Thursday, April 13, 2017

I made it to YouTube!

So I'm just a few weeks into learning my new Flex 6500. I had sold my old Bencher iambic paddle a few years back when I got the KX3 and its attached keyer. When the Flex arrived, I quickly realized I was missing a paddle except for an old straight key that WA9EIC had given me. My struggles with the straight key are a story for another day. So off to my favorite online swapmeet places...QRZ and I found an ARRL 100 year anniversary Vibroplex! This one only had the serial number engraved and not a callsign, so it was perfect purchase, and a great match with the 6500.

I had played on 40M CW on and off. With the KX3, I'm ashamed to say that I became dependent on the CW decoder. Part of it was my newness to CW, but part of it was that it was so darn easy to use...and pretty darn accurate. With the Flex, there isn't a built-in decoder. You could use any number of digital programs or a skimmer if you wanted. For now, I've sworn those off so I've been back to doing CW decoding the old way...with my head.  With the Flex, 40M CW is joy. You get on, look around, and you can SEE people calling CQ just by watching the regular pattern of their signals.

It was a quiet night at the Brown household, and I was up in the shacking playing with the Vibroplex and the 6500. Up around 7.105 was an interesting signal. It wasn't the purest CQ I'd ever heard, but a nice fist and an interesting chirp. I answered and had a short QSO. I remember it well as the transmitter the ham was using drifted after our second round. The thing went outside my filter....I figured it was QSB, but when I looked up at the panadapter I found him about 500kHz south of where we started! Being new to the Flex, it took me a few seconds to find the RIT. I got him tuned back in and found him on top of another QSO.  I kinda panicked and figured the safest thing to do was tell him he drifted a bit and then sign off  and move to another. No big deal. No harm, no foul!

Well today I get a phone call from my buddy Dennis, KE9UA. Dennis asked if I knew I was on YouTube. What??? Yep, seems that N6TLU had done a video on operating a Lysco 600, and little ole KG9DW was on the other side of his QSO! Well, now I'm famous. Or should I say infamous....

Terry is truly an interesting character, both on the air and in his videos. Here it is, my YouTube CW debut, in a supporting role in "Hammered Ham!"

Friday, April 7, 2017

Welcome to the world of Flex Radio

As I said in my last post, I sold my HF radios and bought a Flex. My 6500 arrived the day before the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest. Being a bit of a computer nerd, and a total radio nerd, I had the thing up and running in under 30 minutes. Welcome to the wonderful world of SDR!

I ended up making about 40 contacts that weekend in between other family activities and chores. It was a BLAST! If you've never worked a contest with multiple panadapters and multiple slices (receivers) then you are missing out. I was jumping around bands and busting pileups left and right!

Since then, I've setup profiles so I can switch between SSB, PSK, FreeDV, and CW setups with the click of a menu selection. I've made some audio adjustments to suit my voice and my hearing. And of course, with every new piece of equipment that enters the shack, I've redone my wiring and coax jumpers...again.

I've joined in on the Flex Radio online forums (the community) reading about tips and tricks, and a few known issues. I've also been asking my local elmers about some ideas and improvements. I'm seeing a long TODO list coming for early summer!