Category Archives: K9ZW Operations

Okay, FT8 is a notch above watching paint dry after all…

After sorting Windows 10 update induced DAX troubles I ran the home station running FT8 QSOs for a bit.

Not the best use for a 4K 40 inch monitor and a Flex-6700

Not super exciting but was a way to make QSOs while doing other shack chores.

Without the computer helping facilitate FT8 QSOs the reality is my QSO count for this period of time would be exactly Zero.

In several instances their was nothing to be seen on the waterfall but WJST-X pulled out minimalistic QSOs from the seemingly empty ether.

I cant help thinking FT8 isn’t much more than what happens when one fax machine negotiates a connection with another fax machine, excepting of course that FT8 does it on the air.

Heard that MacLoggerDX will have FT8 integration in the next release which could mean that I could run FT8 QSOs while I’m doing other work on my iMac at home.

I’ll also take a look at how to run QSOs from my work PC.  Might be a way to log more QSOs by doing someth8ng with some of those dead moments during the day.

Can sure say the radio gear isn’t exactly overtasked doing FT8.

Almost bordering on embarrassing the level of investment behind my FT8 efforts.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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My Flex-6000 Software – a Dynamic Listing

Created another Page for this bog at Flex-6000 Software where I will be listing what software I am using with my Flex Radios, the current version, and how to get your own copy.

I won’t be listing anything that isn’t General Release, so you will see the latest SmartSDR products rather than any Alpha Team versions I may be testing for FlexRadio.

Hope you find this a useful reference.

73

Steve
K9ZW

A bit of FT8 – first runs

At my Island QTH I set up a Flex-6700 to run FT8 and ran about 30 QSOs.

My first FT8 QSO was W3BZT

My first FT8 DX QSO was F1RUK

Wasn’t exactly wowed by the experience.

Software setup was fiddly. Like really fiddly.

In many ways the GUI was a 1980’s dial-up modem connection sort of thing, and the experience was somewhat the same as dialing into a BBS to do an email exchange & run routine.

Seemed my operator’s input was pretty much limited to confirming completed QSOs for logging and then re-enabling TX.

I’m not quite certain whether the experience was productive or not.

In the past I’ve always held back making my mind up until I have a couple hundred QSOs in a new digital mode.

I’ll wait until the same couple hundred QSO point to solidify my thoughts on FT8.

But again I can relate it sure wasn’t “Wowzy, how did I miss out doing FT8 until now” as my response to the first 30 QSOs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Moving the Main K9ZW QTH – Part 1

Letting the cat out of the bag – the main K9ZW QTH is moving.  Bought a nicer place, with 16 acres and a ham-friendly workshop building about 10 miles west of my present main home QTH.

Until the old house sells the present station will stay running, and I will be accessing it remotely from the new QTH.

The new QTH is getting a fiber internet run between the house and workshop installed next month, just in time to move the radios.

Initially I will be operating with a couple vertical antennas.  The planning and replacement tower base delivery process most likely will put off erecting a tower until Spring 2019.  May be two towers actually.

Both Towers and the antennas will be stored on bucks at the new QTH.  Unfortunately I forgot to order a replacement base for the 56 Ft Tashjian and have decided to do more preventative maintenance on the 70 ft Tashjian Skyneedle even though I otherwise have everything to put it up.

At the Island QTH a 48 Ft Extra Heavy Duty Rohn BX that had been a temporary tower (up about three years) for an area provider is likely to be pressed into duty under the Hexbeam there.

I am presently undecided whether the very large custom Radiowavz Hexbeam will be the Island antenna or if I will keep using the DX Engineering Hexbeam there, diverting the big one to the new home QTH.  Time for some contemplation and some modeling analysis?!

The New QTH is largely wooded, so it is going to take some thinking to make an antenna layout work with the limited area of clearings not directly adjacent to the house itself.  On the plus side there is nearly a mile of jeep/golf cart sized roads mostly built of gravel, which makes access very easy.

A lot to think of and plan…

73

Steve K9ZW

Thirteen Colonies 2018 in Vintage Style

For no really good reason other than it seemed like a good idea, I decided to put a very modest effort into working the Thirteen Colonies special event stations using a Collins KWM-2A transceiver and paper logging.

Just for fun.

Collins Station on the Island yes 

 
And yes, I didn’t make a clean sweep. But perhaps starting the effort in the last hours and limited actual radio time made that hopeless? Checking spots some of the stations were already QRT or were doing digital, so such is life.

It was a blast to run a while on the Collins, and if you look at the picture I had the manuals out to remind me of procedures.

Picked up some FIFA station contacts and a couple other special stations.

The Transmit/Receive relays and switching are a leisurely compared to the Flex-6700 on the bench with the KWM-2A. But it works and was really fun.

In the end I grabbed 10 of the 13+2 stations in quick order. As I worked the 4th and had no radio time all week I didn’t deserve better results. A noble effort in style will have to be the reward!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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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.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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