Upcoming SO2R Board Shots

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  • Updated 1 year ago
I snapped some pictures of the upcoming SO2R board at Pacificon.  This thing is a beauty!








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K6OZY, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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Simon Lewis

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kind of looks how I expected it to :) thanks for the pics!
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k3Tim

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In the last picture, near R68, there is a solder bridge on the last two pins of the IC.

The large white relay nearest the camera has 3 leads that missed being soldered.
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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It is a hand made prototype board, not pre-production.  Note the "P" in the serial number.
(Edited)
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k3Tim

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Hey Tim,

One can tell by the soldering it was manually completed.  Be that as it may, the electrical connections do not really care about manual / machine soldered therefore I suggest touching these up.

Here they use bino-view microscope for this sort of work and verify all connections.  In addition one can use JTAG testing to also verify shorts / opens on a PWB.  Setting up the JTAG testing is not difficult but it can find problems in netlist before production as well as PWB mfg problems. If I may be so bold and *highly* recommend using JTAG testing.

_..--
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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Graham says that the solder bridge is deliberate -- it's a correction to a layout error.  It's a heck of a lot cheaper than spinning the board ;-)
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Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

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I always find 'boards like those above works of art. It amazes me that things like this can be mass produced - I can watch videos of the process all day.
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K1UO - Larry

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I see it will plug into the Flex ACC port....   finally more station peripheral "flex"ability.
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Pat WW9R

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Each week I look for the Pre Order form on the website. I can't wait until this beauty is sitting in my shack.
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Alan W4FBI

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OK, I'll be the first to reveal ignorance. What is a SO2R Board? thx
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k3Tim

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It's a rather esoteric term that only took me 40 years of hamming, a PE, EE...  to find it meant Single Operator, Two Receivers. 

Best,

Tim
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Alan W4FBI

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Allrightythen! thx
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Greg

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Actually I believe it is single operator, two radios.  But in the case of the Flex, two receivers is probably more appropriate...  :)  In essence...with all the hardware switching involved, it lets you operate on two bands at the same time (while only having one transmitted signal at any given time).   Generally....folks RUN contacts on one band and search for multipliers on another....listening to both receivers at the same time.  It is not for the faint of heart.  :)
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Greg

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Looks nice.  Assuming this is maximized for the 6700 but also applicable to the 6500 and 6300, shouldn't there be two sets of bandpass filters?  Would not apply to the 65 and 6300 with their only one antenna input....well....both could be used with the RX or transverter antenna ports I guess.

Aside from the filters, is there a list of functionality available for this?

Tnx
Greg
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Barry N1EU

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My question exactly, WHAT IS ITS FUNCTIONALITY?

Thanks & 73,
Barry N1EU
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Greg

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Looks like it loops the Flex accy port; has two serial outputs for two amps, a header for another serial port (?) and one set of bandpass filters (should be two sets).

There should also be two BCD ouputs (one for each "radio") and possibly an icom CIV port so the system can be used with those amps as well.  It may possibly be that the AMP1 and AMP2 ports can be software configurable for either BCD or RS232.

So it looks like this covers the amps but nothing for 2x6 or 2x? antenna switching.
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K3ZJ - Dave

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This unit is intended to add SO2R capability to the -6300 & -6500 only.  With the latest SmartSDR v.1.5.1, the -6700 already is fully capable of SO2R and does NOT require using this outboard addition.  See the SO2R how-to guide for the Flex-6700 at: http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/so2r-mode-with-n1mm-for-the-flex-6700-how-to-guide-pdf/  
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Barry N1EU

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Sorry, but this whole thread is meaningless without at least a diagram showing what all connects to what all.

Barry N1EU
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Walt - KZ1F

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Ya know what might be kind of fun, especially with the reemergence of Heathkit, offer it as a kit. If it is hand assembled already that would lower production costs and get the die hards a chance to become intimately involved with their radios.
Maybe that was considered and rejected or, perhaps, not considered at all.
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Steve Jones

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I thought 4o3o was coming out with this board/box. Good to see it in devlopment but like Barry i would like to see some basic info on functionality even if its just current thinking as i am trying to design my long term station set up for so2r with my 6500. I want to change my current 2 radio 6 port antenna switch for the 4o3a 8 port one in development and buy the new 1.5kw amp so it all hooks together via ethernet control with n1mm and commander for logging.
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Jon, EA2OT

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I ́m ready to sell my other radio if this board allows me full SO2R capability with just my 6300!

The only thing I want to be sure is that I ́m able to use different antennas for RX/TX 1 and RX/TX 2, as I ́m using monobanders that are switched automatically with a 2x6 Antenna Switch.

If I ́m not wrong, the 6300 and 6500 are actually only able to work with 1 antenna on RX mode at a time (when you have more than one slice opened, all of them RX from the same antenna), I ́m very curious of how this board will allow to use 2 different antennas for RX/TX.

I know there was more information about this board on the flex insider newsletter, but I was not subscribed (now I am!) so if someone can give more light to the 2 antenna functionality it will be more than welcome.

Is there a way to access old Flex Insider Newsletters, or can someone send me this newsletter again? ea2ot(at)yahoo.com

Thank you!

Jon, EA2OT
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Barry N1EU

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2R means two antennas means two ADCs.  You're not going to be able to do SO2R with one radio with only one ADC.

Barry N1EU
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Barry N1EU

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I stand corrected.  Sounds like magic, 2 antennas simultaneously feeding one SCU/ADC!
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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This board provides several important functions:
  1. Simultaneous receive and transmit band-pass filtering.  When you transmit on one band and receive on the other, both the transmitter and receiver will pass through a band-pass filter to ensure the best isolation between the TX/RX.
  2. Additional antenna input.  When the box is hooked to an existing FLEX-6000, in "consumes" the ANT1 output of the radio and provides in return an ANT3 and ANT4 input.  Form this point forward, this provides an extra antenna input
  3. Dual resonant antenna receive even on single SCU radios.  The additional antenna ports (ANT3 & ANT4) are band filtered then combined when in receive and sent to the single SCU in the radio.  This allows for two antenna reception on radios that have a single SCU.
  4. BCD band data output for two bands at the same time
  5. Two sets of keying, ALC and TXREQ (inhibit) that may be connected to two disparate amplifiers allowing each of the two bands being worked simultaneously to have an amplifier connected
  6. Transporter bypass to allow connection and use of a tranverter(s) when not operating in SO2R mode
  7. Software to support full SO2R operation with a single FLEX-6000 radio.

The objective of the SO2R box is to enable the many single-op contesters to become more competitive by enabling SO2R capability at a price point that is far lower than the current bar with other radios (more than 2x the cost of a single op station).  So the other indirect benefit is that the requirement for an external box to control two radios is no longer required.  For example, today if you used two radios for SO2R, you would need to plug your single microphone and paddles into a box that will switch them between two radios.  For any sort of CW or voice keying you also needed to use this box to handle this capability.  By providing SO2R capability in a single radio, none of this extra external equipment is required. 
(Edited)
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W7NGA

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Thanks Steve - great explanation.
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Jon, EA2OT

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Thank you Steve!

This sounds really good! I will have lot of stuff to sell when this board will be available: 1 radio, 2 bandpass filter boxes, and one SO2R box!

I hope it will be available very soon. Lot of contesters I know are waiting for something like this from a long time ago, so I think FlexRadio will have lots of new customers when this board will come to life.

Keep up the good work guys.

Jon, EA2OT
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Bill -VA3WTB

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It is becoming clear why the 6000's were engineered the way they are, so much can be done with them. And this is just the tip of the ice burg. 
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Greg

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Does the tx antenna have to cover both bands in use or is the box switching between antennas 3 and 4 for tx based on the ssdr tx flag?
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Steve Gw0gei

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Thanks for the update Steve, that's very helpful. If I have understood this right, with my 6500 I may be able to connect both of the so2r box antenna outputs to radio a and radio b ports of my existing 2x6. Port antenna switch and then direct which of the six antennas connect to radio a and b - either manually with my existing manual switch or auto via. Band data output from the so2r box . This sounds like it would save me buying both a bandpass set of filters and a traditional so2r. Type box and avoid having to use my traditional back up radio (ic7400)? In the short term it would also save me having to change to the new 8 antenna port Ethernet antenna switch as I can control my existing microham. 2x6 port switch with band data output . If that is correct then it will save me buying a lot of new kit , and if collaboration is going well with n1mmplus authors then hopefully we will also eventually see more integration in the contest software. And maybe a move to Api control and away from traditional cat control?

Am really glad that flex are. Doing so much to help us contesters up our game on so2r so we can take full advantage of the superior rx filtering and bandscope etc which we already enjoy. I have tried so2r with my ft1000d and pro3 but found the microham mk2r+. So2r box too fiddly to set up for data work , and therefore am currently just using my 6500 in so2v mode with the second slice. Works well but. The so2r ability to search and pounce on one band whilst cqing on the run band is a major advantage. ( once you get over the learning curve!) so I am keen to get back on it .

As one of the few people in uk using flex 6000 radio for VHF and HF contesting I would be happy to volunteer to test the new unit when it's finalised
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K3ZJ - Dave

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Steve GW0GEI:  You probably will still need external bandpass filters, same as now, if running an amp.  Flex worksheet is helpful for calculating how much additional attenuation may be required.  ("FDX" (full duplex) = what we contesters consider to be "SO2R".)  See: http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/flex-6000-fdx-power-calculation-worksheet-pdf/
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Steve Gw0gei

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I can understand why that might be necessary although in the case of our uk 80m series contests there is a qrp section and the ability to. So2r on the same band via well separated antennas. May be possible without external bandpass filters?
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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[...] And maybe a move to Api control and away from traditional cat control?

Some loggers / software have already switched.  This is really a decision for the particular logger or other software team.  The key benefits to switching are more precise control and the ability to see and do more things (you could measure power out, show panadapters, use more than two slices, etc).  But we're recently updated CAT (due out in v1.6) to provide more functionality for contest loggers which will also enhance the integration and functionality.  More than most, we certainly understand that every team working on software has to decide where to invest and the benefits of that investment and we respect that every team needs to make their own decision based on their priorities.

Thanks for your offer to help with testing, Steve!
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Steve Gw0gei

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Noted Steve and yes I am aware that dxlab commander now supports the Api - I am currently starting to play. With dxlab to see if I can live with it as a replacement for logger32 for general logging. It has some nice features including the ability to. Swap or equalise the two slices. About to buy a new shack PC here so it may be the time to take the plunge and daily log on dxlab . N1mmplus is used for all of my contesting on HF and VHF so I do hope they will facilitate the API at some stage to integrate it more with flex radios. Last years winter project was trying the flex 6300 - this winter it will be. Learning to integrate my 6500 better and making better use of the logger and contesting software . Always learning
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Steve Gw0gei

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Some further queries regarding the new box - if I use qrp power levels and my antennas are well separated say on 80m with a 1/4 wave vertical plus a low dipole - will I be able to do in band so2r ?

Also, as I contest on 6m and 4m (via tvtr port) is it possible to plug two different 6m yagis ( with some distance between them and facing say NE and SE ) into the so2r box ports 3 and 4 , so I can receive in two directions at same time? And then choose which antenna to tx on ?

If the box is not quite in final version is it possible to enable tx onto both port 3 and 4 at the same time so I could split the tx on 6m equally between the two ports and feed two amps , one on each antenna , to two different directions at same time , and (ideally) choose to rx just 3 or just 4 or one in each ear as I currently do with so2v? That would really be the icing on the cake for me as it would replicate what we currently have to do with external relays and two radios in VHF field day on 2 4 and 6m . To be competitive on VHF in uk you really need to be able to feed tx into two antennas or stacks with an amp on both and then rx on both antennas with the ability to switch rx so both ears are on one stack or the other once it's been established which direction the caller is calling from, currently we use a lot of external. Audio switching with two operators to achieve this with two traditional radios. If flex can make this possible with the so2r box and software enhancements in ssdr it will be a major advantage and selling point to VHF and UHF. Contesters ..
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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Some further queries regarding the new box - if I use qrp power levels and my antennas are well separated say on 80m with a 1/4 wave vertical plus a low dipole - will I be able to do in band so2r ?  

In band SO2R is all about the separation between the antennas and the isolation in the radio.  I recommend using ANTx for one and XVTR or RXA/B for the other antenna port as the isolation is ~50dB higher.  The best thing to do is just try it at 1W and see what kind of levels you have in the receiver with your setup.  The radio is calibrated at 1W so you should be able to calculate the isolation easily knowing that your power output is very close to +30dBm.

Also, as I contest on 6m and 4m (via tvtr port) is it possible to plug two different 6m yagis ( with some distance between them and facing say NE and SE ) into the so2r box ports 3 and 4 , so I can receive in two directions at same time? And then choose which antenna to tx on ?  

You could do this on a FLEX-6700, but on a 6500 and 6300 you cannot predict the phase difference in time of arrival of the signal to different antennas.  This will depend on multipath and the direction of travel (which antenna gets hit first and how long in advance).  You could easily end up with a net gain on one signal while cancelling out the signal right next to it and you would never know it.  In other words, the same signal on the two antennas could hit the combiner 180-degrees out of phase and exactly cancel out before it gets to the receiver.  

If the box is not quite in final version is it possible to enable tx onto both port 3 and 4 at the same time so I could split the tx on 6m equally between the two ports and feed two amps , one on each antenna , to two different directions at same time , and (ideally) choose to rx just 3 or just 4 or one in each ear as I currently do with so2v?

This is beyond the scope of what we will be doing with this box.  I really think it would be better to have to phase coherent transmitters that you can drive independently to alter the polarization.
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Steve Jones

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Thanks Steve, i intend trying in band so2r with qrp on 80m once I have finished tuning my 80m vertical and used the worksheet with the seperation distance.

On the two 6m antenna query i can understand your point if they were receiving the same signal but if they are two sharpish 7 ele long boom yagis facing ne and se from my position here on west coast of Wales, i would not usually hear a signal from se on the ne facing yagi and visa versa - so in that situation with new port 3 and 4 could i not hear both directions in full duplex and one to left ear and one to right?

Since my upgrade from 6300 to 6500 I now have the option of trying in band so2r on 4m with the 10m if tvtr feeding one yagi for tx and the second yagi on port a for listening and search and pounce to fill my n1mmplus bandmap on the second yagi in a different direction. I havnt had time to test this yet but will line up different beacons on both antenns in different directions to see if it works in fdx mode.

On the 6700 i can see the upgrade to that would enable me on 6m or hf to rx on two different antennas for diversity on a and b port with the two scu. Diversity is a facility which may lead me to sell the 6500 and buy a new 6700. Is it possible with the 6700 for the tx drive to be equally split between the two ports or does the physical design inside prevent this ever being allowed ? - in which case i would need to split the tx from a single port via an external system as we currently do on vhf fd.

I appreciate your time in answering these queries as it helps me decide whether the new box is the way to go or an upgrade to 6700.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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The filters in the SO2R box are contest band filters so 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10.  There is not a 6m band filter in the box.  So on 6m you would be in bypass -- no filter in line.  If there is truly separation between the two antennas where they would not hear the same signal at about the same level, you would probably be OK.  If you think you could combine the two antennas at the antenna and be satisfied, this would have roughly the same effect.  I believe a good way to test this (don't hold me to this) will be to connect it up as you say, set your output power to zero and then engage the transmitter and look at the receive signals.  The would disconnect the transmit antenna from the combiner and allow you to receive on a single antenna.  You could listen to stations and determine if it is having the effect you want (not adversely affecting signals from each antenna).

There is no built-in mechanism to split the RF output across two antennas in the FLEX-6700.
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Steve Gw0gei

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Thanks for all the clarification Steve, that's great.
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Barry N1EU

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Dual resonant antenna receive even on single SCU radios.  The additional antenna ports (ANT3 & ANT4) are band filtered then combined when in receive and sent to the single SCU in the radio.  This allows for two antenna reception on radios that have a single SCU
I suspect this is a stretch, but could this potentially allow stereo diversity reception (listening to one signal simultaneously through two antennas) on a single SCU radio?

Barry N1EU
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Steve Gw0gei

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Ditto - is this project going ahead this year or has it been delayed / stopped?
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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I would appreciate a official answer.
Thank you very much
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Unfortunately, at this time we are not prepared to make any public statements on the availability of the SO2R product.  We hope to have an official answer later this year.
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Steve Gw0gei

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Noted , thanks
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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Thank you very much
73'
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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So what was this, really? A set of BPF modules? I ended up going the 5B4AGN route. It's a kit (you can buy it assembled) but it works really well. 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Ria I wasnt aware Bob was selling assembled units, can you share your info on this with me?
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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What about sharing with all?
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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There is a yahoo group called "TX BPF" which is where you will get info about ordering, or you can contact bob directly on his email which is on his QRZ page. He's selling assembled units and kits, not sure how many he has left (I built one of mine and I'm building the other). He used to have a website but took it down. I think the cost for assembled is around £450 plus shipping. Kit is about half that price. It has a good bit of SMD soldering for the bypass caps and also zener diodes for the band decoder module. We have a full rework station so it's not a problem for me. A temperature controlled soldering station, tweezers and magnifier should get you where you need to be though.
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Ranko 4O3A also sells high power BPFs if you wish to go that route but being higher power they are more expensive.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Thanks Ria.