ARRL DX Phone Win

  • 13
  • Praise
  • Updated 3 years ago
First M/2 using Flex 6500/6700 and Maestro

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Craig K9CT

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Posted 3 years ago

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Jim Jerzycke

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Jd Dupuy

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Congrats N0IRS!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Already rubbing your win into N6KI....
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Mike NA5U/K5D/K1N

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Thanks for the intro to Flex and CONGRATS!
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Javi LU5FF

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Congrats Craig and group Fb new, Javi LU5FF
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Kari Gustafsson SM0HRP, Elmer

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Impressive. Something to share when coming to the land of vikings beginning September !! Good weekend.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Fantastic Craig!  Congratulations!


Steve K9ZW

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Mike - N1MD

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Well done!

Mike N1MD (YCCC)
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Koji Oyama

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Great ! Congrats !!

-- Koji Oyama, JP1HUJ & AI7HU
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Congratulations Craig, I know Flex and all of us are very excited the word is getting out....  Can you say a few words about how FLEX made the difference, assuming it did....
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Craig K9CT

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Thanks! First of all, I had a team and didn't win by that is probably the most important aspect. I did not tell the team that they were going to be using Maestro interface until they arrived. I spent little time giving them instruction before we started the contest. This is a big deal as all the operators thought the interface was intuitive and easy to use. Very few questions and they figured how to use with no instruction or manual. 

All of the operators noted the audio quality improvement from the previous setup. We had so many issues using the MKII interface and the K3. Hum, RFI, and poor audio were common issues almost every time. I had spent considerable time trying to get a good quality tx and rx audio. Needless to say, being able to "Record on the Fly" using the Flex interface with N1MM was a dream using the DAX. Both RX and TX quality are superb with the Flex setup. 

I know that the K3S has a USB interface now and I believe that the need for an interface is unnecessary. However, there is definitely an important difference in RX audio. This is important because the long hours of contesting take a toll on your ability to be alert and not make errors. Audio that has a higher distortion element wears on an operator. Flex excels in higher audio quality mostly because of radio architecture. 

The S&P operators loved being able to tap the screen and jump to the next station. This was not something that was on our radar screen when we switched. However the high resolution screen was commented on many times as a great tool. How did we do without it before? This is definitely an advantage over most other radios. 

Ergonomics is helped. No way to calculate how much it helps an operator but it is convenient to have the radio next to the keyboard. No reaching over or away from the keyboard can save a few milliseconds here and there. 

As a station builder, this is by far the simplest setup for any ham radio station. You can do so much so easily with little cabling. I can switch from the Multi-operator setup to SO2R in about 2 minutes. No way can any other radio setup do this with ONE radio. 

One of the main reasons I switched to this setup is what is in the near future. Standby for more reasons to switch to Flex. Multi Client and Power Genius XL will be a big deal. I also like the idea of having team members be able to remote in and help out. 

I also have to give props to the FlexRadio team. They have been very supportive to the contest community. I know they had no idea how fussy contest operators are. The expectations are very the behind the scenes tweaking in the hardcore contesting community is tedious. There is a payoff for all operators regardless of their interest in contesting as you will see continuous improvements in latency, cw operations, etc.  The more radios that Flex sells the more FlexRadio can afford to do going forward. 

This is probably too long winded of an answer and I still may have overlooked some important aspects....but you get the idea. 

73, Craig K9CT
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Lee, Elmer

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Great comments.  How many Flex/Maestros are you running at your station?

73  W9OY
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Craig K9CT

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There are two 6500 and two 6700 each with their own Maestro for M/2. I have one other 6500 and Maestro on VHF. The station looks like the Flex advertisement in CQ and QST.

Ultimately, I will have two Maestros per radio when we get multi-client. Then I will move two radios to other positions. 
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Ron Rosson

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Great Job by you and your team!!!
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Thanks Craig for the for the detailed explanation.  Impressive that the non-FRS operators came up to speed so fast, winning #1 out of the gate, with more to come in the future...  
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Ken W9IE

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Another GOOD Job Craig....   
You and others are sure helping to advance the hobby along with the Flex Equipment.

One thing to remember as you have mention'd  before.

THE FLEX 6000 Series and Maestro are not just a Winning combination but a

Ken   W9IE
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John - AF3K

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Craig, Thank you for that detailed and very interesting explanation. Congrats on the great results. I'm sure many of us are
looking forward to hearing more about "multi-client"! from Flex!
John AF3K
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Ken - NM9P

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Nicely done, Craig, et. Al.!
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W5XZ - dan

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great job, Craig and team.  speaks well of your antenna farm, and operator talent also.

73, w5xz, dan
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Craig, congratulations and thanks for sharing your win with the community!  All I can say is to reinforce your statements about the future and with Flex radio supporting the contesting community along with everyone else.  We are a fickle bunch to be sure.  There is some great stuff in the works!
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In 2015 your score was 7,697,088 compared to 6,871,476 this year. This is over a 10% decline. For comparison on propagation, the usual suspects K3LR and W3LPL did more or less the same (2-5% improvement compared to 2015). Where do you see Flex being a better radio compared to your previous setup? What contributed to a decline in your score?

Further, K9CT had twice as many ops as the #2 station K1CC, yet there is only a 200K difference in scores. How did the number of ops play into the final score and what was the Flex's impact?
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Craig K9CT

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There is a general decline in scores because of propagation over last year and especially the year before. Our line to EU is through the AU oval and any higher K or A index effects us more than anyone east of us. The east coast enjoys propagation that we will never get. They have sunlight at least 60 to 90 minutes longer per day of the contest and a path to EU. If you are running at 200 to 300 per hour on two radios, that is a lot of QSOs to make up! 

Our only possible way to win is to use four radios as much as possible. We also have to make sure we work every possible multiplier. You should note that we quite often rank very high in that category. So being able to use two radios at a time on the same band is extremely important. TX phase noise and antenna separation are key to success in this regard. The 6500 and 6700 are excellent in TX and were better than the K3. However, the new synth board on the K3 has improved their performance to about equal. Note that other radios are generally not as good. This is information that you must look for. 

The Flex radios make using two radios on the same band very easy. There is built in TX special interfacing necessary. The future path of multi-client will reduce the radio requirement by half! Not only that we will be able to hear our partner's audio while we are operating to improve interleaving our QSOs. When you are doing partner same band, one is calling cq and running contacts while the other operator is working S&P. So when the run op is working a station, the S&P op can drop his call and work another station during a run qso! We do this all the time and make many more qsos than a single run station can make. 

The optimum number of operators with a four radio setup is six for us. Sometimes we have more or less because someone may have to leave early or can only operate part-time. Two guys are running all the time and you have partners on the same band interleaving qsos or working multipliers. Two operators are resting waiting for their turn. Sometimes we have a newbie and he/she is getting some experience. I am sure that the stations that have less operators have either fewer radios or antennas or could not get enough ops to man the radios. This happens all the time. I plan way ahead and get commitments as early as possible. Take a look at the calendar and you can see lots of holiday conflicts. 

The reason that there are few M/M stations is because of the hardship of finding operators. Good operators..... M/2 is a more difficult technical setup and requires some strategy such as band changes...however needs less operators. 

The biggest impact of Flex radios will be still to come. Multi-client, partner audio and shared amplifier (Power Genius) will half the cost of Multi-operator setups. I can see where scores will increase with more Maestros on the same radio using the available slices and increasing the qso rate. 

Now if Flex could write some software to better the propagation......look for declining scores in the next few years. It will be much more difficult for the US midwest stations to compete because of the short openings (or no opening) on the higher bands
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Having better tools during the solar minimum will be key in squeezing things out.. and seeing when otherwise dead bands spring to life and being the first one there to take advantage!