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Field Day – Daddy, Are We There Yet?

Yeah! Time to get the game on. The NC Contesters group will be operating from just south of Louisburg, NC using N4PY’s call sign. Y’all come. Hopefully the WX will be better than the forecast. Wet FD sites are less than ideal, and lightning can ruin everyone’s day PDQ.

We’ll be either 3A or 2A, operating with 100w. The rigs will be an Omni VII, an Orion, and a K2, with a Kenwood TS-930 as backup. We’ll be mixed mode, but probably mostly CW. The plans are to have two Vee beams, plus an assortment of alternate antennas. Our stations will be organized by band, with an 80m/20m station on the long Vee(266′ legs), an 40m station on the smaller Vee beam(200’legs), and a 160m/15m/10m station that will probably have a long wire as the main antenna. Look for us on 160m!

If you are not in the field, you can always operate as a “1D” class station from home, and still have fun. Even if you have only a few hours available, you can help fill the logs. The fun is NOT limited to North America – DX stations can operate S&P and make FD QSO’s too. A DX station’s exchange is “1D DX”, if you are operating from home. We’ll be glad to hear you.

Round em up. On air operations begin at 1800z Saturday.

Just do it…

ARRL Field Day Prep – Light Reading

Scads of documents exist on the web discussing ARRL Field Day. But I found very few really comprehensive summaries of some of the “must haves” for ARRL Field Day. The actual nuts-n-bolts of setting up a functional station and not croaking ones-self over the course of the event.

Everybody sees it through their own frames of reference, but some things are fundamental. It all boils down to “Who brought the XYZ-thingy?”. (Often nobody….!)

So with just a few days to go, here’s a timely roundup – just so I can find them all again next time I want to pass the info on to “new blood”. A selection of readings on ‘all things field day’.

West Valley Amateur Radio Club FD summary. Their summary is specific to their club, but a good basic synopsis nonetheless.

Another good club primer is by N1FD. It also includes a list of section abbreviations and a cheat sheet for CT commands. CT is STILL the least common denominator, because folks don’t normally haul the BEST PC’s out to log in the field, CT is still free, and it works well enough. Moan all you want – there’s no really good reason to change.

One of the local clubs, The Raleigh Amateur Radio Society, has a guide for their band captains. This is pretty much an all inclusive document speaking to the needs of a single station.

How about the actual ARRL FD rules?

Just in case you are “fuzzy” or maybe caught in a […]

Continue reading ARRL Field Day Prep – Light Reading

A Story of Courage and Perseverance – W1PL, SK

I was browsing through some of the back issues of club newsletters, and ran across the YCCC tribute to W1PL, SK in the February issue of the Scuttlebutt. Despite an early life filled with adversity, W1PL must have found happiness in the latter part of his life. He sure seems to have earned a good life. He sounds like a man whom I would have enjoyed knowing.

Appreciate what you have.

CW Skimmer – Genie Out of the Bottle?

NS3T reports that there has been at least one group(WRTC 2010) who have taken the position that using a spotting robot is getting assistance. What amazes me so far is that the opinion is not more widespread. I guess the “anything goes” interpretation is just something I’ve not been able to digest.

In the sidebar on the same page Jamie also reports that the California Qso Party hasactuallymade rules changes to restrict the use of internet chat rooms, etc. to the multi-single class. CAQP does not have an SOA class. Bravo. But no decision yet on Skimmer.

I suppose it is all moot anyway, because the folks who advocate “no rules” may well be the group most likely to disregard the rules anyway. It is certainly all moot to me, as I expect to operate at home as always – no spots, no skimmer. Just a kid with a radio having fun. If I were to ever even get close to a decent score, it will just mean more to me then. But given my station and skills limitations, a competitive score is still just a goal for the future. Let the Big Dawgs chew each others tails off. My input is irrelevant to them, and their windmill tilting is irrelevant to me.

I guess what really bugs me is the parsing of the meaning of the word “is”. I’ve never bought into the ‘roadblock to progress’ bull crap. Anybody that wants to experiment can do so at their leisure. […]

Continue reading CW Skimmer – Genie Out of the Bottle?

Sunspots – Poised on the Cusp

Well, one way or other the next year will be interesting. The sunspot predictions will be tested against the actual data, and two competing sunspot models will have more data to use for future predictions. In another couple ofmillenniathey will have enough data to make their predictions with a confidence level higher than 50%.

The plotted progression data should soon start to diverge from one or both of the predictions. It’s a shame the data takes so long to collect, because it is a fascinating subject area. And right now, the data is taking even longer to collect than normal. Favoring the lower prediction maybe?

If the higher peak numbers are going to come, I’d expect the spots to start ramping up pretty soon, although we are still well within the averages for the lengths of a cycle. I wonder if there are any trends from the data following longer-than-normal minimums, or longer-than-normal cycles? Hmm.

As the kids would say, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

“Be patient kiddo. It will only take a couple thousand years to get the data we need.”

N4A Rides Again- Cape Lookout 2008

Planning for the 2008 expedition to the South Core Banks Cape Lookout has begun. We will be activating Cape Lookout, and hoping to pass out QSO’s during the RSGB IOTA contest again. Our operations on Cape Lookout will be from July 25th through July 28th, weather permitting.

For 2008, we are hoping that Barry, K4CZ will be tossing his hat into the ring. An extra operator will be a big boost.

We are planning to activate Cape Lookout again this July 2008, once again as N4A. So island chasers can look for us sometime during the last weekend of July. We will be most active on HF during the RSGB IOTA contest, and may spend much of the rest of the time looking for propagation on 10m or 6m.

The RSGB IOTA is an interesting contest, falling as it does in mid-summer. Propagation conditions are different in the summer, so it is always a mixed bag. But it is worth operating just to explore summertime propagation. The IOTA is much more popular in Europe than it is here in the US, so the odds of working DX are also better. You can work any station, anywhere, but the island stations are the multipliers. The RSGB has an FAQ on IOTA on their web site as well as the full 2008 IOTA contest rules.

Operating at Cape Lookout like this is really a miniature DXpedition. The only creature comfort is the availability of a few small cabins that can be rented […]

Continue reading N4A Rides Again- Cape Lookout 2008

N4A – Official 2007 IOTA NA Low Power Expedition Winner

Cha-Ching! We have a winner!

This is old news, but it is actually official to me now that it is published as such on the RSGB web site. N4YDU and I made a special event expedition as N4A to activate the South Core Banks’ Cape Lookout last summer. Our stay coincided with the RSGB IOTA contest weekend, and we participated in the contest.

It has been several months since I checked the RSGB website for results postings. The contest scores were posted to their site In January, but the official list of trophy winners had not been finalized at that time. But I checked today, and there is ‘N4A’ in the “Island Low Power” category.

“ NA High Score Plaque (Expedition Only) N4A NA-067 ”


Well, actually it was very HOT, and also very HUMID. The end of July might be a great time for an outing in Great Britain, but it is definitively NOT such a good choice weather wise for the coast in the south-eastern USA. And with the temp already at 100 here in the first week of June, the outlook for this year is grim.

N4YDU did 95 percent of the QSO’s, so it is a good milestone for Nate. But I went along for the ride, so I’ll be happy to take credit too. 😉

PVRC Reunion on the Air – Now!

The PVRC Reunion on the air event is this weekend. This is an operating event/contest that is open to all, whether you are a PVRC member are not. If you are interested in operating, the rules are listed as a page in my sidebar, or you can go straight to the source.

This one snuck up on me, so I’ll be lucky to be on the air at the right times. Look for me on 10m! Who knows. But participation was good last year, and the club is old enough to have members far and wide, so the odds are you will hear someone calling CQ PVRC.

The suggestion is to use one of the sprint modules for logging, so most major logging programs provide support.

Round ’em up!

K2 Impressions – Part 4

I had hoped to spend more time on the air in CQ WPX CW, but the XYL had reached the melting point on getting the bedroom painted. So the contest was shot from the git-go, ‘cuz I knew I’d be too tired from moving the furniture, painting, etc.

I did spend a few 30 minute breaks twirling the knob on the K2 during the contest. I must say, the K2 really is a good CW rig. Based on the ARRL Lab and Sherwood Engineering test numbers, it should downright blow away the FT-920 for selectivity. Not so fast there, Bandwidth Breath…..

The K2 was indeed better atseparatingthe signals, but the FT-920acquitteditself well in the head to head A/B testing. I didn’t call NT4D up to give it the full Monty acid test. When Jay fires up his Alpha within about 30kc of me, the FT-920 screams for mercy.(We are close enough neighbors to run Multi-2, we are within a 500 meter circle.) The AGC pumping makes all but the strongest signals difficult copy on the 920.

Even lacking the real acid test, it is still obvious that the K2 is a better receiver. I really am looking forward to trying it out in the ARRL 160m this winter, and FD this summer.

I have also spent a bit more time toying with the K2’s DSP filters. I need to research this area more fully. I have everything set up for both SSB and CW the way I like it to […]

Continue reading K2 Impressions – Part 4

Field Day Antennas 2008

This year will probably be a Vee beam for 40m, fed with ladder line and a tuner. Interesting factoid: Vee beams that are odd multiples of 1/4 wave seem to have impedances similar to loops, and can be fed with the standard quarter wave matching section, although that will limit their utility to a single band.

80m will probably be a dipole, 20m is uncertain. The Vee may be pressed into 20m service, and will be used if there are decent 15m or 10m openings.

Throw down a comment if you have a favorite.

Amended 6/4/08: Ok, maybe a loop on 20m. Probably diamond shaped and fed at the bottom.