Category Archives: K9ZW

Another Portable HF Option – Elecraft KX3 for Portable Activations

Elecraft KX3

 

Looking into 2022 I hope to participate in a few activations.

With Tom K0TTC scheming to do a newer park on Detroit Island (which is a Wisconsin island in Lake Michigan – you have to love the reuse of names across the Midwest). Hoping we can catch a few other nearby Islands as well.

Having missed having a nice simple portable HF setup on my recent trip around Lake Superior, I’d like to be ready for some HF on an envisioned Lake Michigan circle trip in 2022.

I’ve had three radio options I could use. The Flex-6600M could be pulled from service at my work QTH station, I’ve used a TenTec Jupiter (and Pegasus) for this in the past, and I have a SGC SC-2020 that could be used.

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Non-Radio – Responding to Tradecraft Queries

A couple folk asked about tradecraft resources. Getting into detail is well outside of my amateur radio blog theme, but there are are some resources available:

Goodreads has a shelf (list) of books tagged as tradecraft:
https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/tradecraft

Shy away from online resources, unless you know how to access websites of unknown providence in ways that maintain your safety and security.  There are some general videos at places like Wired (I have not reviewed these) https://www.wired.com/video/series/wired-tradecraft and others.

Various FMs (Field Manuals) and other military/government documents are available, some which may have been classified earlier but are publicly released now.

There are useful descriptive fiction books as well, ones where the tradecraft in the story is considered sound.

Research and Study – fundamentals of tradecraft itself – will help you understand more about the subject.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Political Types Seldom Pick Up Ham Licenses While Serving – What is the Skinny?

Tradecraft or Hobby?

I am going to couch this in a way that I hope removes the background political debate, as I would like to bring focus to an anomaly that may be part of the very out of character FCC warnings to not misuse ham radio.

High Government folk occasionally bring Ham Licenses with them as they rise in the public ranks.   This seems to be also the case in the technical side of public service (three letter agencies and the like) when people rise in responsibilities.

It seems rather rare though when someone established in the high position earns their first call sign.

When they are rarely or not at all heard on the air, yet have purchased gear, is it a case of good intentions meeting a busy schedule, or something else all together?

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Non-Radio – Trip Around Lake Superior

Nipigon River Bridge Ontario, close to the halfway point of our trip

Back less than 24 hours from a Lake Superior Circle Trip – actually completing the Canadian parts we have never done. This is post is pretty much non-radio (spoiler alert) other than seeing what the October 2021 USA->Canadian and Canadian->USA Border crossings would involve for a contemplated future radio trip.

I’ll pick up at Sault Ste Marie (said “Soo-Saint-Marie” … well mostly said that way) on the Michigan (USA) side where I was careful to fill the gas tank, as USA fuel is about 60% the cost of Canadian fuel. When you drive to Canada there is a long double bridge over the locks that the current car toll was $4.00 US. https://infogalactic.com/info/Sault_Ste._Marie_International_Bridge The lady who took our toll seemed to be amused by us – we sensed she thought we would be send back.

There was no other cars going our way or coming back from Canada on this massive 2.8 miles (4.5 km) bridge. I saw a sole person below running with their dog, as otherwise we would have been able to say we saw not a single person in the border area.

At the Ontario end the Immigration/Customs Canada complex has about eight lanes, of which only two were open when we arrived. Ahead of us were three cars and a single semi.

We had prepared for the crossing with:
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What Big Ears you have! – Being Heard – the All-FlexRadio (AFR) Station

I mentioned the great reports I was receiving with the AFR station (All-FlexRadio), and as being heard is the the easy part of making QSO’s, it seemed a good time to talk about the “Ears” of the AFR station.

There are two parts of most aspects of reception – hearing the raw signals and having a method to reduce the signal to a particular station which you want to make a QSO.

Across the panadaper SSB signal traces crowd the screen.  Use of the various signal processing settings mitigates some of the crowd, but there remains a lot of signals to pick through.

Think of this like going to a crowded party where everyone is talking.  There are so many simultaneous conversations that one has to concentrate and focus to pick out just one.  A hard of hearing person may hear only a fraction of the conversations, and because of their lower ability to hear also misses much of the general “conversation buzz” that good ears need to work to pick through.

The AFR station is good ears for sure.  And I need to carefully use the software tools and my own hearing processing to pick out stations.  The challenge is to focus in on just one station.

FlexRadio has a number of videos on how to manipulate SmartSDR to achieve optimal QSO rates.  As fair warning, if you want to simulate the deafness of legacy radios you will need to work harder at tweaking settings in SmartSDR.  Conversely if you want to have run rate with the leaders in the pack, your SmartSDR settings will be less intrusive.

One obvious factor in this listening part of the equation, is the great performance of the Tennadyne T-12 Log Periodic Antenna.

I can hear you now!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Hearing and Being Heard – the All-FlexRadio (AFR) Station

I have been running the All-FlexRadio (AFR) setup on phone (SSB) with the new T-12 Log Periodic, and very pleased with the balance between Reception (RX) and Transmission (TX)!

Audio to Radio Frequency Chain of the AFR setup (All-FlexRadio) is:

  • Sure SM5B Microphone
  • Behringer Audio Amp
  • Flex-6700 with SmartSDR Software
  • Flex-PGXL Amp
  • Flex-TGXL Tuner
  • AS302N Lightning Arrestor
  • Tennadyne T-12 Antenna at 76ft

All cables are hardline, Belden 9913F7 (drops) or LMR400 (jumpers).

Presently I don’t have the rotator wired at the tower base and shack ends, so the Log Periodic has been stationary. The connectors I needed to repurchase as I put them someplace so very safe when first ordered that they haven’t been found since, just arrived.

Rather enjoying reports when running barefoot of “I have you K9ZW 5-9 plus 15” and then turning on the “heater” but loafing at 500 watts, to receive 5-9 plus 30 reports!

Happy camper here!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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