Maestro Field Day Invasion

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  • Updated 3 years ago

Maestro arrived yesterday and I spend the evening playing radio from the couch. What a sweet unit. Very smooth and seamless operation. Even the wife was impressed that I was in the living room. (However, I didn't take Steve Hicks suggestion that I could take the maestro into the bedroom!)

As posted earlier, I ordered October 28, got the invoice last week and wondered if it would arrive in time for Field Day. Well it did. Just reading the "tea leaves", I believe Tim posted that the backlog a week or so ago, was down to 4-5 weeks and it appears FRS is rapidly closing that backlog out. Congrats FRS.

From my one night testing, FRS got it right. Thank you for taking the necessary time to do this properly.

So, the Flex is going to Field Day, for the invasion. It's an invasion, as up to this year, it's been all K3, 3 station setup.

I offered today, to set up the Flex as all of these guys have never used one (and many even seen one, except maybe at a hamcation). They are excited.

I didn't offer last year, with a computer interface. The addition of the Maestro, makes the operations much more familiar to these guys, and a better "invasion".

We've got a portable tower and beam, plus some wire antennas, plus the necessary band filters to operate multi stations. I'll be hooking to that some of the time. However I'm also taking my MFJ 1788 mag loop.

The unique element here, is you can visually see where the loop in tuned to, on the Pan Adaptor. Tuning the loop on a Flex is simply unique to the Flex. Many of the condo dwellers and HOA restricted guys are interested in that. I'm also interested if the loop, as a high Q antenna, provides enough separation, that coupled with the Flex's ability to deal with adjacent signals, we can forgo the band filters?

It's going to be fun, to expose the guys to this.

For those us you looking forward to your Maestro arrival, it was worth the wait.

Brent W8XG

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Brent Parker

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Posted 3 years ago

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Brent, be sure to post here how everything went. this year for the first time I'm taking my older Flex 3000. to field day. Most there have never seen a Flex in action, let alone the new 6000's
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Lou

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Brent...best of luck with it. FD should be a blast. Bring a bat with you...you will need it to beat the others away...

73

Lou N2TU
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Brent Parker

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It should be interesting! I got a feeling I'll be drawing a crowd.
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Don

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Sounds great Brent,

Where are you getting the Wi-Fi for operation?


Don...w2xb

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Ed Woodrick

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It shouldn't be an issue, just a small travel router should suffice.
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Brent Parker

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I'm taking an old Linksys router to just use as an access point to join the radio and the Maestro.

However, in the past I went portable with the radio and a laptop and a cable and connected the two. No, router or hub, just a direct connect. Without the DHCP handing out addresses, the radio and computer defaulted to something like 169.154.x.x (or something like that) and saw each other just fine.

I'm going to test that with the radio and Maestro, with just a cable, to see if that works too. I'll still have a spare router (access point), in the car.

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Philip KA4KOE

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Hope to have my Maestro in time as well.

FEELEEP
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Don

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Hello Brent,

Understand the router setup and radio/maestro setup. But just wonder about the internet connection.

Are you in an area where you can get the signal?


Don....w2xb


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Brent Parker

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I'm not going to use the internet, just Ethernet for radio/maestro connection. Either cabled direct or thru a hub/switch/router. Either wifi access point or Ethernet cable.

If the Maestro will "talk" over a cable direct to the radio (a laptop does), then that is the simplest. One radio, one maestro, one cable and no intervening "stuff".

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km9r.mike

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Maestro ethernet direct connect to flex would probably be best if multi rf environment. You may want to consider a separate laptop to run SSDR and a logging program simultaneously if you want to demo working cw or digi modes. The maestro can of course work cw but afaik not presently in conjunction with a third party logging program that can send cw.  Good luck w/ the invasion.
(Edited)
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Since I've never played with a mag loop, can you explain what you mean by visually tuning the loop?  What kind of loop are you using and can you tune it remotely from the operating position?
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Brent Parker

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Sure. On a typical antenna, if you are looking at say the 20m band, the background noise is maybe hovering pretty flat around the -120db line. On a Mag Loop where the antenna is resonate, it spikes up about 10 db.

On a conventional radio, you adjust the tuning capacitor on the loop, by listening to the background noise and listening for the peak, and you'll be close.

The MFJ loop (model 1788) has a remote control box, that sends signals over the transmission coax, to remotely tune the capacitor up or down. There is a fast speed button, and a slow button. There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there, but none on a flex, which is really different.

The manual has you turn first all the way to the bottom range. Then while transmitting 5 watts, you push the up button and the remote unit senses when resonance has been found and stops the capacitor. Then again while transmitting, you watch the srw and use the slow buttons to "dial it in" or fine tune it.

With the flex you can just forget all that. Look at the pan adaptor, the background will be low at say 14.150 and low again at 14.280, with a peak at 14.220. It looks exactly like a "bell curve".  Use the slow buttons and get the visual peak right on your frequency. As you push buttons, that bell curve is going to crawl up or down the band and you can see where the peak is. Your swr will be somewhere between 1.1:1 - 1.6:1, depending on how good your visual technique is. (it will get better with a little practice).

From practice, I know to switch from 20m to 40m, takes exactly 30 seconds. I first change bands on the flex. The background noise will be flat and there will not be any signals there. I push the fast down button and start counting to 30. At about 25 seconds, I'll hear the background start coming up and am ready to release as I see the peak. Sometimes I overrun. No issue. I use the slow buttons to dial it into what I want to work.

You'll get good receive signals over a span of 3/4 of the voice band, without tuning. However to transmit and keep the swr below 2:1, the width is narrow. Maybe about 20khz.

Once you visually tune, with 1 watt, you can click the tune button for 1/2 a second while looking at your swr on the flex for a final check. However as you develop this technique, you'll be comfortable with visual only.

On the flex, I keep the ATU in bypass, and all tuning is done with the antenna. There is no point in having the antenna out of tune and the ATU compensating for it.

The loop at resonance raises the background noise. However it also dramatically raises the signal. I've had a trapped dipole, a end fed zep and several other wire antennas strung on my condo balcony. Forget where the actual background noise is. Its the signal above the noise. On a wire antenna the signal might be 10db above and the loop is 18db. I've had many signal that were Q5 on the loop and not even readable on the wire.

The issue with the MFJ is you have to be physically at the station to push the tuning buttons. Ciro Mazzoni makes a "baby loop" (expensive) that has a remote that automatically tunes. There are several post her on the forum from guys looking at it, but I don't think anybody has pulled the trigger yet. I'm considering it!

The two "knocks" on loops is the tuning and the low power handling. MFJ's remote is better than manually tuning at the antenna, but doesn't present that "remote station" we all want.

MFJ loop is maxed at 150 watts, due to the capacitor size and the remote electronics. The Baby Loop is tuned automatic and does 450 watts. A Baby loop, a KPA500 solid state amp (unless Flex is going to create an amp?), and a 6000 flex, seems like the condo dwellers solution for a fully remote automatic station.

Sorry for the long answer to what seemed like a simple question.

Hope that helps,

73  Brent W8XG


(Edited)
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Thanks for the great explanation and visuals.  I've been considering a loop for my secondary shack at our cabin and that just might work.

Rick, W0FG