Category Archives: MOCA

SDR, Here I Come!

A couple of days ago, I ordered the Flex 3000, software-defined radio from Flex Radio (www.flex-radio.com). I’ve had a Perseus SDR receiver for a a couple of years now. I’ve also been a chip-head regarding computing for some 30 years now….developing wide-area networks during the early 1980s to scientific data visualization applications during the 1990s, and large-scale database manipulation and business intelligence in the 2000s…so combining analog radio with the digital domain is a natural. The Perseus Rx provides such an improved experience for chasing DX, especially the swatch of frequencies visualized through the pan-adapter, that I’m excited about working HF with this new SDR.

Flex 3000 Front

 

The Firewire connection between the Flex 3000 (and 5000; the newer QRP rig, the 1500, uses USB) is a critical issue. I have a Dell Studio Quad-Core PC with 8GB of RAM that I will pair with it. The 1394a Firewire adapter (I hope) should work fine with the Flex. The pictures of the Flex 2000 show that it is a fairly simple box but comes “alive” with the PowerSDR software that operates it (see www.flex-radio.com/users.aspx?topic=powersdr1_pics).

Flex 3000 Rear Panel

I have a household LAN which combines wired and wireless connections, all fed from a Metrocast 10 mbs cable-modem. My shack is in a small den at one end of the house whereas my office is on the opposite end. I have an ethernet-over-coax (MOCA) from my shack to the office implemented by Netgear. This will hopefully allow me to “remotely” operate my Flex 3000 from my office when I wish—checking on band conditions, checking into a net—-while I’m busy working in my office. Using secure software tools (VNC, Synergy, etc.), this same operation mode can be accomplished from anywhere that I have a high-speed Internet connection. On the other hand, my Ameritron 811 amp won’t be “tunable” remotely and neither will my LDG 600W auto-tuner. OK, I guess there’s always room for progress!

I need to acquire a mic for this new rig. Flex Radio sells the Heil Proset or Traveler headset/mic with the modular plug fitting. I am leaning toward the Yaesu MD-100A8X which has the modular plug with correct pin-outs as well as some on-board controls. However, the “controls” on this mic will likely not be that useful but the reviews on eham.net suggest that the audio characteristics of this desk mic make it an unrecognized gem. The “control” of the PowerSDR software comes from regular mouse control…a pain sometimes.

Tmate from WoodBoxRadio

However, I’ve got my eyes on the WoodBoxRadio Tmate (www.woodboxradio.com/uk/tmate.html)! The Tmate is a USB powered device with a VFO knob and several programmable pushbuttons for often-used “mouse clicks”. It’s a tad expensive from across the Pond: $260-ish USD. See it in action on the WoodBoxRadio website. This company is making some additional tools for the Flex line of SDRs that I am sure that will be on my Ham Wish List! check out their website for details. Now, I’ve got to make preparations for my new arrival!

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