Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Flex-6300 update, air cannon, Shack update etc....

Greetings!! Well lets get started. To summarize:
Garage and landscaping are finally complete so now I have no excuses to put up my OCF dipole.  
I have a very nice workbench now so I can get on with some of my construction projects. 
I have installed the RF amp into my, for lack of a better name, QRP accessory box. 
Flex radio seems to be working very well. 
I have done a lot of JT65 and a little JT9 in the last couple of months. 


So my first tasks was getting the guide ropes up over a couple of trees in my yard. I first tried a $5.00 sling shot but failed miserably. I could not get enough power to get the 4 oz. weight up 20 feet, let alone 70 to 100 feet. Finally one of the straps broke and that was the end of that. So what were my options?
1) bow and arrow
2) model helicopter
3) rod and reel or
4) air cannon.

Well I don't have a bow and arrow. The helicopter that I have I doubt would work. It is just a $50.00 toy I bought for my wife as a joke Christmas gift. The rod and reel I could not get and accuracy or any real height. So I settled on the air cannon. 

I bought the one from the JARC in Joplin MO. Here is a link to their website Joplin Amateur Radio Club. Probable the only downside to this was I had to assemble it myself.  I was afraid I would not get a good seal and it would be useless. But the instructions were excellent and there are several YouTube videos that help. I was really surprised how well it worked. Highly recommend it if you are in need of one. ( and can't borrow one)

It took several tries to get the rope over the trees. Try to use this on a day that is not windy!

I bought the  W8AMZ  80-6m OCF dipole with the 20 foot vertical radiator kit. It is pretty much an all band antenna, if you use an antenna tuner, which my Flex 6300 has.

The JARC Antenna Launcher

You can see the center of the OCF dipole on the left side. The wire runs to the pine tree on the right. I blew this up so up can see better where the wire goes in the tree.

This is my entry into my shack. Yes that is a toilet flange. I just have to get some steel wool to stuff into the outside to keep the critters out.

The white PVC in the center of the picture is the line isolator. I plan to attach the feed line to the edge of the roof.
Update: Tacked up the antenna wire and stuffed the flange with steel wool. Should be much more secure!

My wife is standing in front of the pine tree where one end of my antenna is attached. It is up about 80 feet, not to the top of the tree.

This is the other tree the antenna is tied to. The rope went completely over the tree. BTW my wife is 5' 5"

Shack Update:

So everything seems to be moving along OK. As you can see below, I have my workbench.

My workbench. 12 feet long and 36 inches high. Those beautiful chairs were $45 a piece. The equipment on the left is for my day job, on the right is my radio stuff.

So what things do I have left to do for my shack? Well the biggest is to get my ground in. I had the electrician put a ground rod in by the edge of the garage and a heavy gauge wire run up the the shack. I plan to install a 10 foot 1/2 inch copper pipe on the wall under the windows. I then plan to connect grounds to all my equipment that has to do with radios. I don't think I will attach my work computer to it.

Flex Radio:

The good news is they solved the direct connection issue. I can now run the latest software on my 6300 using a direct connection to my computer.

This version has a beta version of freeDV. I have used freeDV before with my Kenwood TS-520S using an interface box and the freeDV PC software. So I had a clue what I should do. However is wasn't clear how to setup the Flex at first. Then I read the manual and it turned out to be rather simple.


I finally installed the RF amp into my QRP project. It works fine. What I did discover, though, is the reason the frequency counter was having trouble with 15 meter at transmit, was because the amplitude of the signal coming from my HW-8 was dropping way down. So it probable was not getting enough signal for a reliable reading.

I am going to look at this more closely. I want to see if the other bands do the same. I will also check the HW-8 manual to see if there is a reason for that.

As a side note: My Flex 6300 makes an excellent spectrum analyzer. I was able to look at the RF output from the HW-8 to see how well it was doing.

I haven't done anymore on the Key All project or the BITX20. The Key All, I will put it the box next. Just to finish it off.

The BITX20 is the next to get done. Really there is that much to do. Now that I got some decent equipment, it should not be that hard.


I have around sixty CW contacts since my last post. That's about 2 1/2 months. Though for June I only have 3, not too good. I have been practicing using "Just Learn Morse Code" at 20 wpm with character speed at 25, though not as often as I would like.

I think that's enough for now. As I write these post I am trying to set them up in a more or less standard way. As things progress, I will get better at it.

Bye for now and thanks for reading my post!