Tag Archives: FlexRadio Systems

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

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

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

Tagged ,

When Something is just built Right! – The Superior Foot Switch from RadioSport

Some station accessories are so simple, yet so hard to get right.

One is the PTT (Push to Talk) Foot Switch. Almost every shack ends up with either on of the ubiquitous commodity grade Foot Switches or a home brew Foot Switch often made with the switch unit from a machine tool on homemade cabling.

The commodity switches work, but not always, they are not built all that badly but they are not lifetime products, and as many have several cables you often see one of the cables bundled up with a tie wrap laying next to the switch.

The home brew often use the same superior actual foot switch that is often seen in machine shops. Yet often it is cabled with a audio RCA cable that perhaps has a knot and a grommet for strain relief and ends up breaking down over time.

RadioSport has a better mousetrap – their PTT-FS-RCA is truly a better grade of a common item.

Here is what the unit looks like when it arrives. Nicely packaged in a ziplock which perhaps can be reused when moving your station.

Unit bagged as arrived

Unit bagged as arrived

Here is the unit out of the bag – the in-the-hand feel already shows off its quality.

Sans Bag (which is even a reusable bag!)

Sans Bag (which is even a reusable bag!)

I’ve bought this sort of switch (NOS) off eBay, but not in powder coat finished like the RadioSport unit.

Side View

Side View

Never seems possible for use regular folk to get this quality of strain relief, and as the actual cable is a custom product produced for RadioSport we’re not going to find this grade of reinforced cable to use.

Excellent Strain Relief on Top Quality Cable

Excellent Strain Relief on Top Quality Cable

Terminating the cable is a high grade RCA in gold plate. No hamfest 25-cent bulk in the bins connector, but perhaps the highest grade RCA I’ve seen in a long time.

Gold Plated High Quality Connector

Gold Plated High Quality Connector

Completing the unit is anti-skid pad made of a very grippy polymer. Combined with the noticeable weight this Foot Switch will tend to stay put compared to the feather weight commodity brands.

Industrial Grae anti-slip pad on bottom

Industrial Grade anti-slip pad on bottom

All this at a price point that is affordable, though in interest of full disclosure it is about $20 or so more than the commodity brands.  There a similar high quality adapters for radios requiring different connectors.

Here is Radiosport’s own write up:

At last a quality Foot PTT Switch you can rely on.

This rugged industrial grade all metal PTT Foot Switch is just what you’ve been looking for for that DX or Contest or Net Control Station.

This rugged item is truely intended for industrial manufacturing floor use and the construction is there to support this sort of heavy-duty use. I call it the “SuperDuty*” of Foot Switches. Powder coated finish, rubber non-slip pedal and foam rubber cushion on the botton to prevent wandering under your operating position.

Links – RadioSport http://www.arlancommunications.com/products/amateurRadio/radioSport/ptt.asp and FlexRadio Systems http://cart.flexradio.com/Radiosport-PTT-Footswitch-with-RCA-plug_p_953.html

A lifetime quality PTT Foot Switch at an affordable price! Who can ask for more?

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , ,

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

The Tri-EX/Tashjian TM-370HD Skyneedle is here at a friend’s trailer yard, where we will do some light refurbishment (scrape and paint some light tin parts that are showing surface rust) and fit the Alfa-SPID RAK Rotor, while we wait for the new base and a few added accessories to arrive.

Here are a few pictures of the tower being removed from storage and transported to my friend’s trucking yard:

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_02

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_03

A bit about the TM-370HD – this is a motorized 70 foot tubular tower that has some pretty impressive numbers.

I have a full set of engineering calculations and the wind loading they cite is roughly five times what my array will be, and perhaps 35 times the weight load is available.

Not certain if the numbers they provided are after application of the designer’s safety factor (would presume so, as they were done for code compliance rather than product engineering) so the ultimate wind loading and weight bearing is truly impressive.

Initially going up is a SP7IDX Hexbeam HD Mark II antenna currently in production, and a W9INN Half-Sloper which I had on the ready.

The Hexbeam will cover 6m to 20m and the Half-Sloper will carry onwards 20m to 160m.

I thought I had another Tennadyne T-8 antenna locally sourced, but the present owner decided he didn’t want to sell it even though he’d just advertised it. I’d been interested in having both the LPDA and Hexbeam up to do some A/B comparisons.

Karl and Norman at Tashjian Towers Corporation have been super as usual.

They have in production a new base for me, and I am adding the work platform (tower already has the ladder) which will allow me to do 98% of service work without a lift.

That the work platform will make an awesome birdwatching and other outdoor pursuit platform hasn’t escaped me either! It is quite likely that it will also open up a way for my getting very high speed internet to this QTH, as aDSL isn’t going to quite cut it for remoting a full Flex-6000 based station.

There are a lot of logistics to go – I have verbals from the professional help to get the base in and the tower up, and I have access to a DitchWitch to bury the conduits needed. ( want to run the power separately from the coax feeds and other control wiring.)

I even have some nice touches to add features, like a set of industrial/maritime intercom units so one will be at the tower and the other in the shack.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , , ,

A Northern Station for K9ZW

Having secured a long term QTH on Washington Island, Wisconsin (US Island WI-001L), I’ve started putting together a station.

Here is what is planned:

• Transceiver – Main – FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300 w/ATU
• Transceiver – Back-Up Unit – TenTec Paragon II
• Transceiver – Vintage Net – Collins KWM-2A
• Amplifier – Expert 1Kw Solid State
• Tuner – Palstar AT-Auto fully upgraded by Kessler Engineering
• Radio Computer – Custom Built Win7 “blade” (or possibly a Neal Campbell PC)
• Audio Gear – full set W2IHY gear
• Frequency Reference – Homebrew Rb-Source
• Tower – Tasjian TM370HD SkyNeedle
• Main Antenna – 20m through 6m – SP7IDX Hexbeam II HD
• Main Antenna – 160m through 20m – W9INN Half-Sloper
• Vertical Antenna – 80m through 10m – Gap Titan DX
• Rotor & Control – Alfa-SPID RAK with Prog1 Controller
• Antenna Switch – 4O3A Signature/Sky Sat 1A2R Switcher with PTT Router (TBD – under review)

I’ll use my usual BuryFlex Coax as supplied by DavisRF with N-Connectors as usual where possible.

The only items to acquire are the Antenna Switch, a Watt/SWR Meter, possibly a station microphone for the Flex-6300 and possibly a Neal Campbell FlexReady PC if I decide not to use the customer server style one I have.

The SkyNeedle, the HexBeam, the Collins Transceiver (with all the extra bits) and a second Palstar AT-Auto tuner were acquired for the new station; everything else came from my back up unit collection. The Expert Amp is coming out of my main shack as I will finally put in the Alpha-9500 that has been sitting in the box for a while.

I have power supplies and lightening arrestors to match my home QTH gear.

Down the road I will most likely add a 4O3A Signature Station Genius SSC-XL and replace the Flex-6300 with another Flex-6700 GPSDO/ATU transceiver to make the Northern QTH and Home QTH closer in design.

Eventually I would hope to share SmartSDR Radio “Slices” between the two QTH’s, with a long term goal of being able to remote one or both stations.

Now to get the Island QTH on the air while everything is put together, my SteppIR CrankIR Antenna with Flex-6300 setup, as used at Rocky Ridge Farm last year, will be pressed into action.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , , , ,

Running Flex-6300 SmartSDR 1.4.0 QSOs from a Winbook with an AblePlanet Linx Audio Boomset

The WinBook runs Win8.1 and ran me a huge $60.00 on special.

The Boomset is a nice noise canceling AblePlanet Linx Audio unit I had bought one for each of in the house for traveling (mine has the optional Boomset plug-in microphone).

Would be easier if I added a FlexControl and a Mouse, but that would be cheating, right?

Some latency issues in commands issued to the touch screen having a moment lag to action at the Flex-6300.

I did cut back the Frames Per Second and Waterfall motion rate to improve the ability of the WinBook to run SmartSDR 1.4.0

Adding a second slice is possible, but receive only as this whole setup is at the limit of the WinBook’s brain power.

My wife wasn’t happy at my sitting at my office desk call things like “India Romeo Four Mike – Kilo Niner Zulu Whiskey 59 59 001 001 QSL?” though she could see my point that I could be outside working QSOs once the weather allows.

I’m very impressed that SmartSDR has so improved that this is even possible!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , ,
Advertisements