Radio W4KAZ

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W7IUV PreAmp in RX System

After building the 80m/160m splitter, it seemed like the signal levels from the K9AY were down a bit, probably from losses in the filters. So after looking around at pre-amps, and procrastinating on buying the Ar2 preamp, I again landed on the W7IUV site.

W7IUV has updated his preamp schematic, and it looked easy enough. Building the project was simple after gathering some suitable parts.

Trying the pre-amp out seemed to show that it was more or less filling the desired role quite well. With the preamp engaged, levels from the K9AY were now on par with signal levels from the transmit antennas on both 160m and 80m. The preamp is installed in the shack just ahead of the band splitter.  Noise levels on the RX system were down about two to three S units from the TX antenna in these moderate noise conditions.

During the 160m contest this weekend, the RX system got its chance to proove itself. Noise levels here were moderate – not as quiet as good winter conditions, but not S9+ summertime noise either. The RX antenna with the preamp turned on was always the best choice on weak signals in these conditions. It also necessary to switch the K9AY around a lot – signals were not always best in the expected direction because of higher noise to the north.  The southeast direction was dead quiet, but from here in central NC there isn’t much to listen to on 160m to the SSE. The […]

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Fun with MySQL and WordPress

Spent a few hours tugging with the WordPress database. Â It seemed like a good time to move the database into a more recent version of MySQL.

It should have been pretty easy.  Create the new  table space, define, and load the tables.  Tell WP where to look for the data base, and done. A snap, right?

Not so fast SQL-breath! All of the data appeared to load properly, and WP came up as it should. Â The problem was some junk data interspersed within the text of most every post.

Here was the tricky part. Â I generally use Notepad++ for general plain test editing. It is a really nice programmer’s text editor. Â But it wasn’t displaying the junk characters embedded within the text. Grrrrr.

But Notepad++ can also convert the text files code type from ASCII to UTF, etc, etc. Â From one platform to another, sometimes “plain text” turns out to be not so plain. Â But by using the various different text encoding formats, I was finally able to display the junk data. And get rid of it.

After that, everything looks pretty good now. Â Also settled on the google translation widget. Â Folks seemed to use it more often, and I’ve been told it gives the more useful translations.

NAQP SSB January 2010 @ NC4KW

Once again N1LN and N1YXU hosted the January NAQP’s at their home, and I was happy to be part of the SSB team. This year’s crew was N1LN, N1YXU, AA4FU, and myself, W4KAZ, operating under the NC4KW call sign.

It was a lot of fun.

Given the poor high band conditions over the NAQP CW weekend, there was a general agreement that the best initial plan might be to start on 20m and 40m, with the intent of keeping an eye on 15m and 10m in case of any possible openings. That proved to be a worthwhile strategy. We once again turned up a big ‘goose egg’ on 10m, not logging a single qso on the band. N1LN was able to improve last year’s 15m qso count with a short run and some S&P on 15m during his first shift and in between 40m runs.

20m was never great, but we brought our 20m qso count up to a more reasonable level, a big improvement over Jan 2009 contest. Conditions on 20m seemed really long right at the start of the contest. The upper antenna at 100 ft seemed to always be the best choice, and there seemed to be a narrow patch of good propagation into the upper midwest. Logged a bunch of Minnesota stations, and picked up a few other odds-n-ends from Minnesota westward. The western gulf coast from Louisianathru Texas were also being heard, but their signals were only half as good as Minnesotans. At the end […]

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2010 NAQP CW – January

Nothing great, but not too shabby. 352 Qsos total.

Conditions and observations: Early in the contest conditions seemed poor to me, but perhaps I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the start, I tried to get a run going on 20m and use the second radio for S&P, but neither was working well. The run radio was slow on the 20m dipole. I guess all of those tri-banders out there have the advantage. 20m seemed long from the start, as I was called by a strong AL9A. Alaska is unusual so early in the afternoon on my dipole.

The S&P on 15m was none too productive either. There were a few stations there, but lots of QSB. Most seemed to give up calling on 15m pretty quickly[or vanished due to changes in propagation]. Nothing heard on 10m, but not a lot of time listening there either.

It is also obvious that I’ll need to become a much better operator before using the second radio during a run is practical. Even a slow run. But the NAQP’s are the perfect contests to use as a test platform for learning SO2R techniques.

On the other hand, S&P with two radios was a lot more productive than S&P with a single radio. Better than using a single radio and loading the band map. With two radios, the utility of the second band map also comes into effect. The rate went up as soon as I switched from […]

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Seeing Spots – Cycle 24

Close call. The end of December was a maelstromof new sunspots when compared to the previous 24 months. Hope springs eternal.

The activity in the last couple of weeks of the year were enough to preserve 2008’s second place ranking in the list of “most spot free” years. But 2009 is in firm grip as number three on the list.

If the spot trend were to continue unabated, that would put the minimum somwhere around January 2009 – though without more research, I can’t recall if that iswhen the first cycle 24 mini-spots appeared. Seems about right. The 3 month moving average is also going up, another bit of good news for the radio geeks.

Plots of cycles 1 through 23 indicate the numbers ramp up at a higher rate than they drop off, but that is more pronounced in the cycles with high peak numbers. Given how poorly the prognosticators did with predicting the minimum, I suspect the next peak will also be hard to predict. My own W.A.G. is a peak of around 90 sometimes in 2013.

O’course, a Wild Guess ain’t none too scientific. But there ain’t a whole lot of data gathered on a system as complex as the ginormous fusion bomb going off 24/7/365 over the last four billion or so years, only “one AU” away. So I stand by the guestimate proudly, without hesitation.

O’course, I must admit to being distracted byWired’s link to nerdeye candy over on their web site. Yikes. Or in […]

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