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!


Steve K9ZW

K9ZW Shacks Evolve – Proper Dummy Loads, Additional Metering, New Power Distribution, Specialized Headsets and more…

I knew that doing a new station build wasn’t for the faint of heart, and as usual I am loath to miss a chance for upgrading the home QTH station.

Here are a few of the recents adds:

Item                                                                       Home/Island

Alpha-9500 Amps                                                     X X
Rigrunner-4007U Metered Strips                         X X
4o3a Station Genius                                                 X
SP7IDX Hexbeam                                                         X
LMR-400DB Below Grade Feed                                X
LMR-400 Jumpers                                                       X
LMR-400UF Up Tower Feed                                     X
Polyphasers incl two custom multi-units                X
Collins DL-1 Dummy Load                                     X
Station Monitor                                                        X
Bengali Intrepid                                                       X
Alpha-4510                                                                X
Palstar AT-Auto w/Kessler Upgrades                     X
4o3a Antenna Genius Switches                            X X
Nueman BCM705 Microphone                                X
Shure SM5B Microphone                                     X
Behringer MX402A                                               X
Behringer MX602A                                                   X
Recording Grade Audio Shapers                        X X
Collins SM-2 Microphone                                        X
W7FG True Ladder Line Dipole                             X
Alpha-2000 Dummy Load                                  X
RadioSport RS22CR Classic                                   X
KD9SV BOG Beverage Amp & Switch                  X
WD1A Cable – BOG wire                                          X
K1FZ RBOG Reversible Beverage on Ground     X
Zero-Five Custom HD Flagpole Antennas       X X
CAT6eDB below grade control                               X
Radial Wire                                                             X X
Waters 334 Dummy Load                                        X
Helix 1/2 Prepared                                                    X
RG6DB for RBOG Feed                                            X
Tashjian TM-370 SkyNeedle                                   X
New Tower Base, Platform and Coax Arms         X
AlfaSpid Rotor                                                           X

On Order
Flex Maestro                                                            X X

There have also been massive deliveries of the needed connectors and other parts – whew!  I am sure glad I’ve not seen the costs all tallied in one spot – ouch!

All in all the order and assemble is fun other than the bills.  Now in spring the read work begins!




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Hamcation 2016 – Maestro Production Unit

Hamcation Orlando gave me my first look at a production Maestro.

W4TME Demonstrates the Maestro

W4TME Demonstrates the Maestro

The hands-on demo of the Maestro by Tim W4TME was a privilege as in two minutes Tim had me fully briefed.  Both that Tim is such an excellent and patient tutor, but also that the Maestro is just that well thought out!

With ease W4TME briefed Alison KC9MPL, my XYL, on what the Mastro will do now and with the upcoming software releases.

Great touch screen on the Maestro

Great touch screen on the Maestro

I especially liked the way the touch screen and menus have been done.

Not wanting to keep others from checking out the Maestro, I didn’t spend more time playing with it than that was needed to confirm that the production Maestro is yet another FRS “Game Changer!”

I’ve incorporated the Maestro in my operating plans while designing my new Island station, with an intent to do much operating from a Maestro-Mobile configuration other than the radio room.  Though I will have a conventional operating position for contesting, configuration and vintage gear operations, the main focus will be to have access to my station from anywhere on the property.

Was very pleased how enthused Alison was with the Maestro and the Maestro-Mobile idea.

All good things!




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Hamcation 2016 – News Reports to Follow

We’re at Orlando and had a great stop at Hamcation today.

A hands-on demo of the Maestro by Tim W4TME was really a plus.   Getting pretty excited for the general release.


FRS will have other positive news in a few days, which I’ll embargo so as to not steal their thunder.

Left behind a very cold Wisconsin…almost feel guilty leaving Winston KC9FVR watching the house, the weather is so nice here. But when we hear from eldest son Tom KC9JGD that it was -38F before adding in the wind at his Canadian QTH guess we don’t feel that guilty.

In in depth report when I get to a proper keyboard.



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It’s a new world out there … | FlexRadio Systems Community

Recently posted on the FlexRadio Systems Community by Dan W7NGA about having a ham friend Steve see his Flex-6500 in operation:


… [it’s] ‘My new Flex 6500 displaying my favorite bands’.

I could see Steve wasn’t tuning in. ‘Oh .. I just don’t get it. That’s the CW portions of each band?’.

‘No .. that is the entire spectrum of 80-meters, 40-meters, 20-meters, and 15-meters. And later it will be chock-full of signals’.

‘Say what?’

‘The entire band spectrum .. and if you want another cup of coffee, we can bring out my Surface Pro 4 and tune the bands next to the wood stove!’

Steve: ‘Do they take VISA?’

Source: It’s a new world out there … | FlexRadio Systems Community

A new version of SmartSDR – v1.6 is due this coming week, and all I can say is “you haven’t seen anything yet!”



Adding 4o3a Genius Gear to the Shack

Adding some very cool station automation gear to the shack – all from 4o3a in Montenegro.

4O3A MADE IN MONTENEGROThe 4o3a Station Genius is basically an ethernet addressable highly configurable shack multi-switch. Ranks 4o3a jokes that it WILL even do your coffee, and technically that is an affirmative!

For the moment the Station Genius is home shack only.

The each QTH has gotten a 4o3a Antenna Genius 8×2 ethernet addressable Antenna Switch. These switches are especially sweet when using a dual-SCU Flex-6700 in SO2R configuration.

4o3a has his Rotor Genius out, which will be next implementation. A not so secret bit of news is 4o3a is tightly collaborating with FlexRadio Systems and a RF Amp is somewhere in the works.

You can read a lot about Ranko 4o3a at his website

Force12 has been awesome in sourcing this great gear for the USA based ham. See for their listing of 4o3a devices.



Did I mention the end goal is all this gear works with SmartSDR and hopefully with a Maestro soon afterwards?

Much more to follow!



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