Category Archives: FlexRadio Systems

FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – in transit and anticipation….

Good News:  FlexRadio Systems has let me know that my amp is among those shipped by 4o3a.

Not So Good News:  International Shipping Gremlins have slowed down the transit.

Having personally had my international shipments “lost” I have sympathy.  Life isn’t fun when the container with one’s entire household belongings took Eight-Months to make a transit promised at less than 20-Days!  That case a longshoreman’s strike left it on the dock, missing its boat, the replacement boat was refused a St Lawrence Seaway permit (drought) so hovered offshore for an additional month until a berth was secured, and then unexpected cross continent land transport had to arranged.  Of did I mention the stress of having everything held in limbo for a half-year put the shipping broker out of business, and an additional broker had to be found for inbound clearance… and on finding much damage it was found that the now defunct original shipper had not bought the all-perils insurance we contracted for, leaving all the damage uninsured.

Or another car I was importing being held up in bond at the port of entry because the German seller had put in the trunk a 10-liter jug of the special oil recommended for the car.  The oil was not on the manifest and the seller had used about a 1/2 liter topping the car’s crankcase before shipping.  At $65/day for two months of bonded storage at the dock, paying for testing of the oil in the jug and all the extra broker fees to to plead my case, this gesture the seller made cost me roughly $5,700.00 in unexpected and unavoidable fees.  And yes, the option of shipping the oil back would have been nearly as costly on its own, and the car would have still racked up bonded storage fees until everyone was happy…..

Or how about the unexpected two-month delay on another car I’d contacted to be brought from Toronto – while it didn’t cost me extra, it was annoying when I could fry & drive it back in a weekend, but circumstances didn’t let me go.  Nothing more than the gears of “the system” turning slowly, with a bit of “work to rule” officialdom in the mix.

Yes, FRS has my sympathy on international shipment delays.

If the starts aline the Power Genius XL should be here before Christmas.  Fingers crossed.

More when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

Steve

 

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FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – on the way

FlexRadio Systems extended an opportunity to acquire the first of the Power Genius XL amps I’d ordered as a “Beta Team” participant.

I’d done a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.  I believe in that Beta Program I was in the first handful of non-company/non-alpha-team to get a radio (that radio is serial number 11 and runs my main QTH station, usually powered on for months at a time.)

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Amp, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program.

In my case the new PG XL Amp will displace an Alpha-9500, which I’m planning to retain for the moment.  Eventually I’ll need to thin the reserve gear as I won’t retain all the now spare amps – expecting the Expert 1KW will be the first to go.

I took a pass on taking my second PG XL Amp early, as my Washington Island QTH’s station is hardly used during the winter months due to logistics and weather.  That way I freed up another spot for another early adopter (Beta Team participant) rather than storing the second amp until spring.

Both QTHs have 4o3a Antenna Genius antenna switches ready to implement and I’ve been fiddling around with a 4o3a Station Genius as well, though updates to the Antenna Genius seem to make it redundant.

More when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

Steve

 

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – in Daily Use

 

Travels so often put a person in a hotel somewhere with idle time to fill.  My last appointment of the day in Milwaukee finished at 5:30pm and after taking my youngest two university students out for dinner, Winston KC9FVR and Vic KC9NWB, I’d decided to stay in town.  A morning appointment at 7 am made running home and then hitting the road by 5 am seem a waste.

A Speedtest showed that this Art Deco hotel, The Ambassador, has a guest internet that can support remoting my Flex-6700, so it was a no-brainer to run QSOs from the hotel room.

K9ZW portable SmartSDR setup

My setup is super simple   An older 2013 era iPad Air with and even older AblePlanet noise-canceling headset with a boom microphone adapter.

I think the AblePlanet setup is almost ten years old and had made many overseas flights over the years.  I’d bought the boom microphone  to do some of the earlier voip programs.  I’d bought five of the headsets so everyone had one for a U.K. Trip, but I was the only one with a microphone as the option was a silly price back then.

Some folk didn’t like the headsets or found then fragile, and when they were being sold off cheap I should have bought more.

On the iPad I’m using “SmartSDR for iOS” which is truly an elegant implementation.

Logging is handled with the in-App purchase Logger add-in for SmartSDR for iOS.  Simple but elegant.

Now I have to admit I played radio only for an hour or so, but it sure was a blast.

I’ll talk more about putting this all together in a further installment.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – Both my Stations are UP!!

One of my “Dreams” I contemplated when the Flex-6000 (Deep Impact, right?) was announced was the idea that I could control more than one of my own stations remotely.

I forgot to shoot a screen shot, as I was able to sit in the W9EVT Mega-Shack receiving the stations I worked, while alternatingly working them from my North and South Stations!

When I got back to the North Station I did shoot this screen shot the next morning:

SmartLink doing both of my Stations

Let’s walk through the four entries:

  1. K9ZW Home (South) QTH via SmartLink – this is in Manitowoc, Wisconsin running a Flex-6700 Limited Edition (#11) barefoot to a Tennadyne T-8 at 60ft.
  2. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via SmartLink – this is on Washington Island, Wisconsin (hence the WI-001L) running a later Flex-6700 barefoot to a SteppIR CrankIR portable antenna.
  3. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via Local Area Network is the same station and shows because I within the wireless router’s coverage.
  4. Demo Flex-6700 is built into SmartSDR for iOS, and I keep it enabled to do quick show-and-tell sessions where I don’t have good internet set up.

So what I was doing was using George W9EVT’s Maestro and Flex-6300 to listen as I switch back-and forth from the North and South stations.  I was also monitoring via those stations as well.

The North and South stations are roughly 190 km/118 miles apart in a largely north(NNE)-south(SSW) displacement.  The roads are slow and a ferry ride make this a 3+ hour trip each way.

K9ZW South to K9ZW North – 24 degrees

Very interesting experiment which I hope to repeat!

Next step may come in the future, as I would love to combine the two stations in one virtual-station!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – First Impressions

Working DX stations on my iPhone with SmartSDR for iOS from the local airport cafe….
Monitoring the band via SmartLink using a Maestro from my work desk….
Working DX from the doctor’s waiting room via SmartSDR for iOS on that iPhone (I went the cellphone area to keep the quiet)….
Then working lots of Parks on the Air and iota stations from SmartSDR for iOS on an iPad but locally (LAN connection) while doing bills….

What an awesome product! Okay there are some things the initial v2.0 isn’t ready to do yet: No native digital (DAX digital streams are perhaps down the road), No remote control of other station equipment, No built-in standby/start control, the 4o3a gear integration didn’t make this release. Stuff that can come later.

What is awesome is that lickty split one can remote into their setup Flex-6000 station without a PhD in networking!

Nothing on the net is truely always plug-and-play so you might need some help getting through the initial setup. And of course you need enough low latency, low jitter and modestly bufferless limited (like satellite internet doesn’t seem to work) to make the connection. Would seem as a good rule of thumb if your connection will support a good grade of gamer’s connection with voice and all that, you may be in the right direction.

Setup is a ready the manual and follow the steps sort of thing. Makes sense.

Good stuff!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems SmartLink and SmartSDR v2.0

Well I have half of my gear moved to the newest FlexRadio Systems SmartLink and SmartSDR version 2.0

From the main hamshack my earlier Flex-6700 (a Limited Edition model, number #11) updated very quickly.   I had some trouble with the AT&T UVerse modem/router getting the Port Forwarding sorted out, as most UVerse modems don’t do UPnP that SmartLink needs.

Putting SmartSDR for Windows v2.0 on my main shack computer was a breeze.  Don’t forget to then update your DDUtil to the latest.

Updating the iPhone and iPad to SmartSDR for iOS version 2.0 was simple.  You have to remember to “restore” any in-app purchases (I use the DX Cluster, the Log Book and the band plans) before they will operate.

I was a bit stuck upgrading the first Maestro in isolation.  Once I realized it had to be connected to v2.0 radio I whipped out the Raspberry Pi VPN to make that initial connection.  Pretty neat to have control of my Flex-6700 from work!

The blue rectangle says “SmartLink” confirming WAN connection to the radio.

This coming weekend I hope to upgrade my second Flex-6700 and second Maestro on Washington Island, though I am a bit far off from keeping that station live 24/7 yet. My internet on the island is just adequate to run SmartLink, though I may need to do some tweaking control bandwidth.

Kudos to FlexRadio Systems for making this HUGE upgrade so simple and easy.

73

Steve
K9ZW