Radio W4KAZ

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Linux Progress In the KazShack

Given the plethora of P4 boxes showing up in recycle bins as companies migrate off of WinXP, a recent reclamation opportunity made it seem like a good time to save some landfill space and cobble together a Linux file server. So with a scrap Dell GX280 in hand, the file server/testbed project saw some attention. Stuffing an extra couple of memory sticks into the obsolescent GX280 brought it up to 2GB. The GX280 should be a very usable Ubuntu or WinXP platform with 2gb, so its a great shack backup too. The limitation was the hard drive. A spare 80gb drive is set up with WinXP, and an el-cheapo 500gb drive went in for the Ubuntu install. Not phenomenal, but not bad for under $75USD. Hell, it would have been useful without the upgrades.

The Dell GX280 seems to be well supported by Ubuntu – all of the peripherals are up and running after the install, no hardware/driver hacking required. Installed Ubuntu 10.04(lts). The GX280 is widely available as scrap. Kind of like throwing away a good pre-1974VW Beetle was back in the 1980’s. Not too sexy, but still serviceable enough for generic mundane uses. Wish I had grabbed more of them[VW’s and GX280’s]. [Aside: Both my 1968 Beetle and my wife’s 1984 Honda Civic hatchback got better mileage(48mpg and 42mpg respectively) than today’s EcoWeenie “hybrids” get in real life usage. Ain’t “progress” something to behold?]

Networking the boxes turned out to be the biggest roadblock, and it is still […]

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2010 ARRL 160m

That was fun. Got a chance to really test drive the 160m inverted-L with the new series capacitance matching installed. The capacitor switching is not yet wired, but the match is best at about 1845. The KAT100 tuner for the K2 is easily able to match the antenna across the CW areas. Without the switching in place, the area above 1900 is not usable, but that’s not a problem for ARRL 160m.

Operating low power into a vertical is a challenge on any band but has always seemed a larger hurdle on 160m. It seems like the Inverted-L is playing very well – certainly better than before the matching at the antenna feed point was improved. There were a few stations that struggled to hear the peeps from the KazShack, but the percentage of good QSO’s versus “no cpy pse ltr” definitely seems to have improved.

Operating was limited mostly to early evening. Not a lot of DX worked, just a couple of Caribbean stations and an F2 that must have really good ears. The Caribbean stations were booming, so they probably had less trouble copying the 100w. Didn’t hang in the shack until the EU sunrise, but the F2 was early.

Darting in and out of the KazShack Saturday afternoon, low-and-behold, those three or four intrepid operators cq’ing into the teeth of a mostly dead daytime 160m band have pretty darn good signals. Short distance regional Q’s, but with low noise conditions a few hundred more stations on the […]

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A Sheltered Life

While trying to hook up an el-cheapo home theatre sound system, I ran into something new[to me].

Just had never seen anything like it. An unknown connector for the FM antenna. It looks a little like a common RCA plug-but it is not. WTF!?!

It appears the FM antenna socket is a male “PAL” connector.. O’course, not having even the slightest idea what it was, a strong urge developed as I considered ripping apart the brand-new box and replacing the “funky unknown” connector with either an F, BNC, or RCA connector.

Not so fast soldering-iron-breath!

Sanity soon returned, and a few minutes spent on yahoo searching the information gold mine of the internet turned up a name, i.e., the PAL connector as well as several vendors eager to part with them for a few green-stamps. So, put away the screwdriver and soldering iron for now. Cha-ching. Connector in the mail.

Anyway, its always a jolt when you run across something “new” that has been in such widespread use. I suppose Europeans would have seen these more commonly than here in North America, but I’m still a bit surprised it took me 50 years to run across one personally.

The whole thing is only noteworthy because the FM antenna provided is a single wire cut the length of a quarter wave somewhere in the FM band. It works for strong local stations, but is basically a crappy enough antenna I’d like to replace it. Probably put a loop or folded dipole […]

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