Radio W4KAZ

Thanks for stopping by the virtual KazShack. Feel free to comment - I often approve them.

CFL’s Suck – Roll Out The LED’s

I’ve been running a bit of an informal experiment in house lighting for the past seven or eight years. Been using CFL’s since they first appeared in the local retail outlets. Hate to think about how expensive they were before they became Politically Correctified.

Some of the fixtures in the hacienda have sockets for two bulbs. I’ve gradually been removing the old bulbs and replacing them(simultaneously) with a mixed pair – a regular incandescent paired with a “name brand” compact fluorescent. Just wondering if the CFL longevity claims have any merit.

The sample size is pretty small, but the CFL performance has been a lot less than the hype. I had high hopes for one of the outdoor fixtures, but the outdoors CFL crapped out before the incandescent. The CFL crapped out first in one of the indoor fixtures too.

CFL Bad: The bad points

Long life claims not meeting expectations Seem to be “bug magnets” when used alone, much more so than incandescents. Â The insects must love the color of the light, because the bulbs run a lot cooler than incandescents. Â This is a big problem outdoors. Â This is not as noticeable a problem when combined with an incandescent. Light color distasteful to certain humans. Â (can also a good point-very subjective)

CFL Good:

The CFL bulbs use less energy. Â In hindsight, I’d like to test this claim too. Price per bulb dropped to more reasonable levels, but the shorter than hyped useful bulb-life offsets […]

Continue reading CFL’s Suck – Roll Out The LED’s

This Should Be Obvious

Sometimes common sense is everything but common. Just never can find the right adapters when hooking everything back together.

Case in point: It is a lot easier to use 1/8th(3.5mm) stereo plugs, and use an adapter to go up in size to 1/4 inch.  Going from large to small just adds stress to the connections. The smaller size is also becoming the more commonly used jack on gear as the gear itself becomes smaller. Soldering the teensy connectors is more of a PITA, but such is life.

Just as soon chop all of the paddle and keyer plugs now – almost all of the shack radio gear has 1/8th jacks now. But the peripherals seem to all still have 1/4 plugs.

Another fun fact: It’s easier to use all stereo connectors than a mix of stereo and mono. A stereo plug can be wired tip and shell for mono usage, but a mono plug is worthless when you need stereo.  So to hell with mono 1/8th and 1/4 audio connectors. They are banished forevermore from the KazShack.

Soldering Tip: When soldering RCA, 1/8th or 1/4 plugs, it is worthwhile heat sinking the connector, especially with low-quality connectors. The easiest way is to just plug them into a jack. That seems to provide enough sinking, unless you really try to cook them. This seems to really be helpful with RCA connections, where the center pin will sometimes drift if the connector is overheated. Using an RCA barrel as heat […]

Continue reading This Should Be Obvious


Put together a WinKeyer2 in a couple of hours two weeks before Field Day. This accessory was added as part of the plan to have the SO2R station capability operational with either USB or serial ports on the logging computer. I chose the version with a serial port, and plan to use it with a serial to USB conversion dongle. In essence, the shack will be forward or backward compatible with the computer hardware, allowing the SO2R to be feasible with whatever crappy piece of computer I have available at any given moment, from an old dos box to brand spanky new.

The keyer kit itself was built with only about 30 minutes of plugging and soldering. The kit was missing a couple of capacitors, but they are common values which I had in the parts box. It took another couple of hours to get the enclosure drilled and nibbled out – including a db9-sized hole in the wrong place. Oops. On hindsight, a simpler plastic enclosure would have been easier.

The finished product worked without any re-work. The WinKeyer2 is the newer release of the serial port version of the kit. I tested the kit out using a USB to serial converter and the “wktest” program available for download on the K1EL site. After a quick test and config with the wktest program, I brought up writelog and tested that. Flawless performance.

Hooking up the paddles was a bit less satisfying. I’m not terribly proficient using paddles and a […]

Continue reading WinKeyer2

Interesting Products

I built the Idiom Press cmos-IV Logikeyer a couple of years back, and it is the best keyer I have owned. Easy to build kit too. N4YDU has recently added one to his collection too. A great external keyer, and good for field operations.

Idiom Press has two new products that look very interesting, a stand-alone voice keyer, and an outboard RF speech processor. The voice keyer looks like it is exactly what I wanted – perfect for Field Day or the IOTA expedition. Also useful if routing audio from the computer is an issue.

The speech processor is yet not priced on the web-site. That’s a good thing, since I’m not ready to BUY yet. Both products would make a difference for low power operating/field day.

Recent station derangements have re-introduce an RFI issue onto the K2. This is a bit of a puzzle, but I expect to find a case of “ID-ten-T” is involved. Just not yet sure where. Looking at the setup fresh may help, but I see one link in the chain I want to meddle with right away. I’d eventually like the audio transformers in the SO2R switch box at each of the radio lines. That would keep all three audio devices(computer, radio1, radio 2) isolated – currently not the case.

A mini experiment is in the works there, by isolating only the computer audio before it enters the SO2R switch box. I expect a transformer at that point in the stream to have no […]

Continue reading Interesting Products