Category Archives: K9ZW Shack

Adding a 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius to the K9ZW Shack

Working with an evolving slightly complex station, AND wanting to using the LAN-Remote features of SmartSDR V1.4 with the Flex-6700 requires some planning – plus some electronics help!

Not point in reinventing the wheel when really sharp mins have created just the missing pieces to integrate my station.

Enter the 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - overview

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – overview

The SSC XL allows control of Antennas, band-pass filters, 4-square antenna systems, beam stacks, beverages, Six Packs, rotators, RS-232 devices and more, per the website information.

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - Front

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – Front

Force12 expands further saying it is easier to say what you cannot control.

The main unit seems to have enough connectors to hook up to about anything:

403a SSC XL - Rear Panel

403a SSC XL – Rear Panel

An outboard Relay Board called the SCC-OM controls the various devices:

403a SSC XL - Remote Module

403a SSC XL – Remote Module

Mine just arrived and I am digesting the the manual as I get ready to implement.  As a plus the device is said to be FlexRadio System Maestro ready!

LINK:  http://www.4o3a.com/index.php/products/station-automation/ssc-xl

LINK – USA Distributor Force12: http://www.force12inc.com/products/station-genius-ssc-xl-by-4o3a.html

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Comparison Part 2 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Finally I’ve arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

There is no question the PT-8000A delivers the goods.  Compared to other than the FlexRadio System 6×00 series radios it easily waxes my other radios.

There are a couple quirks that sent me back to the PT-8000A’s manual:

  • Setting Up Split lacks some of the confirmation of TX frequency that has become customary.  The TX frequency is in the Sub Window and the Split indicator the opposite side of the screen and then an inverse of soft key colors if that menu is showing.  Shooting a frequency into the Sub is not horrible, but again is across the radio ergonomically.
  • The PT-8000A’s key touch courtesy tone adjustment/mute is not documented, and I have put in an email requesting instructions on toning this down.
  • While no worse than many modern high-end transceivers, I don’t have the operating hands across the radio face quite sorted out, and I’m slow setting things up.  Some things are my foibles, like:
    • I would prefer rotating controls that also have a push control to be a click & stay push-pull rather than a silky smooth momentary push button.  My ideas is if you have tactile feedback, make it persistent and intuitive.
    • I would prefer an indicator at the control, rather than having to look around on the screen for a different shaped & different sequenced indicator.  Make it simple.
    • Seldom manipulated controls could have been made to disappear nearly flush to the faceplate rather than left proud.

Working DX the amazing ability of the Flex-6×00 does dig a bit deeper, but the Hilberling is no slouch.  That the PT-8000A is up an operating in seconds running 200w barefoot is certainly an awesome feature compared to booting hardware & software for an SDR radio with PC of any type.

More as I work across the bands in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

Comparison Part 1 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance.

I’ve finally arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

Initial impressions – the radio drips of quality.  High grade connectors, small details well executed, use of best available technology – the PT-8000A delivers the goods.

So far the only quirk I haven’t figured out is how to reduce the volume of the courtesy key-touch beeps.

Walking through things – the connectors are high grade N-connectors for antennas, a unusual power-supply to radio connector that looks aerospace in origin, and everything is polished/chromed or finished in the Hilberling Blue finish.  Everything about the PT-8000A reminds me of an upscale European Stereo system – like a Revox or B+O grade build quality.

Using the PT-8000A is much like running any high quality transceiver, with the exception that the menu system is shallower and the precision of adjustments impressive.  I’ve always been frustrated with the 6-7 levels deep menu systems many transceiver deploy, and much prefer the Hilberling style of menus.

The display is awesome – and actually the software at its present level doesn’t really do justice to the high grade display.  The power supply meg-meter is current draw, which is fine but hardly seems the first choice to dedicate such a large bit of front face real estate to display.

Initial SSB reports have been enthusiastically positive, with several QSO partners commenting about the broadcast-like sound quality.

I like the supplied desk mic, as it is clever in appearance and in performance.

More, including some contrasts with the Flex-6700 in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

Very interesting… Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

Have arranged to have a very rare radio in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance. More as I get some Qs on the rig.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged

In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

What started as nothing more than an Amplifier and Computer upgrades to the K9ZW Radio Room has escallated in to a full ham shack redesign project.  It was very quickly obvious that the space & layout changes needed to rearrange to swap my Expert 1KW Amplifer for a new Alpha 9500 was the catalyst for an overdue radio room redesign.

First step after doing some rough sketches was to get the non-radio items that could be moved out the intended increase area of radio space.  It took four of us and some serious electrically power moving dollies to relocate the larger non-radio cabinets out of this former wine cellar.  The effort was successful, nobody got hurt and anything broken can be mended.  It is amazing even in a very clean room what accumulates in over a decade behind cabinets.

Remaining to move out are two knock-apart shelving units – one a very industrial fiberglass unit that presently holds all of our internet connectivity gear and our Sonos Media Server NAS/RAID units.  That unit goes elsewhere.  The remaining Swedish Wood Wine Rack and Spirits Storage unit needs to remain, though within limits it can be moved/reconfigured.

The cellarkeeper’s sink and workpsace is built in and I’m considering it one of the “given conditions” of this room.

Like a good Win Cellar the room is all textured plaster, painted off-white with a white tile floor.  When I first located into one end of the space I added several ceiling lights, a smoke detector wired into the whole-house smoke detector system, lots of electrical outlets including 240v for amps, internet and phone jacks, and the pass-thru for grounding, rotor/switch controls and feedlines.

When the sink area and the wine storage that needs to remain are factored out, I am left roughly 100 square feet of high quality space for my new layout.  Rougly 8ft by 13ft with 7ft 6in plaster high plaster ceiling.

I’m mentioning the surfaces as they are accountically “hard” and I should figure out how to control reflection.

The room is fully lockable, has a fire escape window(barely large enough though), already has a high quality grounding connection, phone line, internet cabling, TV cable connection, 115/240v power, two feed lines to the tower (one is spare), two Cat-5 control cables to the tower (again one is spare), roto cble to the tower (I have to check if I pulled a spare or not) and lighting.

Design goals will be to accomidate for HF the rack mountable Flex-6×00 radios, the Flex-5000, the computer workspace for the Flex Radios, a premium conventional transceiver operating position and a Collins S-Line Station.  An additional VHF/UHF operating station and romm allocation for future satellite operations gear are considerations.

Next step is to collect the equipment dimensions, air/cable/operation space needs for each bit of kit, weights and start sketching designs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adjusting Gear and Forward Thoughts at K9ZW

Added a couple bits of kit – picked up a Flex-6300 from a ham who tried it and didn’t really take to a computer driven rig. Worked out for both of us as I avoided the backlog so I could get another Flex-6000 series radio to use up north on weekends, and he can change to a rig he is comfortable with.

It is worth commenting that there are some basic truisms about equipment that include the absolute that “Not every ham has the same style, interests and goals, so by definition no one radio will be the perfect rig for every ham.” “Horses for Courses” as they say.

In working on my Collins Vintage S-Line Station it has become pretty obvious than an antenna coupler/tuner would be an advantage if I wanted to be able to switch-in the S-Line station with my present antenna setup. I found a British Decca/K.W. 107 SuperMatch that will do the job while blending in with the S-Line gear form-factor.

The S-Line Station has been 18 months or more in the assembly, so it is time to get it on the air! This should do it.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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