How to add remote contest capability to Flex-6000 without a remote PC

Flex-6000 series is a great contest radio. However, when running contests from a remote location present SDR software cannot produce local CW sidetone unless you use the built in CWX keyer and NOT use a logger program to automate it all. Same with Flex Maestro who does produce local sidetone but you cannot integrate with a local PC contest program (easily).  Flex will eventually come up with a solution soon but till then we need a solution. The solution is the Remote Rig concept. Easy and not expensive (you may find these at the local swap market).

How to do it

You may use Remote Rig boxes to produce local CW sidetone very easily. At the remote radio end I have no PC (to risky in my opinion) only the remote rig 1258 MKII radio box. This box has CW keyer output that I connect to the FlexRadio front panel CW key input . It has also a Audio input that I connect to the FlexRadio front panel Audio output. At home base I have the Remote rig control box which is connected with a USB cable to my PC with N1MM or WriteLog. The control box automatically creates virtual COM Ports for CW keying with Winkeyer emualation (at the radio end) that I choose in the N1MM configurator for CW keying.
So when I do N1MM or WL CW keying at my home base PC the remoterig radio box keyes the FlexRadio. At the same time the audio output from the FlexRadio is routed back to the Remoterig control box at home base and I can hear the CW side tones. This works very well and is 100 % rock solid.
No VPN is required. Just regular internet. SmartLink can be used. The bandwidth required is about 300 kbit/s depending on the audio quality of the remote rig audio (there different compression levels).
With the remote rig boxes comes two COM ports that you may use to control RS-232 devices as well. Rotors, wattmeters etc. You van attach your Morse key paddle to the remote rig control box and get local sidetone as well as keying the Flex remotely.
So this is the only way today to get local CW side tone when doing remote contest CW.

RRC configuration

Here screen shots from the confuguration pages of the RRC boxes. I use COM Port 3 (COM Port 1 may also be used with a USB cable). Just find the corresponding Windows COM port (in the device manager) and use that for CW keying in the logger program. That´s all to it. 🙂

 

New contest simulator even for SO2R and Flexradio!!!

So how can one improve in contesting. SO2R is one trick. It is all about tehniques. How do you train then? Why not in a simulator. I have tested all that around that suits Flexradio. Here is how it looks like in SO2R mode with band maps showing station activities. Very handy and effective I must say. In my opinion the best Flex simulator on market today. A more detailed evaluation soon to come.

New CSS from Wayne W5XD.

Here the simulator is configured for radio 1 and at 3550 kHz and radio 2 at 3580 kHz. The “peaks” of the band maps are actual stations calling you. With the thumb wheel you can change frequency and chase  new S&P stations. I even find the simulator when doing S&P on radio 2 that “SM0HRP” was calling me. As I understand it uses the Super Partial database for simulating callings stations and I am in there after a few contests.

Please be aware that you can use CSS with WL demo version with some minor limitations. Mainly to the number of contests to choose from.

My remote set-up

This is the actual home base set-up. Expect the station monitors you may take with you on travel all these stuff.

My home base for remote ham radio. A Flex Maestro panel and a Vibroplex keyer besides a standard Window 7 computer with two monitors.

This has evolved over the years. Here is a schematic over it:

Schematic over my set-up at the radio at the remote location.

Welcome to the world of remote DX-ing and Contesting

I have been doing remote DX-inf for about five years and remote contesting for about a year. This blog will focus on enhancements to the remoting that have evolved over the last years due to internet technology.

with the new technology achievements you can easily integrate stations and accessories together  in a way that was difficult say five years ago. This also means you can easily change your layout and expand it without spending an awful lot of time on “debugging”.