Radio W4KAZ

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Vetex Radio Repair Service

Well known contester W4MYA announced the availability of a new radio repair service. Bob and George, KF7NN, have teamed up to form Vetex to provide radio repair services to licensed amateurs’ equipment.

That’s going to be a real convenience. Goochland is only about three hours up the road. UPS ground in one day from here.

Pollenating the Antennas – 80m Folded Dipole

Spring Fever, Hay Fever, and on the positive side, Antenna Fever.

The antennas are still in somewhat dis-array. But chugging right along in its 9th year of service is the trusty 80m folded dipole. The dipole serving the KazShack is cut according to the cookbook dimensions for folded dipoles outlined in the ARRL Antenna Book. In the ?? edition, the most recent available here, it is the lead off in Chapter 15, Portable Antennas. For those without the Antenna Bible, it was also re-published WITH permission from the ARRL, in the March 2002 edition of the CARC “FEEDLINE” newsletter. See pages 5 and 6.

I didn’t realize it had been in service so long. Given its construction from 300 ohm TV twinlead, I expected the wires to fail. It has required a repair, but that was due to damage from falling limbs. That is a problem with all of the antennas here.

It has occupied two seperate locations. Its first install favored the northwest, and it was really a killer into the upper Midwest, even with just 100w. It currently is oriented favoring a compass heading just to the east of due north. This improved the signals from Europe and the New England states, but is really a compromise.

The wonderful thing about folded dipoles is the hugh SWR bandwidth. The local version favors the CW/80m end, but the 2:1 SWR bandwidth is from about 3580kc to 3800kc. It is still well below 3:1 SWR at the bottom of 80m. […]

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S&P vs Running

Ed, N4EMG stirred the mental pot with his recent post about S&P contesting. Since I really have not met a lot of contesters that prefer S&P to running stations, it is difficult to address some of the questions Ed raises.

As luck would have it, contesting S&P with modest antennas is almost the only sort of contesting experience I have. Only in the last year have I begun to mix in runs with my more typical S&P operating. A quick glance at my scores by year page show only a couple of contests with 500+ QSO’s. 2006 Sweeps is a good sample of my best mostly S&P effort. It’s also one of the few contests I have kept my BIC for most of the duration.

Beyond that, there is not a lot of information you can use as a comparison. Unless you know the type of station someone uses, it is difficult to make comparisons. Even then, the differences in geographic location, amount of time operated in the contest, antenna height and quality, and operator skill level all come into play. Operator skill level is a tremendous factor. A good operator will run rings around a less experienced op. “Butt In Chair” factor is therefore not limited to the current contest, but is also a cumulative factor. There is no substitute for experience, and that is not unique to contesting.

Contesters seem to migrate away from all S&P fairly rapidly. Many begin that way when first discovering radiosport, although I […]

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Simple Two Position Remote Antenna Switch

The current plan is to incorporate a SixPak into the antenna switching scheme here in the KazShack. The SixPak is to help enable an exploratory foray into SO2R operating.

It would also be useful to have the ability to use more than one resonant antenna on a given band. For example, the station is currently limited to a single dipole on 40 meters. It would possibly be helpful to have another dipole at right angles to the first. This would likely help bring up stations that are off the ends of the current dipole. It might be even more helpful on 20m where the antennas are higher relative to the percentage of the bands wavelength.

So a quickie two antenna remote switch is in order.

Two Position Switch W4KAZ Switch

The requirements are not critical for my low power application. It is simple enough. The relay is the P&B RTB14012F, a SPDT relay rated at 12A in its normal general purpose AC applications. This series of relays has been in use in my seven position switch for a couple of years now, and is in the same series of relays used in several high power switch project articles from NCJ. In this specific switch there are no losses that are measurable up through 6m. This was tested only with an ordinary watt meter into a dummy load, and applies to either output port of the switch. So far so good.

The only other components are a clamping diode, a 10nf […]

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K2 Impressions – Part 10 – Kazmo’s Kustom Kreations

? A Cool Accessory – aka Outboard Heat Management Project

The first extended period of use for the K2 came about during Field Day 2008. The top panel of aK2/100 is essentially one big heat sink. It soon became obvious the the K2 gets quite warm under continuous use – like when calling CQ endlesslyfor Field Day. The temporary FDsolution was to re-position the fan to cover both the K2 and the operator.

Ten-Tec has a 12v external fan accessory, but it seemed like a good project to fill in the “waiting for family to get ready….” time.

I located a 3×6 heat sinkthat had beenrecovered from a dead computer CPU. As luck had it the heat sink had two parallel ridges along the bottom. Even luckier still, these ridges aligned well enough with the top of the K2 heat sink that it more or less “snapped on” to the top of the K2. The extra heat sink alone cooled the K2 a lot.But a fan would help.

Having a couple of four inch pie fans in the junk box, also recovered from computers, I was on my way to a ten minute project.Adding a couple of 5 inch rails cut from aluminum angle stock, a few nuts and bolts, and a dab of “JB Weld” epoxy, we get a nice heat sink/fanmash up. The K2 is now cool as ice. Functional – not esthetic!

Top view of the Fan/heat sink

Briefly, the fan is bolted to the […]

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More Remote Antenna Switches

The current idea to incorporate the SixPak into the antenna switching scheme will also require more remote switching on the down range side of the SixPak. I expect to have two or three 40m antenna choices, and two or three 20m antenna choices. Perhaps even on 15m and 10m. The 20m and 40m antennas will be dipoles at right angles to one another. The goal is to allow all antennas for a given band to plug into the appropriate port on the SixPak.

Currently, the 15m/10m rectangular loop is down. The new 40m dipolewill occupy the support rope previously used for the rectangular loop. There are now brandnew support lines shot into the biologicals that I expect to use for 10m and 15m loops. Right now, a diamond loop fed at the bottom is appealing, but it may be a pair ofdelta loops instead. The nature and locations of the newsupport lines and the surronding foliage will force a dipole to be Vee’d.Pushing the necessary limitations into an advantage indicates loops might be appropriate, or better than Vee’d dipoles. (Engineer the possible!)

Loops on 10m and 15m have appeal. The average height of a delta loop radiator(apex up) will be slightly lower than a Vee’d dipole at the same height, but a loop has a teeny bit of gain over a dipole. Both of the supports are at about 55 feet. Loops favoring EU should be good performers, if those bands ever become more reliable in that direction.

If the […]

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Sweepstakes 2008 CW Score

Scores for the 2008 CW Sweepstakes have been published on the Web. The Sweepstakes LCR report is always worth looking over, since my error rate is still far too high on CW. For 2008, it looks like 44% of my errors were on the check number. The errors on the exchange was about 45%, and I busted only four callsigns. The score suffered dramatically, but I showed some incremental improvement over the 2007 Sweepstakes. I didn’t match the improvement in error rates I managed in the 2007 IARU, but it was better than the error rate of the 2007 CWSweeps.

The callsign copy needs to be 100%, but I made progress in that area over 2007.

The big problem seems to be busts on 7&8 and 2&3. Not a surprise. That mistake is accounting for the bulk of the cross check number busts. It is also the biggest problem in the exchange busts, where the year license is busted because of 7&8 or 2&3 busts. By correcting this copy error I will clean up almost 80 percent of my over all bust rate.

The other remaining errors are a mixed bag. There are several transposed digits in year licensed(e.g., where I logged 67 instead of the correct 76). This is a typing dyslexia that I often can catch as it is happening. So more attention to detail is needed when typing.

The rest are just generic inexusable errors. The callsign busts are fixable. “agn? ?”

Overall, I’m disappointed in the […]

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Engineer The Possible

Engineer the possible. The “best” is too often the enemy of “good enough”. If you wait until you have “The Best”, you may miss out on a lot of operating. Better to aim for “the best POSSIBLE”, i.e., what can be accomplished within the constraints of resources and time frame available.

The recently completed W4KAZ SO2R box is going to be something “New” in the KazShack. But the choices made in building it are all “old” technology. It is a case of engineering the possible.

This has been a project that I have flipped and flopped on. The choice made was based on practicality rather than “the best” approach. The best approach would have been to utilize a new computer and the USB rather than the LPT port. That choice implies using some of the newer CW keying technologies(Winkeyer or Microham). O’course, that would also entail blowing a couple of thousand dollars on the new off-the-shelf hardware, none of which is currently on hand. This approach I characterize as “New Hotness”, per Agent K from MIB. So, where do I get a couple thousand dollars I can divert to this frivolity? (Answer: convince Number One Son to join the Navy rather than go to college? Didn’t work…)

The alternative is to see what can be accomplished using “Old and Busted”.

It turns out that practically speaking, “Old and Busted” is perfectly serviceable, even if it is not quite so much fun as “New Hotness”. New Hotness certainly has an advantage […]

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Wednesday Night Menu

Wooowee. Wednesday night brought forth a trip to “New Orleans Foods and Spirits”. Recommended by the XYL’s neice as her favorite place. She has good cause.

Menu Items chosen around the table:

Voo-doo crawfish stuffed rolls(appetizer) Crawfish and corn soup “Swomp” pasta Crawfish Stew Fried Shrimp salad Fried Catfish Platter

The menu had all of the other normal South Loozyana favorites. But it is difficult to sample them all.

Easily the best food I have had in three years. The crawfish stew was one of the better versions I have had, like -ever. That covers quite a lot of crawfish stews consumed in the days of my yoot’. O’course, the taste buds have been little exposed to such edible tidbits over this past decade, so my judgement could be suffering from delicacy deprivation.

NC BBQ is good, but it just ain’t nowhere close to the type of flavor explosions one can find back in the swampy homeland. There’s just nothing like really fresh seafood when it is expertly prepared. Despite the name, the restaurant is actually in Covington – but then so are most of the restauranteurs from New Awlinz. Caint say I blame them, since I got out while the gittin’ wuz good.

Everything else was good too. I stole a chunk of catfish from the n umber two son, and “home brewed” one of the other menu items: Fried catfish smothered with Crawfish stew. That was food too.

The Voo-Doo rolls turned out to be similar to egg […]

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This is pretty cool. The first completely mobile blog posting I’ve had chance to log. The eldest harmonic is putting his hard won driving skills to the test, and I get to play with his spanky new Toshiba Satellite laptop using the XYL’s wireless access thumb port. The connectivity fades in and out on the interstate, but it is better than dial-up. Almost better than my own personal home PC. It’s a real dinosaur, almost eight years iold, plus being maxed out with 512mb and running win XP.

Note to self: Learn how to disable this stinking touchpad! Too hard to type without touching it by accident!

Not too happy with the Vista look and feel neither. I’m not opposed to change if it adds value, But change simply for the sake of change is for malcontented idiots.

All irrelevant. Lots of shack projects, not much contesting. The Russian DX was lost to the smell of solder smoke in the shack. The vocal cords were still dysfunctional during CQ WPX SSB. So, only 17 QSO’s logged in both combined.

On the other hand, I’ve had a good run using the vacuous rainy winter hours productively out in the shack working on projects.

Goodies that need to be documented here in the log>

K2 heat sink/fan project SO2R Box w/schematic Band Decoder w/schematic More Band Pass Filter Fever Antenna revisions & model Remoting antenna switches Incorporating SixPak K9AY control box re-build K9AY band splitter

That doesn’t include doing maintenance on antenna […]

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