Category Archives: Flex-6000

Another Portable HF Option – Elecraft KX3 for Portable Activations

Elecraft KX3

 

Looking into 2022 I hope to participate in a few activations.

With Tom K0TTC scheming to do a newer park on Detroit Island (which is a Wisconsin island in Lake Michigan – you have to love the reuse of names across the Midwest). Hoping we can catch a few other nearby Islands as well.

Having missed having a nice simple portable HF setup on my recent trip around Lake Superior, I’d like to be ready for some HF on an envisioned Lake Michigan circle trip in 2022.

I’ve had three radio options I could use. The Flex-6600M could be pulled from service at my work QTH station, I’ve used a TenTec Jupiter (and Pegasus) for this in the past, and I have a SGC SC-2020 that could be used.

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What Big Ears you have! – Being Heard – the All-FlexRadio (AFR) Station

I mentioned the great reports I was receiving with the AFR station (All-FlexRadio), and as being heard is the the easy part of making QSO’s, it seemed a good time to talk about the “Ears” of the AFR station.

There are two parts of most aspects of reception – hearing the raw signals and having a method to reduce the signal to a particular station which you want to make a QSO.

Across the panadaper SSB signal traces crowd the screen.  Use of the various signal processing settings mitigates some of the crowd, but there remains a lot of signals to pick through.

Think of this like going to a crowded party where everyone is talking.  There are so many simultaneous conversations that one has to concentrate and focus to pick out just one.  A hard of hearing person may hear only a fraction of the conversations, and because of their lower ability to hear also misses much of the general “conversation buzz” that good ears need to work to pick through.

The AFR station is good ears for sure.  And I need to carefully use the software tools and my own hearing processing to pick out stations.  The challenge is to focus in on just one station.

FlexRadio has a number of videos on how to manipulate SmartSDR to achieve optimal QSO rates.  As fair warning, if you want to simulate the deafness of legacy radios you will need to work harder at tweaking settings in SmartSDR.  Conversely if you want to have run rate with the leaders in the pack, your SmartSDR settings will be less intrusive.

One obvious factor in this listening part of the equation, is the great performance of the Tennadyne T-12 Log Periodic Antenna.

I can hear you now!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Hearing and Being Heard – the All-FlexRadio (AFR) Station

I have been running the All-FlexRadio (AFR) setup on phone (SSB) with the new T-12 Log Periodic, and very pleased with the balance between Reception (RX) and Transmission (TX)!

Audio to Radio Frequency Chain of the AFR setup (All-FlexRadio) is:

  • Sure SM5B Microphone
  • Behringer Audio Amp
  • Flex-6700 with SmartSDR Software
  • Flex-PGXL Amp
  • Flex-TGXL Tuner
  • AS302N Lightning Arrestor
  • Tennadyne T-12 Antenna at 76ft

All cables are hardline, Belden 9913F7 (drops) or LMR400 (jumpers).

Presently I don’t have the rotator wired at the tower base and shack ends, so the Log Periodic has been stationary. The connectors I needed to repurchase as I put them someplace so very safe when first ordered that they haven’t been found since, just arrived.

Rather enjoying reports when running barefoot of “I have you K9ZW 5-9 plus 15” and then turning on the “heater” but loafing at 500 watts, to receive 5-9 plus 30 reports!

Happy camper here!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Running a Comprehensively FlexRadio System – September 2021

It has taken quite a while to assemble an all-FlexRadio setup.

FlexRadio took longer than expected to introduce the Amplifier (PGXL) and Tuner (TGXL) components. To FlexRadio’s credit the general releases were held until the units were sorted out to some pretty exacting standards, and just like the radios the PGXL & TGXL continue to be worked on for improvements.

Here is my basic system at the Home-QTH:

Flex-6700 — PGXL Amp — TGXL Tuner — Antennas

At the Home-QTH Antenna 1 is a Zero-Five Flagpole Vertical and Antenna 2 is a T-12 12 element Log Periodic

Here is my basic system at the Island-QTH:

Flex-6700 — PGXL Amp — TGXL Tuner — PowerMaster SWR Meter — Antennas

At the Island-QTH Antenna 1 is a Zero-Five Flagpole Vertical

For reference the Work-QTH setup is:

Flex-6600M — Vertical Antenna

In all cases an Array Solutions AS302 arrestor is in-line before the antenna.

Main software is SmartSDR (Windows) either by LAN or WAN using SmartLink.  I do have SmartSDR (iOS) and SmartSDR (Maestro) to fall back on, but mostly am using the Windows version.  (Also have DogparkSDR available on my MacOS machines.)

For a while I am going to run everything in this simple configuration.  Actually rather frustrated with myself in the implementation of antenna switches and various additional sensor/software packages.

The Home-QTH and Work-QTH are able to be kept on standby 24/7, but island infrastructure being unreliable leaves the Island-QTH able to be up only when someone is in attendance.

73

Steve
K9ZW

What Time is it? Can you hear me? FT8 Timing Issues – Part 2

Spent some time just watching FT8 waterfalls, where it is obvious that some stations are off timing.

What is telling that quite a few seem to be on the same “off” together, suggesting that there may be a computer clock induced issue.

Ragged Finish to an FT8 Cycle

Ragged Start to an FT8 Cycle

My theory is that many stations experienced the same NTP issue simultaneously moves their time sync off in-mass.

If the cumulative offset is too much, decoding stops and the operator will look for a fix, otherwise they will continue on.

There are specifications to all this, but as I mentioned upgrading my NTP service to the latest sorted out my PCs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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What Time is it? Can you hear me? FT8 Timing/Sound Woes and Corrections

Time is important to do Digital Modes

One of the workstations I remotely use to run my stations is under enterprise update control, resulting in less say when patches and updates get applied.

Seems the latest round of updates messed with two things – time and sound. Kind of the two most important parts to run a timed digital mode like FT8!

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