Category Archives: K9ZW Just Rambled

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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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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Mother Nature meets Murphy, winter delays to the K9ZW Northern Station

it is true that Mother Nature is not to be trifled with, and that Murphy will visit putting a wrench into the works just when things are running smooth.

Often delays in a single key component can put a whole project off track.  Specially disruptive is if the missing/delayed key component is something unique not easily replaced.

For my Indian Point northern QTH on Washington Island the driving element delaying the project is an extended wait for a new tower base.  The SkyNeedle TM-370 needs a special base that act as a hinge for fold-over/erecting and is a critical part of the overall wind design.

A tribute to their popularity, Tashjian Towers has been swamped with orders and the base along with a work platform and new coax arms is still in fabrication.  And up on the Island this is the last week for concrete deliveries.  With a month cure before use, the towers even now would be first up in December.

So we are rescheduled for spring 2016 to put the base in the ground and put the tower up.

The SP7IDX Hexbeam is also behind schedule, but it could have followed a month later than the base and the schedule would have been fine, as the concrete cure time would have covered the delay.

With the delays, the eventual onset winter weather and the reduced ferry schedules limiting my actual on-island time I’ve put all antenna work on hold until spring.  If I can schedule time I may move a vertical HF antenna stored in the woods behind my house at home to the island so I have a ready-to-use island antenna rather than setting up the SteppIR CrankIR each visit.

Best laid plans…

73

Steve K9ZW

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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Collins K9ZW North Station in QSO

Eventually I intend to move the late Collins setup in this picture to my home QTH and bring up the S-Line separates set up.

This “Round Emblem” combined transceiver with external VFO for split operations is the final itineration of the S-Line series and was sold new in the mid/late 1970s.

K9ZW Collins KWM-2A Station

K9ZW Collins KWM-2A Station

  • KWM-2A transceiver
  • 312B-5 remote VFO and station console
  • 30L-1 amplifier
  • SM-1 microphone
  • Power supply is under bench

The other Collins station I own is a “Winged Emblem” first of the S-Line series with separate receiver/transmitter. That station is a 32S-1 transmitter, 75S-1 receiver, 312B-4 station console, 30L-1 amplifier, separate speaker and a power supply. The receiver/transmitter track each other usually. It dates from 1958 to 1960 from dating the serial numbers.

It has amazed me how many complex cables interface the various units. There are roughly a dozen cables in the KWM-2A station and about five-six more in the twins S-Line one. Many are simple, but some are complex and some are uncommon – things like RF coax with RCA plugs…..

The microphone jack is a military size and I had to source some as spares.

The KWM-2A station got great reports today using a SteppIR CrankIR portable antenna. Even worked some DX.

The audio has that warm friendly tube-amp sort of sound. Got great reports which I have to admit surprised me. I hadn’t expected it as there are so few adjustments possible compared to a modern rig.

I’m not happy with this particular SM-1 microphone and did make most contacts using an Astatic D-104 “lollipop” microphone instead. The SM-1 will go off for service.

I have a good ways to go in learning to use this gear, but as much fun as I had it is worth the study and practice time to get it right.

Made a interesting contrast to this weekends QSOs done with a barefoot Flex-6300 on the same antenna.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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