Radio W4KAZ

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2009 IOTA as N4A

Another season of field operation bites the dust with the completion of the IOTA contest. This year we operated again from the South Core Banks location near the Cape Lookout lighthouse as part of our N4A activation of the Core Banks. Our team for 2009 was N4YDU, W0UCE, N3ND, and W4KAZ.

Radio conditions were quite horrid during the first eight hours of the contest. Very high levels of QRN(noise) on 40m and even on 20m. We were seeing storms pass to either our west or our east for much of Saturday morning and afternoon. We were fortunate none developed directly overhead, but the surrounding static crashes made copy difficult. 20m also had a lot of QSB(signal fading), adding to the copy problem. 10m and 15m were completely unproductive both before and during the contest.

Our cabin was different from 2008, and the amount of space around it was less. That resulted in our antennas being a bit closer to the ground than they might have been otherwise, but we worked within the space available. The run station had an 80m dipole and a 40m dipole, with the 40m dipole oriented to favor europe. The dipoles were at about 33 feet.

The mult station sported a half sized G5RV, and its apex was at about 24 feet.

While radio conditions were less than optimal, or even less than the past year, the creature comfort level improved quite a bit. W0UCE provided food fit for royalty, and “Chef Archie” gave us several […]

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IOTA 2009 – N4A Rides Again

Looking forward to another expedition to activate Cape Lookout. Our expedition will again use the N4A call sign. We hope to be QRV before 6:00pm Friday, and will operate through Sunday. This year the crew is W0UCE, N3ND, N4YDU, and myself. Friday evening we will probably concentrate on operating from 6m down. If we are lucky enough to get any Es openings Friday evening, we’ll spend as much time as possible on 6m or 10m.

We will be handing out the NA-067 multiplier during the RSGB IOTA contest. We have three good CW ops(them, not me!), so the best chance to catch us on SSB will be during the afternoon Saturday(around 18:00z), on either 20m or 40m.

Paying For It

Here’s a nice piece on paying for it from Fox News. Some folks seem to be ashamed to admit they pay for it. Some folks are adamantly opposed to paying for it, and will hector and belittle those who see no alternative but to pay for it. But no matter how you get it, you are gonna pay for it, one way or another.

I don’t mind admitting to being in both categories. Some times I just need it so bad. But it is always a reasoned choice about how much I want it versus the true cost of getting it.

So, consider whether paying for it is worth what you are getting. And open a window if you need to have a cigarette afterwards.

IARU 2009 @ N1LN

IARU is a contest that gets better participation outside of the US. Its early summer time frame gives it a different twist for radio propagation, and it is only a 24 hour contest. The time frame means that you may only get one chance to work certain regions, so if you snooze you lose. But unlike a DX contest based on country borders and continents, it also allows for the US stations to work each other. Another thing that makes it enjoyable is the dual mode nature. It is a little bit of everything. Unique.

This is normally a favorite contest to work from the shack, although I seldom press it as hard as I might in others. I was not really looking forward to it this year because of continuing poor propagation, but I brightened up when N1LN and N1YXU decided to host a Multi-Single at their QTH. (and many thanks to N1YXU and N1LN for hosting the event!)

I needed to split my time for last Saturday anyway, so I asked Bruce to put me on the graveyard shift, which he did. He had rounded up quite a few people for staffing the active station. As it turns out, the crew was a good mix of CW and SSB talent. AA4XX and EA5DFV both joined in to the fun. Paul, AA4XX is a local ham who enjoys QRP operation. Our friend Jose’, EA5DFV is contest op for Spain who is vacationing in the area visiting his family. It […]

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11th Through n’th Place

Assuming someone enjoys contest operating, what motivates 11th through n’th place contesters?

OK. What if there’s slim chance of being in the top ten during a contest. Why bother? Some folks have a difficult time getting past that, or come to some similar point of frustration and bail on contest operating.

But the number of QSO’s in contest logs in the top ten boxes seem to keep pushing the bar, even with the reduced propagation at the sunspot minima. So there seems to be something in it beyond the noteriety associated with seeing a transitory mention of one’s operation in the after-action score reporting.

The obvious answer is the fun factor. For folks who enjoy it, contesting is just plain old fun.

Being exposed to other contesters via multi-ops, Field Day, and club meetings has led me to conclude that the best contest operators are definitely much better at the game. It is aways worth paying attention to those most proficient. What sets them apart? Like any other endeavor, different folks have different strengths and weaknesses.

There are some characteristics that are obvious. Good listening skills. Good logging skills. Pileup management. Ability to catch call signs from a pileup. Ability to dig out weak ones. Focus.

Over time I am enjoying each contest more than the last. There’s small chance of seeing my own callsign rise much above the mid N’ths in the score listings. Yet persistence is not futile.

For my part, it is a case of the journey […]

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Compiler Benchmarks

Stumbled upon a blog post on a set of compiler benchmarks for a group of programming languages used on Unix platforms. (The benchmark library is kept by the Debian folks.) Many are widely used, some much less used. There are some graphical representations that present some of the program language trade offs visually.

The graphs are more or less code-size versus performance, with the “ideal” or 0,0 point of the graph being small code/fast performance. Presumably the reference to code size refers to the source code, since a good compiler can optimize several questionable programming practices. Also, it includes several interpreted languages, which are run on the fly rather than packaged and stored as machine level executable instructions by a program compiler. The graph for Java was maybe the standout, as it is not really compiled, but not stricly an interpreted language either. Obviously the Java buckaroos have been spending time on optimization in the underlying support libraries.

The folks over at FreeBasic have built a nice little GW basic compiler. They are trending towards OO techniques, but its not too hard to shoehorn a few old basic programs into compiling and working. No GUI front end though, so another package is needed to build windows user interfaces. Frebasic crosses the Linux/Windows divide too.

Revisions to Band Pass Filter Series

The Band Pass Filter Series has been amended to add additional self referential links.

Field Day 2009 as N4PY

2009 FD was an expedition out to the Western NC Appalachians. N4YDU, N4PY, K4CZ and myself operated under N4PY’s call in Stone Mountain State Park. NC, not GA. Not at all the same as Stone Mountain in Georgia, as our own ancient granite lava dome does not sport the bas relief artwork.

The WX here turned out very well. Saturday was on the warm side, but Sunday was cooler, and rain was not a problem. Not a cloud in the sky. Happened to also spend Monday and Tuesday in Boone, and the WX was the sort the chamber of commerce there uses for advertising – it was that pretty.

The shelter reserved for the FD purpose was perfect for a 2A setup, which was fortunate for our planned 2A operation. We were able to mount all of the planned antennas, and were able to find a suitable spot on a down hill slope for the generator.

This year’s score was down from last year’s 3A effort, and we had only four operators this year. We wound up with about five hours of downtime of the 48 hours of time available(24 hours on each station). That allowed us to log 1946 QSO’s(including dupes), which came out to be 6564 Qso points. With bonus points we should have a final score of around 7200. Not too shabby for just four guys.

Everything seemed to go smoothly from set up through tear down. We had about 500 CW QSO’s on both 40m and […]

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