Radio W4KAZ

Thanks for stopping by the virtual KazShack. Feel free to comment - I often approve them.

2015 IOTA Recap W4O – Better Late Than Never

Photo of most of the 2015 W4O IOTA station from Okracoke Island.

Most of the 2015 W4O IOTA station from Okracoke Island.

Tri band yagi at 18 feet.

Tri band yagi at 18 feet.

After a lot of foot dragging and interruptions, all of the components required for a 100w battery operation had been acquired at casa W4KAZ in late spring 2015.  The first test run was a 1E Field day operation at home.  But better to put it to use afield.

So N4YDU was game for the field test on Okracoke island for 2015 IOTA.  N4YDU and I operated as W4O from Okracoke Island on the NC outer banks, just south of Hatteras.   Access to Okracoke is by boat, so we booked slots on the ferry out of Swan Quarter for Thursday afternoon.  This worked well, allowing for set up and test operating well before the Saturday start.  Also a nice break for a meal for lunch Friday down in Okracoke village.  QTH of the operation was the NPS campground on Okracoke.

WX Conditions on Thursday were cool with an all day drizzle.  Ugly, but no thunder and lightening, so not terrible.  Set up of camp was delayed until early evening.  Thursday night was warm, damp and still.  Friday morning brought clear skies and an nice cooling breeze out of the north.  The WX was much improved for the rest of the weekend.  Thursdays rain was the harbinger of a very welcome unseasonable cool front, and WX for the bulk of the weekend were very comfortable with much lower than normal temperature and humidity – perfect for field operations.

Radio propagation did not live up to the WX, so there were periods of slow conditions.  A nice breakfast is always good.

Breakfast.

Breakfast.

Solar Power

The solar set up included two 30w solar cells sending power to the charge controller and two deep cycle batteries.  Our solar cells were augmented by the temporary loan of an 85w solar panel by WB8YJF, Jon.  WB8YJF vacations at Okracoke every year at this time, and with his help we had a strong 8A charge current throughout the day Saturday.

 

Solar cells catch a tan

Solar cells out catching a tan on the island. My own small cells in the foreground and WB8YJF’s loaners in the rear.

Batteries and charge station

Batteries and charge station

Having the battery fully charged going into the evening hours was nice.  Rates slowed fairly early, so two days of beachside life had us leaving a few possible qso’s on the table.  Sleep was the better option.

Station

The station consisted of the batteries, feeding power to the Elecraft K2.  Antenna supports consisted of several fiberglass masts.  All of the masts have been modified by drilling holes at the base of each mast section for pins.  Hitch pins are used for the smallest sections, and 2 inch cotter pins are used in the larger sections.  This was faster and more secure than using hose clamps, but it may ultimately weaken the masts over the long term.  That trade-off seems worthwhile for the time saved on deployment and take down.

The W4O station, an Elecraft K2, a couple of tuners and logging laptop

The W4O station, an Elecraft K2, a couple of tuners and logging laptop

The 33 foot fiberglass pole from TheMastCo was used as the center support for a lightweight fan dipole for constructed from 300 ohm twin lead and surplus field wire, covering 40m/20m.  A 22foot fiberglass flag pole combined with most of a 20 ft. Shakespeare wonder pole was used to support an inverted-L for 80m.  Thirteen foot crappie poles were used to get the ends of the dipoles and vertical as high as possible in the limited space offered by two spaces in the campground.  We also deployed a 2 element triband yagi on five sections of surplus military camo mast, at a height of about 18 feet.

Radio conditions were poor, but the WX was unusually good for the NC coast at the end of July.  Great trip and another successful field test of something different.

 

2015 Field Day W4KAZ class 1E

Life’s swirl of events led me to be non-committal about FD with the usual suspects this year.  Probably a good thing, given the way brown stuff keeps making sudden contact with the rotary impeller.  Even the minimal home operation in lieu of a real event was in question as days grew shorter.

So 2015 FD was flying solo in the KazShack.   [Some photos here]  The twist to make it FD was to run the station on emergency power, class 1E.  With enough ’round-too-its’ having been previously cashed in to assemble a portion of the battery set up  desired, the battery op seemed feasible.  Accumulated over the past year are a couple of 30w solar panels, a pair of well-matched deep cycle marine batteries, a decent charge controller, and assorted minor peripherals(cables, connections, etc).  The original plan was to be ready for NC-QSOP earlier in the year.  Brown Stuff vs Rotary Impeller.  Brown Stuff won, no Qso party.

In field day spirit, I also hoisted an “emergency” field portable 40m/20m inv-V off of a fiberglass telescoping mast obtained from “The Mast Company” several years back.  After collecting dust for these years, it occurred to me that it could fill a big unused space on the edge of the ‘wire-farm’, backed up very nicely by the 20m/40m reflectors in their permanent positions.  This worked very well on both bands during FD, showing four or five S-units difference depending on conditions and the direction of the signals.

The 2015 FD Station:

For the event, I relocated the solar panels to be within reach of the feeder cables to the shack. The batteries had been connected to the solar panels for over a month, so they were nicely topped off.  The batteries were brought into the shack, and connections were set up to power the K2 as the load off the controller.  Not willing to go whole-hog QRP, all transmitting was done at intermediate-low power levels, 45w overnight, 75w during daylight.  (Based on actual current draws by the K2 as measured in place). Add a laptop and ready to go.  The antennas were the normal wire farm plus the hasty-install dipole on the fiberglass mast.

The Solar Problem:

Expected to have poor results from the solar panels, as their default location for the shack is only in full sun in the afternoon.  Hoped for a sunny afternoon on Saturday.  No. Such. Luck.  In fact, the WX really sucked.  When the WX didn’t suck, there was lightning and rain.  Zero sunlight.   The panels only produced about .3amps in shade under clouds, instead of their full-sun 2.8amps.  90% reduction.

Solar panels, laid out on a conveniently parked truck

Solar panels, laid out on the conveniently parked truck

Charge controler for solar power

Charge controller for solar power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news is the batteries seemed up to the challenge on their own.  Battery voltage dropped to 12.3v at its lowest.  The K2 drew only about 11 amps in transmit, and just over 1/3 amp when in receive. If the panels had been in a good full-sun location the charging would probably have kept up with the demands during daylight operating.  Success.  The charger says that 24ah were drawn over 12 hours of operating, with transmitter power at 50w for the 6 hours on Saturday, and 75w for the 6 hours on Sunday.  In full sun the solar cells would probably have kept the batteries topped off until sundown.

The current draw at full transmit power on the K2 is in the 15A ballpark.   Rolling the transmit power back to 65 or 75 watts is a good compromise between output power and current demands, as the current draw is closer to 11amps at 70W.

Actual Operating Condx:

WX conditions cut outs a large chunk of Saturday prime time in the late afternoon/early evening.  So after putzing around for the 1800Z-2000Z hours, did not return to the chair until 0150Z.  Then a decent three hour stretch, alternating between 40m and a few sweeps of the other bands.  A nice long nap and the back in the chair well after sunup Sunday morning.  Not terrible Sunday morning, but not fantastic.

Finished with 532 CW contacts logged and 2128 QSO points.  Not terrible for only about 10 hours of butt-in-chair time.

So the emergency power and emergency antenna set up worked well enough.  A bulk of the QSOs were made on the portable antenna. In the shack the charge controller indicated the station drew a total of 24 amp hours.  The solar cell charging put 9 amp hours back in, not bad given the clouds and shade trees.    That was with the solar cells providing only about half an amp.  In full daylight the charging would have been sufficient, and closer to 3 amps.   The power draw had been conservatively estimated/ball-parked/WildAssedGuessed at a need of about 40 amp hours.

The Renogy charge controller is well worth the minor additional expense.  It senses the voltages from both battery and solar panel, and can charge 12v batteries from 24v solar cells if needed.  It also monitors both load and input currents, as well as the battery charge state.  (Seems to be sold under several different name plates, all seem identical based on advertising specs.)

Overall, very happy with the experiment.

 

 

 

2012 ARRL Feel Day(i.e., “Field Day”)

Operated 2012 Field Day with N4YDU and N4GU.  Seriously considered entirely ditching FD earlier in the year, but finally decided to swing back into the saddle.  Using the Central Carolina Contesters call K4FQU, how could I not?

K4FQU – Class 1A, Ops: N4GU, N4YDU & W4KAZ….  1499 QSO’s(942CW, 557SSB)

N4YDU bird-dogged an excellent site by getting permission for operating on the north end of the Franklinton High school campus.  The school has a horseshoe shaped service road around its perimeter.  The north side of campus has a nice line of pine trees parallel to the service road which runs due E/W for about 500 feet.  All in a mostly rural very RF quiet location.  A very good Field Day site, one of the better sites we have used.

We set up the station near a break in the tree line.  Operating as 1A, we put up two antennas.  The 80m dipole was set up as a vee, broadside to N/S.  The other antenna was the four band open sleeve dipole, set up facing E/W.  The apex of both antennas was up at about 70 to 80 feet.

The wx threatened rain on Saturday, but that never happened.  The cloud cover helped moderate temperatures right up until almost 1800z, so the set up was not terribly uncomfortable.  The humidity levels rose all through Saturday night.  A change in the WX about dawn Sunday, and a drier breeze picked up early Sunday morning.  The WX was very pleasant for the duration.  Probably one of the most comfortable FD weekends in a long time outside of the trips to the mountains.

Radio conditions did not seem all that good, but the rates were consistently good anyway.  At times the rates were surprisingly good.  N4YDU had unusually good rates in the “wee hours” on Sunday morning from 2:00am thru 6:00am(local), and turned the graveyard shift into a nice fat 350+ qso count.

For my own part, the best rates I saw were the first hour of my late evening shift from 11:00pm to 2:00am(local), where there was very fun rates on 80m CW as ‘fresh meat’.  Getting a SSB run going proved difficult, but I managed to find a decent 40m frequency close to 2:00am Sunday morning, and N4YDU hit the ground running for the graveyard leg.  The rates kept him awake.  😉

N4GU Power and Light supplied emergency power in the form of a 1000w Honda generator.  We located the generator on an asphalt drive about 125 feet away from the station, and could not hear the generator at all over the ambient background noise of the location(School AC units, birds tweeting, road noise, etc.)  N4GU also supplied shelter in the form of a couple of EZ-Up canopies.  My own concerns about blood-sucking insects or T-storms were not realized, so the lack of side-walls was never a problem.

Over all the event went off without a hitch.  Murphy was probably off elsewhere knocking over towers and breaking yagi’s at other more tempting FD sites.  All of the overnight lighting was supplied by battery operated LED lamps, over concerns we might overload the generator.  Generator overload was never an issue, as a Kill-a-Watt in the AC supply line showed that the power draw never got over 500w.  With the single run station going, the draw was around 300-350watts.   The generator ran for about 7 hours between fill-ups, and was very easy on the gas.  A sweet package.

Propagation seemed to favor the North-South paths for most of the times I was at the controls.  With the 40m-up antenna at 75 feet, it seemed to under perform my expectations on 40m and 20m.  That may have been just propagation, which seemed very short on 20m.  In the evening, it did a better job out to the west, but I found myself using the 80m dipole on the 40m band more than I expected.  Both antennas were fed with 450 ohm ladder line into balanced tuners, allowing them to be loaded where needed.

Reviewing the Reverse Beacon Network spots was interesting.

We wound up besting our QSO totals from 2011 by a couple of hundred Q’s.  10m never opened, 6m was a flop, and 15m was mediocre.  But 80m, 40m, and 20m produced enough activity that we were able to keep the logging computer busy and the operators awake.  Operating 1A with N4GU and N4YDU was just about perfect – both great ops and great fun.  Class 1A also insured we were almost always ‘fresh meat’ somewhere, which made the butt-in-chair time fun as well.

The only real goal I had this year was to have some fun.   Mission Accomplished.

After action reflections indicated if we were to revisit the location we might make a few minor tweaks to the general set-up by re-locating the antennas, but probably nothing too drastic.  The E/W roadway invites flat-topping the dipoles rather than center supporting them as inv-vee’s.   A few other minor station set-up re-arrangements.  None of those would be of large consequence in terms of extra effort, but might pay QSO and comfort dividends.

K4FQU, 1A NC - Quick snapshot of score:

band/mode  Qs       Pts
80 cw     222      444
80 ph     181      181
40 cw     440      880
40 ph     164      164
20 cw     231      462
20 ph     141      141
21 cw      45       90
21 ph      63       63
50 cw       4        8
50 ph       8        8
-----------------------------
         1499     2441

Pwr mult 2

Raw score 4882

Bonus pts
100% Emergency power             100
Public Location                   100
W1AW Message                      100
Online submisson                 50
Total bonus pts                   350

Total Score     4882 + 350 = 5232 pts

*

Skimming During WPX

“Don’t get cocky kid….”

Just when everything seems to be going smoothly, Murphy arrives.  Two days before the WPX contest, it became clear the 80m softrock had developed an issue and was useless.  It lost half of the signal, and so was useless(on 5/27) and required repairs.  Sideline that issue for now….

The 40m skimmer session kept right on chugging.  A couple of problems became clear.

  • The softrock will need better band pass filtering if they remain active during operations, or switching to shut them down during transmit
  • running CW skimmer at 192khz sample rate used a great deal of CPU time, averaged 45-50% CPU utilization.
  • Limiting the number of decoders helped somewhat
  • Reducing the scan rate to allow a 96Khz bandwidth drastically reduced the CPU usage.  Running at 96khz required an average of 15-20% of the CPU, even with the limit on the number of decoders increased.
  • The K9AY rx antenna worked well for the 40m SR skimmer.  The problem is it will need to be split and amplified for 80m and 160m as well.

All together, it looks like the skimmer posted about 8K spots while it was active during WPX.  Trying to figure out a way to check for errors.  Low priority – spot checking the spots showed most to be valid.

The 80m SR problem was resolved on Monday evening.  After having made three passes over the op-amp section, I made a fourth pass, concentrating on components in the “ring” side of the op-amp output, as well as the path back to the QSD section.  Also made a first pass over the transformer solder joints, using a higher wattage iron.  80m issue resolved.  Odds are it was in the op-amp chain(seems to be the most common cause of the symptoms), but I suspect a cold solder on the transformer was the real culprit.

Looking at the case from a dead home audio system as a permanent enclosure.  If I can fit everything in, it should be a good choice.  Time for a block diagram…

 

 

2012 CQ 160m CW – Break Time

Not too shabby.  After 6.0 hours of operation, 270 Q’s in the log.  Not much in the Western US, but have CA and AZ.  Spent the first 30 minutes S&P, then a couple of short runs, another stretch of S&P, and then a nice steady run.  Nothing fabulous, but the Inv-L is playing much better than is has in the past.

Early in the evening, the K9AY was the best on RX.  The QRN has slowly been tapering off, so RX on the Inv-L is better.  The K9AY still has the edge – when it happens to be pointing in the correct direction.

Blew two fuses in the power line to the K2.  Both blew when switching the RX antenna during xmit.  Must be causing a voltage spike.  Solution:  Don’t Do That!

So far the anecdotal evidence indicates I’m being heard better with the changes to the TX antenna.  Gonna save looking at the RBN spots for Sunday.

Back to the salt mine….

NAQP SSB 2012 @N1LN as NC4KW

DAMN that was a GOOD contest.

N1LN hosted the M/2 operation as NC4KW for both CW and SSB.  This years SSB team was N1LN, N4GU, N4YDU, and W4KAZ.

N4YDU led off on the right hand station on 10m.  W4KAZ squatted on 20m a few minutes before contest kick off, and worked a few before the start of the contest.  When the contest started, it was off to the races.  The end of the first hour showed a nice total of around 170 Q’s.  10m was slower than 20m, but N4YDU scrounged a nice group of multipliers before dropping down to 15m.  Rates for the second hour took off, and stayed good for the next eight hours. Just lots of fun.

20m conditions seemed very good, and that’s where I did the bulk of my operating.  The rates on 15m and 40m were also very steady – N4YDU and N4GU made the most of it.  They did a lot of the heavy lifting with band changes and mult hunting on the right hand station.  N1LN and I swapped off shifts on the left station, and spent the first six hours on 20m.  At the start of his second shift, 20m was really drying up.  N1LN dropped down to 80m.  80m was noisy, and the rates were slow at the beginning.  It warmed up towards the end of N1LN’s shift, and the rates soon were very good there.  N4GU and N4YDU had 40m smoking by then, and were keeping the rate meter busy.

Towards the middle of the last shift, N4YDU on 40m and me on 80m, the 60 minute rate got close to 200.  Almost, but not quite there.

Damn – THAT was a GOOD contest!

The 80m results were good, but conditions there were fairly difficult.  There were loud static crashes to the south of our QTH.  It was difficult copy doing RX on the TX antenna.  Using the beverages, stations were calling from all directions, so it was difficult to copy the calls on the first try.  Towards the end of my last shift, it seemed the best compromise for my ears was to use the beverages for RX with the K3’s pre-amp on and the RF gain turned back, and a hand constantly riding the beverage selection knob and sometimes the RF gain.   Static crashes still made copy difficult on stations to the west. The west beverage was needed for copy on stations from TX to IA and all points beyond and between, but it was also getting a lot of the storm static from the south.   VE stations were solid copy as long as the correct beverage was selected – which was seldom the case.

Damn – that was a GOOOOOD contest!

The two shifts I pulled on 20m were very good, and probably the best I have had as an op at N1LN.  Signals were generally solid copy.  QRN was relatively low.  The QRM was manageable, probably because activity was spread out up to 10m.  Rates were very steady.  I did find that the occasional nudge to the antenna direction often produced a new flurry of Q’s to pop in for a visit to our log.  Swinging back and forth from TX to NNW was the plan of action.  The occasional NE station was often loud enough to copy easily off the edges, but pointing either of the antennas directly NE produced little.  20m did not seem to “go short” as it did for me when operating  NAQP CW from home.  It just seemed to die.

The final tally shows a good spread of Q’s across the bands.

The Good
  • great team
  • great station
  • good high band conditions
  • K3 Protective circuit works!(see “the ugly”)
  • N1LN 10 minute repair service – Priceless!
The Bad
  • low band noise was high
  • Hardware issue cut into N4YDU 15m rate
The Ugly
  • The left station K3 folded back to 5w during the second hour in the middle of N4YDU 15m run.  Cooling fans not running, so heat sensor cut amp off.  Loose fan cable.  Repair by N1LN.
The Score 🙂
Call: NC4KW             Class: M/2 LP
Operator(s): N1LN, N4YDU, W4KAZ, N4GU
Station: N1LN           QTH: NC

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:  107    33
   80:  307    47
   40:  528    58
   20:  556    50
   15:  260    41
   10:  129    30
-------------------
Total: 1887   259  Total Score = 488,733

*

2012 NAQP CW – January

Did not expect to be able to put the time in for this one, but enough things shifted around at the end of the week that it worked out.  Murphy showed his face in the form of a broken headphone jack on the homebrew SO2R headphone audio jack, which I broke at 1805z as I plugged the headphone cable in.   Not off to a smooth start.  The jack is actually intack, it just became separated from the cover of the home-brew SO2R box.

Better to log Q’s than pull the box from the patch cord rats’ nest, so that fix has to wait. So no S&P2R. 🙁

Conditions here seemed good. 10m and 15m had decent signals, even if I couldn’t get a run going. After about 3:00pm local, 20m started to go short without losing the long, and seemed to be open to everywhere in North America at once. Worked TX, CA, NY, SK and SC almost back to back right before I took a dinner break at 4:45pm local.

No runs on 10m or 15m. 20m run was decent, and the unusual mixed bag of stations from everywhere kept me there when I should have migrated to 40m. Should have started the contest on 20m and migrated to 40m much earlier. 40m was long by the time I got there, so I moved down to 80m after short 40m pass. 80m was pretty good, nice and quiet here in the KazShack, and lots of solid signals. Nice 80m run. 160m was also nice and quiet, with good signals. The K9AY was hearing better down on 160 than the xmit antenna, even with low QRN. Too bad 160m condx were not as good as that for Stew Perry.

The 80m S&P was a blast.  Keeping a 50/hr rate was easy.  Not having the SO2R was a bit of a downer.  With the good conditions on all bands, S&P2R would have really been a lot of fun.  The 40m totals would have been bolstered with the second radio. I think I’d have been able to hit that goal of a 60Q hour of all SS&P if the SO2R box had been on-line.

Didn’t really set any goals other than to have some fun.  DONE!

But still only half as many Q’s as the Top Gunz……and it is certain THAT ain’t because of Murphy.

The Good:

  • Good conditions on all bands – compared to recent years.
  • Lots of Fun
  • 5:00pm Hamburger break…yummy
  • 416 Q’s and only one TEBOW
  • Good to see some interest in fielding PVRC teams

The Bad:

  • SO2R not available.  Fun value not gathered in as well as it might have been otherwise.
  • CW copy needs work.
  • Too lazy to do the work to improve the CW
  • muffed the off times, so erred on the side of staying inside the rules.  9 hours rather than 10

The Ugly:

Oh, probably the language used when I broke that #@%%*&!! headphone jack.  The jack separated from the panel.  The repair might be a case of filling the hole with JB Weld and re-drilling it.  It looks like the plastic panel face is reamed out.

The final “Final”:

Call: W4KAZ
Radios: SO2R
Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:   61    23
   80:  154    43
   40:   61    31
   20:  106    41
   15:   26     9
   10:    8     8
-------------------
Total:  416   155  Total Score = 64,480

3830 score link

73 es tnx fer q’s and fills de w4kaz

*

Summer Review – 2011 RSGB IOTA

YACP – Yet Another Catch-up Post.

This year’s IOTA went well, although conditions were difficult.  The WX was clear, but easily the hottest of the IOTA expeditions so far.  Very uncomfortable setting up.  Very uncomfortable sitting in the shade.  Operated from the same Cape Lookout location at the Cape Lookout Federal Park on the South Core Banks.

Radio conditions were also comparably disappointing. The mid afternoon SSB session was miserably slow.  Conditions generally not as good as 2010 IOTA, and not nearly as good as most of 2011.  US activity seemed down, but that may just be perception based on the slow afternoon on SSB.  Abysmal.

Antenna mast raising shenanigans were also quite educational.  Valuable lessons learned there.   The guy stakes were inadequate for the height and new sets of guys will also be required to move the guy anchors  farther away from the mast base.  Nothing that a bit of up-front preparation work cannot conquer, but difficult to overcome in the field.  So the mast height was reduced from the projected.

The new base plates for implementing the falling-derrick method performed exactly as expected.  The mast raising technique is solid.

This year’s crew was W4KAZ, W0UCE, K2AV, and N3ND.  N4YDU was off in luxury accommodations operating from the family vacation just up the coast from the N4A operation.  Always fun, but missed having ‘YDU on board.  Imagine being wooed by the family into basking in air-conditioned splendor with the occasional dip in the hot-tub optional.   😮

Numbers and score down from 2010, but hoping for the best, and waiting official results.

Plans for 2012 are begun.  I expect the direct hit by hurricane Irene last fall will have changed the sand dune structure enough that we will find some new hurdles to overcome.  The beach was rolled back, so the cabins are now somewhat closer to the ocean(natural for a barrier island), so the sand filled in the small clear area  between dunes that we used for the antenna mast.  I will not at all be surprised to find the area filled with sea oats and mostly too difficult to work in come summer 2012.  A new challenge.

CQ WW SSB 2011 @ N1LN

2011 N1LN Team: N1LN, N4YDU, AD4L, WW4M, W4KAZ, W4DTB, KA1ARB

Subtitle:  “How My Perspective On Contesting Changed Again”

Well.  That sure was interesting.

After several years of gutting out the poor propagation conditions for this one, the barn doors were more or less blown off by band conditions this past weekend.  Yes, 10m was great.  15m was great too.  And even 20m showed new facets too.

The past several weeks leading into the contest have had better band conditions than we have had in quite a long while.  With sunspots hitting 200+ briefly and solar flux levels over 120 for several weeks straight, the high bands have been open on a consistent basis daily.  These measures had been drifting down going into the contest, but propagation remained good through the contest.

So.   Propagation remained GOOD throughout the contest.  Even the dread 2:00am to 5:00am showed more life than years past.  On Sunday a few spots posted on 20m during the 3:00am(local) hour showed stateside stations were hearing EU on 20m.  80m/160m was mostly a mind numbing hiss of static, so whats to lose in checking?  Turns out the band was mostly open already.  Very loud signals across the band just after 4:00am local.  Some already had their ears on, and were able to hear my calls even though they were mostly not pointing antennas towards the US.  Instant better rate over the low band hiss.  Very nice.

N4YDU had a great run on 10m Saturday afternoon.  Sunday was my turn.  I expect the 8:00 to 11:00 hours on Sunday to be the best of the contest.  While I ran stations on 10m, N4YDU was keeping 15m hot.  Easily the best rates I’ve ever worked over an extended period.  10m was stacked with signals from the bottom up past 29Mc.  It was a mixed bag of mini pileups and a steady flow of callers, no need for a “cq robot”, and easily the most fun I have ever had operating a contest.

Murphy struck only an off hand shot at the team when KA1ARB had his travel plans snafu’d by the storm system in the northeast causing him to miss a flight on Saturday evening.   Pencil and paper whipped out, and N1LN came up with an interim schedule fix to cover the holes without resorting to Double Super Secret Expresso and too much lost sleep for anyone.  Although N4YDU had a six hour nap window shortened, I figure he had already made up those hours when I found him napping at the knobs at the end of the Saturday graveyard shift.  😮

A second possible Murphy sighting was had by N1LN of Friday afternoon when the top 20m antenna was showing dead air, but that problem automagically disaparated and did not seem to recur during CQWW.

A member of the OCRA club, Derek, W4DTB dropped by and piloted one of the positions for a couple of hours.  Derek posted a nice audio clips of me stumbling through some 20m Q’s on Sunday afternoon, and a clip of N1LN doing much better.

N1LN 3830 write-up.

 

The Good:

Great time operating over at N1LN’s, and I appreciate the opportunity.  Always fun to clown around with N4YDU.  Got a chance to operate N1LN’s M/2 setup, which wasn’t really a sure thing until AD4L and WW4M carved out enough time to join the team.  10m was great.  15m was great too.  20m was damn good.  Good runs from Japan and Russia in addition to the normal European openings.  Getting called by VK and ZL stations while beaming Europe.  The It-Never-Snows-In-October storm mostly bypassed the local area.  Some of the larger stations that operated in M/2 class in 2010 moved back up into M/M for 2011.

The Bad:

Personally, I was still stumbling at times with some of the exchanges. I need to improve callsign recognition and pulling out single calls.

The Ugly:

KA1ARB was scheduled to fly out of NYC on Saturday, but was stranded by the it-never-snows-in-October storm.  Schedule re-arranging worked fairly well, but KA1ARB missed a couple of good run in addition to the inconvenience of ruined travel plans.  And N4YDU whined so much about missing his 6 hour nap break, I let him use his double tails coin to decide who would get to bolt when KA1ARB arrived unexpected at the end of the contest.  😮

Readem-and-weep
Call: N1LN
Operator(s): N4YDU, W4KAZ, AD4L, WW4M, KA1ARB, W4DTB, N1LN
Station: N1LN
Class: M/2 HP
QTH: NC
Operating Time (hrs): 48
Summary:
Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160:   75    12       23
   80:  364    18       69
   40:  508    27       97
   20: 1092    39      126
   15: 1104    36      131
   10: 1593    37      146
------------------------------
Total: 4736   169      592  Total Score = 9,560,443

*

Summer Review – Field Day 2011

Drove out to the mountains to hook up with N4YDU and N4PY for another great FD.  The Stone Mt. site is just plain awesome.  The set up was heavy on keeping it simple. We used 40m doublets and an 80m Vee operating 1A with a 6m setup.

One of the 40m antennas showed a high noise level again, which I expect is being generated locally.  Probably something in the park restroom is generating the RFI.  We had the same problem when we operated from the site previously.  But thats all a part of FD – working through the problems.

The 56 ft doublets were a lot less impressive on top of a mountain than at the beach for IOTA, which is not really a surprise.  I expect most of their performance in 2010  IOTA was due to ocean side proximity and propagation.  Left to my own devices the first choice for 40m will forevermore be resonant dipoles or loops.

The FD wx was great.  Overnight temps fell into the low 60’s or 50’s, which is a really nice change after afternoon temps in the 90’s.

And as always, operating with N4YDU and N4PY was great.

The only downside was there was no time before or after to get in a couple of days of camping and hiking the park trails.