Category Archives: WI-001L

Island Tower Base is in!

Amazing what a checkbook can get done while you are laid up with the virus.

New Base installed

Think the hole is next to the pile of removed rocks

A few weeks back I walked the layout with my island contractor, who said his team would squeeze my project in.

Seems the time was now, which of course conflicted with my home quarantine and sleeping 20 out of 24 hours virus isolation.

The pour will take several weeks before I can erect the tower. First the tip-up/fold-over attachment goes on.

Then the rest is easy.

Even though I have a taller Skyneedle that could have gone up, I settled on my proven crank-up tip-up/fold-over antenna to avoid needing a lift for any rotator/antenna servicing.

Why the concrete cures I will have plenty of time to get the antennas ready. Uncertain if I will dig in the cables before all the heavy work is complete.

Progress!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Non-Radio – Where the Road Stops

Memorial Day 2022 I drove the Pinzgauer 710M up to Washington Island to participated in an Island charity event.

The ride out to the island was on Washington Island Ferry Line’s Madonna, their newest, fastest, biggest and “bestest” ferry!

K9ZW’s Pinzgauer 710M on the Island Ferry (Madonna) leaving the mainland

During the weekend drove over to Jackson Harbor, which is truly the “End of the Road” in Door County Wisconsin, but first needed to stop my the K9ZW Island retreat.

The 710M at K9ZW’s weekend retreat on Washington Island

The official roads end at the Rock Island ferry, which is a passenger-only ferry as vehicles are not allowed in the Rock Island State Park.

The 710M at Jackson Harbor, which truly is the “End of the Road” in Door County. The Island in the Distance is Rock Island, State Park, where no private cars are allowed.

Rock Island is also the end of Wisconsin, as the much further distant islands are part of Michigan.

So I can now say “I have been to the end of the road and back, with my Pinzgauer!”

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Lending a Helping Hand – W9EMY’S First HF QSO

Spending the long Memorial Day weekend on Washington Island (WI-001L) Wisconsin, I learned that Emmett W9EMY had taking his Tech & General tests together, applied for a vanity call as he was sequentially assigned a tongue-twister call, BUT hadn’t made an Amateur Radio contact!

One of his Elmers, George W9EVT seemed to have presumed that Emmett W9EMY had his station on the air, and like true gentlemen they “talked around” what could have been a question of “Hey W9EMY, how about knocking out some QSOs?”

Emmett had asked to look at my ZeroFive Flagpole Vertical Antenna, and when I asked him if he had his station running and how did he like making contacts, I learned he hadn’t been on the air.

Well that sure needed to be fixed!  So tuning the Island QTH Flex-6700 across 20 meters, we heard Rick VE6CQ holding court, working stations at a good pace.  So we listened and talked about the parts of the QSOs until a nice opportunity came up to have W9EMY call VE6CQ.

Turns out I had the microphone gain too hot, as I had switched to a Neuman mic on a boom for Emmett to us, but left the settings for another mic.  Rick VE6CQ came back with additional information that our settings were messed up.  My mistake fixed in less time that it takes to type about it.

Emmett W9EMY and Rick VE6CQ had a great classic QSO with VE6CQ throwing in an on-air pep-talk about amateur radio, HF and I think he may have worked in an appreciation of life itself in there somewhere.  I was inspired by Rick VE6CQ’s pep-talk even though I was the Elmer rather than the new guy that day!!

Time restraints kept Emmett’s first foray limited to that first QSO, but I did do a quick FT8 demo as Emmett wanted to see that in operation.

Then we arranged a Sked (scheduled contact) for the following day, and Emmett W9EMY from his home Flex-6400 station had a roundtable discussion with myself on my Flex-6700 and George W9EVT who was on his Kenwood TS-990S.

Now that we were all within a small local circle kind of made it easy,!  Actually W9EVT and I are a fifteen minute walk apart, and Emmett is another twenty minutes or so further west than George W9EVT is  from my QTH.

Was fantastic to get another new ham on HF for their first contact!

And to hear Rick VE6CQ’s pep talk was icing on the cake.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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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

Second ZeroFive Flagpole Antenna Commissioned

My Washington Island QTH’s ZeroFive Flagpole antenna is ON THE AIR!  Yeah!!

This has been a silly long project, with the antenna waiting for a year to be put up, then two seasons where the conduit wasn’t getting installed, the lost “virus season” and finally this season being put on the air.

Hitting bedrock and the flagpole base:

https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/feeling-out-antennas-for-k9zw-island-qth-part-3/

Putting in the radials: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/07/18/k9zw-north-radials-for-the-flagpole-antenna/

Correcting the antenna end of the conduits: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/working-outside-when-the-sunshines-island-conduits/

The conduit has been a troublesome part with the route being different than originally sketched, the electrician involved being taken away due to an extended family emergency, and my foot dragging to boot.

Conduit Ends as Left for My Work

Hmm, how to figure out where to run them inside?

Continue reading

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Your ISP Must Pass All Needed Traffic to Do Remote

Been receiving reports from other amateurs on Washington Island that the once dominant ISP for the Island is not compatible with remote FlexRadio operations. Door County Broadband (DCBB) simply will not pass all the traffic types needed to do a remote connection, and when asked to pass the traffic simply say “no.”

I haven’t had reason to directly speak to Door County Broadband in some years, as I had hit this wall with them trying to configure George W9EVT’s internet for remote access.

Technically the DCBB setup blocks the port forwarding process which scuttles SmartLink.

On-Island internet options that are presently not Flex-Ready are:

Marginal for SmartLink use:

Frontier Communications aDSL – I have this and when the system is working well I can do remote from the Island station. Usually I can access my mainland stations over Frontier. It unfortunately goes down often, usually peak-load weekends when we are on the Island or during storms. Achieved throughput is a fraction of the advertised/purchased, and you need to be on the Island during the work week to get it serviced, so ours doesn’t get fixed. https://frontier.com/

Possibilities on the Horizon:

  • Island Fiber” – the physical underwater link is laid, as is a limited underground setup for a small part of the Island. Grants, resulting build-outs and connections are needed to light the fiber. If your home is in the test area, you might get Gigabyte-to-Desk in a year or so. For the rest of the island fiber hooked to the existing systems should also offer improvements, though perhaps more in reliability and non-speed aspects. The new fiber may well kill off the DCBB wireless option for much of the island, while making the WISP (Wireless ISP) options like US Cellular and Blazing Hog more viable.
  • Full Constellation” Starlink – the are some rumblings that a dual-antenna setup when the full constellation of satellites is operational may mitigate the buffering, latency and satellite switch drop-outs.

While the Island is RF-quiet making it a great place to operate from, doing remote to an Island station remains challenging. Oh, that the power goes out fairly often (momentarily a couple times a week, 15 minutes or longer about monthly) doesn’t help. While you can do batteries or a generator, the internet often seems to be down at the same time.

73

Steve
K9ZW