Radio W4KAZ

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IOTA 2008 – What a Blast

I’m only back from the Cape Lookout expedition for a couple of hours now, but the activation of NA-067 from near the Cape Lookout lighthouse was a load of fun. We got excellent WX(for July in NC), the company was great, and conditions provided better results than the 2007 attempt. I’m tired, need a hot shower, and I’ll need to unpack some of the gear to get to the logs, but it looks like we’ll wind up with about 875+ QSO’s and over 120 mults.

!!!!!!!! . Way Cool . !!!!!!!!

We have a slew of great photos taken by N4YDU(and a few by W4KAZ) in the pipeline….coming real soon now.

WKAZ, W4KAZ – Not Quite The Same.

During IARU a QSO with a WV ham apprised me of the fact that “my callsign” was already being used by a broadcaster in the Charleston area. So, curiosity led me to find 107 KAZ. As luck would have it, you can also listen to their stream via the web. The link is a javascript so I can’t link to it from the blog, look for “Listen Live” at the top of the right sidebar.

They also have an AM affiliate, but the AM side doesn’t have a stream that I can find. Its unlikely I’ll be able to DX them with my radio either, as they occupy 680, the same frequency as 50kw WPTF. I’m only about a mile away from WPTF’s antenna site, so once again poor KAZ is overwhelmed by the high power Big Dawgs. WKAZ is only allowed 244 watts at night – WPTF’s HARMONICS are louder than that!

Cool. If I ask, I wonder if they will send me some promo material? I guess not, because W1KAZ, W2KAZ,….W0KAZ might all ask for freebies too.

IOTA 2008 – N4A Rides Again

We will be making another expedition trip to Cape Lookout NWR overlapping the IOTA 2008 contest. Our goal is to put CALO on the air. We’ll be pounding 10m looking for E skip openings in the periods outside the IOTA contest, and be handing out Q’s during the contest on all of the contest bands. If we are able to get a 160m antenna up, we’ll also be on that band outside the contest period. Our time is limited, but we expect to be operating as soon as we get the station/antennas established, sometime in the early evening of Friday July 25th, probably mostly SSB before the contest.

We’re lucky to have an additional op joining us this year, K4CZ. The extra help will be a big boost, and this should help us overcome problems of the sort presented by Murphy in 2007. For 2008 the operators are N4YDU, W4KAZ, and K4CZ. There’s little doubt that N4YDU and K4CZ will do a lions share of the operating. Nate is one of the best ops I’ve worked with and is an exceptional CW op. Barry is going to be a big assist for Nate for both CW and SSB – I’ll need to pull my weight on SSB and the logistics.

I don’t think we will have a 6m rig available, so our plans to activate CALO on 6m may come to naught.

The N4A website will be updated with 2008 photo’s after the op is complete. Might see some […]

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K2 Impressions – Part 5 – Post IARU

I am more pleased with this radio every time I use it. The K2 was really a joy to put on the air during IARU. The CW copy is good. The narrow filters are remarkable, relative to most other radios that I have tried. Good CW audio in a very narrow passband with no ringing detectable. I found myself wanting to break away from my “run, run, run” operating game plan. My original intent was to practice my run skills, but I found the K2 to be so good at S&P mode that I wound up doing a bit more S&P than I originally intended.

With the K2 filter set to 200 hz, S&P turned up workable stations every 200 hz. I was able to hear the weak stations down in the QRN that I probably have never known were there before. I was able to work many of them. It was a genuine “Wow!” experience.

I have yet to master many of the nuances of the K2’s operation, so I did run into a couple of “moments”. I acquired a KAT100 only a couple of days before FD, so I’m not completely up to date on its operation. I found this to be a problem when switching between antennas. That’s a problem, because I like to flip back and forth between alternative antennas. I need to dig into the manual and deepen my understanding of the tuner.

The KAT100 is pretty slick though. It tunes with low power, and […]

Continue reading K2 Impressions – Part 5 – Post IARU

Congrats to N4YDU

I just took another look at the 2008 ARRL DX CW scores. My friend Nate, N4YDU placed 3rd in the southeast region, SOAB-LP. That’s outstanding. I know he’s doing it with elbow grease, because his station is nearly as antenna challenged as my own. There are no 90 foot towers over there either. It looks like some of the new wires he’s hung in his trees worked out.

There is also no denying the man is a CW QSO machine. Good deal Nate!

2008 IARU

The IARU is always a contest I enjoy, because I like the mixed mode work everybody format. I had more time available than expected to operate, and I did better than expected.

The morning was slow, but things picked up in the evening. I was able to hold a run frequency on 20m, something that is unusual. I operated almost entirely CW, so I expect to take a well deserved beating in log checking, as my CW accuracy needs a lot more elbow grease than I have applied.

This was the first real try out in a contest for my Elecraft K2, and I am very pleased with the radio. I was trying to practice running, but found myself fascinated by how much nicer S&P is on the K2 with the filters crunched down. Every 200 hz another workable station popped up. I found that I needed to tune slowly just to keep from missing stations in the crowd. I still was able to find a hole now and then, and when I did I parked and gave a shout. Some of these runs were short but productive. But the Big Dawgs will have no reason to fear the upstart pups this year. 😮

Most of my contacts were domestic, and a large part of that was one-pointers. Given the relatively low dipoles I have, that’s not a big surprise. I was surprised at how close-in the 80m propagation seemed to be. 80m just did […]

Continue reading 2008 IARU

Sunspots – Poised On The Cusp III

A re-iteration of the “that’s our story” comments from a couple of weeks back.

I’d rather not contemplate a FIVE or SIX year minimum…!! But as Hathaway notes, the records show it has happened before, so it is well within the realm of ‘normal’. O’ course, the records also show the Maunder Minimum. It makes a reasonable person wonder just what ‘normal’ really is, given we have a pitiful few observations for only the most recent tiny fraction of the nearest star’s lifetime.

Just imagine for a moment how different radio would be if it had been invented at the beginning of an extended solar minimum.

What a surprise it would be when the spots picked back up. (“wow This is GREAT!!!”) Everything is relative to one’s expectations, aina?

CW Skimmer – Top Ten Reasons Skimmer is the Same As Packet

The proof is in the pudding.

In the grand scheme of contesting, I’m just an ankle biter, but when one of the Big Dawgs barks, it’s worth noting. W4PA posted some notes in his journal, dated 7/14/2008, that confirm every speculation made by folks who argue for making CW Skimmer fall into the “Assisted” category. Scott operated the IARU contest with CW Skimmer up and running(actually he used six).

Quoting W4PA, (emphasis added is mine):

“”Does it work? Absolutely.” “”It looks just like packet spotting”” “”The callsign quality was good, I’d say 90% of the calls spotted were correct“” “”The Skimmers also alerted me to the 10 meter opening in progress”” “”On 20 meters early on I had 600 available calls to be worked at one point spotted by the Skimmer”” “”Does it look and feel like packet? Definitely“” “”If I didn’t know what it was, I would have assumed I was looking at packet spots“” “”Is it different than unassisted traditional single op? Sure.”” “”Is it an advantage over unassisted single op? No question.”” “”It may even be better than packet, because it gives you ALL the callsigns for the whole band. “”

Reading what I’ve written previously, you might come to the erroneous conclusion that I think skimmer is bad. I don’t. I just think the rush to allow it in the ‘unassisted’ category is bad. The tool itself is inanimate. It is the ethics of thecategorizationof its use that I question. Read W4PA’s whole post.

It […]

Continue reading CW Skimmer – Top Ten Reasons Skimmer is the Same As Packet

Et tu, Charlotte?

Scott, W4PA, has posted a couple of hints that the Charlotte hamfest will also be relocating to new digs for their next show in 2009. Scott indicates the Carrabus Arena will be their new home. First Shelby, now Charlotte.

This will be good news for those of us driving in to their ‘fest from the RTP/Raleigh/Durham area, and maybe for the Triad folks too. A Carrabus arena location will cut almost an hour off the drive from this area. The Carabus facility is almost brand new – another small bonus.

The Charlotte move is being caused by the sale of the Charlotte Merchandise Mart to a church. The club has little recourse. I hope they are able to make the shift to the new location smoothly. I’d recommend that they update their website to get the word out ASAP. It still has 2008 info with the old location. Perhaps its all still being finalized, and I’m jumping the gun.

I’d bet that W4PA has the straight word, since he’s a rep for one of their better customers, TenTec.

More Shack Layouts – Photos For Ideas

K8ND has acollection of SO2R shack photosthat should help with getting layout ideas. Some are simple and some are elaborate. Some layouts appeal to me for different reasons.

I like N4TZ’s layout because the Vee shape allows some access to the rear of the gear. My shack space was too limited for this, so my own design is on wheels – I can pull the whole kit away from the wall for snaking wires.

I also like the K3PP shackbecause I like the simplicity and versatility of the small shelves for vertical gear stacking. My own cabinet is somewhat less versatile, but good enough for now.