Tag Archives: W9DXCC

Some Reasons Why I am Staying Closer to Home – Ham Super Spreader Events?

There seems to be a maelstrom out there, and I for one am at the moment prone to sit tight.

After hearing that the Contest University (CTU) folks at Hamvention 2022 had significant numbers came down with COVID I was a bit skeptical how large group meetings were going to turn out.

Now that I am hearing reports that the Central State VHF Conference also became a spreader-event, along with reports from industry trade association attendees of similar spreader events outside of the ham world, I am doubly cautious.

When my XYL came down traveling to help her elderly parents move to assisted living, spending quarantine time in a dorm room sized suite on her own in Europe, my caution went up another notch. She reports isolating was more than worrisome, expensive and inconvenient, it was emotionally difficult.

When I came down with a second bout of the virus, with no traceable point of exposure unless you are willing to presume that some vaccinated people can be symptomless carriers, it further became time to rethink things.

The virus is not gone, and if you catch it you lose a couple weeks and maybe much more if your are unlucky.

The protective injections fail to actually protect us, and the mutating virus walks around acquired immunity.

So there is a new calculus in my life – will potential increased exposure of an activity be worth the risk of a couple weeks of sick and down time?

An awful lot of events are coming up short in the evaluation, as the benefits of participation are overwhelmed by the risk of more virus exposure.

I should mention that I really want to avoid becoming a typhoid-Mary, in that we assist those who are elderly and I exercise a two different places that some of the others exercising there have a greater virus risk.

I have canceled plans to travel to Dallas and St Louis for two separate business conferences that fall into the “nice to go, but not critical” category.

Decided to not plan on attending the W9DXCC, especially as one can bet that Illinois will return to requiring masks – adding insult to the exposure risk.

My scheduled Canadian hunting trip has been canceled, less so over the exposure risk once I am there, but more about the very slow recovery so far from my second virus sickness. I am certain I will not be fit enough by final go/no-go decision time to consider the hunt.

Now what AM I going to do instead?

Station time will figure into replacement activities, of course.

I had my little fishing boat updated with a new outboard motor, and there are plenty of fishing challenges to do!

With that same little boat, I think I will try my hand at doing some US Island activations with the KX-3 setup I bought from a cousin.

Both home and island QTH have antenna projects to be finished up.

I may do some actual travel, but for something much higher in value than conferences or ham events – as we may go to visit relatives/friends. Some of the visits we can drive, but one to England does have a lot more travel exposure to seriously reflect upon.

And otherwise I can shuttle between home QTH and island QTH, with minimal exposure.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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W9DXCC – Taking a 2021 Pass – Mask Mandates and Risks

Just cancelled out of the 2021 W9DXCC this morning.

The Illinois new Mask Mandate was the tipping point, as spending a couple days Masked-Up doesn’t appeal, but more importantly the new Mask Mandate is an indicator that the CCP-19 Virus transmission rates in Illinois are high enough to reconsider “should I be doing this?”

The W9DXCC website includes information on how to cancel https://w9dxcc.com/ and if you made hotel reservations through the W9DXCC website you need that confirmation number when you call the event hotel to cancel. Deadlines are by September 5th for the event and 24 hours before arrival for the hotel, in my case.

As my XYL was increasing on edge about her joining me at the event prior to the new Mask Mandate, cancelling resolves some simmering domestic unease.

Learned that several others I had hoped to see at the 2021 W9DXCC have also canceled – N6JSX and KE9V emailed me that they had arrived at the same conclusion, and had canceled.

Hopefully we will have better conditions for future W9DXCC events.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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W9DXCC 2020 has been canceled

I had hoped we would be in good enough shape to hold the W9DXCC yet in 2020. It was going to be my one ham fest event for the year:


The board of directors for the Northern Illinois DX Association voted unanimously on May 19 to cancel this year’s W9DXCC convention due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected limitations in Illinois surrounding large gatherings this fall. Plans are already being made to book the 2021 convention at the Marriott in Naperville, where the 68th annual W9DXCC had been scheduled for Sept. 11-12.

Thank you for your continued support of W9DXCC and we look forward to gathering in person again in 2021. There have been tentative discussions about a possible virtual convention this year. Updates will be shared via email and the website if there are developments.

For more information: http://w9dxcc.com/

73, John/K9KE

Guess it will be 2021 – fingers crossed!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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W9DXCC Wrap-Up… Hams be prepared just in case, and Buck Rogers Radios

Sitting in our hotel room at the end of the 2015 W9DXCC in Schaumburg, Il.  An excellent experience all around.

The generosity of ones fellows in the hobby cannot be overstated.  I really enjoy these events as the expertise of those with time and resources are shared so willingly!

Keynote speaker was ex-FCC General Counsel, Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH, who as always spoke well and to the point.  Main take away were two somewhat unexpected things, one about shared humanity and another larger on why the world needs hams even more with the Internet of Things.

On humanity Riley reminded us that those few hams who are awful on the air are largely troubled souls that the system isn’t or can’t help.  Not a few are veterans dealing with those issues.  While not specifically asking for anything from the audience, he brought home that these folk are people too.  Kind of a reminder that we can do better.

The bigger statement was in many ways a vision of a post apocalyptic mission that hams can fill.  As the Internet transitions to the Internet of Things, the risk of systemic failure increases, but worse the risk of system denial (cyber terrorism) has profound consequences that the ham services may help mitigate.

The TEOTWAWKI scenario wasn’t expected, and I have to admit I agree with Riley, including the decentralized ideas he expressed which are the same as those behind the  FREECOM supplement/replacement for EMCOM.

I will return to the FREECOM theme in a future article.

The other huge takeaway for me is again an admiration for the technical excellence and elegance of the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6000 series.

Gerald K5SDR the founder of FlexRadio Systems and Craig K9CT as a member of their advisory team, shared much time showing off upcoming features intended for SmartSDR v1.5, a prototype Maestro unit, and an unreleased hardware accessory.

The intergration and smoothness of the massively expanded capabilities impressed me as much as the feature set.  The feature set had been slowly leaked by FRS so for 80% of the upgrade there is nothing unexpected.

What amazed was how the improvements flowed as if they were always there all along.

I also loved my quick touch and feel chance to play with the Maestro.  Somehow I can imagine a ham not wanting one.  The touchscreen really appealed.

Another fine event- congratulations to NIDXA for putting on such a fine ham gathering.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series – Lessons Learned and Series Wrap Up

Returning from W9DXCC where I was able to attend FlexRadio’s Greg K5GJ’s presentation and chat with him at length as well, I would like to update my predictions:

  • Amateur Radio’s leading Edge will move hugely forward.  We’re at the cusp of a huge leap forward as FlexRadio brings to market what before only a few intrepid folks (like the TAPR folks) have been able to do.
  • This technology will be a huge hit with those willing to work the leading edge.  Expect to see a SmartSDR Client on a lot of busy people’s PCs for those lunch hour QSOs. 
  • Group/Remote Stations will allow more people to get on the air.  The easy options to shack/antenna restrictions will now include remote operation as a regular possibility.
  • I was wrong on much in way I predicted that Special rules or Special Classes will being needed when these radios appear in contests and QTH collection programs (IOTA/SOTA/DXCC).  The new technology won’t be much of an issue.  Reports are that when a transmitter location criteria is used it becomes easy to to incorporate the new technology into these programs.  I was seeing a problem that doesn’t really seem to be there (and has already largely been solved where is does appear.)
  • Someone will exploit these units, forcing some security demands on owners – but it will be pretty hard for hackers to exploit.  Basically if you are smart enough to get into them you’re already smart enough to make your own. Enough said.
  • While limited advances in small run offerings by other teams may come close, or perhaps equal/exceed the Flex-6000 Series in a few areas, it will be a long wait until there is a contender.  The catch-up game for contenders is huge and expensive. 
  • They will be a LOT of fun!  REALLY a lot of fun!  Imagination will only get you part way to what these radios will do.
  • Every ham who is computer/technology savvy will want one.
  • We will have some new jargon/language to deal with – examples below.

It is hard not to be pumped about this new series.

BTW I am not selling my Flex-5000A – it is too good of a radio to part with.

Some things learned from the W9DXCC Presentation.

New word for most hams – “Netcentric” reflects the connectivity by internet of this new gear.

Another new concept is “Radio Server” where your Signature-Series Flex-6000 could be thought of as a just another sort of server on your net.

“Super Browser” is the descriptive for the thin client software.

“Phase Noise Dynamic Range” will be the axis for measuring one Radio Server against another, as we see the developments focus on letting us hear well.

The amount of data going through one of these Radio Servers is stunning – where a clasic Multi-Conversion rig runs at roughly 96 ksps, and a Single-Conversion doubles that for 192 ksps, this new Direct-Sampling implimentation is zooming at 246,000 ksps (or 246 Msps).

Likewise the distortion of conversions which with Mutli-Conversion happens at 3 or 4 places, and with Single-Conversion halves, this new Direct-Sampling drops it to zero hardware points and single software point… well sort of as each technology typically has a few more points.

Signal to noise is the game – with Radio Servers offering a major step forward.

Also I am VERY humbled to realize that the Folks at FlexRadio have thought through much of what I have pondered upon, and years ago.  In conversation Greg K5JG was gracious enough to share some of the OB/OM (Organizational Behavior/Operational Management) philosophy they have implemented at FlexRadio Systems and pointed me at references where I could learn more about their successful management style.  The W9DXCC was also a flattering experience when I learned that people actually read & remember the content of these posts.  I am humbled and grateful.

Back to the this new world of Generation 3 SDR radios and the Flex-Radio 6×00 series – simply put “The possibilities are amazing!”

73

Steve

K9ZW

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First post of this series Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series

Planning in a few weeks to have another first hand look at the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 series radios at the W9DXCC Convention in Illinois.

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

……one can imagine, dream and scheme can’t one?

Reading the Flex-Radio literature, Insider newsletters and reflectors there is one massive amount of promise to this new radio an architecture!

I’d like to touch on a few items that have caught my eye, and what I imagine they might offer for the future of amateur radio.

Be absolutely certain I am speculating, I have no extra insight or sources (nor would I betray information given to me in confidence) and I am doing analysis based on what it out there.  I’m going to have fun speculating what might be.

Putting some guesses and construction to the pieces of information over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I guess right on anything announced at the W9DXCC or later when radios ship.

I’ll try to get a thought out every few days in the lead-up to the W9DXCC Convention and then an assessment in the week or so directly after the event.

I’ll link them to this “Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series” starter and again in the wrap up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series – Deep (and Total) Impact – Predictions

Returning to the initial question “What will the Flex-6000 series actually bring?”

Here are my predictions:

  • Amateur Radio’s leading Edge will move hugely forward.
  • This technology will be a huge hit with those able to afford the leading edge.
  • Limited ability downscale versions of some parts of the technology will follow. 
  • Group/Remote Stations will allow more people to get on the air.
  • Special rules or Special Classes will be needed when these radios appear in contest and qth collection program (IOTA/SOTA/DXCC) use.
  • Someone will exploit these units, forcing some security demands on owners.
  • While limited advances in small run offerings by other teams may come close, or perhaps equal/exceed the Flex-6000 Series, it will be a long wait until there is a contender.
  • They will be a LOT of fun!
  • Every ham who is computer/technology savvy will want one.

Let’s see if I am close to right as these radios role out in a few months.

Netx update in this series will be after the W9DXCC where I hope to spend some time speaking with the Flex-Radio folk.

73

Steve

K9ZW

……………….

First post of this series Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series

Planning in a few weeks to have another first hand look at the Flex-Radio Flex-6000 series radios at the W9DXCC Convention in Illinois.

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

Flex-Radio Flex-6000 Series

……one can imagine, dream and scheme can’t one?

Reading the Flex-Radio literature, Insider newsletters and reflectors there is one massive amount of promise to this new radio an architecture!

I’d like to touch on a few items that have caught my eye, and what I imagine they might offer for the future of amateur radio.

Be absolutely certain I am speculating, I have no extra insight or sources (nor would I betray information given to me in confidence) and I am doing analysis based on what it out there.  I’m going to have fun speculating what might be.

Putting some guesses and construction to the pieces of information over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I guess right on anything announced at the W9DXCC or later when radios ship.

I’ll try to get a thought out every few days in the lead-up to the W9DXCC Convention and then an assessment in the week or so directly after the event.

I’ll link them to this “Flex-6700 Fantasies – “Dreaming What Might Be!” Series” starter and again in the wrap up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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