K9ZW Computers in the Shack

Boy do I have a mess in the shack – several computers not very well coordinated due to a split vision and having been acquired over too much time.

My Flex-5000A with PowerSDR runs on a 4-5 year old Dell tower that really isn’t adequate. Some of my peeves with PowerSDR can be lain at the feet of a marginal computer. Dual core Windows-XP box with not really that much going for it, the highlight is having dual screens and the requisite Firewire port.

Elsewhere in the house I do all writing, and all my “home work” from work, on an early Aluminum MacBook. This is the smallest & slowest MacBook but is running the latest Mountain Lion.

For portable operations I retired a now defunct IBM Thinkpad and replaced it with a decent Windows XP-Pro larger Thinkpad. Nothing fancy but when a decent battery was added it is close to a portable version of the Dell Tower.

Retired, but lingering around are a MacMini (early series) that my youngest bloated the hard disk gaming and won’t run. Have been meaning to see if I can coax the machine back to life, at least enough to rescue pictures.

An older G5 iMac is around too – it was one that the power supply had the counterfeit capacitor issue, fixed under “quiet recall” and hasn’t really been used since.

Then my newest computer is running on my project’s desk – a Raspberry Pi. A neat little ARM based Linux computer, it has been running as a “burn-in” on the desk.

There are enough parts and licenses to put together a few wobbly generic PC’s with either Linux installs or using one of the Window’s Licenses if Microsoft will issue a key for replacement hardware.

Looking forward my wants and needs are:

  • Running PowerSDR for the Flex-5000A (Windows)
  • Running SmartSDR for the upcoming Flex-6000 (Windows)
  • Running EZNEC Antenna Modeling (Windows)
  • Running N4PY for the TenTec Pegasus and Jupiter (Windows)
  • Running MixW, JT65HF, DDUTIL, PowerMaster and similar station accessory programs (Windows)
  • Running the Bengali CW Software (Windows)
  • Running fldigi and related programs (Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux)
  • Running MacLoggerDX (Mac OSX)
  • Running CocoaModem (Mac OSX)
  • Running cocoaNEC (Mac OSX)
  • Running Sibelius Music Software (Windows or Max OSX)
  • Running Noteworthy Composer (Windows)
  • Running Scrivener (Complex Document Editing) Software (Windows or Mac OSX)
  • Full Word Processing Software – needs to exchange files with MS Word (Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux)
  • Full Spreadsheet Software – needs to exchange files with MS Excel (Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux)
  • Full Presentation Software – needs to exchange files with MS Powerpoint (Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux)
  • Service my iPod – (Windows or Mac OSX)
  • Downloading and Organizing my Photos (prefer Mac OSX)

Then after that I get into things I do occasionally, rather than regularly.

Really looks like two avenues of choice – an Apple iMac or MacPro with Bootcamp or Parallels to run Windows, or two separate machines with one Windows and one OSX basis (also perhaps running Bootcamp or Parallels as well.)

The new iMac really is a looker – and my Apple experience is much more positive than my Windows experience.

But then there are the Flex-5000A’s PowerSDR and Firewire needs.

Presently I am leaning to upgrading the shack’s Dell with a roll-you-own Windows-7 box AND replace the MacBook with an iMac running Parallels/Win-7.

The MacPro is pricy enough that it is not really justifiable for home use, but wow it would be sweet.

How would you set this up?



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2 thoughts on “K9ZW Computers in the Shack

  1. I chose to have a shack Windows 7 machine that does everything I might need, including PowerSDR, logging, digital modes, etc. It is a big case with a very high quality 850W power supply (high efficiency, low EMI), an Intel i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, 60GB SSD + 4x HDD’s, 2 soundcards, 2 full-HD monitors, TV tuner, remote control, network shared printer/scanner. I also have a thin 13″ MSI Windows 7 laptop, that i use whenever i am away for surfing, email and some light antenna modelling or PCB design; I remote access the shack computer from the laptop via Teamviewer to work digital modes, and i use Dropbox to syncronise some files between the two.

    I would to the same if I were you, a bigger machine for the shack, complemented with a laptop, make it a Macbook so you can run all your Apple software. Get read of the old stuff and get a new setup, it doesn’t have to be top notch but the latest Intel CPU’s really offer a big improvement in the performance/watt department and the integrated graphics is decent; I actually sold an older premium model quadcore CPU and got the latest i3 just for lowering the overall power consumption and heat (the PC is on 24/7), and the performance drop was barely noticeable, system is still responding instantly.

  2. Michael Hasenfratz Sr. - WA6FXT says:

    Steve, My computer plans for my Flex-6700 are as follows.
    MacMini (i5 – 16GB ram, 320GB drive, 2011 model) running Windows7 x64 (perhaps bootcamped). I want maximum hardware and minimum software between me and my Flex-6700.

    I run VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Pro and see additional latencies I would like to eliminate.

    It will be “Sweet”, when SmartSDR has true OS-X version available.

    Anyway, my dreams!

    73’s and keep up the great “Ponderings”.

    de Mike WA6FXT

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