Can't imagine radio "the old way..." (without a flex)

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  • Updated 3 years ago
  • (Edited)
Last night I was tired. I went to bed but had my laptop so I fired up SmartSDR and panned around on 40m. 80m is just not great for me.

The cool thing about a flex and SmartSDR is you see the pileups. You don't have to hear them, you can just see them and sure enough 1 k below was the dx station. You can just see 'em!

I listened for awhile. It was T32WW down at Christma island. I didn't think I had a chance but I put my amp on 600 and gave a couple calls. Nothing... A few more tries. Still nothing. Then the pile up seemed to die down so I called again and almost immediately he came back:

ws7m 5nn

I gave him a quick TU 5NN and continued to listen. All of this while in bed with the laptop on my lap running SmartSDR and CWX.

To me this is simply amazing. I know it's been talked about before but I can literally sit propped up in bed. Control my radio and amp an make a DX contact.

Thank you Flex for a great system. I can't wait for maestro and more new features in software.
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Mark - WS7M

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Posted 3 years ago

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Duane, AC5AA

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I agree, Mark, FLEX has changed and improved the way I do radio! I'm curious what logger you're using that you were able to log the contact remotely?
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Mark - WS7M

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Duane... I'm in between logging programs right now.  I did a remote desktop to my primary computer and logged using Log4OM which is good but I don't like real well.

I am going to write my own logger as I want it to work remotely and I plan to integrate it with my control software as well which will hopefully control the flex and my amp, later my massive 900 foot tower with 400 element beam.  :-)
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Duane, AC5AA

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Thanks, Mark. I'm in the process now, starting about 2 months ago, of moving from DX4WIN to Log4OM. It's OK, and does some things really well, but it more complex than I really need. Still, it's the best fit I've found of the current crop of loggers.
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W7NGA

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A part of the ham radio experience, for me, has always been pencilling in a logbook entry. Old school pencil and paper even if not required anymore. And no issues doing it remotely! I guess I am feeling much the same way about working DX from the living room at the same time I am watching the evening news. Yes, I can do it, but no ... it's not the ham radio experience I desire. To each their own ... I've put the Flex 6500 to the side for a while and having just as much fun with the Drake and Collins twins.

I do miss the panadapter however!

W7NGA dan
San Juan Island, Wa.
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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Well Dan... to each his own.  I guess I'm a visual person so seeing the pan is a big part of the experience for me.

If you need a safe home for your Flex I can give you my address.  I'll pay shipping both ways to get it here and ship it back when you want it.  :-)
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W7NGA

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Thanks for the offer Mark, but I am using the 6500 to prop up the front of my new ART13 transmitter. Right out of a B-17 bomber with a thingie called a dynamotor attached! Whodathunkit. There are aspects of amateur radio that I find very rewarding and other aspects ring hollow. Learning about the ham on the other end and discovering details of their lives is of interest, designing and building my equipment is rewarding, and thankfully ... those requirements have little to do with the type of equipment I am using.

It's all good I suppose ... but I must say that most of the activities I read about here on this forum (10-second QSO's, skimmers and clusters, semi-automated contesting) have little hold on me. I tried JT65 and just couldn't find its soul. 

However, I DO understand that others feel differently, and that is what makes this a great hobby. Options ...

Back on the Flex next week for sure.

Have a great weekend ... I'll be on 21.43 Mhz AM or 40-meter CW, or cleaning the gutters.
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Burt Fisher

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I find the Johnson Ranger and HQ-145 to be more interesting than the 6300. With the 6000 remote feature will there be contacts while sitting on the throne?
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Mark - WS7M

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That topic was already discussed.  K1OIK / PP
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WA2SQQ

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Yes, but by 6500 sounds as good, if not better than any boat anchor radio! I do miss the glow of the tubes and the smell of hot 807's!
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DrTeeth

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I wonder if the more Flexes there will be, the lower the birth-rate will become!

I agree with Dan a touch. I do like my Flex, but I would love to have my first rig here (FT200/250) too. The thing that I do not like are clusters and skimmers. I may have to go with the flow, but I have resisted so far.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Maybe a year or more ago I commented on working Pitcairn Is. It was phenomenal, I was at the right place at the right Tim and 100 watts was more than sufficient to work Tom Christian, quite possibly QRP would have sufficed. Today that wouldn't be possible unless you happened to be the fist guy to find the dx and for a station on the other side of the planet, what would be the odds of that happening? I think skimmers fall into the same category. With skimmers though the dx station can equalize the playing field by being completely unpredictable where they listen next. It's just kind of sad though at the loss of that serendipitous aspect of this hobby.

Thank you Duane for clarifying what Guy meant by cluster. My head just didn't connect those two dots.
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Mark - WS7M

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@Guy... I'm too old to have kids... My first kid is still killing me slowly each day.  So no birthrate harm being done here.

I do like skimmers as they make it easier to see what the activity is on the band.  I still copy code myself but knowing that a friend station is just up the band without having to go listen/copy is kind of cool.

I spoke about clusters above.  I've used them, I am on the fence with them.  Frankly here is what I want and what I plan to do (actively doing right now):

Howard wanted to post DX spots in the pan adapter above the station.  I thought that was a good idea but frankly as you and Duane pointed out it has gotten massive.

I'd rather post on my pan the stations I can hear first.  To me that means decoding as best I can what my radio is hearing / seeing.  Then I'd like the option to add DX spots from a cluster by selection.

So I would like to integrate skimmer technology with my control program for that very purpose.  I want to show above the peaks I see the stations my radio is able to hear with my lousy antenna and location.

Then on the click of a button be able to post a few DX spots just to see if I can hear them.

To me that is the idea.  I mean knowing that ZZ5GAG is on 14.030 CW doesn't do me much good if I can't see or hear anything at that spot.  So I'd rather not have the spot posted.  Perhaps in a list so if I double click on it my radio will jump to that frequency is fine.

I have also been toying a little with voice recognition.  I think there is enough horse power in computers these days to feed the audio from a current SSB station into software to try and decode calls.  I think this will take a long time to do but my ultimate goal would be:

Software that connects to and controls my Flex.  Posts spots of signals I can decode on my pan.  Decoding would include:  CW, BPSK31, RTTY, JT-65, AND voice.  My goal is to make the decoders of these signals external to my software so new decoders could be added over time.

To me that would be the ultimate.  With CW and Voice you still have to use your ears and copy but I'd love to have my software/radio tell me that my friend G4DWV is just up the band on CW so I could hop over and give you a call.

Anyway, a lot of work to do this.  I'm starting on the control software now.  If I am successful I'll probably offer it forsale cheap to other flex users.  So far I have it working on PC and Mac.  I have not tried linux yet but will give that a go as well.
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Lee, Elmer

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It was T32WW. I worked him also 1 call on a Flex on my way to bed

W9OY
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Heard him....missed him...needed more power.  
My 100 Watts didn't cut the mustard at the time and frequency I was available.

Ken - NM9P
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Heard him....missed him...needed more power.  
My 100 Watts didn't cut the mustard at the time and frequency I was available.

Ken - NM9P
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Duane N9DG

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For me the "magic" of radio provided by the gear that I first used 35+ years ago is long gone from them. They now only rekindle memories and provide nostalgia. No more "magic" in them .

The "magic of radio" for me is now fully embodied in all the SDR stuff that I now run 98% of the time for the last 10+ years now. Mostly because it can now do so much more than I even imagined was going to be possible way back then.
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WA2SQQ

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I was somewhat inactive on HF for about 3 years, followed by a wind storm took my tower down. When the insurance company agreed to pay 100% of the replacement cost, out went the FT-1000MP and in came the Flex. That reignited the interest and I'm not missing those knobs one bit!
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Walt - KZ1F

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Let's investigate this further. A windstorm took down your tower? Did that 'windstorm' happen to also be known as a tornado?

I always thought windloading was in connection with the antenna. I never considered a tower anchored by 100 cubic feet of concrete particularly vulnerable.
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WA2SQQ

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No, it was a wind storm. 50 ft aluminum tower that was ~ 30 years old. I suspect metal fatigue. Folded it right in half! Thank God, no collateral damage

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Walt - KZ1F

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Were you home at the time? Did it go quietly or did it sound like a sheep being slaughtered? Not that I have personal experience with that act of violence.
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WA2SQQ

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At home, after dinner. Sounded like a few chairs blew over on the deck. Looked outside and muttered a few expletives before I went into disbelief! Called the insurance company who requested photos and a detailed list of the damages along with estimated replacement cost. Two weeks later I had a check for 80% of the cost, with remaining 20% reimbursed after it was replaced. I was off the air for about 4 months. A link to photos of the new one going up on my QRZ page
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Tendered my 6500 to the UPS guys Monday for some TLC in Austin. Running the backup Yaesu FT100 is quite the trip. Fortunately, I have good hearing since it's harder to pull signals out of the noise. However, no amount of visual acuity will help with no panadapter! The VK9CK pileup is going to be challenging.

And to think, A Hallicrafters HT-37 and Drake 2-B (with Q-Multiplier) were once my prides and joys! 

Count me as spoiled. #FirstWorldProblems!