Category Archives: WI-001L

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?

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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

Non-Radio – Hiding Out with Hummingbirds and the Night Sky

Squeezed in an “extra weekend” at the Washington Island QTH mid-week.

We really had some local work to attend to and made it into an overnight in the process.

The wildlife is rather tame at the Island, and the hummingbirds came to a feeder hanging in front of my chair on the deck.  They were not bothered by me.

Expect they are feeding their young

Family brought a clever night sky photographer setup, and the very low light pollution made for some fine photos.

Night shot (mechanical tracker and digital camera) – click for bigger

For work, jury duty and family reasons I couldn’t stay longer, but the respite was welcomed!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Working outside when the sunshines – Island Conduits

At my Washington Island, Wisconsin QTH (US Island WI-001L) is my second ZeroFive Flagpole Antenna. On the Island we fly our flags often while in residence, but the antenna part has languished unfinished.  It has become a continued request from the XYL every visit to “please fill in the flagpole base’s hole, and fix our lawn.”

Early in virus lockdown I got someone to bury the conduits, which had sat on the lawn for at least a year. Though the main expanse was buried, neither end was done.

 

ZeroFive Flagpole antenna at Washington Island (from house)

 

The radials were dug in a few weeks ago (see my previous post at: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/07/18/k9zw-north-radials-for-the-flagpole-antenna/) but were left tied-off to the pole, conduit or something else in the hole.

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K9ZW North – Radials for the Flagpole Antenna

With Tom K0TTC running his tractor with pipe burying attachment and Dale N6JSX helping measure, the buried radials for my Washington Island Zero-Five Flagpole Vertical antenna went in this weekend.

Unlike the home QTH the radial count is lower, as the install work was more involved, the heat was relentless and at he lowest number I was willing to initially install I decided to join N6JSX who smartly had retreated from the sun & heat.

Radials heading out into the juniper bushes

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