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DX Engineering NCC-2 Reviews?

Butch
Butch Member ✭✭✭

For those of you that own one, I'd like to hear reviews/results of how the DX Engineering NCC-2 worked with your Flex. And what antenna combination(s) you used?

Butch, KF4HR

Comments

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    Did you at the eHam reviews? You might get more information there.



    73

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭
    edited April 12

    Hi Mike, yes I did. There are currently four 5-star Reviews on eHam. Unfortunately none of the Reviews mentioned it being used with a Flex transceiver, so I was hoping to get some feedback from the Flex community.

    KF4HR

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Hi Butch, this will work the same with the Flex as with any transceiver. It is really pricey at nearly $800 (close to the cost of a nice entry level transceiver like the IC-7300).

    I use a Timewave ANC-4 for local noise mitigation and it works well on junk from my QTH as well as from the neighbors. I also use it in my 5th wheel camper to get rid of the solar charger and "converter" (an RV term to mean battery charger...) noise. The MFJ-1026 is very similar in functionality and price.

    Not sure what use you plan to put it to (beam steering, noise cancellation...), so it is hard to comment on whether you would get your money's worth out of the NCC-2, but at its price point, I would have a hard time buying one.

    Back to your actual question - absolutely no difference using it on any rig including the Flex radios.

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Hi Len. I'm currently using two ANC-4's, one on the RX-A loop and the other on the RX-B loop of my Flex-6700. It has been my experience that the ANC-4's do help occasionally, at least on the low bands. Cost aside, it would be interesting to hear how the NCC-2 and ANC-4 compare.

    Butch, KF4HR

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Yep, I agree. It would also be interesting to see how well the NCC-2 does with a steered vertical array.

    To get the most from my ANC-4, I had to put up an outdoor vertical. Now it hears all the junk from me and my neighbors and cancels it very nicely.

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    I had one and attempted to make it work. I spent about a month with it before I sold it.

    What is critical is the antenna you use for a Noise Sense. It has to hear the noise and not the HF signal and it was a lot of trial and error and for me, it never got to the point where it was successful.

    YMMV

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    I must be doing something wrong, as I have an NCC-2 and especially on 80M and 40M I have found it works really well!. I use my inverted "L" half-wave as the main receive antenna, going through my TGXL which is set to "bypass" the tune solution for receive, so that it is acting just like a SWL antenna. The noise antenna is an active magnetic loop antenna, home-made, with a Cross-Country Wireless mag-loop-amplifier. The loop is on a rotator in my house loft-space, about 15-20feet from the main antenna outside. The Flex Panadaptor really shows what I am tuning out re. nasty things, like VDSL training carriers, which are a pain here in UK on 40M and 20M. Also very effective at knocking out the interference from neighbour's solar panels. I am sure it is all very subjective, but personally I am very pleased with how I can make the Flex 6600M really sing. I. can knock the noise floor to about s3 on 80M, from an otherwise s7 to s8! The amplitude of the signal of course goes down with the noise floor, but the SNR is substantially improved and makes for good listening. One thought is that I can only attenuate the incoming signal using the Flex to -8dB, but can Increase incoming by +8,+16,+24dB. To me, and the way I can get my results, I love the ability of the NCC-2 to attenuate both incoming signals by up to -30dB separately. By doing so, I can really pick out sensitive signals by first adjusting the dials on the NCC-2, and then, incredibly, applying some gain that is available within the Flex. By the way, I have the NCC-2 fully loaded with receiver-guard, and, in case ever needed, the DX Engineering pre-amps. (I do not understand why or how, but sometimes I can get super results with combining the pre-amp options "on" and a bit of knob-twiddling.

    In summary, I would say that YES, it IS expensive, but I will not part with it. I have not seen the ANC-4 for sale in the UK. There are several other noise reducing/cancelling devices available eg. MFJ amongst others, and I admit I have not tried anything else to compare.

    Now wouldn't it be wonderful if Flex on their next generation integrate receive signal mixing and phasing over and above diversity! Would be a dream-come-true!

    73 Mike.G4GWH

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks for your input Mike. I decided a NCC-2 with the optional boards. I'd be interested in hearing how you have your NCC-2 wired to your 6600M.

    Butch, KF4HR

    [email protected]

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    Hi Butch.For simplicity I am posting photos of my wiring for you to consider. The Yellow BNC cable is a link between RX ant in and Main ant out, channel A. The short cable comes free with the NCC-2. Main ant in goes to my Tuner Genius and then from there to my Inverted "L". Radio goes to ANT 1 at rear of 6600M. Channel B is my active loop antenna. 13.8v DC needs no mention! THE MOST IMPORTANT CONNECTION is the RED phono, which goes from NCC-2 Radio PTT, to the back of the 6600M. I have placed it to RCA TX 1 at the 6600M. On the 6600M you MUST select RCA TX1 on all the bands you are going to use. If you do not do this, then GOODBYE NCC-2!!! The support manual that comes with it is quite clear about this, and you will find it very comprehensive. I am actually following the interconnection diagram 1 on page 27 of the manual. If you have an active antenna on channel B, then you have to dig inside the unit to enable bias "T" link to send 13.8v up to you antenna pre-amp. Note that when you press transmit, the Bias "T" is immediately disabled as part of the fail-safe of connecting "ground-on-transmit" of the all-important Red RCA to RCA lead.

    Do not try this arrangement if you are running more than 200w. The NCC-2 is only good for 200w max through-put. There are other connection diagrams in the manual which show you how to wire up if you are using a Linear.

    Hopefully, here are the photos:

    Don't ask me why they are upside down. I do not do photography!!!

    Cheers.

    Mike. G4GWH

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the photo's and tips Mike, much appreciated. Looks like the NCC-2 is on back-order until May. I'm looking forward to experimenting with it.

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    Interesting, Butch.

    The DX Engineering website states there are more than 10 in stock for immediate shipment!

    By the way, over here in the UK we actually have stock of Tuner Genius XL with the main agents for Flex Radio! I had to wait for ages and ages for mine to turn up! The supply of electronics components is a bit hit-and-miss currently.

    Cheers. Mike.

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Hi Mike - I suspect there was some miscommunications at DXE lately. I placed my NCC-2 order on April 14 and at that time the NCC-2 webpage was indicating shipping would not be until May 10, 2022. Then yesterday (April 18) I get an email order update stating my NCC-2 has shipped, so who knows. :) In any case I should have it soon. The NCC-2 option boards were in stock and shipped immediately.

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Wayne VK4ACN
    Wayne VK4ACN Member ✭✭

    I would be interested to hearing the results of the NCC-2, especially on the higher bands. I am plagued on 17-15-12-10 with interference from neighbours ceiling fans.

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    Hope you get on well with your NCC-2 Butch. You don't need me to tell you to do things slowly to begin with, especially when checking the various connections! A tip: I have found I get the best results if I set the attenuation on BOTH sides of the unit to -20dB, as I get quite large signals in from my Loop and Main Antenna. The mix/Phasing adjustments then can be made so much more easily, after which, I use the Flex 6600M gain up by +8 or +16dB to experience the best solution for me. Your antenna arrangements will be different of course, so trial and error necessary. As I mentioned before, the Flex 6600M does not offer much in incoming RF attenuation, specifically, -8dB so the signal has to be choked back by using the NCC-2.. I note that it is virtually impossible to make fine adjusts without the amazing Flex Panadaptor to give visual feedback. (I tried with a Kenwood TS440s, and gave up!!!!).

    On the subject of 17-15-12-10, I cannot offer much. I did just now try on 10m, and noted that I can get rid of some "Birdies" with the NCC-2, but as I am not really interested in those bands, I have not been too bothered. Maybe the use of a 12-bore shot-gun at the ceiling fans could solve the problem!!!

    The main application of the NCC-2 as I understand it, is for LongWave, MediumWave, and the lower HF bands, i.e. 160M, 80M, 40M, 20M.

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the suggestions Mike. I'll keep that in mind. My main noise issues are with the 160 thru 40M bands. Ideally I always like to minimize the number of "accessory connections" to the transmit side. I noticed on pages 28 and 29 of the NCC-2 manual (diagrams 2 and 3) the Transmit RF does not route through the NCC-2, but instead shows the NCC-2 inserted only in the RX side of the transceiver. This is the way I currently have my ANC-4 unit installed, and it allows me to quickly bypass the ANC-4 by selecting or deselecting the LOOP button in the ANT menu.

    I'm curious if you have tried wiring your NCC-2 through the A in/out ports on your Flex 6600?

    By the way, my NCC-2 arrived today, so as soon as I get some time I'll get the boards installed and getting it in. Should be interesting!

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    My set-up is pretty basic. I currently just use ANT1 at the rear of the 6600M for both receive and transmit. I have tried the other inputs for receive to make sure all working as expected. Whatever you decide on I would make quite sure that you have the RCA TX1 (or 2, or 3!!) ticked in the TX Band settings menu and hooked up to the NCC-2. This is to ensure you are not sending undesired picked-up RF from your transmit antenna when transmitting, back into the NCC-2 and the various pre-amps installed. Also, the link will disconnect Bias-T if you have it engaged for an active antenna for listening purposes, thus saving the antenna pre-amp from frying. It really depends also on the proximity of the receive Antennas to your Transmit antenna.

    I have never yet used the "LOOP" arrangement, as my ancient mind has yet to grasp what it does. Yes, diagrams 2 and 3 show separate feed to TX antenna. I suppose that if you really wanted to, you could use ANT1 at the rear of the Flex for, say, transmit only, and set ANT2 on the Slice Flag for receive only. Personally, I would take the easy way out and use my basic setup, as there is less to go wrong, especially if you neglect to save the setting for the slice.

    73 Mike, G4GWH

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks again for the heads up Mike. Regardless of the diagram arrangement I decide to go with, I'll make sure I run a PTT line between the Flex and NCC-2. I definitely don't want to be smoking a preamp board. hi

    There's really not much to the Flex RX Loop ports. They just allow the user the option to "disconnect" the internal relay that normally jumps the RxA In and RxA Out ports together. If you click on the ANT menu button, then the LOOPA button, you have the option to open that shorted internal condition and insert external receiver enhancement accessories such as: Band Pass Filters, Noise Reduction units, etc, which get wired in and out of the Flex via RxA-In and RxA-out jacks. The LOOPA button is normally gray meaning the RxA In and RxA Out ports are internally shorted. But if you click on the LOOPA button it will turn blue allowing the internal jumper to disconnect so external receive enhancement devices can be routed in and out of the Rx In/Out ports. And another nice option. External receive enhancement devices can easily be bypassed by just clicking on the LOOPA button again and turning it gray.

    You'll see the same basic arrangement on other other end brands such as the ICOM 7800 or 7851. But instead of software controlled in/out relay connections like the Flex uses, ICOM uses short BNC jumper cables between its Rx In/Out ports.

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Butch
    Butch Member ✭✭✭

    Hi Mike - I exchanged some information with DX Engineering today, asking specifically about the PTT wiring. I explained I was using the NCC-2 with a Flex 6000 transceiver and a Flex PG-XL amplifier which use its Ethernet connectivity for PTT. DXE stated I should be fine as long as my Amp keys just after the PTT connection on the NCC-2 is made. I currently have the Flex TX Delay set for 20 (20 milliseconds), as suggested by Flex when using the Flex amplifier. I'm curious if you are using this same TX Delay setting?

    Butch, KF4HR

  • Mike Steventon
    Mike Steventon Member ✭✭✭

    I do not have a P.A.., but I came across this on the forum:

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Dan-N7HQ FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin

    March 2021 edited March 2021

    Hello Keith, 

    Which documentation version? If it is wrong, we will definitely correct it; thanks for pointing this out. 

    The current PGXL manual uses 20ms for the recommended TX Delay value; it recently changed from a 10ms minimum with the latest firmware. Be sure to download and read the updated manual. 

    I wrote about the TX Delay and PTT delay issue here:

    Using External Amplifiers with a FLEX-6000 Transceiver - Part 1 – FlexRadio

    Here is a summary of TX Delay:

    TX Delay defines the total amount of time between PTT depress and RF being sent out the antenna port to your amp. TX Delay is always set long enough to allow for safe switching. How long that is, depends on the amplifier and other switching requirements. 

    The ACC/RCA TX output delays start with PTT, run and expire independently. 

    Consider a 6-meter scenario, where you want to engage a relay that shuts off a preamp on a receiving antenna a few ms before it keys the amp. So you might connect the preamp bypass keying circuit to TX1 with a timing value of 0 and connect the amp PTT to TX2 with a value of 20ms. 

    The TX Delay is set to 30ms here to allow 10ms for the amplifier to switch. In this scenario, once PTT is pressed, the preamp would shut off right away, the amplifier receives PTT signal 20ms later, and 10ms after that, the radio emits RF.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    I think, Butch, you would be well advised to use 30ms instead of 20ms TCX delay. It is quite a nifty feature of the Flex 6000's. I have set mine to 30ms, just to be on the safe side and I do not notice any issues at all, just allowing the TGXL to connect the relays before sending RF down the line. Also, the NCC-2 user manual shows on diagrams 5 and 6 the use of a separate amplifier, which hopefully will help clarify. Like I say, though, I do not use a P.A., as I believe, in this shack, in K.I.S.S. mode only!!!

    Further, you will have invested in the receiver-guard boards for the NCC-2, so that will also give considerable measure in protecting sensitive bits and pieces.

    As an aside, I have far greater issues with audio latency when using Windows SSDR and can find myself transmitting the very tail-end of received audio when I PTT, especially if my audio gain is set high. Luckily, I do not get this problem when using SSDR for Mac, as the audio latency is so very much better. (or, of course, using the audio direct out of the back of the 6600M).

    Cheers. Mike.G4GWH

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