Thursday, April 9, 2015

Getting off my rear end (projects), more on Flex-6300, shack and BITX20 update

Flex adventures:

A little back ground on my setup first:
My Flex radio is connect via Ethernet directly to my computer. I use a USB wireless adapter to connect to my wireless router for network and internet access. This way the radio has exclusive use of the computers NIC card. Now for my adventure!

When Flex came out with version 1.4.0, I waited to install it on my radio. As I suspected there were bugs. A few weeks later, they came out with version 1.4.3. I thought this one might be OK to install. These quick minor releases usually have most of the oops resolved and are usually more stable. So I figured it wold be OK to install.

So  I installed it and as per usually new firmware had to be downloaded to the radio. All was going well until it finished downloading to the radio and it was suppose to connect to the radio. It didn't.. It just hung. Nothing worked. I power cycled the radio and the computer. I tried to download the older version but it wouldn't let me. I figured it was toast and I would have to ship it back to Flex to get it fixed.

I decided to open up a service request at Flex to see if I could get the problem resolved. After several emails back and forth, It was discovered that the new software in the radio was not coming up with the correct I.P. address. It should be 169.254.X.X. However, it was coming up with 172.30.X.X.

None of the recommendation by Flex would get my radio to connect. Finally what I did, for no good reason, was to plug the radio into my router and not directly in the computer. This force the radio to acquire a new I.P. address and the radio would then connect as it should.

However, this was not a good solution. The audio would drop out randomly for several seconds at a time. I then tried using a spare router to connect the radio to the computer directly. This seems of work very well. No drop outs at all. However, I lost my internet connection. Plus it was kind of a kludge.

But at least I was able to download the old software and get my radio and internet working again. It's too bad. I thought the audio for CW and PSK31 were much better in 1.4.3. For PSK31 I could use the DAX channel and have very good decode. unlike 1.3.8 where I had to use the headphone audio output to get good decode.

Kit Projects:

I assembled the Key All circuit form . See photo below. Wasn't a big project only 5 components to solder onto the circuit board. It worked as advertised. Eventually I will install it into the tin box that you can see at the top of the picture. But since I got my Flex radio, I don't use the Kenwood much. So the Key All isn't as critical as before.

Key ALL connected to my CW touch Keyer

I also solder the components on to HF RF amp kit I got from . I made a couple of mods to it. The first was to change the resister from Vcc to the base of the transistor so I could use it at 12 volts. Second, I inserted a pot in the output so I can adjust the output level. I intend on inserting this amp between my HW-8 and the frequency counter. Hopefully it will make the counter more stable on the 15 meter band.

HF RF Amp fro

With my Flex 6300, I can operate JT65, PSK31 and CW and 20 meters.. sort of. I keep the power level down to about 50 watts and that makes my keyboard, mouse and air exchanger happy. This at least gives me another band.

Shack update:

Well Winter is finally leaving. My contractor stop by the other day to start getting things ready for finishing the outside and some other things. Today a load of siding was delivered. As soon as the snow is gone and  I have my access hole for my outside antennas, I put up some outside antennas. I was thinking of an OCF dipole as one antenna. Any suggestions? I will probable put the Fan dipole outside also. I will probable put up the Slim Jim J pole for my 2 meter rig. Couldn't get it to work with the antenna in the attic. Hope this will change when I get the antenna outside.

BITX20 project:

Alex, PA1SBM at PA1SBM, the life of a dutch radio amateur.... has finally gotten back to his BITX20 project. I have been following his progress for over two years now. He has resolved many of the issues I have faced. His blog has helped me quit a bit with my project.

As usual I have been doing CW ,JT65 and PSK31. I was able to work the  CW Fun Event . I like this event. It is a lot like the SKCC sprints. Low stress and high fun.

Well all for now.

BTW my contractor started to work yesterday but we got 4 inches of snow over night so I guess he won't be back for awhile.