I have always been a “Mac” guy, but it has been difficult to do all the things you want to do in amatuer radio and stay in the Mac environment. Running a FlexRadio 6300 has meant a windows computer needs to be the centerpiece of the shack, until recently. I have the Maestro control head and that makes it possible to run the Flex without a pc. However, if using a logging program with rig control, a pc is back in the picture. Now – with the addition of a dynamic antenna that needs band data info to model the elements, additional pc programs are needed (ddUtil) to send band data from the Flex to the Steppir control head.
Enter MacLoggerDx and dogparkSDR. Don Agro, VE3VRW, has now created a complete solution for the Mac user that wants to run a FlexRadio, Steppir dynamic antenna and stay in the Mac environment. Logging and station control, including rotor control, all seamless. No PC (windows), no driver nonsense, no windows port configuration, no intermediate virtual software to facilitate comunication. It all works over ethernet.
The KIO hex beam has worked well here at the K2ADA Radio Ranch. Now that we are here most days, I began thinking about an upgrade. Since my primary rig here is a Flex 6300, a multi band yagi or log periodic interested me. Both would “listen” to all bands with a single coax run and I could open multiple slices on the Flex. However, both also have compromises. A mono band antenna for every band would of course be the ultimate, but I didn’t want the multiple towers and switching that would be required.
A dynamic antenna. The Steppir has been around for awhile now. The 3 element (w/ 40m option) will not pose a problem for my Universal 50ft tower and Hygain rotor, and after several months of thinking and rethinking, I pulled the trigger.
Assembly is really straight forward but the instructions could use some attention. Steppir has updated the documentation of each option and sends each as an addendum to the basic build. This is a little confusing and requires a lot of extra work to assemble the antenna correctly. A phone call to one of the Steppir techs cleared everything up and the build took me about 3 days. Working several hours a day.
Here are some photos (thanks Annie) of the assembly, and the removal of the hex and raising of the Steppir:
Steppir needs to rethink their assembly documentation
KIO Hex beam.
Steppir element tubes
Steppir boom and EHU (stepper motor).
The entire boom assembly
40m driven element
a 60ft lift was used to retrieve the Hex antenna and replace it with the 3 ele Steppir
the completed Steppir is visible in the foreground
Thanks to help from a neighbor, we raised the Steppir, and attached it to the existing mast
I’m getting use to the time it takes the Steppir to “remodel” itself for each frequency change. Signals have been strong and reports have also been good.
I’m really loving the FlexRadio 6300. It’s a joy to operate, and the display makes easy work of spotting stations on the recent 6 meter openings. Flex just announced the Maestro Control Console. Here’s more info from Flex:
● Optimized workflow for contest/DX operation
● Desire for SDR benefits with physical controls
● Simple portable/remote operation
● No need for a PC
Maestro provides just the right physical controls (knobs and buttons) along with a brilliant 8 inch HD touch display to allow you to operate efficiently anywhere on your home LAN from the shack to the patio. Some of the world’s top contest/DX operators helped us design the control surface ergonomics and workflow. Whether you are a serious contester or a casual operator, we are confident you will find that Maestro will enhance your operation as well.
I will be using the call: K4I on Saturday May 9 (Friday night – Saturday afternoon) as part of the US Islands program. I’ll be operating from Merritt Island Florida, FL043S.
Here’s more info:
Hams Hit the Water for the new US Islands Awards Program’s “One-Day Getaway” – Saturday, May 9, 2015
February 19, 2015
Fans of portable ham radio are encouraged to grab their equipment and head for the water as part of the new “One-Day Getaway,” sponsored by the US Islands awards program. The annual event will make its debut on Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 0000 UTC through 2359 UTC (Friday evening to Saturday evening in the continental US).
Founded in 1994, US Islands promotes portable ham radio operations from islands found in all bodies of water: lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and coastal islands in US territorial waters. The One-Day Getaway is an on-air activity, not a contest: no scores are tallied and no prizes are awarded. Participation from all radio amateurs, regardless of experience level, is encouraged.
“US Islands is a great way to go on a mini-DXpedition without spending a lot of money,” said US Islands Awards Manager Jay Chamberlain, NS4J. “Discovering islands in your own back yard and setting up a station outdoors is always a good time. If hams have only operated outdoors during Field Day, we offer another route to get outside and enjoy portable ham radio in a different way.”
Contacts can be made with any station; US Islands offers achievement awards for both island activators and island chasers, including a certificate for your first US Islands activation.
While there are over 2,800 islands on the US Islands list, there are more than 17,000 islands within the United States. Participants can use Google Earth to locate new islands and be the first to operate ham radio from that location!
Complete information on the US Islands Program, a how-to guide for One-Day Getaway participants and a list of currently qualified islands is available at www.usislands.org.