & Happy Reading


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WorldRadio Online August Issue posted

Just received an email Notice that the August Issue of WorldRadio is available for download.

I’ve included the whole message with links, including how to get on the notification mailing list!




News from WorldRadio Online…

First, a word or two from our sponsors…

1) We think we’ve finally figured out how to send this message in plain text (didn’t work too well last month). So now, in theory, even if you’re signed up to receive these messages in digest form, and even if you haven’t told the e-mail system to send you HTML, the message should get through OK, even if it is “plain vanilla” (If you want something that looks pretty, you’ll have to go get the magazine!).

2) As a reminder, we do not e-mail the issue to you. There has been some confusion about this. This notification is all you will receive. You must go to the website, as directed below, and download the issue. For those of you with slower internet connections, we offer the option of viewing/downloading the issue in 4 segments, as well as viewing/downloading the entire issue at once. The four segments in the August issue cover pages 1-13, 14-25, 26-39 and 40-51. The table of contents is included with each segment. If you are interested in this option, please follow the instructions on the welcome page.

Now, the real reason for sending you this message…

The August issue of WorldRadio Online is available for downloading and reading. Here’s what you’ll find … in full color and with lots of pretty pictures:


Musings from Seven Miles Up: The DXpedition to Mozambique, by Cal White, WF5W DIY (Do-It-Yourself) RF Ammeter, by Mike Herman, WB8EVI


Editor’s Log
Rules & Regs: Accept Compensation?
With the HandiHams: We Want Our Morse Code!
Trail-Friendly Radio: The Baby Black Widow: “Houston, we DON’T have a problem!” Promotion and Recruitment: Summertime and the Promoting is Easy FISTS CW Club: Celebrate our Brasspounding Legacy – Go Portable! MARS: Thinking About “The Big One” and Preparing for it — For Real Amateur Satellites: ARISS: A Major Motivator
Emcomm and You: Never Stop Learning
DX World: DXing 101
Propagation: Is the Worldwide Ionosphere “In Step”?
Aerials: Half-Vertical Antenna


WorldRadio Online Newsfront
New Products
DX Predictions – August
Contest Calendar
Hamfests & Special Events
VE Exams
Visit Your Local Radio Club
WorldRadio Online Mart

On the Cover:
Inside this issue you will read about the adventures that hams are having while operating portable around the globe — from Africa to local parks, as well as ways to promote ham radio and attract teens to the Amateur Service.

To download and view the August issue of WorldRadio Online, go to the CQ home page at < > and click on the “WorldRadio Online” box. There are several options for viewing/downloading the issue. See the instructions on the welcome page. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to read WorldRadio Online. If you do not have it, scroll to the bottom of the welcome page and you will find a link for a free download.


You are subscribed to the WorldRadio Online E-Mail Alert Service.
To change or cancel [Or Subscribe], please go to < >.

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Tracking QSO Parties, some of the best of Amateur Radio’s Fun Events

QSOParty.Com is a website dedicated to tracking and announcing news on QSO Parties:

QSO is short for “Can you communicate with me?” per the American Amateur Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) chart.

A QSO Party is an organized Radio Contest style event to encourage making contacts with a specific group or location. Usual sponsors are State Amateur Radio Groups, Special Interest Groups of Radio Amateurs and sometimes contrived groupings just to make the event fun.

Check out to find out more!



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