Radio W4KAZ

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I didn’t really expect to operate this DX contest, but I’m glad I did. I discovered that I’ll need a better 20 meter antenna before Sweeps, as I seem to have an intermittent connection somewhere on the 20m dipole. This antenna is at a ladder line fed dipole at 50 feet, so it should be working well enough. I was unable to load it properly. I’ve decided to ditch it in favor of a coax fed dipole in the same location. I have a vertical that I will probably deplaoy as well-just in case.

I was also happy to hear 15 meters open on both days. It has been a while since I operated a contest with my favorite band open enough for my piddly rectangular loop. Piddly or not, the 15&10 meter nested rectangular loop is a good antenna when conditions are better. It requires only one support, has a 50 ohm feedpoint, and I can turn it 90 degrees to favor a different direction. Not as good as a yagi, but better than what I had before, and its a good SWR across all of 15 meters and the contest area of 10 meters.


Continue reading 2007 CQWW SSB W4KAZ SOAB LP

More N1LN Antennas Flying

N1LN is still chipping away at flying all of his antennas. Two more went up on Saturday for the 20 meter stack. This has been a fun project to watch go together, as I’ve not been involved with anything of this magnitude before. It is probably not so much fun for Bruce yet-he and Laurie are doing 99 percent of the work themselves. He still has a great deal of work outstanding, but it is really coming together for them very well, and they have planned for it for a long time.

I you want to see the photos, continue to the full page.

Sweepstakes 2007

With my other hat on, I’ve updated the PVRC-NC page of Sweepstakes content. The revised page has a bit of new content, and has been made more generic to appeal to a wider audience. Feel free to share the link.

New Ears – Addendum

Wow, the relocated, refitted, and repaired 40m and 80m antennas really sound a lot better than before.

The 80m folded dipole is also now almost perfect from an SWR standpoint. It is under 2:1 from 3550kc thru 3850kc, and the rig’s autotuner can easily match it across the rest of the band. The low SWR sweet spot is about 150kc wide, and centered on 3700kc. This antenna was constructed per cookbook dimensions from the ARRL Antenna book’s chapter on ‘portable’ antennas.

I’ve also worked out a switching arrangement for 20m and 160m, which both require an antenna tuner. 20m is a ladder line fed dipole, and the 160m antenna is a 160 foot long inverted-L with about 70 feet vertical. I have the inv-L routed through my jumbo homebrew tuner to an MN-2000, and the 20m direct to the MN-2000 through a balun.

I expect to add a 20m vertical soon, for a just-in-case backup/alternative. I also expect to find a way to incorporate a homebrew antenna switch to reduce the number of feed lines snaking through the yard into the basement.

But Biological Antenna Supports are still holding on to their leaves, so I have many hours of maintenance ahead.

Sweepstakes 2007

Sweepstakes 2007 is right around the corner. The CW portion is from 2100Z, Nov 3 to 0300Z, Nov 5. I have not been operating enough CW to be prepared this year, but there is still some time for me to practice. I’m relegated to S&P on CW, because I’m just not proficient enough to try to run stations. We’ll see.

If anyone is interested,there is now a drop down menu item on the PVRC Home Page which has several interesting links to Sweepstakes advice. These articles are in various formats, and anyone is welcome and encouraged to visit the pages. These are all great reads, with lots of ideas and tips.

Included among them is a link to an N6BV Hamvention presentation in which Dean provides an interesting group of maps and charts relating to Sweepstakes 2005. I think this is great planning information.

LSU Football – #5

Easy come, easy go. The loss to Kentucky was really tough, but Kentucky just played a better game, made fewer mistakes, and lasted longer. I expect those guys have a good shot at winning their division. Our guys were just not playing as well as the needed to to beat an underrated Kentucky team.

Good luck against Florida. 😮

We’ve still got a few more grudge matches ahead, with Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas yet to be met. Ick. The parity in college football has made the game much more interesting. Its far more interesting than professional ball post free agency.

New Ears

I had a few minutes to spent playing around with the new antennas, just listening around. The guys calling CQ for the Pennsylvania QP were booming in here on 40m during the afternoon. The 40m dipole really seems to be hearing well.

On 80m, the new antenna was showing a very high noise level across the band, and it sounded similar to the AGC pumping from a strong nearby station.

“Hmmmmm…” thinks w4kaz, eyes vacant and scratching head idly.

Turns out my 80m antenna is now flat broadside to the WPTF 50KW antennas that are about one mile to my NNE. I have an 80m bandpass filter I built a couple of years back. Plugging that into the line cleared up the WPTF problem, dropping the broadcast QRM from S7 to S0. Its still there, but its very low level now. Not many signals on in the afternoon, so I need to carve out some time to spend in the shack playing around some.

Lesson: 50 KW at less than one mile distance is undesirable. (Yeah Homer, I know….doe-OH!)

Biological Antenna Support Structures

I spent much of the day tugging on lines and shooting new lines up into the trees. We had a really blustery day back in the late spring that knocked a lot of the weaker branches out of the trees. As luck would have it, one of those smacked the 80 meter folded dipole, snapping the light cord I was using to hold it up.

That was a bit of a problem. The line I had placed for 80 meters was probably 80 feet up, although the antenna was only up at about 50 feet. With the leaves already back on the trees, I couldn’t shoot a line back to the same spot, which would have been my first reaction to the problem. Instead, it forced me to think a little harder. (Queue soundtrack of rusty hinges squealing….) How best to make lemonade from the lemons?


Continue reading Biological Antenna Support Structures


Sometimes I’m amazed at the quality of the information available on the internet. Sometimes I find it odd that I can’t find anything about a subject.

This is a case of the first. I saw a post somewhere that referred to the Western Union wire splice. I don’t have the formal electronics education that so many hams do, so I had never heard that term, although I’ve ‘discovered’ the method on my own while tinkering. But the search term ‘western union splice’ turned up a whole pile of interesting websites that illustrate some very basic how-to’s.

So now I see I need a new page to begin documenting some of this sort of thing. In the meantime, NASA has a good online document on basic workmanship standards that is focused on useful info and also fairly wide in scope. The illustrations could be a bit larger, but they are comprehensive, and even recognize the dead bug technique.

There’s also a scanned document from 1926 available that shows many of these techniques are not new.

More to come when the WX is not so pretty outside. My yard work beckons.

30 Ham Radio Contesting Tips

Scot, K9JY populated his blog for the month of September with a contesting ‘tip-O-the-day’. It makes for interesting reading and its a really good summary of contesting tips for someone new to radiosport/contesting. He’s pulled the list together as “30 Ham Radio Contesting Tips”. Heartily recommended for one and all.