Category Archives: K9ZW Just Rambled

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.


Steve K9ZW




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.


Steve K9ZW



Adding a DX Engineering HEXXbeam Mk II

Had an opportunity to buy a DX Engineering HEXXbeam MkII from K0PJ, adding to my Hexbeam collection.

My thoughts were to carefully collapse the antenna and transport it collapsed to my Washington Island QTH.  Later I’ll run a bit of a shoot out between the SP7IDX and Radiowavz antennas.

I’ve included some of the wildlife at the QTH and a picture of the trenching (one is a future ham radio wire conduit):

One of the Gray Foxes

The HEXXbeam on a barrel.

Yard camera caught one of the five bucks that have been visiting.

A Sanhill Crane checks out one of the yard cameras


Trenching. Hitting bedrock eliminated my temporary antenna pole.

Notice the animals digging up the yard – raccoons are doing the most damage, the foxes dig for burrowing critters, and the Sandhills make tent-stake like holes everywhere.

The deer are opportunists grazing on wild apples and other deer treats.

In putting in the undergrounds the plumber hit bedrock only a few inches down.   One pipe is a sanitary drain for the sump pump and rainwater that really should have always have been there, and the second is a conduit for feedlines, control cables and the like for part of my ham station.

I think the near the house yard will drain much better as there was a bedrock ridge that restricted sub surface drainage that he excavated through.

The bedrock is why he couldn’t put in the 6×6 treated post at the end of the conduit run.  I had intended to mount a rotor and a short mast as an interim location for this HEXXbeam.

Looks like I will either end up with a concrete filled barrel as a base, or have a heavy steel tripod type base made up.

Even on the barrel, rotated by hand the HEXXbeam is doing really well.



Tagged , ,

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.



SmartSDR v2.0.xx and SmartLink around the corner

By the time you might read this, the long awaited SmartSDR v2 and the new SmartLink may have hit the street.


SmartLink first screen

The whole idea on SmartLink is to make most internet connections between a Flex-6000 radio-server and the remote user (PC, iPad/iPhone, Mac, or Maestro) as user friendly as possible.

And as for SmartSDR v2.0 the remote feature figures large, but is only one of a raft of new features including performance improvements for the Flex-6300 and Flex-6700 radio-servers to new GUI features including pop-out SmartSDR windows and a raft of other improvements.

SmartSDR for iOS and the SmartSDR for Maestro also pick up the main improvements as well as platform specific features.

Somehow I don’t think we will make it through the week without a launch.




Dodging the Bullet at the K9ZW Island QTH

Water on the Floor Basement at the K9ZW Island HomeFlooded Yard at K9ZW Island HomeAt our Island home several massive storms dropped over 3 inches of rain in a short period first flooding our yard, and then overwhelming our sump pump.


  • First the yard 10 hours after the rain stopped (it is usually bone dry, and is 8-10 inches of soil over the rock) with over an inch of standing water.

Flooded Yard at K9ZW Island Home

  • Second is the basement with 2-1/2 inches of water on the floor.


Water on the Floor Basement at the K9ZW Island Home

What tipped us off was one of the Home Monitor systems we have – the simple one that calls on POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) with alerts – started calling with a Water Alarm.

The device is a “Control Products FreezeAlarm Homesitter Temperature, Water, Power Alarm HS-700” – link

This $90 device saved the day by calling us repeatedly with alerts.  Estimates are that water could rise to about 18-24 inches in the basement before enough systems would get knocked out to set off our other monitors.  (We also have Canary devices for security and backup, but they cannot sense the water issue directly.)

With this much water that was a possibility of intervention didn’t happen right away – which is why the alarm worked so well!

The shack is on a rolling radio bench with power supplies and some gear 7 inches off the floor, so the important stuff would begin to be damaged, as would the boiler and everything on the lowest storage shelves.

Plumber and Painter we are working with have the water issue resolved (both short term and also a long term solution figured out) and only my boxes of Hardline/Coax which you see got wet because we caught it this early.

I’ve just ordered another of the “Control Products FreezeAlarm Homesitter Temperature, Water, Power Alarm HS-700” to install at our main house.

Well worth it!