Monthly Archives: August 2020

Jeff KE9V issues the full re-release of the Ham Radio Adventure “Cornbread Road”

Today Jeff Davis KE9V released the remaining episodes of Cornbread Road.

Back in 2010 Jeff KE9V posted this teaser for the series:

Deep in the Heartland a small group of ham radio enthusiasts enjoy an idyllic existence of wide open spaces, no antenna restrictions, low-noise levels, simple living, and good fellowship. But things aren’t exactly as they seem. Unexplained lights in the night sky, radio signals masked from the ether, strange late night visitors to this small farming community…

I listened to Cornbread Road when Jeff rolled it out https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/cornbread-road-jeff-ke9vs-work-a-different-kind-of-ham-radio-podcast/ , and wrote  https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/cornbread-road-a-ke9v-audio-amateur-radio-novel-fully-on-line/ when the original 13 episodes were all put online.

I caught the re-release on Jeff KE9V’s Twitter feed – https://twitter.com/ke9v/

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Early look at the FlexRadio/4o3a Tuner Genius Prototype courtesy 4o3a

Beyond the photo and some general conjectures, I have nothing further to share, in respect to not being on the inside of this product’s development nor knowing anything that FRS said could be shared. 

On Facebook 4o3a shared a photo of a Tuner Genius prototype:

4o3a Tuner Genius Prototype on test bench

What I would share is a guess on my part:

As FRS and 4o3a have suggested that the Tuner Genius will likely come in several versions, do not expect that the fullest featured version is either shown in the picture or will be offered as the “premium” for the early adopter Power Genius Amp (PGXL) purchasers who are owed a tuner.

I can speak what I might do, as FRS has not spoken about what their plans are either in public or private, as I would offer the Tuner Genius in a no-faceplate version as an add-on to the PGXL amp, a stand-alone with faceplate version like the photo shows and a remote version where the matching circuit would be located at the tower base/antenna.  I would also offer a dual-version where several Tuner Geniuses could be slaved to each other to allow very rapid deployment.

To the PGXL early adopters would be offered the no-faceplate add-on version, with the option to buy-up to any of the more involved configurations.

But again that is my off the cuff idea and my only skin in the game is as an PGXL early adopter.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Jeff KE9V promises a full re-release of the Ham Radio Adventure “Cornbread Road”

Latest Update  see: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/jeff-ke9v-issues-the-full-re-release-of-the-ham-radio-adventure-cornbread-road/

Jeff Davis KE9V recently tweeted “Cornbread Road Episode 1 – for old times sake, do you remember?” and posted the first episode at:

https://ke9v.net/media/cbr_ep1.mp3

[Edit] When this article came live, Jeff KE9V had also posted episode #2 (linked below).

Jeff KE9V commented “I’ll be posting all 13 episodes again spread over several weeks. These were originally recorded starting June 2010 so it’s been a decade.”  Back in 2010 Jeff KE9V posted this teaser for the series:

Deep in the Heartland a small group of ham radio enthusiasts enjoy an idyllic existence of wide open spaces, no antenna restrictions, low-noise levels, simple living, and good fellowship. But things aren’t exactly as they seem. Unexplained lights in the night sky, radio signals masked from the ether, strange late night visitors to this small farming community…

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Out of the Ashes – the FlexRadio Community Reborn

Back in June 2020, FlexRadio Systems was told with only a couple weeks notice of deplatforming, that Sprinklr/GetSatisfaction was shutting down their community platform servers.

I don’t think FRS was even given a month to rescue its data from Sprinklr/GetSatisfaction and of course the Sprinklr/GetSatisfaction had no migration plans for their customers.

The very short timeframe and comparatively small market of customers didn’t create the environment where porting-services could emerge.  If you remember the Yahoo Groups phase out, services evolved to port our existing group to another platform.

FRS grabbed the bull by the horns, and in addition to securing all its data from the terminal Sprinklr/GetSatisfaction platform, started systematically evaluating potential new platforms.  While I had no involvement or input, the rumble is they really dug deep into possible options.

Eventually they selected the Vanilla Forums platform as the one for the reborn community. Vanilla’s link:  https://vanillaforums.com/en/

Then it seemed like FRS went a bit quiet, though most of us expected they were elbow deep in porting over the old data.

The new FlexRadio Systems Community is at: UNEMBARGOED LINK (https://community.flexradio.com/) (went live on FRS announcement)

In waves they are setting up former community members, and you eventually get an email inviting you in. I expect it is best to wait for the invite unless you really want a clean break from your former community user identity. You most likely will be asked to update your password, and if you want to change your avatar picture there is that sort of housekeeping left for the user to sort out.

Initial impressions is the new platform looks really good. I’m perhaps not so taken with the cartoon-stock appearances of the default avatars and badge thing, but under that light-hearted appearance there seems to be some really good stuff going on. The effort to move everything over is non-trivial, being an investment in time & resources.

That FRS has done the huge port-over is quite a compliment to their community participants.

The failure of Sprinklr/GetSatisfaction was brushed off and the community will be better than before!

Like the song says:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GND10sWq0n0

From the ashes of disaster, grow the roses of success!
Start the engines!
    Success!
Batten the hatches!
    Success!
Man the shrouds!
Lift the anchor!
    Success!

Well done FRS!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Coming this weekend (Aug 15th, 2020) – SmartSDR for Mac

In a really nice addition to the SmartSDR ecosystem, Marcus Roskosch DL8MRE is releasing a native MacOS version of SmartSDR which should hit the Apple MacOS App store on August 15th 2020.

SmartSDR for MacOS

Link: https://roskosch.de/smartsdr-for-mac/

As a disclaimer, I have NOT participated or seen this software in pre-release, though with the high quality of Marcus DL8MRE past work and software releases, I am very excited about his new product.

Some really great features:

  • built in FT4/8
  • integrated CAT & DAX
  • built in Logbook with ADIF Export and a Call lookup tool
  • internal DX-Cluster
  • a Band-Map Tool
  • internal Spots on the panadapter
  • CWX and CW Macros,
  • Internal and external Audio device support
  • SmartLink integration
  • Full Firmware Updating capabilites for your Radio
  • Support for Country TURF Files
  • Will display all the panadapters and slices your Radio is capable of

While Marcus DL8MRE is closely affiliated by FlexRadio, he is a third party developer.  His products are considered officially supported and promoted, but they are not part of the basic SmartSDR for Windows product included when you buy a new Flex-6000 radio.

The new app does run $149.00 as a one-time cost.  Presently it will only be offered through Apple’s store.  I am uncertain if your SmartSDR for Mac purchase is per radio, per machine, or allows for some combination.  Nor is it clear you can install this on all your own MacOS machines?

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Musing on the FlexRadio Experience

The Silicon Gray Beard is a really nice blog that has a lot of interesting posts.  Every now and again he does wade out a bit deeper than the knowledge he has mastered, and I was reading his post at: https://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.com/2020/07/a-ham-radio-series-9-software-defined.html

I wanted to share here some of my FRS musings:


Whether ICOM or another, once the technology used to make a “radio-server” became affordable at the amateur equipment price price point, the neat evolution of hybrid technology was going to happen.

The knobs/no-knobs issue predates the Maestro, as with the prior “Thick-Pipe” SDR technology (where the PC is part of the processing, rather than just a platform for the end user GUI) Flex had launch the FlexControl. I bought one in 2011 for my Flex-5000A https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/flexcontrol-usb-controlled-tuning-knob/

Some on the Thick-Pipe vs Thin-Pipe differences: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/the-future-of-sdr-fat-pipe-vs-thin-pipe/

One area that has fascinated me is how the FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) went from exotica to an SDR norm. The technology was there, but the economics were against widespread amateur usage. When FlexRadio announced they would be using FPGAs in a bigger way I wrote: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/musing-on-the-new-flex-6000-series-smartsdr-radios/

If an SDR is just a radio server, how you controlled it was an ongoing discussion. The current FRS ecosystem allows for a end-client GUI on normal computer hardware (Windows, MacOS, and iOS on both iPhones & iPads), the Maestro for the face-plate experience, and the M-models for those who want everything in a traditional transceiver packaging. In addition to the FlexControl other hardware has been made work to give more options.

In my mind the real magic is the ability to remote, the ability to have essentially a “new radio” with a new Version of SmartSDR loaded into the radio, and in my case the amp/transceiver integration when viewed from the end-user GUI.

While I am trying this comment I’ve made a dozen or more QSOs running digital mode to my home station via remote. I’ve my choice of a radio in the next building – a 6600M – or a radio at home – a 6700 – when I remote, more to do with antenna choices than much different in capabilities. I regularly had remoted while traveling, using an iPad and a noise-cancelling boomset. https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/remoting-via-smartsdr-and-smartlink-v2-0-in-daily-use/

Since I bought my Flex-6700 I believe I have upgraded that radio over 50 times, which is more than the usual user experience being on the test team, but as a contrast few of my other radios have received more than a single feature upgrade while I’ve owned them. (I started with pre-release version 0.6ish to the latest 3.1.12 General Release – unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about test versions though).

While I typically run barefoot, I do have the FlexRadio/4o3a PGXL Amp, which base functions and metering are integrated in most versions of SmartSDR.

Is it all perfect, no. But that is not a problem as feature-by-feature my system will evolve as the software upgrades drive feature improvements.

Just as a counterpoint, I do keep a nice Collins setup for a traditional ham experience when I don’t want to run all the gee-wiz stuff.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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