Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Flex 1500 DX

This afternoon I had a chance to play with filters, read about various settings in PowerSDR, etc. I was tuning around 20 Meters looking for some adjacent signals to play with filters. I came across CO0LC running a string of callers from his Cuban station.

I figured "what the heck" and tossed out my call. After my first call he said "the Papa Uniform Zulu station please?" I gave my call again, we exchanged reports, etc.

Okay, so Cuba to Central Illinois isn't exactly a rare contact. But it is 1,328 miles with 5 Watts and my inverted V... on SSB no less! I'm a happy camper.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's All About Horsepower

The Flex 1500 continues to be a lot of fun. Today I confirmed that my regular ham shack computer, a 2GHz Pentium 4 with 1.25 GB of RAM isn't enough to make things run smoothly. As an experiment I switched to a Dell laptop with a dual core Centrino processor at 1.8 GHz. All the drop outs and occasional screen freezing is gone now.

This testing was all done with PowerSDR 2.0.5. Now that those problems are cleared up I'll try PowerSDR 2.0.6 and the new firmware if the thunder ever goes away so I can bring the ham shack back on line.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flex 1500 QRP Radio

Well, a new radio has arrived here at ARS N9PUZ. I've been keeping an eye on the Software Defined Radio technology for a while and this year I decided to take the plunge and pre-ordered a Flex 1500 at the Dayton Hamvention. The BBT ("Big Brown Truck") brought the small package yesterday.

The Flex 1500 is a QRP (5 Watt) version of some of Flex Radio's bigger offerings. There isn't too much in the way of hardware as the bulk of the heavy lifting is done by a high powered digital signal processor ("DSP") and a largely open source piece of software called PowerSDR.

The photo above shows the Flex 1500 perched atop my Mirage MP1 SWR/Watt Meter. I don't think I'll be needing the 2kW range for this one!

The radio itself may be small but that doesn't mean you won't end up with a rats nest of cables. Here you can see the USB cable, headphones, microphone, and key plugged in and ready for action.

Above is a shot of PowerSDR along with my CW keyboard program. Other than powering it on and off, everything about the radio is controlled through the software. Modulation, demodulation, filtering, band changes are all done in software.

That's it for now. I haven't had a lot of time to learn and play yet but I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a lot of fun!