Category Archives: FlexRadio Systems

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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Flex-6300 K9ZW North Station in QSO

 

Jumping forward from 1977 Collins KWM-2A technology to current technology, here is a photo of the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300 part of my northern Washington Island station:

K9ZW Flex-6300 Station on Washington Island

K9ZW Flex-6300 Station on Washington Island

There is a lot going on in this little station, so first the hardware:

  • Flex-6300 w/ATU Transceiver with USB digital codec dongle
  • Windows 8.1 USB PC on a stick
  • USB hub
  • WiFi Extender – 1Gb
  • 1Gb router
  • FlexControl
  • Powered Speaker
  • Power supply is under bench
  • wheel mouse
  • keyboard
  • 24in monitor

 

Now here is the important list – the software:

  • SmartSDR v1.5.0 with Free Digital Voice and DStar plus-ins
  • DDUTIL v3.0
  • FlexMeter v1.3
  • N1MM+ logger

The Flex-6300 station got great reports today using a SteppIR CrankIR portable antenna. Mostly CalifornyQSO party station but also worked some DX.

The PC on a stick was an experiment that has worked out fine, and I will leave it for the time being.  When the 6300 is swapped for a 6700 I’ll put in a full PC.

I’m not happy with the included Flex hand microphone but forgot to bring a desk mic up this trip.

Once the permanent antennas are up it is going to be obvious that I will want a Flex-6700 here rather than the limited single SCU Flex-6300.  The 6300 will go to my traveling radio setup at that time.

Made a interesting contrast to last weekends QSOs done with the Collins KWM-2A station  on the same antenna.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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W9DXCC Wrap-Up… Hams be prepared just in case, and Buck Rogers Radios

Sitting in our hotel room at the end of the 2015 W9DXCC in Schaumburg, Il.  An excellent experience all around.

The generosity of ones fellows in the hobby cannot be overstated.  I really enjoy these events as the expertise of those with time and resources are shared so willingly!

Keynote speaker was ex-FCC General Counsel, Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH, who as always spoke well and to the point.  Main take away were two somewhat unexpected things, one about shared humanity and another larger on why the world needs hams even more with the Internet of Things.

On humanity Riley reminded us that those few hams who are awful on the air are largely troubled souls that the system isn’t or can’t help.  Not a few are veterans dealing with those issues.  While not specifically asking for anything from the audience, he brought home that these folk are people too.  Kind of a reminder that we can do better.

The bigger statement was in many ways a vision of a post apocalyptic mission that hams can fill.  As the Internet transitions to the Internet of Things, the risk of systemic failure increases, but worse the risk of system denial (cyber terrorism) has profound consequences that the ham services may help mitigate.

The TEOTWAWKI scenario wasn’t expected, and I have to admit I agree with Riley, including the decentralized ideas he expressed which are the same as those behind the  FREECOM supplement/replacement for EMCOM.

I will return to the FREECOM theme in a future article.

The other huge takeaway for me is again an admiration for the technical excellence and elegance of the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6000 series.

Gerald K5SDR the founder of FlexRadio Systems and Craig K9CT as a member of their advisory team, shared much time showing off upcoming features intended for SmartSDR v1.5, a prototype Maestro unit, and an unreleased hardware accessory.

The intergration and smoothness of the massively expanded capabilities impressed me as much as the feature set.  The feature set had been slowly leaked by FRS so for 80% of the upgrade there is nothing unexpected.

What amazed was how the improvements flowed as if they were always there all along.

I also loved my quick touch and feel chance to play with the Maestro.  Somehow I can imagine a ham not wanting one.  The touchscreen really appealed.

Another fine event- congratulations to NIDXA for putting on such a fine ham gathering.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Dividing Up Gear between QTH’s – Second Look

Did the first update on my radio matrix splitting gear between home and the Island:

HF (Modern)
QTH          Main Rig       Knob Modern Rig   Amp (for Moderns)
Home        Flex-6700       TenTec Jupiter              Alpha 9500/QSO King 6m
Island        Flex-6300      TenTec Paragon II        Expert 1KW
HF (Vintage)
QTH          Vintage Rig           Amp for Vintage
Home        Collins KWM-2A            Collins 30L1
Island        Collins Full S-Line(1)    Collins 30L1
HF Antennas
QTH         Antenna 1           Antenna 2               RX HF          Vertical
Home      T-8 LPDA           W9INN 1/2 Sloper     Pixel Loop     TBD – 1
Island     Hexbeam   $$     W9INN 1/2 Sloper     n/a                 GAP Titan DX
VHF/UHF
QTH            Transceiver   Directional Antenna    Omni Antenna
Home          Yaesu 1800         T-28 LPDA              TBD – 1
Island          Yaesu 1900    #  TBD – 2                     N6JSX Copper J-Pole
TBD-1 – looking at a “flag pole vertical” which may cover both needs
TBD-2 – Initially not a priority
# – may have an Uliboard Interface added
$$ – island will have a W9INN Spacesaver 160-10m dipole as well.
(1) Full Collins S-Line setup consists of:  32S1 Transmitter, 75S1 Receiver, 312B-4 Station Monitor, 516F-1 Power Supply, 30L-1 RF Amp, N3ZI Digital VFO with Memories, Autek QF-1A Audio Filter, SM-2 Clone Mic, Collins Speaker
The Hexbeam is a SP7IDX Mark II HD that Waldi is building for me.
The Island feedline is on the way – between the shack and the tower I have enough 1/2inch Andrews Superflex hardline coming to do two separate runs.  Feedine will transition to DavisRF’s Buryflex for the vertical run (as the tower is a crank down, the hardline is not the right material for the whole feed), a combination which should bring the feedline losses quite low – adding in the vertical run up the tower and the jumper into the shack proper I calculate total system loss less than 1.5 dB loss for the entire feedline at HF and a loss just over 3 dB at VHF/UHF.    These losses are about half of what I have at the home QTH due to the very long feedline runs there.

Note the Island would also gain a Pixel Loop RX Antenna but only if I added a rig that would use it to do diversity reception.  The Flex-6300 cannot do this.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Dividing Up Gear between QTH’s

I’me starting to get a clearer idea of how to handle having to QTH’s

Presently I’m kind of leaning this way on my radio matrix

HF (Modern)
QTH          Main Rig       Knob Modern Rig   Amp (for Moderns)
Home        Flex-6700       TenTec Jupiter              Alpha 9500
Island        Flex-6300      TenTec Paragon II        Expert 1KW
HF (Vintage)
QTH          Vintage Rig           Amp for Vintage
Home        Collins KWM-2A       Alpha-78
Island        Collins Full S-Line    Collins 30L1
HF Antennas
QTH         Antenna 1           Antenna 2               RX HF          Vertical
Home      T-8 LPDA           W9INN 1/2 Sloper     Pixel Loop     TBD – 1
Island     Hexbeam            W9INN 1/2 Sloper     n/a                 GAP Titan DX
VHF/UHF
QTH            Transceiver   Directional Antenna    Omni Antenna
Home          Yaseu 1800         T-28 LPDA              TBD – 1
Island          Yaseu 1000        TBD – 2                     N6JSX Copper J-Pole
TBD-1 – looking at a “flag pole vertical” which may cover both needs
TBD-2 – Initially not a priority

Note the Island would also gain a Pixel Loop RX Antenna but only if I added a rig that would use it to do diversity reception.  The Flex-6300 cannot do this.

Of course there are a lot more things to set up for each QTH

A lot of choices are based on what I have on hand, and I haven’t listed my back-up gear for each QTH, or each go-kit’s gear.

Each QTH gets a Windows-7 PC and an iMac, and most likely a Linux GP Box that will double down as a Music Media Server (I feed my Sonos speakers at home with a headless Linux device already

I may have to build a dedicated box to control the tower at the Island remotely when off the Island, which then can pick up some other monitor-and-measure tasks

Hmmm….

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adding a 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius to the K9ZW Shack

Working with an evolving slightly complex station, AND wanting to using the LAN-Remote features of SmartSDR V1.4 with the Flex-6700 requires some planning – plus some electronics help!

Not point in reinventing the wheel when really sharp mins have created just the missing pieces to integrate my station.

Enter the 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - overview

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – overview

The SSC XL allows control of Antennas, band-pass filters, 4-square antenna systems, beam stacks, beverages, Six Packs, rotators, RS-232 devices and more, per the website information.

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - Front

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – Front

Force12 expands further saying it is easier to say what you cannot control.

The main unit seems to have enough connectors to hook up to about anything:

403a SSC XL - Rear Panel

403a SSC XL – Rear Panel

An outboard Relay Board called the SCC-OM controls the various devices:

403a SSC XL - Remote Module

403a SSC XL – Remote Module

Mine just arrived and I am digesting the the manual as I get ready to implement.  As a plus the device is said to be FlexRadio System Maestro ready!

LINK:  http://www.4o3a.com/index.php/products/station-automation/ssc-xl

LINK – USA Distributor Force12: http://www.force12inc.com/products/station-genius-ssc-xl-by-4o3a.html

73

Steve
K9ZW

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