Category Archives: FlexRadio Systems

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

Tidying up is Important – K9ZW Island Rack

Sometimes the small things matter a lot.

The Island Rack basically has been put together piecemeal, and now that it is settling into an all-FlexRadio setup it was time to tidy things up.

Here is the backside of the rack:

K9ZW Island Rack – Backside View

Kind of a “So What?!” picture as I forgot to capture before tidy-up shots.

Changes made include:

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That didn’t take long (someone read my review) of the Flex-TGXL at eHam

Joe KK4Q was the first to let me know that he saw my messing around with an eHam review at 6:49am June 29th 2021:

I just read your review of your new flex tuner,,, if you want it to work better, you should put it AFTER the flex amp, not between the 6700 and the amp. Joe KK4Q

Not certain my motivation, but I have long wondered if anyone actually read eHam reviews. Maybe not an excuse to mess about. Here is the review as I entered it:

My original eHam review while being posted.

(Just in case it doesn’t jump out at you, your antenna coupler/tuner is wired after the amplifier, which is fed from the transceiver (which is sometimes called an exciter in this use), which is not the way I described it in the review).

I wasn’t certain I would get a “hey you” email this quick, as my supposition is that eHam readers mostly barely skim-read reviews.  I was wrong on that.

By the way, the actual shack cabling is conventional, though the PGXL being heavy and as the only 240vac physically is low in the racks and the tuner higher but below the Flex-6700.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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