Radio W4KAZ

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The KazShack – Homebrew Station Cabinet/Desk

I spent some time re-arranging the station area in the basement cubby-hole after unloading the jed-clampett-mobile(my stuffed to the gills truck) in the days following Field Day. Here’s a picture to remember it by, because I’m sure it will soon again be covered by several years of miscellaneous unrelated items. Things seem to find their way their over time.

Here’s what the operating position is looking like after I re-sorted everything out after field day of 2008. On the bottom row, the FT-920, Diawa wattmeter, and Elecraft k2/100 w/KAT100. On the next level up, an MFJ tuner on top of MOAT, the “Mother of all Tuners”. centered is the junker laptop and K9AY switch, then the Yaesu SP-8 speaker with another MFJ tuner on top. On the top of the cabinet is the “wishful thinking”, a Ham-II control box(attached to nothing) and the switch box for an incomplete home brew remote switch project.

The desk itself is something I designed and built five years ago. Its major shortcoming is the lack of space for a monitor. I was previously using a side cart for the computer and monitor. Since I now have an old laptop for my logging, I have it included in the desk set up. The side cart is now gone, but I will build one to match the desk at some point. The Ham-II controller is a place saver, since I don’t have any tower or rotatable antennas up….yet.

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TR for Windows

I picked up this link up from Scot, KA3DRR and RadioDawg over at the shackadelic. There’s a project going on to port TR over to Windows. The product appears to still be in beta testing, and I understand there are still some outstanding issues with CAT control for certain radios.

The hardware requirements appear to be relatively modest. Leisure funding isdisappearingas college tuition for the eldest son kicks in for the fall of 2009. If I can run it on my old clunker CPUs, it will be worth playing with.

I have been using Writelog since returning to radio, and I am happy with it. It is a good program, and written efficiently enough to run on my junker PC’s. I will continue to buy support for it, as most of the open source software I have used is bloatware, requiring far more CPU and memory resources than the modest tasks of logging actually require. It just rubs my professional feathers the wrong way.

But the major reason I’ll keep supporting Writelog is that I don’t want to see the logging software market dominated by any one vendor. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is on that issue. It’s a small price to pay for a job so well done.

That’s all irrelevant to the TR4W project. I’m glad to see this being ported to a windows platform. I’ve never really tried it out, but TR certainly has a core group of True Believers.


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Field Day 2008 as N4PY – The Story

Several members of the NC/East chapter of PVRC(the NC Contesters Club, NR3X) put together another small scale field day operation for 2008. Operating as N4PY, we built stations on the campus of Royal Elementary just south of Louisburg, NC. Our operations in the 3A class netted 1808 CW Q’s, 511 SSB Q’s, for a total of 2319 QSO’s and an expected score of just above 8800 points. (Note: Link to Carl, N4PY’s software site, the N4PY discussion group, and the eham review of the N4PY rig control software.)

The set up was moderately simple. All antennas were simple wires of one sort or another. For 2008 we choose to operate as 3A, with a full time 40m station, an 80m/20m station, and a 15m/10m/vhf station. The 15m/10m station turned out to be far more productive than we had any real reason to expect given the current sorry state of the sunspot cycle.

Left: 40m foreground, 80m/20m background Right: W4KAZ removing shade screen as W4MY works 15m

For antennas, we used a Vee beam(east/west) with 266 foot legs on 80m/20m. The 40m station relied on another east/west Vee beam with 200 foot legs, supplemented with a hastily constructed but poorly tuned 40m dipole aligned at 90 degrees to the favored direction of the Vee beam. The 15m and 10m antennas were simple dipoles. All antennas were constructed on site – a cause for concern as 1800z approached….!

We had the core group of operators, N4PY, N4YDU, W4KAZ […]

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Sunspots – Poised On The Cusp – Part Deux

On Friday, June 27th NOAA added a comment to the “Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Issued April 2007”. The comment basically says “that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it”. They may have fudged the graphs a bit toaccommodatethe year’s observations, but the predictions remain the same.

Boy, I sure hope we hit that steep curve for the upper end of the “big cycle” prediction, rather than the low end of the “teeny cycle” prediction. It was fun to hear short skip openings on 15m and 10m over FD weekend. I was born decades too late to catch the “hard sky” of 1958.

THAT would be FUN.

Rohn Tower Trades Hands

Picked this up off theTower Talkreflector. Rohn Tower has been sold by Radian to a company in Peoria called O’Brien Steel. Radian has themselves been recently acquired by Montreal based Prestige Telecom.

So ownership of Rohn returns to Peoria. I hope that is good news for the employees as well as their niche market customers – hams.

Field Day 2008 – NC Contesters

The final tally for the 2008 class 3A operation as N4PY is together. We had 1808 CW QSO’s and 511 QSO’s.

(7232 CW QSO PTS + 1022 SSB QSO PTS) + 500 BONUS = 8,754

One of the highlights was probably working CT1HZE on 6 meters. The guys in the 6m shack got a lift out of that.

Good Deals – Ten-Tec Used Gear Sale

I see that Ten-Tec’s Summertime Used Gear Sale is on. They are re-selling OMNI-VI’s and Orions taken in as trade-ins. I’ve always liked the Omni VI. Its a solid CW rig with a great receiver. Sweet.

I am also fresh off a weekend using an Orion on bands loaded with Field Day operators. The Orion is also a sweet radio. It is a great S&P contest radio. You can set the CW bandwidth to a vary narrow setting and work stations every 250hz all the way up and down a band. Zero detectable ringing, even with the bandwidth cranked down to about 160hz.

Too bad my shack is not bigger. I’d sure like to have custody of an Omni VI Plus for three or four years.

I’ve always been somewhat hesitant to buy used gear, but the beauty of this sale is that the rigs have been checked out by factory. Plus they are tossing in a credit on an accessory item, a microphone, and picking up the shipping tab.

NO – I don’t get any kickbacks….

edit, 11:30 am 7/2/08: I’m also fresh off using the Omni VII, another fabulous radio. The Omni VII QSK is top notch. I like running with the side tone set to a low level, it makes the quality of the QSK jump out. I like the ergonomic design of both the Orion and Omni VII. Both radios are easy on the ears. But because of its small size and tolerance for low voltage, […]

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Field Day – Another One Bites The Dust

Had another great time this year. We operated as N4PY, and ran 3 stations plus a VHF rig. The daytime temps were blistering, but there was a steady hot breeze blowing and the humidity was moderate. The heavy rains waited until we were done to show up, a real stroke of good fortune.

The FD site N4YDU got us access to was outstanding. We improvised and modified plans to accommodate the realities of the site, but it has great potential.

Just like anything else – you learn by doing. The more you do something, the more you learn. So, no surprise, it is the same with Field Day. These are not really all from 2008, but they all were either discovered or re-iterated this year.

2008 FD Picayunes: W4MY supplied me with a real Homer Simpson “Duh-OH!” moment when he taught me how to get the insects out of the screen tent. Just take the stupid light and clamp it to something OUTSIDE the screen, shining in. Duh-OH! I also learned first hand that the Dunestar filters may be well worth their price. Zero interference, no noticeable impedance bump. Listening to 10 meters at about 0500Z(after midnight local), I was hearing ten or fifteen QRP beacons. They were not strong, but good enough for easy copy. But a ten minute interval calling CQ turned up zero Q’s.NOTE TO SELF: Even if you listen and find open paths, it is possible that no one on the other end notices. Wild blackberries […]

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