Thursday, May 15, 2014

DXing with the Flex 6300

I've been using the Flex 6300 for about 6 weeks now.  I was part of the alpha team and was not able to talk about the radio till May 9th.  As time goes on I will talk about aspects of the radio.  Tonight I want to speak about the remarkable DX capability of this radio and the ancillary programs.

I started using Log4OM as a general purpose logging program.  I have been using DXLab but found some instability between SmartCat which is Flex's CAT interpreter and DXLab's commander.  This program uses OMNI rig to interface to SmartCAT  and is stable.   I will quickly run the the few programs needed to turn this radio into a dynamite DX blaster.  Remember to right click a pic and open in a new tak if you want a close up view use ctrl-mouse wheel for zoom

Log4OM is a new program to me.  It is a full featured logging program.

Above is a shot of the logger and the cluster screen.  I am using VE7CC cluster in this example.  One can show all spots or filter a band/mode.  Here is filtered 30M.  When you click a spot the radio through OMNI rig is brought up on the DX freq and the callsign and country reports name etc. are pre-loaded into the data fields.  You can edit these before the contact is logged.

Here is a shot of the world map with gray line.  Stations in the filtered cluster are displayed as red boxes on this nice map.  The data is transferred to the radio by Omni rig and SmartCAT (part of the Smart SDR suite).

Omni Rig is one of Alex VE3NEA's creations and is a general CAT interface used to connect radios to various other of his programs.  In this case I am using the PowerSDR CAT command set.

SmartCAT is Flex's virtual port program  It provides the control link between Omni Rig and Log4OM.

In addition I am using  2 instances of CW skimmer, one for each open slice.

Skimmer is another of Alex's dynamite programs.  It provides a "skimmerfall" of CW signals scattered across the band and each skimmerfall can control its own slice in the radio by simply clicking on the desired CW signal.  Skimmer also decodes morse and displays call signs and 599.   Decoding becomes an important aspect of point and shoot hunting. 

To get multiple skimmers you need these ancillary programs.  Above is DAX which is part of the SmartSDR suite.  It provides the channels of I/Q from the radio needed to drive the visual information on the skimmerfalls.  The I/Q data is 96000 hz wide (96khz)  a big chunk of the CW band.

This little puppy is SDR-Bridge written by Ed W2RF.  It is a very robust program that controls skimmer and WriteLog via Telnet, a less fragile connection than CAT.  This program works great!  With these programs all linked up you have tremendous control in a pile-up on 

Here is a shot of the Aland Is. 30 M OH0BCI pileup on 10110.4,  The DX is in the top slice and the right skimmerfall.  The DX is placed in the panadapter and skimmer by clicking the entry in the cluster screen upper left.  When clicked you can see the log enters the call sign, time, report, band, mode, and other incidentals like name may be entered.  This contact could also be reported out to the cluster.

You see the DX in the upper panadapter and waterefall at 10.110.385.  I tuned off slightly to peak the station in my 100 hz filter.  I turned on the APF in DSP and peaked the DEX signal.  I then locked this panadapter so the DX is always present no matter what gets pressed.  The transmitter is controlled in the lower slice, and is displayed in the left skimmerfall.  I merely look around for the 599 or look for the callsign of the station I hear the DX working and click that and my transmitter is on freq for a call.

Here is something really cool.  If you look closely at the right skimmerfall you can see EI6JK at 10.109 working DX simplex.  I simply click his call in the cluster box to load his info in the log and click the right skimmerfall to put my transmitter AND the second slice B receiver on his freq.  I have OH0BCI in slice A and EI6JK in slice B.  The transmitter in this case goes with slice B.  In 1 call I have EI6JK in the log.  If he had been working offset I would just click on the XIT to send the transmitter up. 

 I then mute slice B click the transmitter back up to the OH0BCI pileup and 2 calls later he is in the log.  Three calls and a couple of clicks and mere seconds and 2 DX stations are in the log!  An example of the SO2R versatility of this radio!!  It also points out the even greater versatility of the 6500 and 6700 more slices more binary pairs of SO2R!   At some point its hard to wrap your mind around the possible parallel processes.  Its efficiently manipulating parallel processes that win contests and maximize log entries. 

I can't get over how much fun this radio is to operate!!