Radio W4KAZ

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2012 CQ 160m CW – Sunday Coffee

Grinding out Saturday night with low rates…Yuck.  Worked more stations from the western US, but not a lot. The path down into TX was much better Friday night, but N/S up and down the east coast was decent on Saturday. New England(ME,VT,NH) probably was not as strong as Saturday, but most were workable. Although I guess I didn’t hear the ones that were not. 😮

Can’t remember working so many NY stations. Condx to NY/PA were really good both nights, and lots of NY stations active.

DX was mostly non-existent at the KazShack. The stations that could be heard had large pile-ups – not really worth the effort. With that as a baseline, I did get 11 DX mults. A couple of DL’s could hear me, a loud EI with no pile-up, and a few from the Caribbean.

At some point early on I had set 500 Q’s as a mental goal, despite being determined to not really set goals. Half way there 600 seem like a loftier perch to shoot for. So I was shooting for 500 by midnight. The rate was steady, so it seemed possible. Came up only 6 short, 593 logged by midnight. So hitting 600 seemed possible too.

“Missed it by THAT much”

Well, did not get to 600 Q’s. Took a 2 hour nap and got up for a bit of Butt-In-Chair pre-sunrise. Picked up a few more, but just not enough. West coast never really showed up for me.  Decided to […]

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2012 CQ 160m CW – Saturday Morning Review

Well, going back to the salt mine after 1:00an local proved to be a waste of time. Conditions had not improved to areas in the Western US/Canada….or to anywhere else.

Actually, the QRN was lower, and the 8’s and 9’s were louder, as well as stations from AL, GA and FL. There just were not enough callers to justify Butt-In-Chair.

Set the clock for a couple of hours with the hope of getting the early risers….NOT. Slept right through the alarm, so Saturday morning was lost.


2012 CQ 160m CW – Break Time

Not too shabby. After 6.0 hours of operation, 270 Q’s in the log. Not much in the Western US, but have CA and AZ. Spent the first 30 minutes S&P, then a couple of short runs, another stretch of S&P, and then a nice steady run. Nothing fabulous, but the Inv-L is playing much better than is has in the past.

Early in the evening, the K9AY was the best on RX. The QRN has slowly been tapering off, so RX on the Inv-L is better. The K9AY still has the edge – when it happens to be pointing in the correct direction.

Blew two fuses in the power line to the K2. Both blew when switching the RX antenna during xmit. Must be causing a voltage spike. Solution: Don’t Do That!

So far the anecdotal evidence indicates I’m being heard better with the changes to the TX antenna. Gonna save looking at the RBN spots for Sunday.

Back to the salt mine….

2012 CQ 160m CW Pre-game

Getting the last minute woolgathering in before the contest begins.

Made a last-minute antenna mod to the Inv-L with K2AV FCP. The antenna matching network has been ready for switching out matching capacitors for over a year. The missing piece has been a control box and control cable to the feedpoint. After a bit of consideration of solving this issue before the contest, the brain caught up and realized an interim solution was already in place.

When the Sixpak was added to the antenna system a couple of years back, the existing seven position switch was pressed into ‘temporary’ service as an A/B switch for a pair of 40m dipoles. But they occupy positions 1 & 2 on the switch.

So why not use the other switch positions to serve double duty? The switch is about ten feet from the base of the 160m antenna, so its a short run of control cable versus the 80 run needed back to the shack.

So as a quick and dirty solution, I hacked together a plug to mate to the switch control line. Just plug the 160m switch into the control cable for the seven position switch.

Presto-change-o. Now I can move the best match on 160m from 1820 up to 1845. Sufficient for a CW contest, although 1855 would be ideal. More tweaking needed, but better.

Goals for the weekend are more or less to lay down a good set of spots into the Reverse Beacon Network. No real QSO goals. […]

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NAQP SSB 2012 @N1LN as NC4KW

DAMN that was a GOOD contest.

N1LN hosted the M/2 operation as NC4KW for both CW and SSB. This years SSB team was N1LN, N4GU, N4YDU, and W4KAZ.

N4YDU led off on the right hand station on 10m. W4KAZ squatted on 20m a few minutes before contest kick off, and worked a few before the start of the contest. When the contest started, it was off to the races. The end of the first hour showed a nice total of around 170 Q’s. 10m was slower than 20m, but N4YDU scrounged a nice group of multipliers before dropping down to 15m. Rates for the second hour took off, and stayed good for the next eight hours. Just lots of fun.

20m conditions seemed very good, and that’s where I did the bulk of my operating. The rates on 15m and 40m were also very steady – N4YDU and N4GU made the most of it. They did a lot of the heavy lifting with band changes and mult hunting on the right hand station. N1LN and I swapped off shifts on the left station, and spent the first six hours on 20m. At the start of his second shift, 20m was really drying up. N1LN dropped down to 80m. 80m was noisy, and the rates were slow at the beginning. It warmed up towards the end of N1LN’s shift, and the rates soon were very good there. N4GU and N4YDU had 40m smoking by then, and were keeping the rate meter […]

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2011 Summer Review – Functional, But Maybe Not Esthetic

One of the things that kept me away from the keyboard was a woodwork project idea.

Several years back, I saw a design for a compact kitchen/breakfast table. The tabletop folded over to convert the table into a bench. The basic idea was used to build two outdoor tables of similar design. They are very functional, but a bit heavy. One is in daily use as a catch all work table. The other slightly larger table is on the backyard patio and is used with the tabletop grill.

The eldest son moved to an off campus apartment which has a large deck. It seemed like a good place for a similar table. So it was time to pencil out a new design that I could put together for an updated “new and improved” version. Several years of use had made some of the shortcomings of the original tables obvious. The “new” ideas are that: 1) it needed to fit into the car for transport, and 2) should be made of lighter weight materials to generally make it easier to move around. This is what popped out…….

First attempt at picnic table bench

Not a terribly good photo, but there are a few more coming.

The table has four components: 2 sides, the top, and the bench. The sides are simply bolted to the bench with 1/4 inch carriage bolts, while the top rests on top of the top arms of the side pieces. The top is simply pinned […]

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2012 NAQP CW – January

Did not expect to be able to put the time in for this one, but enough things shifted around at the end of the week that it worked out. Murphy showed his face in the form of a broken headphone jack on the homebrew SO2R headphone audio jack, which I broke at 1805z as I plugged the headphone cable in.  Not off to a smooth start. The jack is actually intack, it just became separated from the cover of the home-brew SO2R box.

Better to log Q’s than pull the box from the patch cord rats’ nest, so that fix has to wait. So no S&P2R. 🙁

Conditions here seemed good. 10m and 15m had decent signals, even if I couldn’t get a run going. After about 3:00pm local, 20m started to go short without losing the long, and seemed to be open to everywhere in North America at once. Worked TX, CA, NY, SK and SC almost back to back right before I took a dinner break at 4:45pm local.

No runs on 10m or 15m. 20m run was decent, and the unusual mixed bag of stations from everywhere kept me there when I should have migrated to 40m. Should have started the contest on 20m and migrated to 40m much earlier. 40m was long by the time I got there, so I moved down to 80m after short 40m pass. 80m was pretty good, nice and quiet here in the KazShack, and lots of solid signals. Nice […]

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Summer Review – 2011 RSGB IOTA

YACP – Yet Another Catch-up Post.

This year’s IOTA went well, although conditions were difficult. The WX was clear, but easily the hottest of the IOTA expeditions so far. Very uncomfortable setting up. Very uncomfortable sitting in the shade. Operated from the same Cape Lookout location at the Cape Lookout Federal Park on the South Core Banks.

Radio conditions were also comparably disappointing. The mid afternoon SSB session was miserably slow. Conditions generally not as good as 2010 IOTA, and not nearly as good as most of 2011. US activity seemed down, but that may just be perception based on the slow afternoon on SSB. Abysmal.

Antenna mast raising shenanigans were also quite educational. Valuable lessons learned there.  The guy stakes were inadequate for the height and new sets of guys will also be required to move the guy anchors farther away from the mast base. Nothing that a bit of up-front preparation work cannot conquer, but difficult to overcome in the field. So the mast height was reduced from the projected.

The new base plates for implementing the falling-derrick method performed exactly as expected. The mast raising technique is solid.

This year’s crew was W4KAZ, W0UCE, K2AV, and N3ND. N4YDU was off in luxury accommodations operating from the family vacation just up the coast from the N4A operation. Always fun, but missed having ‘YDU on board. Imagine being wooed by the family into basking in air-conditioned splendor with the occasional dip in the hot-tub optional.  😮

Numbers […]

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