Category Archives: K9ZW Operations

Upgraded Amp Installed – Alpha-9500

Finally, i mean FINALLY, got around to putting the Alpha-9500 Amp I bought during one of their specials summer of 2014 online.

The amp and transformer boxes had sat unopened for 15 months.  Seems every time I thought to put the Amp online I was more interested in just getting on the air.

I’ve wanted to pull the Expert 1KW amp out to move it to my Northern QTH on Washington Island, and the “blah” band conditions tonight seemed to offer a perfect opportunity to get the Alpha unboxed and in operation.

Putting the amp together was easy, and the quality of the build shows well.  Both in case any troubleshooting and because of the Amp’s size, for now it is on my main operating bench.

I’m spoken with a friend who builds furniture about doing a shelf unit once I decide what goes where.

Adjusting DDUTIL to control the Alpha was easy and it works slick.  Biggest deal I had was I had asked for the wrong 240v plug type, and had to change it out.

Everything ran well from the get-go, and I banged out a couple QSOs with great reports.  Really like the way it tracks bands and does nudge-tuning to adjust as one QSYs.

One thing I did lose in the change, is the Expert being solid state is an “instant on” amp, where the Alpha has a countdown as it warms up the tube.

And the best part of all is despite the reticence to miss out on-the-air time that led to the Alpha being left in the box while I kept operating, the downtime was trivial.  Should have done it months ago!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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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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

May 2015 Operation from Washington Island WI-001L – Trying for DXCC in one session

For a good part of last week I was on Washington Island, Wisconsin – US Island WI-001L – operating from my friend George W9EVT’s shack.

I had informally set myself a DXCC in a visit goal.  Despite poor weather I didn’t come too far short.

The first 16 QSOs I used George W9EVT’s Icom IC-7800 and then for the remaining 174 QSOs moved over to the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver.

Here is the country list for the visit:

  1. Aruba
  2. Andorra
  3. Austria
  4. Azores
  5. Argentina
  6. Algeria
  7. Balearic Islands
  8. Bahamas
  9. Bahrain
  10. Bonaire
  11. Brazil
  12. Belarus
  13. Belgium
  14. Bulgaria
  15. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  16. Croatia
  17. Chile
  18. Cuba
  19. Canada
  20. Canary Islands
  21. Cayman Islands
  22. Crete
  23. Denmark
  24. England
  25. Estonia
  26. Falkland Islands
  27. France
  28. Georgia
  29. Greece
  30. Germany
  31. Guinea
  32. Guayana
  33. Grenada
  34. Hawaii
  35. Hungary
  36. India
  37. Iceland
  38. Israel
  39. Ireland
  40. Italy
  41. Kyrgyzstan
  42. Kuwait
  43. Kenya
  44. Latvia
  45. Liberia
  46. Lithuania
  47. Lebanon
  48. Luxembourg
  49. Macedonia
  50. Malta
  51. Netherlands
  52. New Zealand
  53. Norway
  54. Northern Ireland
  55. Oman
  56. Portugal
  57. Panama
  58. Paraguay
  59. Philippines
  60. Poland
  61. Qatar
  62. Romania
  63. Russia – Asiatic
  64. Russia – European
  65. Sardinia
  66. Saudi Arabia
  67. Spain
  68. South Cook Islands
  69. St. Martin
  70. St. Barthelemy
  71. St. Lucia
  72. San Marino
  73. Slovenia
  74. Slovak Republic
  75. Switzerland
  76. Svalbard
  77. Scotland
  78. Sweden
  79. Turkey
  80. United Arab Emirates
  81. Uruguay
  82. Ukraine
  83. USA
  84. Wales

I’m rather sure that without the storms and lightening, that 100 DXCC entities wouldn’t have been much more work.

In addition to the DX, I also worked a “Clean Sweep” on the Ham Nation special event and a handful of special event stations that caught my interest.

I did fudge and organize one sked – I had called and arranged to work my good friend Paul AE5JU as my final QSO for the visit.  Nothing finer to “close the logs” with working a good friend about 1000 miles away!

While I only added two DXCC entities to my all time list, the exercise was a lot of fun for both myself and George W9EVT.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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May 2015 US Island Program One Day Getaway Island Activation Plans

Of course our friend George W9EVT will be operating for the day from Washington Island WI001L

Here further south in Wisconsin the team is myself and Scott W9JSB.  We may add one or two more hams, but they haven’t confirmed as I wrote.

Plan is The Friday evening part (May 9th 0000Z to dark)  to operate from Step-In Island WI039R.  This is a second time activation of an Island in Shoto Wisconsin.

Saturday will start with “The Flats” WI041R – an Island in Appleton Wisconsin in the Fox River – with myself running solo, and Scott W9JSB will join after he is done coaching his kids soccer team to do a first time ever activation for Banta Island WI057R.   Banta Island is further downstream in the Fox River, still in Appleton.

Equipment will be a bit different for the One Day Getaway than my past Island operations:

  • Transceiver – FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300, running SmartSDR 1.4.3 and a Toshiba Laptop
  • Antenna – SteppIR CrankIR antenna

I used this FlexRadio/CrankIR set up with great success for Washington Island WI001L weekends at Rocky Ridge Farm – a place we leased last season about 2 miles from George W9EVT’s QTH. As most folk refused to believe I wasn’t running an Amp and a Beam when I ran the setup from Rocky Ridge Farm, I am hoping the same performance will work for the team for the One Day Getaway.

Appreciate some help for the first time activation!  We need at least 25 confirmed QSOs with a minimum of one DX QSO to make the activation of Banta Island WI057R official.  Hoping we can catch many of you on the air that day!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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