Category Archives: WoodBoxRadio

Parting is, well, just sorrow

NRD-545 in operation in my home office

NRD-545

I’ve been SWLing and BCB DXing for over 50 years now. In reorganizing my amateur radio station, I figured that I would examine my equipment to be more efficient in what I buy in the future, and so forth.

The two receivers that I’ve been using the past few years are both superb: the JRC NRD-545 and the Perseus SDR. Japan Radio Company quit producing the ‘545 a few years ago but I bought one from Rob Sherwood in Colorado, the guy who does the well-respected Rx measurements and rankings. Following the recommendations published by Larry Magne, Editor of the now-defunct Passport to World Band Radio, I had Rob install the “moderate” filters on the ‘545. It’s a Bentley in terms of operating pleasure, beauty, and performance (see picture at left). The Perseus probably out-performs the NRD-545 in some ways but doesn’t have the traditional knob-turning functions that the JRC Rx does. Hmm, what to do?

I couldn’t see selling the Perseus since it’s a wonderful new approach and the future of  DXing. So, I put the NRD-545 up for sale on the Yahoo ‘545 group as well as eHam.net and Qrz.com.

The only query I received from these outlets tried to downgrade the value of the Rx since I didn’t keep the boxes in which Rob Sherwood shipped it to me in. My has been kept pristine and even the “utility kit” of various connectors had never been opened. So, eBay it went. It was sold for the Buy It Now price of $1,600 in three hours! Once the eCheck to Paypal cleared, I carefully packed it using double-boxes, bubble wrap, air pillows, and plastic peanuts. It was shipped via my local UPS Store and, I must say, it was sad to see it go. However, these funds will go to adding a first-class grounding system to my station, a Tmate Plus device from WoodBoxRadio.com for the Flex 3000 (and the Perseus), and some other stuff once they’re identified. The Tmate device is like a Griffin Powermate hot-rodded with definable buttons on a wood-grain box. It gives the “yes, I need a stinkin’ knob” in us some relief.

I’ll deal with my separation anxiety by getting my Wellsrook 1530+ loop installed on some fiberglass poles purchased on eBay for $7 (and shipping). With the rotor and having the loop above the electric noise field of my house, the Perseus should shine brightly. I may get a chance, with everything on my high-speed household LAN now, to use the received bandwidth recording option on the Perseus SDR for later playback and reception. Now, that’s exciting!


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!