It has been 10 months since my first FT8 contact back on 2/15/19. Working HF barefoot in FT4 and FT8 modes. The dedicated Flex 6500 puts out about 86 watts into the CHA-250 vertical.
38 DXCC Entities and WAS
As of today 12/14/19 I’ve made 1,433 ‘FT’ contacts comprised of all 50 US States and the following DXCC entities:
Canada, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Belize, Asiatic Russia, European Russia, Australia, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Canary Islands, Venezuela, Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, Cayman Islands, Argentina, South Africa, Belgium, Ireland, Azores, Hawaii, Samoa, Mauritania, Alaska, Ecuador, Chile, Dominica, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, South Cook Islands, El Salvador, Lesotho, France, San Andres Island, Columbia, and French Polynesia.
Nice Results for Part Time QRP OPS
I’m very pleased with the results I’m getting with the 6500 HF barefoot FT4 and FT8 operations. 1405 of the contacts are in FT8 and 28 so far in FT4. I installed WSJT-X v 2.1.2 on 11/28/19 and find that there is far less activity on FT4 than FT8. Nonetheless I will continue to work it as often as possible.
It will be interesting to see sometime down the line what kind of results I’ll get using the Mosley and the amplifier. The low power (QRP) operation is so much fun, I plan to keep it in place for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps a 2020 upgrade candidate to consider might be an amplifier for the Flex 6500…
WSJT-X implements communication protocols or “modes” called FT4, FT8, JT4, JT9, JT65, QRA64, ISCAT, MSK144, and WSPR, as well as one called Echo for detecting and measuring your own radio signals reflected from the Moon. These modes were all designed for making reliable, confirmed QSOs under extreme weak-signal conditions.
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning or playing on an old Fender Strat you may find this story interesting. This instrument is a great example of the so-called Holy Grail of electric guitars! Here’s how I came in contact with a very well preserved 1956 Fender Stratocaster.
I work in a music store where we buy and sell musical instruments of all kinds. It was just another day in the neighborhood one day, when a woman stopped by with her fathers guitar looking for some advice.
When I saw the case she was carrying in, I immediately knew it would be something exciting. In her hand was an ancient Fender guitar case. She explained her father was the original owner, and the guitar had spent many years “under the bed” and had not been played much. Her Dad had recently passed away and she had decided to sell the guitar.
She told us she was in the process of ‘shopping it around’ taking offers. We told her the guitar was rare and very valuable and she should be very careful selling it. She told us she had already done some research on it, and had a pretty good idea what a fair offer should be.
Time to call the boss!
This is the Holy Grail of guitars! We can’t let her leave and possibly sell it to someone else! It’s time to call the boss and make the sale happen now! We took these pictures and sent them to the owner of our company and he had a fast and simple reply: “Ask her how much she wants to stop shopping it around right now!”
We did, and an agreement was quickly reached.
Holy Smoke! We are about to purchase a super clean, all original, 195o’s Stratocaster! I don’t have to tell you this is a once in a lifetime experience for the employees in our store!
taking a ‘hard look’
On the surface everything looks perfect and we are very excited to have a look inside.
The Moment of Truth!
This guitar was assembled in October 1956. Certified Vintage!
Case Candy Included!
Inside the case we found the tremolo bar, the chrome “ash tray” bridge cover, some old cables, the case keys, and the original purchase receipt!
Flex 6700 Timeout During the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest!
Another prime example of what I call “The Luck of the Irish”! During the CQ WW WPX SSB contest today I encountered the Flex 6700 Timeout error.
The radio lost its connection to the PC, and when I attempted to restart it, it failed to boot. After power cycling, the “Calibrating” phase took much longer than usual, and resulted in the “Timeout” message shown above.
Other users with Flex 6700 Timeout
A quick check of the Flex Radio Forum showed others with the same problem needed to return their radios for service. I promptly opened a Help Desk ticket, pulled the radio, and boxed it up. Based on the forum comments, I’m pretty sure they will tell me to send it back. This has previously been reported as a hardware issue by other users. So it appears the timeout issue goes back a few years.
From Tim (in the Flex Forum 2 years ago):
“The original FLEX series radios had only one CPU. The FLEX-6000s have multiple CPUs and when the system boots it has to perform a series of initialization procedures to ensure the subsystems are communicating with one another. Part of that is ensuring the correct timing”.
Flex 6500 to the Rescue!
I just did a quick change over to my 6500 and I was back in the thick of the contest in no time flat!
Flex Radio: Famous for Great Service
I’ve had repair work done under warranty before, and have thus far had nothing but a positive experience. However, I am no longer under warranty, so it will be interesting to see what it’s going to cost to repair this problem!
More on this later…
UPDATE: 3/30/20 Flex Service Responds!
Maybe I was too quick in boxing it up!
I received a reply from Tim Ellison the first thing in the morning on the following business day. After performing a full reset, the radio still displayed “Timeout”. Tim went on to explain that the 6700 utilizes an SD card to store the radio’s firmware, and he believes the failure may likely be in the SD card.
Tim also included an instruction sheet on the procedure for changing out the suspect SD card. He suggested that if I was comfortable changing the card my self, there would be no need to return the unit to Flex for repair. The installation guide showed this was well inside my “comfort zone”, so Tim put a replacement SD card in the mail for me. Fantastic!
Great News! (If the SD Card Solves it!)
As far as I’m concerned, I’m thrilled at the idea that I may not need to ship the radio back. I’m confident that Tim and the folks at Flex Service have seen this problem often enough to know that replacing the SD card will fix it. A simple fix that GREATLY reduces my downtime!
Flex 6700 “Timeout” On the Bench
Pictured above: The Flex 6700 with the bottom panel and RF Isolation Cover removed.
It should be a simple fix and minimal downtime. Did I mention how happy I am that I don’t have to ship it back?
More on this once the new SD card arrives…
Update 04/04/20: Problem Solved!
Flex is really on top of their game in the service dept.! The first SD card Tim sent appeared to be lost by the USPS. That is, the tracking had not updated after the item was mailed out. Again, first thing in the morning, the next day, I received an email from Tim at Flex stating that he had noticed the tracking had not updated, and fearing the item may have been lost by the USPS, he sent me out another one!
Who does this?…Flex Radio does! I consider this to be “over the top” quality of service from Flex. I deal with a lot of vendors on a daily basis, and many of them are very good, but none of them compare to Tim at Flex. I’m very impressed! Did I mention how happy I am that I did not have to ship the radio back? Hi Hi!
I installed the new SD card and the radio came right back to life!
I recently read several articles about CHA-250B installations and realized I had not grounded the antenna as some of the articles had suggested. The CHA-250 owners manual doesn’t indicate a ground connection. I was following the owners manual when I installed the antenna. I was curious to see if it would have any effect on performance. So I bought some supplies and started the Comet CHA-250B ground rod installation. I first realized I was missing the ground connection when I found this schematic on the G8JNJ website:
The ground wire is connected to the coax shield using a hose clamp. The copper wire under the clamp is doubled over, to make better surface contact. An idea I got from K3DAV’s website.
All connections to the copper ground rod were doubled over, and clamped, to create more surface contact I’ve had success with the clamping idea, so I used those clamps again.
I run FT8 using a Flex 6500 barefoot into the CHA-250B. It puts out 86 watts. The CHA-250B does not disappoint! Over the past two days I have worked JA, UA0, 9Y, SP, OH, VK, UT, and KH6! Just to name a few! I now have thousands of FT8 contacts across 6 bands!
The antenna is a bit quieter, noticeably so on 30m, and the SWR is roughly the same on all bands. I can’t claim any big improvements. Static charge build-up, caused by high winds, will go to ground. Installing the Comet CHA-250B ground rod was definitely a worthwhile endeavor.
Since grounding the CHA-250 I’m noticing European stations in the FT8 monitor panel. Prior to this, I’d rarely seen any calls from the EU. Either conditions have suddenly improved, or adding the ground has made a significant improvement. With all the complaints I hear on the air about conditions, I have to believe adding this ground to the CHA-250 has caused improved performance. I’ve worked all through Europe since installing the ground.
JNOS UPTIME has never been anywhere near this number! A JNOS Uptime record has just been set!
It’s been running for over 6 months at this point. How long will it go?
What is JNOS?
From Maiko’s JNOS Website:
JNOS Is a monolithic software application for amateur packet radio (ax.25) and ip networking. JNOS’ origin traces back to Phil Karn’s KA9Q/NOS software. Widely considered as the foundation of TCP/IP over radio.
In fact, NOS was the linux of it’s time, transforming simple DOS machines into multiuser/multitasking TCP/IP environments. Also worth noting are MFNOS by Barry Siegfried (K2MF), TNOS by Brian Lantz (KO4KS), and WAMPES by Dieter Deyke (DK5SG/N0PRA) – each (including JNOS) taking ideas and bits and pieces from the others.
JNOS is first and foremost a router for ax.25, netrom, and ip protocols – ip over rf is possible by encapsulating the ip in ax.25 frames. The original JNOS v1.11f and earlier distributions do not support a lot of the features we enjoy in todays version.
Features currently available in the JNOS 2.0 distribution started back in October of 2004. Over the years, JNOS 2.0 has made it to 4 different platforms – DOS, Linux, WIN32, and Mac. Linux has been the primary development platform for years now.