‘”What’s in your shack?”

Multi Monitor Image

I am often amused at how many hams have no PC or Tablet or even a Smart Phone device at their operating position. It is as if they are stuck on an island. Cut off from the world. And even worse, they display little curiosity!  One of the great myth’s of Amateur radio is that it is a hobby full of technology enthusiasts. Nothing could be further from the “truth”.  Tune across the Ham bands, (any band!) You will not hear literate, well-informed discussions. Current technology? Seldom heard. The “singularity”  or the “internet of things”? Rare. Nor do you hear conversations about AI, machine learning or VR technologies.  The Pareto principle. Or the 80/20 rule. It is applicable here.  In my view: 80% of hams are anti-intellectual, indifferent to education and few are life-long learners. Empirical evidence abounds!  All that said, I remain optimistic in finding the 20%.
Part II  Communication Device Software Configurations figurations…..

Magnetic Loop: SWL Antenna

Antenna Pix Mag Loop

Great Swl Antenna. Pricey but excellent HF performance (Below 15mhz)


We were living in Pasadena, Ca.  One day a realtor knocked on our door. He said, “I have a client who wants to buy your house”  !!!! That’s Southern Calif. for you. It wasn’t even for sale.

So, we sold it and moved to an apartment complex that was previously a Seminary. The buildings were beautiful, but the electrical system was terrible. With a random wire hanging off my balcony HF signals were near impossible to hear. The AC was “dirty” and made for miserable short wave listening.

I starting researching  and decided I’d try a Magnetic Loop.  I bought the Pixel Sat Magnetic Loop in hopes of a solution. It was outstanding. I put it out on our balcony.  The electrical  Noise reduction was near 40 db.  I was skeptical about the rotator doing much good…but a couple of hams said to get it. They were right. It is less about directional gain, than noise and interference reduction when turned just a few degrees.

Fun antenna. I still use it for SWL. (Pixel Sat was sold to DX Engineering)

The FPGA.  The chip that makes Software Defined Radio possible. 


When I became interested in the Flex 6300 a couple of years ago, I knew nothing about the FPGA concept. (And as I am not an Engineer or a Computer Science major). I still know little. That said, I went in search of a tutorial that would serve as an introduction to the FPGA and an explanation as to why it has opened up this new world in Ham radio.  I’m an “appliance operator.  I never understood all of the Mixers/Oscillators/Roofing filters that make up the Super-Heterodyne architecture.  But hey! I could read a block diagram!  There are many videos out there.  No one video is perfect for the Ham Op, but  I found this one very useful. Maybe you will too? Try it!