Radio W4KAZ

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Seeing Spots – Cycle 24

Yet another contest season is under way, with a sunspot number still stuck on zero. Took a pass on CQ WW – not much interest.

I ran into this NASA paper describing a possible link between the solar cycles and the solar tides. Fun stuff.

Then there’s this little gem on the proxy data, showing that radio was born at the best possible time for chasing DX above 10mc. Not encouraging for radio enthusiasts of the coming centuries – but no indication of whats up right now either.

Public Statement re the “Fi-Ni Report”

At this time I would like to make a public statement acknowledging the fact that I am in no way connected to the publication of the Lost Island DX Society, the “Fi-Ni Report”, nor any of its paraphernalia dispensing outlets. I reap no monetary benefits from the sale, promotion, nor dispensing of any of the materials related to either the Lost Island DX Society, nor from Dr. DX’s product sales.

I just don’t know how that unfortunate rumor could have been instigated.

I do admit to being acquainted with both Dr. DX and Macho Cueso, and more closely with Leche Dinero, but these casual acquaintances are the limit of my contact with the formal publications of the LIDS group.

Also, the actual geographic location of Lost Island and Jumbawunba Land are confidential and closely guarded by the LID Society. Due to the nature of my confidentiality agreement I am not at liberty to disclose any information regarding any information regarding LIDS that is not previously published by their official outlet, the Fi Ni Report.

Society membership is strictly controlled personally by Big Gun DXer. Please take up all such inquiries with him. I’m sure his QRZ info is kept current.


2009 Sweepstakes SSB – Reality Sets In

amended 11/23/2009, noon

This year’s SSB contest was great motivation to become a better CW OP.

It should have been obvious when the RigBlaster turned up dead Tuesday evening that Murphy had decided to grace the KazShack with his exuberant best during the SSB portion of Sweepstakes. Or maybe the K.I.S.S.(Keep It Simple, Stupid!) rule should have been followed when working around the hole the absent RigBlaster introduced into the scheme. The audio check test runs Thursday evening would have helped identify the problems, but the work-around was not prepared by then. Such is Life.

The long and short is that I really lidded up the bands with RF infested audio. The problem was much worse with the FT-920 for some reason, but the K2 was not a whole lot better. And yet, people still dug it out. The one curiosity in the entire thing is that the FT-920 monitor sounds pristine. It seems like I read somewhere the monitor on that radio is before the RF sections – but not sure why RF on the line is not causing the audio monitor to be distorted as well.

The DVK audio from the computer was the worst. The pipes suffered from that, since the voice is still not 100 percent from an issue over the holidays in 2008.

My intent was to enjoy the contest, and play with SO2R. As it turned out, it was more like SO(0.33)R – except the audio was crap from both radios. The nasty audio […]

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2009 Sweepstakes SSB

A simple goal this weekend for Sweeps SS. I am going to try to have fun. If I feel like running stations and calling CQ, I’ll do that. If I feel like S&P, I’ll do that. If I feel like watching a college ballgame, zooom – there I go.

Deepest sympathies to UGa fans on the passing of UGA VII. That sure was One-Butt-Ugly bulldog. I suppose they won’t be too hard pressed to find another equally Butt-Ugly bulldog.

The station required some re-wiring to get ready for SSB SO2R. The interface cable for the K2 was in good shape, but the cable for the FT920 required a set of connectors for the PTT and microphone inputs.

It also appears that the Rigblaster NoMic has a problem. No audio getting through the mic side. I had a few 600:600 transformers in the parts box intended for this purpose. I was easiest to wire the transformer into my Mic/DVK/PTT switch box, so I made a quick modification. The 600:600 transformer is now in line with the DVK input. This box had been brewed up a few years back to solve two problems. The first was having bought the Rigblaster NoMic. It (duh-uh) has no mic input. That was fine, until it became clear I’d be using the interface along with a mic for SSB contesting.

So the home brew box handles the switching between mic and DVK audio. (DVK normally on, mic switched on/DVK off when PTT engaged. I use PTT […]

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2009 ARRL Sweepstakes CW Debrief

A big scheduling conundrum – LSU v. Alabama game scheduled at the same time as the start of SS CW. Hmmmm.

The allure of a possible shot at another run at the BCS title by LSU had me hedging at the start of the contest. No TV in the shack, nor time to set one up, so my compromise was I would hit the radio if/when the lads fall behind. I expected that to happen sooner rather than later, but the Tigers kept me from seriously attacking the initial contest bedlam for a couple of hours – before losing.

So I walk down into the shack at halftime, towards the end of the first hour. I put on the headphones. The right hand radio just happens to be sitting right on top of VE8EV. (Booming in too) BANG – Two calls, and the first QSO logged is the NT section. ?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!! First time I work them in SS.

Checking the spots next, VE7 and BC section – BANG second QSO logged on first call. WP3R – BANG, third QSO.

Three mults that are usually scarce here, all in about five minutes. Given my normal luck rounding up these guys, I considered pulling the plug right there. 😮 (I didn’t!)

Finished up the contest a bit behind the 2008 effort, but not by a lot. A new RFI problem kept knocking down the ISP connection on 80m, and on one of the 20m antennas.

Spent most of the contest flying low […]

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2009 Sweepstakes CW – Goals

A few modest milestones to shoot for this weekend.

Improve S&P rate with second radio Improve overall QSO totals Improve overall accuracy

Improving accuracy would be the best improvement. Not enough butt in chair time over the last year for me to expect that to be realized. Conditions sound long already, attack 20m on Sunday. I expect there won’t be much 15m – we’ll see soon enough.

Have a pair of Koss QZ-99 cans. Easily the best sounding and most comfortable set I have tried on in years, I’m really looking forward to using them in the contest.

Been great to see all of the razzle, pep talk and enthusiasm on the club e-mail list. Go mice!

Station Issues:

Need to research RFI on N/S 20m dipole. Fix 160 antenna. How does new wire beam on 40m play?(added reflector to E/W dipole) Is it possible to operate while glued to the boob tuube watching LSU-Alabama? Who the hell scheduled this? Aggggh!

RX Antenna 160m/80m Band Splitter/Switch

edited and amended11/02/2009, kaz

Here is a small project that will work along with the K9AY RX antenna, and solve a minor SO2R problem in the KazShack.

Currently theK9AY feedline comes into the KazShack directly to the RX input for one of the transceivers. I wanted to have a way to share the antenna between the two radios without connecting the RX inputs of each rig directly to one another(RF isolation), or manually swapping the feedline between radios.

There are some comments in various places about using the W3LPL RX bandpass filter design to split the bands to multiple destinations. The NCJ article “Distributing Receive Antennas” by K3NA and W2VJN is a very handy and well explained reference.

This was also desirable here in the KazShack, which sitsin the shadow of the 50KW WPTF on 680kc broadcast transmitter. Rolling the W3LPL filters was done using some T-50-3 toroids and NP0 and high accuracy monolithic ceramic capacitors from the parts bin. The filter is built dead bug style. Each band is on opposite sides of a single piece of copper clad board. Basically, the input is fed to each of the filter banks, and the 160m and 80m bands come out separately, each isolated from the other.

The coils for each band are identical within the band(i.e., L1=L2=L3), so after winding each I used the MFJ-259 to resonate each coil to the same frequency using the same capacitor. After soldering everything together, a quick test with the antenna analyzer into a […]

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