Monday, July 16, 2018

FA-VA5 antenna analyzer received, built

I received my FA-VA5 in the mail today after a week-long delay in Chicago. Customs? USPS? Interference from Putin? Who knows, but it arrived today and went together in just under an hour.

The FA-VA5 is almost identical to the FA-VA4 that it replaced. The main difference in construction are the new analyzer's USB jack and the use of a cardboard spacer used when installing/soldering header pins.

The USB jack's small circuit board is insulated from the main board by an almost-transparent mica insulator. The circuit board is then soldered to the main board by flowing solder across 16 pads to their corresponding pads on the main board. Be sure that each pad has a solder bridge to its corresponding pad and that no unintentional bridges exist between adjacent pads.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Same Sky" on Netflix


An interesting German TV series (English subtitles available) is currently available on Netflix. "The Same Sky" is a fictional 6-part series regarding East German activities against Devil's Mountain (Teufelsberg), an American listening post in Berlin during the Cold War.

Specifically, the methodology used against the facility in this series is a "Romeo mission" - the seduction of  female western intel agent by an East German spy.

Sub-plots throughout the series offer a glimpse of what life in a Marxist/socialist country was like prior to 1989 - neighbors selling out their friends and family members for the making of a political joke, escape attempts from the East by tunneling under their "wall that protects them from the fascist West", etc.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Flex 6300 Vs. Apache Labs Anan-10e on FT8

Since buying the Anan 10E a few weeks ago I've been comparing it with the Flex. The KH1/KH7Z DXpedition provided a great test for each rig's software regarding noise mitigation, especially on the low bands with summertime QRN.

For a description of the test set-up, click here.

As might be expected, each radio/software has advantages over the other. I like SmartSDR's (Flex) presentation and ability to zoom in on a signal (or pile-up) and see detail with great resolution. openHPSDR (Anan) can zoom in as well but visual resolution seems to become a bit grainy at some point, at least compared to SmartSDR. This may seem like a small detail but it is important in how I go about working a rare DX station on CW. I like to see the pile-up in as much detail as possible in order to determine exactly where to place my TX VFO.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Farewell to the SunSDR2Pro; the Anan-10e returneth

After a week of using the SunSDR2Pro I began to realize that it wasn't the radio for me and I sent it back for a refund.The refund was issued quickly and with no fuss - I thank the vendor for that.

The radio itself seems to be a fine performer and does well pulling weak signals out of the air despite their being adjacent to stronger ones. That was the case during the All Asia DX Contest last weekend and the SunSDR2Pro did quite well on CW.

So why return it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Elecraft KX2 spectrum measurements

I brought my KX2 in to work today and had a look at it on all bands.

I had measured it before on 80 meters but made the mistake of short-pressing the XMIT/TUNE button. A long press is required to cause the KX2 to transmit a carrier.

Rather than testing the rig with a 100mW output, I used 5 watts with attenuation on the input of the HP 8563A. Theoretically, any output should provide the same results (and probably do) but I wanted to test the rig at an output level more likely to be used for actual communications.