RF Hardware Upgrades

I’ve finalized plans for this years hardware upgrades. After some careful consideration I’ve assembled my final list of RF hardware upgrades. 2018 has been a very busy year, but I’m finally to the point where I can devote more time and energy to the hobby side of things. I’m in the process of writing up a list of what I need to get done. I work best when I have my work sketched out and I can work through everything in logical steps. I find it helps me keep track of the details and saves me from re-work related delays.

  • Flex 6700
  • Telepost LP-500
  • LG 32UD59-B  32″ UHD 4K monitor with Ergo 45-295-026 (Monitor Arm)
  • APC BX1500M UPS
  • HDD upgrade to 500GB SSD
  • High Capacity HEPA Filter
  • W6LVP RX Loop #2
  • Comet CHA-250B Vertical HF Antenna
  • Additional Grounding and Ferrite requirements

Flex 6700

I mentioned this earlier in the year. The 6700 was the first item  added to what would become the final list of new hardware. I’m getting a great deal from Flex on a “Certified Pre-Owned” 6700. Yeah, it costs a bit more than what we’ve seen some used units sell for recently, but having Flex service is well worth it.

Telepost LP-500

I’m on the waiting list and steadily moving up in the ranks! I’m hoping the fact that I’ll need 4 RF couplers doesn’t complicate the order. Hopefully they’ll have enough on hand as I arrive at the top of the list.

LG 32UD59-B

Now that I’ve had the LG UHD 4K monitor for a while, I’ve decided I really like it. I like it enough to add a second one. Complete with identical Ergo Articulating Arm Mount. I have a thing about keeping things somewhat symmetrical . So I usually always purchase monitors in pairs. This additional 32″ monitor will serve as the primary display for the GeoChron Digital 4K. It’s stunning! Wait until you see it! It’s gonna be killer!


This will complete the back-up power requirements for the shack. As previously mentioned the existing APC will be re-tasked.

EVO 860 500GB SSD Upgrade

I’m upgrading the shack PC to Windows 10, and I’ve decided to use a larger capacity SDD for the system drive, and re-purpose the existing SSD’s to be used on the web server hardware.

High Capacity HEPA Filter

One of my main goals is to finally eliminate the dust problem. During the rack build I was able to remove a tremendous amount of dust. Likewise, during the upgrade install, I will take further action. The plan is to use an air compressor to loosen, and then collect the dust with the HEPA. Rather than attempt to loosen all the remaining dust at once, I plan to do it in installments to avoid getting choked, or the filter getting clogged etc.

Comet CHA-250B Vertical / W6LVP Loop

On the recommendation of Ron, WB6IAG, I am installing a Comet HF vertical. This antenna will add some flexibility to the station RX. I am also adding a second W6LVP Loop antenna, and putting it, and the existing loop, on rotators! How’s that for an RX improvement!

Finishing Touches!

RF Hardware Upgrades

Of course the new gear all needs to be tied into the ground bar, and have ferrite’s applied to both ends of all the new cables. Perhaps the last finishing touch with be the replacement of the ugly cardboard above the air conditioner in the window! I’ll cut a custom fit a plexi-glass insert to close up the window properly once and for all!

Last Minute Addition! Kenwood TH-D74A

The Kenwood TH-D74A is a D-STAR transceiver. It is packed with amazing features. And….it comes complete with a learning curve! I recently became interested in D-STAR after doing some research on its capabilities.

RF Hardware Upgrades
Kenwood TH-D74A D-STAR Transceiver

Flex 6700, 6500, LP-500, Arriving Soon!

I’m now #2 on the LP-500 waiting list, so it should be arriving soon. It looks like they fulfill about 10 units per week, so I’m pretty confident I should have mine next week . I joined the waiting list in May 2018. This is one of the nice finishing touches being installed for 2018.

Flex Sales and Service Dept.

I was contacted by Flex Service to let me know they expected to get to my 6700 repair  one day this week. As soon as it is ready, it will be shipped back along with the Certified Pre-Owned 6500 that I just purchased. Both these units will be arriving soon and it looks like delivery should coincide nicely with the LP-500

These three units more or less complete the shack. No more improvements for a while. It’s time to get all the shack furniture put back together and get back on the air and get to work!

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Hardware in Transit!

Some great news this weekend! The LP-500 is bought and paid for, as is the Flex 6500 and the Comet CHA-250B. I was also notified by the Flex Service Dept. that my 6700 is ready. The FlexRadio units will arrive together on Friday, and hopefully the LP-500 arrives around the same time. All hardware in transit!

These are the last few items to complete the station. Once installed, the radio rack will be moved back into the operating position, and the shack furniture will be put back into place.

I’m a week away from wrapping up all the new hardware! Hardware in transit is a good thing!

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Flex 6500/6700 Install

FlexRadio 6500 and 6700 On the Air

Flex 6500 and 6700 On the Air!
Flex 6500 and 6700 On the Air!

The Flex 6700 is back from repair, and the frequency drift problem has been taken care of. The radio is now stable and able to decode FT8 and other digital signals. There’s no sign of drift on WWV. The Flex 6500/6700 were installed today, and are now in service on the air!

The new Flex 6500 will be dedicated to decoding the various HF digital modes. I plan to move the Live SSTV Cam over to the 6500 once I have the Comet CHA-250B installed.

Flex 6700 6500 installed
Just enough space left for the TelePost LP-500

The station monitor should arrive this week. I have just enough rack space left to fit the LP-500 between the 6700 and the SPE 1K-FA amplifier. I will install the LP-500 utilizing 4 couplers to enable viewing of amplifier linearity with a trapezoidal display on both channels of the amplifier.

Single channel amplifier configuration 

The illustration above shows the configuration for a single amplifier. Since the SPE 1K-FA has two inputs (one for each of the 6700’s SCU’s) I will duplicate this configuration for the second input/channel.

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K6HR Contest Station Block Diagram

SO2R HF Contest Station Configuration

K6HR Block Diagram
K6HR HF Contest Station Block Diagram

Expert 1K-FA: At the Center of SO2R Ops

The Expert 1K-FA does all the antenna switching automatically. Fully automated, and carefully programmed, the 1K-FA greatly reduces the chance of user error. The K6HR Contest Station Block Diagram makes this SO2R setup a bit easier to understand.

The transceiver is a FlexRadio 6700 featuring two Spectral Capture Units. I utilize the two SCU’s as “two radios”, each with its own amplifier, tuner, and antenna. I designate ANT1 as the Mosley TA-33-JR-NW (for all HF bands 20 meters and above) and ANT2 as my 130ft Height Compromised HF Dipole for frequencies on 30 down thru 160 meters. Low SWR across all amateur bands!

The cool trick is the operator can move freely through the bands and operate at will via either radio. The 1K-FA’s foolproof switching ensures the TX radio will get the correct TX antenna every time. The second radio, in every case will be connected to the wideband RX loop antenna.

Data Driven via Flex USB

The Expert 1K-FA and the Palstar autotuners operate based on frequency data received from the radio. The 1K-FA and the AT-AUTO autotuners follow the radio in realtime as the operator changes frequency.

The operator only needs to turn the ‘tuning dial’ and press the PTT!

LP-500 Station Monitor

I have installed the LP-500 station monitor with 4 sensors. You could say it takes the guesswork out of getting good reports!

LP-500 Linearity Check

Leveraging the four sensors of the LP-500 Digital Station Monitor, I can ensure both amplifier channels are operating at full output, with the lowest SWR, and best linearity at all times.

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