October 7, 2015Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
Register for a free CW Academy Class starting in January 2016. Sponsored by the CW Operator's Club, each class takes place over a two-month period, and involves training and mentoring to instill or improve CW skills. There's a great article in the September-October issue of NCJ about it.
The one-hour CW Operator's Club CWT tests each Wednesday evening in the US are a good way to improve your CW contesting skills. ANYONE can participate. As it occurs every week, it's something you can do consistently enough to become better over time.
Send your contest-related stories, pictures, tidbits, ephemera, etc. to email@example.com.
Doug, K1DG and Larry, K1UO noticed that I typo'd K1FZ's callsign in the last issue -- though I did somehow get the URL right! Here's what I should have said:
Topband season is here in the northern hemisphere! K1FZ has some practical beverage antenna advice: http://www.qsl.net/k1fz/beverage_antenna.html (K1FZ via Topband)
Logs for the California QSO Party (which occurred last weekend) are due Monday, October 12, 2015. (thanks K6MM)
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
Vibroplex has announced the acquisition of Inrad, of Aptos, CA. According to the post on Vibroplex's Facebook Page, the sale was finalized on September 23, 2015, and Inrad's operations have already been moved to the Tennessee offices of Vibroplex. The combined operation is already fulfilling previously placed Inrad orders.
The 1880s were a time of radical innovations... and that was BEFORE radio. (Ward, N0AX)
The RF group at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory wrote a paper about the radio systems used on New Horizons spacecraft (PDF). (Anthony, WR3T)
Harry Potter and Star Trek fans take note: Berkeley Lab Researchers have developed an ultra-thin material capable of rendering 3D objects invisible in visible light. Though demonstrated now on microscopic objects, researchers say it can be scaled up. (Dennis, N6KI)
We can't use any type of cryptography on the air, but the NSA is preparing for a time when quantum computing will make currently-employed cryptographic algorithms too weak to use.
The US Government recently introduced web design standards, to be applicable across the varied US Government web properties. This effort is intended to provide a more uniform user interfaces and better web site experiences.
The FCC ULS web site was recently down for some improvements - and now it seems that the web site, overall, is much faster than it was previously.
I've been trying to read more about Quantum Computing lately - here's a 2008 article from Scientific American about what types of problems are appropriate for it (PDF).
A team from Australia claims to have realized two-qubit logic gates in silicon. While access to the article is behind a paywall, from the summary of the research it sounds intriguing. There are hints that the physical environment required to sustain the quantum computing operations may be less specialized than previous efforts, and that some qubit scaling and inter-bit connectivity problems have been solved.
4O3A, Ranko, has released three new products, all of which have Ethernet capability built in - a multifunction radio interface (with SO2R capabilities), a rotator controller, and an 8x2 antenna switch. These should be of interesting to anyone thinking about remote capability for his/her station. In the US, the productions are available from Force 12.
In the last issue, I mentioned the Carl and Jerry stories from Popular Electronics of old. Jeff, VE3CV, writes: "The article about Carl and Jerry stories in Popular Electronics was new to me as I didn't start my subscription until 1967 when I discovered SWL and then the ham bands! Sent in many a log as VE3PE3NL. The following link Popular Electronics Guide - 1954-2003) was posted in the last newsletter from CVRA (Canadian Vintage Radio Association) and caused me to spend many an hour re-living my teen years. This may be old news to your readers, or not, but use it if you want... Lots of hams out there got their start with PE. " Thanks Jeff!
Though they've been available for a long time on the grey/black markets, the TSA Master Luggage Keys became much more "known" after pictures of some masters were printed in the Washington Post. Careful measurement of enlargements of the pictures allowed the reproduction of the masters. The "key" takeaway is to never allow a picture to be taken of any physical security device if you'd like it to remain relatively secure. This type of threat has been commonly known since 2011 (or before), but with hi-resolution cameras in everyone's pocket, access to CAD and 3D-printing, duplicating objects has become trivial. (Dennis, N6KI)
Web Site of the Week - Electronics Fail Blog - ThereIFixedIt
We've all made ugly, rude, temporary, but ultimately funny fixes to things. Here are some that have been captured in photos. Perhaps you have some of your own to share?
WORD TO THE WISE
LCR - Log Checking Report
This is the report generated when your log is scored by the contest sponsor. It can contain information on errors that you made in your log, and can reveal how others made mistakes copying your information. It can help you identify areas where you can improve your score, as well as indicate ways to improve how to communicate your exchange to others.
Bonus phrase: Bit Rot
Originally denoting the degradation of data on storage media over time, it can also be applied to programs or source code that sorely need to be updated. "Hamzapper 2002 seems to be suffering from bit rot, as it hasn't added any new features since it was first released the same time as Windows XP."
RTTY can lend itself to SOxR operation if your station is set up for it. AA5AU tried SO3R a few years ago in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. Those wild and crazy guys N6RO and K3EST combined SO2R and SO3R to enter the recent CQ WW RTTY contest as an unplanned multi-multi operation.
The Preliminary CW NA Sprint Results are available on the NCJ web site; contact N6TR for an LCR.
Preliminary results of the August NAQP CW are now available. Let Chris, KL9A know if you have problems.
Bob, W0BH, the KSQP Coordinator writes: "The 2015 Kansas QSO Party preliminary results are out one day after logs were due. This year we had 316 logs (52,588 QSOs), which beat our 2014 record of 275 logs. Once again, John/n6mu completed the Kansas Sweep of 105 counties, and he got 104 of them already on Saturday! We had 44 1x1 calls on the air including 16 mobiles. Final results will be out in about two weeks. Look for 2015 Results on the KSQP web site: http://www.ksqsoparty.org/.
On weekend where there are multiple compatible contests running at once, here's a nice way to be able participate in a bunch of them, courtesy of the PVRC Newsletter:
N1MM Logger+ Hint for Multi-Contest Weekends
On many weekends there are more than one contest I might dink around in, like simultaneous QSO parties and the SAC or JA events. In N1MM you have always been able to start up multiple contest logs and go through the "Open Log in Database" menu entry to switch between them. But in version 1.0.5176 or later, N1MM+ now has a nice short cut: · With your cursor in the Entry window, hit ALT+F - that brings up "active" contest log list · Select the number in the list of the contest you want to switch to, type in that number and hit Enter · Voila - you are logging in the other contest. -- John K3TN
GRITTY is a RTTY-signal receiving application (in Beta) that will take a single RTTY signal, and using Bayesian techniques will use predictive analysis to assist in the decoding under marginal conditions. The author, Alex, VE3NEA, is well known for some of his previous works: CW Skimmer, DX Atlas, and Morse Runner.
A $9 Linux capable computer/chip is now shipping. This could be another great building block for your electronics project.
Here's a way to visualize how the Fast Fourier Transform works.
Designing an attractive, intuitive user interface for an SDR is the goal of new project built on GNU Radio -- Shiny SDR. It's also compatible with RTL-SDR hardware.
In reading about one of the Flexradio models, the standard VITA-49 was mentioned. This is an industry/military initiative to have standardized network packet formats for control, data, and status for SDR equipment, so that different components from different suppliers can work together.
I'm not sure how to classify this project... but I'll try. It's a very, very smart LED badge that evolves in its behavior over time after encountering other peer badges. It uses RF @ 900 MHz to find other badges in close proximity. It seems like overkill for the concept of badge, and the story behind it is interesting.
The first optical memory chip has been constructed by researchers. Constructed using germanium, antimony, and tellurium, a high power laser can write information to the device, and a lower-power laser can read the information out.
EE Times had an article on USB oscilloscopes, broken down by price ranges and capabilities.
Here's what could be a nice touch display for your next raspberry PI project - it's capacitive technology, and it supports multiple touches at the same time for gestures.
Transistors made with tubes! Carbon nanotubes, that is, and they may make it possible to manufacture transistors at a smaller size that ever before.
Graphene in a layer one-atom-thick, separated by one nanometer, can yield a capacitance 10,000 times higher than a typical electrolytic. The fabrication method is unique and interesting, using an off-the-shelf DVD burner with graphite oxide.
"Free Power!" Those Rambling Wrecks from Georgia Tech are using carbon nanotubes to make a rectenna - an antenna that converts RF into DC current. The "RF" in this case happens to be at visible frequencies. The IEEE mentioned it too, but in the context of potentially doubling solar cell efficiency. (Dennis, N6KI)
Plain-Ole' RF is the source of energy for Freevolt - an antenna, rectifier, and power management module combination.
This gentleman has developed Extreme LED Room Lighting, using 2772 RGB LEDs. Best line: "Nothing in the rooms casts a shadow."
Portabello Mushrooms have what it takes to make anodes for Lithium Ion Cells. After heating it to over 500 degrees C.... (Dennis, N6KI)
It's almost too easy to add a microcontroller or embedded CPU to a radio-related project. If you're programming in C, here's a nice article on one approach to doing test driven development of code that will be running on your embedded device.
Over the past couple of weeks I've had the opportunity to repair some gear, which brought to mind some of the perennial questions I've personally had about fluxes, soldering alloy compositions, and the like. Recently, there was a nice article on through-hole soldering in the DKARS magazine. Even though this particular article is in Dutch, there are plenty of pictures and captions in English. Regarding particular questions about what flux to use when (and why it may not be appropriate to just use any-old-solder you have on hand), page four of Metcal's Hand Soldering Basics document discusses some of the issues. Elecraft also has a soldering how-to written by N0SS, which contains a list of acceptable solders for their kits. By using an alloy containing metals with a lower melting temperature, it may be easier to un-solder certain SMD parts. I recently ordered ChipQuik, which has such an alloy, but have yet to use it.
At What Cost?
Over the past two weeks we've seen some of the costs involved when a corporation does not follow the rules, and gets caught. Apologies, acceptance of responsibility, resignations of executives, the loss of billions of dollars of market value, fines in the future, product recall. How quickly can a corporation's reputation be repaired after a situation like this?
There likely will be scrutiny of other manufacturer's vehicles, now that it's known how to test for 'emissions defeat devices.'
Products that we as a hobby have a vested interest in meeting RFI emission rules and standards include all manner of electronic devices, which must meet FCC standards to gain approval to be sold, and must continue to meet standards through the production run.
ARRL Labs have tested and continue to test devices to ascertain compliance, and they work in conjunction with the League's General Counsel to lodge complaints with the FCC to urge enforcement of the FCC's own rules. This process is going to get more emphasis by the League. As noted in the October 2015 QST, at the recent ARRL Board Meeting, the CEO, staff, and General Counsel were directed to "develop and ... execute a plan to improve timely and visible enforcement in the areas of RF interference from power lines and Part 15 and Part 18 lighting devices..." The board further resolved that "substantial, timely improvement in enforcement is an issue of the highest urgency" after noting that "effective and prompt FCC enforcement has been lacking in recent years."
However the plans are executed, your continued help will be needed to identify particular devices that cause interference, and be diligent in reporting non-cooperation in power line noise cases.
A particular offending device or utility may be generally known in our radio circles as a non-complying RFI emitter, but unless it is reported and followed up on, it may not get remedied. Doing bad business from an RFI perspective must be made more "costly". Let us all hope and ensure that exhaustion of the reporting party, and lack of reliable regulatory enforcement will not be dependable business planning bullet points going into the future.
8 Oct - 21 Oct 2015
An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral in PDF format is available. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 7, 1300z to Oct 7, 1400z, Oct 7, 1900z to Oct 7, 2000z, Oct 8, 0300z to Oct 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 10.
NCCC RTTY Sprint Ladder, Oct 9, 0145z to Oct 9, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 11.
NCCC Sprint, Oct 9, 0230z to Oct 9, 0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 11.
Makrothen RTTY Contest, Oct 10, 0000z to Oct 10, 0759z, Oct 10, 1600z to Oct 10, 2359z, Oct 11, 0800z to Oct 11, 1559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: November 15.
10-10 Int. 10-10 Day Sprint, Oct 10, 0001z to Oct 10, 2359z; All; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 25.
Oceania DX Contest, CW, Oct 10, 0800z to Oct 11, 0800z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Oct 10, 1200z to Oct 12, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: October 17.
QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party, Oct 10, 1200z to Oct 11, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: October 25.
Scandinavian Activity Contest, SSB, Oct 10, 1200z to Oct 11, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 18.
Arizona QSO Party, Oct 10, 1600z to Oct 11, 0600z, Oct 11, 1400z to Oct 11, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; AZ: Serial No. + state + county, non-AZ: Serial No. + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 31.
Pennsylvania QSO Party, Oct 10, 1600z to Oct 11, 0500z, Oct 11, 1300z to Oct 11, 2200z; CW, Phone, PSK, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; PA: Serial No. + County, non-PA: Serial No. + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 15.
FISTS Fall Unlimited Sprint, Oct 10, 1700z to Oct 10, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: November 9.
PODXS 070 Club 160m Great Pumpkin Sprint, Oct 10, 2000 (local) to Oct 11, 0200 (local); PSK31; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 24.
UBA ON Contest, CW, Oct 11, 0600z to Oct 11, 0900z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RST + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 1.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Oct 14, 0030z to Oct 14, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: October 18.
Phone Fray, Oct 14, 0230z to Oct 14, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 9.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 14, 1300z to Oct 14, 1400z, Oct 14, 1900z to Oct 14, 2000z, Oct 15, 0300z to Oct 15, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 10.
RSGB 80m Club Sprint, CW, Oct 14, 1900z to Oct 14, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 21.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 16, 0145z to Oct 16, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 18.
NCCC Sprint, Oct 16, 0230z to Oct 16, 0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 11.
JARTS WW RTTY Contest, Oct 17, 0000z to Oct 19, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + age of operator; Logs due: October 31.
10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW, Oct 17, 0001z to Oct 18, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 2.
Iowa QSO Party, Oct 17, 1400z to Oct 17, 2300z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC and 60m; IA: RS(T) + County, non-IA: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: November 15.
New York QSO Party, Oct 17, 1400z to Oct 18, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC; NY: RS(T) + county, non-NY: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: November 1.
Worked All Germany Contest, Oct 17, 1500z to Oct 18, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: (Please observe contest free band segments per the rules), 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; DL, DARC-Member: RS(T) + DOK (local area code), DL, non-DARC: RS(T) + "NM", non-DL: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 2.
Stew Perry Topband Challenge - The "Pre-Stew", Oct 17, 1500z to Oct 18, 1500z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 2.
Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, Oct 17, 1700z to Oct 17, 2100z (CW/Digital), Oct 17, 2300z to Oct 18, 0300z (Phone), Oct 18, 1700z to Oct 18, 2100z (Phone), Oct 18, 2300z to Oct 19, 0300z (CW/Digital); CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Members: RS(T) + chapter no. + name, non-Members: RS(T) + name; Logs due: December 10.
South Dakota QSO Party, Oct 17, 1800z to Oct 18, 1800z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; SD: RS(T) + county, non-SD: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 14.
Feld Hell Sprint, Oct 17, 2000z to Oct 17, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: October 24.
Asia-Pacific Fall Sprint, CW, Oct 18, 0000z to Oct 18, 0200z; CW; Bands: 20, 15m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 25.
Illinois QSO Party, Oct 18, 1700z to Oct 19, 0100z; CW/digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; IL: RS(T) + County, non-IL: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 18.
Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Oct 19, 0100z to Oct 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: October 25.
ARRL School Club Roundup, Oct 19, 1300z to Oct 23, 2359z; CW/RTTY/Digital, Phone; Bands: All, except 60, 30, 17, 12m; RS(T) + Class (I/C/S) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 7.
Phone Fray, Oct 21, 0230z to Oct 21, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 9.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 21, 1300z to Oct 21, 1400z, Oct 21, 1900z to Oct 21, 2000z, Oct 22, 0300z to Oct 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 10.
Microwave Fall Sprint, Oct 10, 0700z to Oct 10, 1400z; not specified; Bands: 902 MHz and above; 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 24.
UBA ON Contest, 2m, Oct 18, 0600z to Oct 18, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 2m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 8.
LOG DUE DATES
8 Oct - 21 Oct 2015
October 8, 2015
October 9, 2015
October 10, 2015
October 11, 2015
October 12, 2015
October 13, 2015
October 14, 2015
October 15, 2015
October 17, 2015
October 18, 2015
October 19, 2015
October 20, 2015
October 21, 2015
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