Category Archives: SmartSDR

FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M Transceiver and Power Genius XL Amplifier in early use

FlexRadio Systems extended me an opportunity to acquire one of the first production run Flex-6600M Transceivers and a few weeks back a PowerGenius XL Amplifier both early as a “Beta Team” participant.  (I’ll be abbreviate Flex-6600M as just “6600M”, Flex-6700 as just “6700” and the PowerGenius XL Amplifier as “PGXL.”)

As mentioned, I’d participated in a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.

The “Beta Team” really couple be considered “Late Addition Alpha Team” or “Temporary Alpha Team” or “Little Alpha Team” team members, as to handle the information flow.

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Radios, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program I had participated in.

In my case this new Flex-6600M it will temporarily displace a Flex-6700 at my main home QTH.   I’m definitely planning to retain that Flex-6700.  I have configured the station temporarily to allow fairly quick A/B switching from the 6600M to the 6700.  I have enough W2IHY switchgear to potentially hardwire the A/B setup, but for now the intent is to do plug and play.

My shack is compact – and is especially compact as the sanctity of my radio shack in the old wine cellar room has been encroached  upon severely by buying too much wine in Italy and from a long time Alpha team’s family’s California Vineyard, all arriving as I decided that personal health triumphs.  So those cases have filled what extra area the shack had.

To make room, after my personal testing of the PGXL I’ve decided to remove the Alpha 9500 Amplifier and the Expert SPE 1KW backup Amplifier physically from the operating area, putting them on my “shack reserve shelving” for the moment where they join my fail-safe Alpha 78 Amplifier and a 6M King Conversion Amplifier.  Actually I enlisted some help from my youngest son, Victor KC9NWB, as any college kid home for winter break should get a chance to lug his Dad’s ham shack gear around, right?

I still need to figure out where to move a few items to, especially the audio-amplifier that was going to help tweak my main Shure SM5B microphone’s voice signal but has ended up set so flat that it is really just isolation and audio signal gain.   That said, here is the 6600M/PGXL as of January 6th 2018:

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Overview

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Overview

 

I’ve found the 6600M/PGXL combination really awesome to use.  Reports “out of the box” have been so good that I’ve not spent much time optimizing settings yet.

My station is pretty simple, smaller scale, and gets ends up effective.  The6600M/PGXL combination have in two simple pieces of gear have noticeably improved my station.

I was having so much fun working DX on 20m, that I forgot to snap a photo to share until propagation changed enough that 80m was the lively band.  My present home antenna situation is limiting on 40/80/160m bands compared to 20/17/15/12/10 and the UHF/VHF bands.  So I turned things back on a shot a quick snap will running 80m figuring you all have seen a full panadapter screen before!

So here a quick “station selfie” snap:

 

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Up Close

K9ZW 6600M and PGXL Up Close

As previously mention that like both of my Flex-6700’s, this new Flex-6600M was ordered with the GPSDO option.  If software eventually allows I hope to use the accurate time stamping on a station-mixing basis.  If that doesn’t happen the extra accuracy never hurts.

 

My “Late Addition Alpha Team” status came with my agreeing to not speculate and to not detail the exact Alpha Team’s progress & problem solving details, but I am pretty sure it didn’t have any agreement preventing my speaking to how absolutely engaged the FlexRadio Systems, 4o3a Team, and the Alpha Testers really are.  The efforts, feedback/update speed is truly impressive!!

More later this week, and as a teaser I’m going to add two more photos that I will explain in-depth in a later posting – with the SmartSDR versions improving I’ve run into a band situation where 160m was unworkable until I engaged the FlexRadio Systems exclusive WNB (Wide Noise Blocker).

 

SmartSDR no filters and a bad 160m band

SmartSDR no filters and a bad 160m band

 

SmartSDR with WNB making the 160m band okay

SmartSDR with WNB making the 160m band okay

Pay attention to the waterfall difference – the noise is gone I was in business, if RX a bit faint (55 to 53 – clear but weak).  As for the source of the noise, I’ll have to see if it reappears and track it down.

Much much more to follow!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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What is that holding up my Power Meter? FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amp!

 

Alpha Power Meter Stand?

Good News:  My FlexRadio Systems Power Genius XL Amp has arrived and is working great!

Not So Good News:  I am having so much fun that I won’t have much extra time to blog about the experience until next weekend.

I’m doing a lot of exploring with the new amp, given my time limitations.  As you can see in the picture there is no problem putting out the power.   I’ll post some statistics once I have a good systematic run through the bands.

I’m thinking I will also have a Flex-6600M very shortly to pair with the Power Genius XL Amp!

More when I get time.  Kind of wished I had more free time this week, but alas something has to pay for radio pleasures.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – arrived but still in the box….

Power Genius XL in its Shipping Box

Good News:  My FlexRadio Systems Power Genius XL Amp has arrived

Not So Good News:  I am still at work.

I’ve walked up to look at the box 3-4 times so far.

Guess I know what I will be preoccupied with at home tonight! Setting up the Power Genius XL Amp!

73

Steve
K9ZW

FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600M Transceiver – also on the way

FlexRadio Systems extended an opportunity to acquire one of the first production run Flex-6600M Transceivers early as a “Beta Team” participant.

As mentioned, I’d done a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.  I currently have a FlexRadio System PowerGenius XL (PGXL) amplifier in transit on the same early-adopter program.

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Radios, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program.

In my case this new Flex-6600M it will temporarily displace a Flex-6700 at my main home QTH.   I’m definitely planning to retain that Flex-6700.  More when the Amp shows.

Like both of my Flex-6700’s, this Flex-6600M was ordered with the GPSDO option.  If software eventually allows I hope to use the accurate time stamping on a station-mixing basis.  If that doesn’t happen the extra accuracy never hurts.

Oh, in clarity the FRS expanded test team has been both called “Beta Test Team” and as temporary Alpha Testers.  This special status is expected to disappear in a few weeks, so basically FRS cloned the agreements from the established Alpha team and pressed them into service in the effort to get these radios (and the first PGXL amps) into  wider range of user’s hands.

Timing is interesting, as my piggy bank got spanked with two units of expense.  Glad I saved for these station components!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – in transit and due Monday….

Good News:  my Power Genius XL should be here before Christmas.  Fingers crossed.

Per UPS: Delivery by End of Business Day Monday December 18th

Should be fun when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

 

FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – in transit and anticipation….

Good News:  FlexRadio Systems has let me know that my amp is among those shipped by 4o3a.

Not So Good News:  International Shipping Gremlins have slowed down the transit.

Having personally had my international shipments “lost” I have sympathy.  Life isn’t fun when the container with one’s entire household belongings took Eight-Months to make a transit promised at less than 20-Days!  That case a longshoreman’s strike left it on the dock, missing its boat, the replacement boat was refused a St Lawrence Seaway permit (drought) so hovered offshore for an additional month until a berth was secured, and then unexpected cross continent land transport had to arranged.  Of did I mention the stress of having everything held in limbo for a half-year put the shipping broker out of business, and an additional broker had to be found for inbound clearance… and on finding much damage it was found that the now defunct original shipper had not bought the all-perils insurance we contracted for, leaving all the damage uninsured.

Or another car I was importing being held up in bond at the port of entry because the German seller had put in the trunk a 10-liter jug of the special oil recommended for the car.  The oil was not on the manifest and the seller had used about a 1/2 liter topping the car’s crankcase before shipping.  At $65/day for two months of bonded storage at the dock, paying for testing of the oil in the jug and all the extra broker fees to to plead my case, this gesture the seller made cost me roughly $5,700.00 in unexpected and unavoidable fees.  And yes, the option of shipping the oil back would have been nearly as costly on its own, and the car would have still racked up bonded storage fees until everyone was happy…..

Or how about the unexpected two-month delay on another car I’d contacted to be brought from Toronto – while it didn’t cost me extra, it was annoying when I could fry & drive it back in a weekend, but circumstances didn’t let me go.  Nothing more than the gears of “the system” turning slowly, with a bit of “work to rule” officialdom in the mix.

Yes, FRS has my sympathy on international shipment delays.

If the starts aline the Power Genius XL should be here before Christmas.  Fingers crossed.

More when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

Steve