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VHF Contest this weekend -- Share your Flex setup.

Mike-VA3MW
Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
edited March 2020 in Contesting
I am an HF contester.  :)  However, the ARRL VHF Sweepstakes is this weekend, so I wanted to share what I am thinking of.

First, after reviewing all the rules, I see I can use just about any mode, (SSB, CW, Digital, FM, etc) which is cool.  

I also learned from the last VHF contest, that they relay on skeds .. alot.  But, if I can see them, I can work them and maybe I can see some skeds in progress.  

I have a 6600 with a 2M Transverter from Q5 Signals.  I also have another all band radio on 432Mhz.  

Let's talk about 6M and 2M:

With the 4 slice 6600, I am setup on the Maestro with 2 slices.  I'm going to use these 2 slices for 6M CW and SSB and 2M CW and SSB.  The waterfall and panadapter give me an amazing view of what is going on at a glance without having to keep spinning the dial.   This is a real plus.

Next, thanks to MultiFlex (part of V3) I have another 2 slices open, again 1 on 6M and another on 2M for Digital modes so I can be on FT8 and/or MSK144.  And, with the panadapter/waterfall that gives to about a 4hz/pixel resolution (I think that's the number -- it is pretty small).

With 1 radio and 1 transverter and with 1 2M antenna and 1 6M antenna I have done with would take 4 radios and 4 antennas.  As well, if I had amplifiers I would have had to double up on those too.  

I'm will be logging with N1MM which sees this as 2 unique radios (like an SO2R setup).  

Next, toss in some WSJTx with Slicemaster, I'll start to see spots on the waterfall too.  Even better situational awareness.  

Here is what the 2 slices on the desktop look like for the Digital work.

image

Then, on the Maestro, we can do this with 6M on top and 2M on the bottom. 

image

I look forward to hearing what others might be doing?  

Mike va3mw (FN03) -- for some of you, beam north!

Comments

  • N2WQ
    N2WQ Member
    edited January 2020
    Mike, can you elaborate on why you are using MF vs. running all 4 slices as a single user? Why are you splitting the band into analog and digital modes, doubling the number of slices? Understanding your thinking and design goals would be very helpful.
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited January 2020
    No reason.  I like the knobs on the Maestro for spinning.  I could use a FlexControl Knob as well I guess.  

    I'm splitting since it allows me to dedicate a slice each to digital if that answers your question.

    I'm not even sure this is going to work the way I want it to.  I might have to run 2 copies of N1MM on 2 different computers or maybe 3 since I also want to have my 433 radio ready to log.  As I type this, I think that is the only way this may work, even for a single op.  

    The good news is that thanks to the design, I can do that.  What we are seeing now the radio hardware is exceeding the contest logging software.  

    I might have a different view after the weekend.  This is why I am trying this.
  • N2WQ
    N2WQ Member
    edited January 2020
    Good luck in the contest! Hopefully the airwaves are not frozen up there. Let us know how you end up setting things up.
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited January 2020
    I had a great time on the contest this weekend.  It is always amazing just how far you can get an RF signal to travel.  Friday night I did a 432Mhz FT8 contact at 591 km'.s or about 370 miles with my 433 100 watt radio and 20 elements 430 beam.  Amazing.

    Like I thought I had to make some changes to my configuration.  N1MM, an amazing contest product, was able to handle the Maestro and 2 slices on the 6600M (I didn't use the M part since the radio was just not close enough).  On the Maestro I did SSB and some CW.  N1MM was running on a laptop by itself.  This is setup in SO2R mode on N1MM.

    Then, on the PC I had another copy of N1MM that shared the Log information with the laptop (it automatically sets this up.  I had SmartSDR running with 2 slices.  I configured N1MM to talk to this 1 radio (not quite the same as the Laptop setup).  Here, I did all my digital operations.  Using SmartSDRCAT it communicated with N1MM on one RS232 port.  

    That left me 1 more RS232 port on N1MM, and here is where I used my 433 dedicated radio.   Like the laptop, this is an SO2R setup.

    I changed bands on the digital operations via N1MM and later, I made 2 unique Global Profiles (2M Primary / 6M secondary and the opposite).  With these 2 copies of WSJT and Slices running, it allowed me to watch 1 band while operating in the other.

    Since this is a low rate contest, I really like how this worked.  

    The big winner is the Panadapters.  I saw QSO's going on that I was able to tailend and work the new grid.  The visuals of the bands is a game changer.  There was a number of 2M QSO's that I would have missed as I listened on 144.200 only to see QSO's at 210 or 220.  

    73 for now, Mike va3mw


    image






  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Thanks, Mike.

    Did you operate "Remote" from your 6600M?

    Perhaps there is a video in our future showing your contest configuration?  I for one would be interested.

    Alan
    WA9WUD
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited January 2020
    No, not this time, but I could have if I was just using the Flex radio.

    I'll see what I can for the video.  Those can take time to view as I have to consider a few other parts in order to lay it out.

    M
  • Dave N2OA
    Dave N2OA Member ✭✭
    edited March 2020
    I'm running a 6600 on 6m and a 220MHz Q5 xverter in SO2R using N1MM. I hadn't thought of using the MultiFlex feature. That might be handy just to separate dedicated FT8 slices and software. I'm already running 2 PC's, I have the other PC for the 9700 and another rig running the 33cm xverter.

    Dave
    N2OA

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