Flex 5000s during September 2011 VHF Contest
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Flex 5000s during September 2011 VHF Contest Expand / Collapse
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Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011 8:26 PM
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The W4IY VHF Contest Group ran two Flex 5000's during the September VHF contest and I wanted to pass along a quick report to the group. One FLEX was used on 6M/222 (with a Elecraft 222 transverter) and the other was used for 2M/432. The Flex knob was used on both. The station drawings are located at: http://www.stu2.net/wiki/index.php/VHF_Contests

This is the forth time we used a Flex radio during the contest, but the first time ALL of the radios were FLEX radios. Most of the people made the adjustment switching to PowerSDR from a conventional radio. None of them practiced before hand. However, the biggest issue remains the windows focus problem, which caused HF style OPs to panic when something went wrong. (HF ops tend to wig out when the Q count dives. VHF style operators go get another beer.) It was really nice to have an expert Flex'er (K8MLM) on hand to answer questions.

WA0DYJ, suggested covering the bottom half of the PowerSDR window with the N1MM call sign entry window. That way, it's very obvious which window has the focus. For some OPs, this worked really well - for others, not so well. The OPs either moved the window out of the way (probably out of habit) or didn't even look at the screen when they started typing.

I disabled the keyboard commands, but we were not able to disable the numbers, which changed the operating frequency. For example, if an OP typed 'w3so', the 'w' was ignored, but the frequency changed to 3 MHz. The 'so' were also ignored. Panic ensued until they got used to storing their calling frequency in the quick memory for instant recall.

Based on this, I'll file two feature requests on the Flex site. 1) Disable ALL keyboard entry and 2) add a "disable all" check box, so I don't have disable letter by letter.

The knob worked well. Thanks for the programming flexibility! We kept it simple. Turns out, different operators had different ideas about long and short clicks. I used one button to swap VFOs, which changed bands - e.g. 6M to 222. To handle the long/short issue, I just programmed 'swap vfo' for 'long/short/double click' and that eliminated any confusion. As operators get better at dealing with multiple tasks, I think the knob will be very useful. (e.g. handling RIT)

We tried two digital modes using WSJT9. Meteor scatter worked great on 6M and was a lot of fun. If you haven't tried it, you should! We also tried EME, but didn't have much luck. I was not able to decode a JT65B signal, which I could hear via tropo, but I suspect operator error on my part.

Last - I ran SO2R on 432/2M near the end of the contest and loved it! VHF contests are slow enough, so you can think through all the changes without pulling your hair out. Using the radios in this way can really provide an advantage over conventional radios.

Thanks Flex - keep up the good work.

Stu2
W7IY
Post #4864
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2012 3:36 AM
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Do you guys have any such contests scheduled this year?

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