Category Archives: WI-001L

SteppIR CrankIR Antenna mast adapter

While waiting for concrete work for the K9ZW-Island QTH antennas, I’ve been using a SteppIR CrankIR antenna.

Typically have used the loudspeaker stand I acquired from SteppIR when I bought the antenna, enhanced with weights to keep the antenna up in wind.

Conditions change so rapidly on the Island that usual the CrankIR is tipped over a couple times during a weekend. I’ve also watched a deer snag the radial pulling it over.

In the middle of stormy weather or during the night when deer are moving isn’t the most fun time to play with antennas. Something had to give.

The property’s previous owner had satellite internet gear on a short mast set in concrete

Cleared the old gear and hmmm…how to fit the CrankIR onto the oversized mast?

the 2 inch OD is too large for the CrankIR and suggestions of hose-clamping a smaller mast to the side or using PVC pipe to make an adapter sounded like temporary makeshift half-solutions.

The mast hade been filled with concrete so that wouldn’t work..

Washington Island Mann’s Mercantile is a fabulous hardware store as well.  So knowing that no excuse to go to a hardware store should be passed up, it was to the plumbing isles for a solution.

Mast adapter for my SteppIR CrankIR antenna

Working excellent and will come inside with the antenna when we leave. Too heavy for portable use though.

Some people have asked how we travel the six miles of water, and here is a picture going around of one of the ferries. I think Lauren Gordon took it and Susan Ulm cleaned it up.

Washington Island Ferry complete with Rainbow.

73

Steve

K9ZW

K9ZW Washington Island Operating Gear

The Island setup is evolving and when not in the radio room will be based on a Maestro with a Touch Screen ToughBook.

Here is a quick shot of what I am working on for the Washington Island – Wisconsin QTH’s portable operating position.

This is what I will be able to operate from (adding a headset & PTT in many cases) from anywhere I connect with my wireless system there.

Paired with the Maestro is a Touchscreen Toughbook laptop to do logging and other site-mobility chores. They will be wireless to the new Flex-6700.

Maestro and ToughBook laptop

Maestro and ToughBook laptop

ToughBooks are available refurbished under $300 with licensed operating system from Toughbook Tech.

Built strong enough to be a aircraft wheel-chock!

Ruggedized touchscreen does better with the stylus than finger jabs, which is a contrast to the Maestro touch screen sensitivity.

For activation of smaller islands the Maestro & Flex-6700 will stay behind, with the Flex-6300 then being paired with the Toughbook via SmartSDR for Windows.

For antennas I have several choices there. Typically I have been using a SteppIR CrankIR with the Flex-6300 for island activations other than the main island. I have several other portable antenna options.

Depends on what Island access I’m allowed (full setup on the activated Island or using one of the US Island Programs alternative rules when not allowed to completely disembark. http://www.usislands.org I think is the URL.)

On Washington Island itself I have a proper antenna farm in the works. As I am rethinking this whole setup you’re invited to follow along as I rework plans.

Still to come is a mobilization preparation of the Flex-6300 to keep everything needed together and protect it from some level of adverse weather while out on the smaller islands.

73

Steve K9ZW

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Maestro Road/Boat Trip to Washington Island

Pictures and much of text was originally posted at the FlexRadio Systems Community forum as I described my first weekend Maestro excursion.


 

Winds made the ride almost an hour

Winds made the ride almost an hour

 

Okay, just like a Flat Stanley, where have you taken your Maestro to go do radios?

Snapshot is quick shot off the ferry boat to Washington Island, Wisconsin (US Island WI-001L) where this weekend it will be a quick overnight running a Flex-6300 with a SteppIR CrankIR antenna.

Weather is a bit edgy though I hope the wind drops and drizzle stops long enough to get the antenna setup yet today.

With it sleeting out who knows?

So where has your Maestro gone?

A quick set of photos. (The small boar is one my youngest Vic KC9NWB shot.)

Wild Board standing guard over a Maestro near the table edge

Wild Board standing guard over a Maestro near the table edge.

The Flex-6300 needed a software upgrade to run with the Maestro.

Maestro conducting another Software Update

Maestro conducting another Software Update

The strong signal is George W9EVT who live about 3/4 a mile away.

George W9EVT is about 5000 feet away and his signal shows it!

George W9EVT is about 5000 feet away and his signal shows it!

Bands have not been good and highly variable. Definitely seeing my antenna limitations holding QSO count way down.

Have been playing with also running K6TU iPad control and on the Win10 box other programs like DDUTIL alongside the Maestro.

Maestro with K6TU Control Software on iPad

Maestro with K6TU Control Software on iPad

Off for coffee and church, hopefully my rate will improve afterwards.

One of the observant forum members comment on how my Maestro edged close to the table’s edge:

Steve, your making me nervous. The Maestro is too close to the edge of your table. Nice pics.
73 de Rob K1SR

And I replied:  Thank you. The Maestro with tilt feet gives such a solid feel that you spotted how I crept it up near the table edge.

Didn’t seem as worrying in the flesh as in photos, and certainly is an interesting phenomena as I try to be careful.

Running a vertical wire antenna in this weekend’s bands wasn’t a highly productive exercise. Would have twenty-thirty signals on a band, then only a few weak traces and all over between extremes.

Snowed and deleted, so never got the Maestro outside either.

Until next trip.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Island QTH Flex-6300 Station – New Pc

Portable 6300 – Computer: HP EliteDesk 705-G1 Mini Desktop

As I put together the core components for a ruggedized Flex-6300 I wanted to select a computer to use when the radio was not out with a laptop.

Just brought in a HP EliteDesk 705-G1 Mini Desktop, AMD A8-7600B 2.2GHz Quad-Core, 8GB DDR3, 256GB Solid State Drive, 802.11n, Win7Pro 64-Bit.

One of my sons, Winston KC9FVR helped with a comprehensive updating and upgrading process to Win10Pro and pre-installed my usual suit of software. I needed a DisplayPort++ to HDMI adapter, which I let him scroung for me, and all is good.

Swapped it for the PC-on-a-stick/NUC I’d been using with the 6300 and a few minutes to configure and do final updates was all that was needed before being QSO-ready!

Slick if slightly heavy 7-1/4 x 7-1/4 inch footprint is very desk friendly. As I had a waterproof keyboard I was happy with, along with a mouse and a 22 inch dual use screen (TV/Monitor) I left the rest in place.

 

image

The no-fan design is appreciated and operating from such an RF quiet island I was working DX barefoot via the SteppIR CrankIR which was set up to “eyeball tuning standards” as I’d moved so much other gear up and down that I didn’t fancy too many adjusting trips.

http://www.amazon.com/HP-EliteDesk-Desktop-A8-7600B-Quad-Core/dp/B01DJQW8KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460943509&sr=8-1&keywords=HP+EliteDesk+705-G1+Mini+Desktop%2C+AMD+A8-7600B+2.2GHz+Quad-Core%2C+8GB+DDR3%2C+256GB+Solid+State+Drive%2C+802.11n%2C+Win7Pro+64-Bit

Nice little PC that seems to do the job!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Planning incorporating the Game Changer technologies of the Flex-6000, Maestro and SmartSDR

From a thread I started at the FlexRadio Systems Community:

It is really interesting what the Flex-6000, Maestro and LAN (and eventually WAN) versions of SmartSDR do to allow for significant differences in station design.

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been putting together the design and gear for a second summer home QTH that happens to be out on an Island.

Initially the concept was to put a heated ham shack space in the end of the new garage/workshop project.  Several generations of drawings and three sets of proper architectural renderings & plans (part of the packet eventually to pull the permit and for the builders).

The Maestro led to a rethink where the main operating point could be separate from the radio room, and the result was thoughts moved to the idea of to place all the radios in the main house’s lower level utility room (a room basically blasted out of bedrock and concrete lined) and my where the Maestro & Laptop set operating point to a desk in the main living space.  The lower area would get the non-Flex gear and might be where I would contest from.

That seemed a decent idea and drawings showing the numerous feedlines, other wiring to a multi-antenna layout were completed.

Enter the potential to seamlessly use the 4O3A Antenna Genius for 8×2 remote switching and the 4O3A Station Genius to automate a couple loose ends and there suddenly is no reason to bring all the feedlines to the main house – rather a star configuration for HF TX/RX antennas to a Shed – a true “Ham Shack” – would reduce the feedlines to two HF, one VHF and a special 72 Ohm set of lines for the Reversible Beverage On Ground RX-only Antennas.

Potential is there to further move the Flex-6000 itself and the Amp (though this would be simpler once the 4O3A Flex-Ready Amplifier launches) also to the Heated Shed, basically tethering back to operating desk by internet (Cat6e or Wireless)!

Certainly if we build a larger retirement home on the property the infrastructure increases, switching gear needed and all the headaches could be simply putting in a solid internet link between the retirement home and existing summer house and/or Ham Shack Shed.  The anticipated distance will be 1200-1600 feet, so internet can replace expensive ultra-low loss feedlines.

Very attractive compared to trenching into rock to lay heavy duty conduit for hundreds of feet.

It is simply boggling the differences in designs that are now possible, and the increases the next couple hardware and software launches will bring.

On another area the potential improvements in ergonomics may be huge.  I have one of those treadmill/desktop “walking desks” that I enjoy, but never got any radio time when at it.  That can change!  The contesters several ducks in a row counter with shelf above might metamorphose into a different configuration.

Truly a series of Game Changers!

73

Steve K9ZW

Mother Nature meets Murphy, winter delays to the K9ZW Northern Station

it is true that Mother Nature is not to be trifled with, and that Murphy will visit putting a wrench into the works just when things are running smooth.

Often delays in a single key component can put a whole project off track.  Specially disruptive is if the missing/delayed key component is something unique not easily replaced.

For my Indian Point northern QTH on Washington Island the driving element delaying the project is an extended wait for a new tower base.  The SkyNeedle TM-370 needs a special base that act as a hinge for fold-over/erecting and is a critical part of the overall wind design.

A tribute to their popularity, Tashjian Towers has been swamped with orders and the base along with a work platform and new coax arms is still in fabrication.  And up on the Island this is the last week for concrete deliveries.  With a month cure before use, the towers even now would be first up in December.

So we are rescheduled for spring 2016 to put the base in the ground and put the tower up.

The SP7IDX Hexbeam is also behind schedule, but it could have followed a month later than the base and the schedule would have been fine, as the concrete cure time would have covered the delay.

With the delays, the eventual onset winter weather and the reduced ferry schedules limiting my actual on-island time I’ve put all antenna work on hold until spring.  If I can schedule time I may move a vertical HF antenna stored in the woods behind my house at home to the island so I have a ready-to-use island antenna rather than setting up the SteppIR CrankIR each visit.

Best laid plans…

73

Steve K9ZW