Well, the time of waiting has finally come to an end. After getting home Monday afternoon and waiting almost all day Tuesday (or so it seemed) for the UPS guy to show up with all my gear, the doorbell finally rings and there are my boxes. Of course, the first thing is to rip it all open like a little kid on Christmas Day.

I briefly check out my antenna analyzer, and realizing I need a bunch of AA batteries I’m off to find my stash of batteries. A few minutes of searching and I have my 10 AA batteries needed to turn the thing on. So, there it is the MFJ-209. A simple, yet pretty useful analyzer so I can tune my antenna once I break it out of the box. Ok, I only mildly know what I’m doing with it (and that’s probably an exageration), but it will be useful nonetheless.

Enough with that! Now on with the antenna. I break out the box and am wondering how they got the whole antenna into such a small package! In a bag the size of a small tri-pod case is everything I need for most bands I’ll be working. I start the unpacking (I don’t realize for about a week I should have paid better attention to how it was packed, but that’s another story) and quickly have everything torn out from the bag. The Buddipole people are really great, as they include pretty good directions on how to setup the antenna in various configurations depending on what you’re going to be doing. However, I used the guide from N1ERD to set mine up as it was a little more detailed…and for a beginner, that was greatly appreciated.

After figuring out how everything went together, I had the antenna setup in my living room. I finally wound up dragging it outside and started up the analyzer. It took a bit to figure everything out, but about 25-30 minutes later and I had the SWR down to a respectable 1.4. Now, had I wanted to spend a little more time, I probably could have gotten it lower (and after I played a bit with it later on, I did). But, I was very excited to see how my radio worked and all, so I plugged in the antenna to my radio.

With the antenna in I could finally complete my computer setup with the radio. I fired up my Gateway and began installing PowerSDR. This only took a couple of minutes at best. Then it was on to actually turning on the radio. The software downloads the firmware from the radio as a backup and begins a little analyzing of the system before actually bringing up the radio interface. After about 10 minutes of fiddling with everything, the radio was up and running on the computer. I play for a while on 6m and decided to give my hand at 20m.

I refine my dipole for 20m band and get the SWR down to about 1.6. The build in tuner on the Flex does a great job in bringing it down to below 1.5, even if it’s much farther out than that. I wanted to make sure to have Ham Radio Deluxe running as well so I have logbook, digital and everything else all at the same time. This actually took a few hours to get arranged properly.

First, you need to get Virtual Audio Cable installed and setup on the machine (I’ll try to post my notes on this in an other article) as well as VSP or something similar for virtual serial ports. Again, total spent was probably about 3 hours or so getting all this installed, figuring out how it worked and configuring it with HRD as well. But, once it was done, it worked great from the start. One quirk (or to me it was) that I had to get with PSDR was that I had to select DIGU selector to see anything in the waterfall on DM780. Once I finally selected that, I could see the streams in the waterfall and watch DM780 do its decoding.

After a bit of just watching, I decided to jump in. I wound up making my first contact just a little bit later all the way out in San Diego (just under 2000km). How cool that was to talk to someone all the way out on the coast with just a few watts of power (I was running about 28W at the time). I played around more and wound up with a few contacts on my first day….coast to coast from Miami to San Diego. It was just a really cool day and a lot of fun. Now I have a great new toy to kill time with. 🙂

Of course, now, I think I have to finish out my licenses and get my Amateur Extra class. Being that the test is about to change, I decided to hold off until the new study guide is out (which at the time just turned out to be a couple days later).

Until next time, 73 and happy DXing!