Category Archives: Amateur Radio

Hamcation 2016 – News Reports to Follow

We’re at Orlando and had a great stop at Hamcation today.

A hands-on demo of the Maestro by Tim W4TME was really a plus.   Getting pretty excited for the general release.

image

FRS will have other positive news in a few days, which I’ll embargo so as to not steal their thunder.

Left behind a very cold Wisconsin…almost feel guilty leaving Winston KC9FVR watching the house, the weather is so nice here. But when we hear from eldest son Tom KC9JGD that it was -38F before adding in the wind at his Canadian QTH guess we don’t feel that guilty.

In in depth report when I get to a proper keyboard.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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It’s a new world out there … | FlexRadio Systems Community

Recently posted on the FlexRadio Systems Community by Dan W7NGA about having a ham friend Steve see his Flex-6500 in operation:

Flex6700_loaded_for_boar

… [it’s] ‘My new Flex 6500 displaying my favorite bands’.

I could see Steve wasn’t tuning in. ‘Oh .. I just don’t get it. That’s the CW portions of each band?’.

‘No .. that is the entire spectrum of 80-meters, 40-meters, 20-meters, and 15-meters. And later it will be chock-full of signals’.

‘Say what?’

‘The entire band spectrum .. and if you want another cup of coffee, we can bring out my Surface Pro 4 and tune the bands next to the wood stove!’

Steve: ‘Do they take VISA?’

Source: It’s a new world out there … | FlexRadio Systems Community

A new version of SmartSDR – v1.6 is due this coming week, and all I can say is “you haven’t seen anything yet!”

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adding 4o3a Genius Gear to the Shack

Adding some very cool station automation gear to the shack – all from 4o3a in Montenegro.

4O3A MADE IN MONTENEGROThe 4o3a Station Genius is basically an ethernet addressable highly configurable shack multi-switch. Ranks 4o3a jokes that it WILL even do your coffee, and technically that is an affirmative!

For the moment the Station Genius is home shack only.

The each QTH has gotten a 4o3a Antenna Genius 8×2 ethernet addressable Antenna Switch. These switches are especially sweet when using a dual-SCU Flex-6700 in SO2R configuration.

4o3a has his Rotor Genius out, which will be next implementation. A not so secret bit of news is 4o3a is tightly collaborating with FlexRadio Systems and a RF Amp is somewhere in the works.

You can read a lot about Ranko 4o3a at his website http://www.4o3a.com

Force12 has been awesome in sourcing this great gear for the USA based ham. See http://www.force12inc.com/categories/4o3a-devices.html?sort=pricedesc for their listing of 4o3a devices.

 

FORCE12 LOGO

Did I mention the end goal is all this gear works with SmartSDR and hopefully with a Maestro soon afterwards?

Much more to follow!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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The biggest threat to future DXpeditions is….

Paul N6PSE explains at his blog “Amateur Radio opinions & adventures of N6PSE” why we won’t see many rare DX activated – the ISIS Threat to Amateur Radio!

I would never expect fellow hobbyists to endanger themselves in ISIS controlled DX entities.

Simply not worth it.

For my 2-cents I think we should have a parallel program to the DXCC Program that excludes DX Entities currently considered too dangerous.

There is no QSO and QSL worth paying for with blood.

Link below.

73

Steve K9ZW

n6pse

GunsinAir

The spread of Islamic Terrorism is the biggest threat to DXpeditions of the future.

I often find myself thinking about the future. What kind of world will my children inherit? What will the future be like? What about the future of this great hobby of Amateur Radio and DXing? What does the future hold? What are the challenges ahead and how will we solve them?

Raising enough money to bring a team to a remote and rare destination has been and will always be a challenge. When a large part of the world’s economy is slipping into recession there is considerably less “hobby” money available to support these endeavors. This is understandable and is part of life’s priorities for many of us.

As one of few Americans who has travelled to Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Iran among many other places all on my own, I have…

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Upgraded Amp Installed – Alpha-9500

Finally, i mean FINALLY, got around to putting the Alpha-9500 Amp I bought during one of their specials summer of 2014 online.

The amp and transformer boxes had sat unopened for 15 months.  Seems every time I thought to put the Amp online I was more interested in just getting on the air.

I’ve wanted to pull the Expert 1KW amp out to move it to my Northern QTH on Washington Island, and the “blah” band conditions tonight seemed to offer a perfect opportunity to get the Alpha unboxed and in operation.

Putting the amp together was easy, and the quality of the build shows well.  Both in case any troubleshooting and because of the Amp’s size, for now it is on my main operating bench.

I’m spoken with a friend who builds furniture about doing a shelf unit once I decide what goes where.

Adjusting DDUTIL to control the Alpha was easy and it works slick.  Biggest deal I had was I had asked for the wrong 240v plug type, and had to change it out.

Everything ran well from the get-go, and I banged out a couple QSOs with great reports.  Really like the way it tracks bands and does nudge-tuning to adjust as one QSYs.

One thing I did lose in the change, is the Expert being solid state is an “instant on” amp, where the Alpha has a countdown as it warms up the tube.

And the best part of all is despite the reticence to miss out on-the-air time that led to the Alpha being left in the box while I kept operating, the downtime was trivial.  Should have done it months ago!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adding a BIG Microphone – Shure SM5-B in the Shack

One the issues I face as an a phone operator is I have a naturally deep bass voice that doesn’t play all that well on the radio for DX or Contesting.  So I’ve been working to help that Broadcaster’s/Ragchewer’s voice into something that works better in the pile-up.

Through Bob K5JIL I was able to obtain the “Unobtanium” – an exceptional Shure SM5-B microphone.  These out of production microphones are prized by professionals and are often priced out of the ham radio operator’s budget, if they come up second hand at all.

Following Bob K5JIL’s very helpful instructions I picked a NOS Behringer Mixer/Amp to interface the Shure SM5-B to my Flex-6700.  My son Winston KC9FVR was super helpful digging out patch cables to get this all working.

The results have been exceptional!   During the mid-November ARRL SSB Sweepstakes I had numerous stations break from the pattern of exchanging reports to comment on the excellent audio.  A session working George W9EVT in fairly lousy band conditions helped tweak a DX configuration that seems to be doing the trick!

I know that it isn’t in every ham’s budget to do a microphone & mixer like this, and I am truly grateful to have the privilege of good gear to help in my efforts in the amateur radio hobby.

Winston KC9FVR also helped figure out the cables needed to put the Wohler AMP1A-LP speaker on line, which is really nice.  I typically wear a boomset, but with the quality speaker as an option it is a lot more “sociable” in the shack when anyone else is in the shack (a small room originally intended as a wine cellar.)

I have figured out the expensive part of the better microphone and speaker though, I already want to duplicate the setup at the Northern QTH on Washington Island!

Hope to hear you on the air!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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