Category Archives: K9ZW Shack

Creating Durable Systems – Productivity Software, Software Licensing and Alternatives

Creating Durable Systems within the K9ZW Main QTH Shack is a series started with:  https://wp.me/p2XN8-1Sc

In addition to the Station’s Essential Software and Convenient Software Productivity Software is not only needed for an active station, but is really needed to run your household.

I find that the majority of my personal productivity needs are met with a good Word processor, Spreadsheet, Email Client, Browser and because of the style of writing I often do, a research aggregator.

I’m pretty good with Windows Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, Edge/Chrome) , macOS native programs (Pages, Numbers, Mail, Safari/Chrome/Vivaldi) or the Linux OpenOffice/LibreOffice versions.

Usually I add Notepad ++ or equivalent, an IRC Client (MIRC or Igloo), some messaging apps (Signal, WhatsApp usually), as a basic build-out, then the utilities and tools.

The needs for its final build-out, testing and commissioning include all the usual purchase if that is required, download and installation.

In way of documentation to make future troubleshooting and repairs easier the links are mostly self-documented on that particular machine.  I’ve implemented an internal Wiki-style station notes system where settings, licensing information, and configurations can also be included.

To keep all of versions mostly the same, a copy of downloadables is kept as  local copies at each of the three QTH’s station computers.

In terms of Redundancy/Backup/Failure Options, if I cannot keep the respective hardware going enough to reinstall the software, if it breaks, then I will have to move to backup computers.  Two of the three station computers have formal backup systems, and the third is used only on some weekends, and the data is pulled to a USB drive, but as the risks to integrity would so closely parallel the station computer itself, a formal back up is only done periodically manually.

Again this is an area where my station could streamline down and double down on having redundancy.

73

Steve

K9ZW

Creating Durable Systems – Station Software, Software Licensing and Alternatives

Creating Durable Systems within the K9ZW Main QTH Shack is a series started with:  https://wp.me/p2XN8-1Sc

The Software, Software Licensing and Alternatives systems can be broken down further into Essential Software and Convenient Software :

Basically the divide is segmented by what do you HAVE to have running to run the station vs what would you ALSO like to run to make it nice and easy.

Essential Software

Essential Software in a FlexRadio based station is more extensive than other station hardware builds.  A huge amount depends on SmartSDR and it’s related programs (DAX, CAT, PGXL-Utility, TGXL-Utility, SmartLink and the drivers behind).

As a software defined radio (SDR) you simply must have software to run the station.

In Essential Software I am including a running compatible OS (Operating System).  Mostly using Windows FlexRadio clients, I do have macOS clients.  For my non-FlexRadio software I am using Windows, macOS, Linux (Mint mostly), and Chrome.

Convenient Software

Convenient Software are the WSJT, flidgi, DDUTIL, FlexStack, N4PY, Ham Radio Deluxe, Grayline, TimeSync, Loggers of all flavors, types of software.  You would run this software unless it added to your station, but if the software wasn’t operating/available you could still do some communications with it.

I would also throw in this category Antenna Modeling, Productivity Software (Word processor, Spreadsheet and such) and many utilities/services.  One example of Convenient Software would be Sonos APP, as when running digital at home I will use Sonos plus a streaming software to listen to podcasts or music.

These two categories are not hard and fast, and depending on operating style some Convenient Software will be Essential Software for a particular operator.

The needs for its final build-out, testing and commissioning include all the usual purchase if that is required, download and installation.

In way of documentation to make future troubleshooting and repairs easier the links are mostly on my software page.  I’ve implemented an internal Wiki-style station notes system where settings, licensing information, and configurations are included.

To keep all of versions mostly the same, a copy of downloadables is kept on a USB Flash Drive in addition to local copies at each of the three QTH’s station computers.

In terms of Redundancy/Backup/Failure Options, if I cannot keep the respective hardware going enough to reinstall the archived software, then I will have to move to backup radios.  Two of the three station computers have formal backup systems, and the third is used only on some weekends, and the data is pulled to a USB drive, but as the risks to integrity would so closely parallel the station computer itself, a formal back up is only done periodically manually.

This is an area where my station could streamline down and double down on having redundancy.

73

Steve

K9ZW

 

Creating Durable Systems – Vintage Station and Integration

Creating Durable Systems within the K9ZW Main QTH Shack is a series started with:  https://wp.me/p2XN8-1Sc

The Vintage Station and Integration system can be broken down further:

  • Collins HF-380/Alpha-95 setup (Home QTH)
  • Collins S-Line 32s1/75s1/30s1 setup (Home/Work QTH)
  • Collins S-Line KW-2A setup (Island QTH)

Both S-Line stations are currently receiving massive-TLC at the hands of Chuck W9KR, and should be ready by early summer.

The HF-380 station is ready to go.

The needs for each stations final build-out, testing and commissioning include:

Collins HF-380/Alpha-95 setup (Home QTH)

Station requires a few additional jumpers, but is otherwise ready to use and had been on the air.

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Beware the Winds – A Bit of Tower Mischief

A week or so back we had extraordinary winds. Steady 40 mph (65 kph) with 60+ mph gusts (100 kph) for a prolonged period. Local weather recording stations noted occasional gusts much stronger, though I cannot say if my QTH saw those mega-gusts.

Checking on the new log periodic it was still up there (yeah!) and all “looked okay.”

About a week later the beam’s SWR changed and then dropped off. I figured a feedline issue or perhaps a popped lightning arrestor given we had two periods of snowstorms with heaving lightning and thunder.

Yesterday the +4F (-16c) weather improved to a nicer +28F (-2c) and I walked some of our trails. One medium sized tree down that will have to be cleared with chainsaws, and everything looked pretty good.

Just one thing was working in the back of my mind. The log periodic wasn’t pointed in the direction I had left it. And it had moved since the previous day when I had looked at it from the workshop.

Feedlines are likely wrecked as the beam is drifting. My Skyneedle has an indirect rotator system where the rotator turns a jackshaft that is coupled to the mast with a heavy chain.

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Running a Comprehensively FlexRadio System – September 2021

It has taken quite a while to assemble an all-FlexRadio setup.

FlexRadio took longer than expected to introduce the Amplifier (PGXL) and Tuner (TGXL) components. To FlexRadio’s credit the general releases were held until the units were sorted out to some pretty exacting standards, and just like the radios the PGXL & TGXL continue to be worked on for improvements.

Here is my basic system at the Home-QTH:

Flex-6700 — PGXL Amp — TGXL Tuner — Antennas

At the Home-QTH Antenna 1 is a Zero-Five Flagpole Vertical and Antenna 2 is a T-12 12 element Log Periodic

Here is my basic system at the Island-QTH:

Flex-6700 — PGXL Amp — TGXL Tuner — PowerMaster SWR Meter — Antennas

At the Island-QTH Antenna 1 is a Zero-Five Flagpole Vertical

For reference the Work-QTH setup is:

Flex-6600M — Vertical Antenna

In all cases an Array Solutions AS302 arrestor is in-line before the antenna.

Main software is SmartSDR (Windows) either by LAN or WAN using SmartLink.  I do have SmartSDR (iOS) and SmartSDR (Maestro) to fall back on, but mostly am using the Windows version.  (Also have DogparkSDR available on my MacOS machines.)

For a while I am going to run everything in this simple configuration.  Actually rather frustrated with myself in the implementation of antenna switches and various additional sensor/software packages.

The Home-QTH and Work-QTH are able to be kept on standby 24/7, but island infrastructure being unreliable leaves the Island-QTH able to be up only when someone is in attendance.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Assembling Log Periodic Antennas – Part 2

Another big lift in the process of getting the HF log periodic antennas up. With much help from Vern K9EME, the T-12 is up and initial testing shows it’s performing very well.

There are a lot of steps to do in any antenna project, and this one was no exception.

I’m completing this post Sunday afternoon, as I have had enough feeding the mosquitos for a weekend.  Pictures with brief comments (and yes, the project is not done yet):

The Skyneedle has an offset rotator drive.

 

At the Skyneedle’s lowest elevation it is obvious a few more trees need to be cut back.

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