July 1, 2015Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
If you're working on your CW speed, try the FISTS Slow Speed Sprint on July 4. Speeds are to be kept at 13 WPM or below, and all are welcome.
The IARU Contest is the weekend of July 11. This is the place to be for potential WRTC competitors. Lists of scheduled-to-be-active IARU Headquarter stations are generally maintained in a number of places, one of which is by NG3K: Announced DX Operations.
Dave Burger K3HZ & VK2CZ, points out that in the last issue, "Mention was made of 'University of Sidney'... there is no such place... it is 'University of Sydney '.. just passionate about my Uni.."
Eric, K3NA commented on last issue's mention of extracting power from WiFi:
"The router was modified to transmit random noise on the WiFi channel when there wasn't any data to transmit, so that the power-harvesting device has some RF power to harvest... Basically, that means this router is jamming the channel with noise, making that WiFi channel useless for anyone else. This is not what was intended for a shared resource. WiFi channels are supposed to be shared with multiple devices (routers and their clients), not hogged for purposed of power transfer...In my opinion, any application that transmits noise or unnecessary idle signals on shared channels ought to be strongly discouraged. If RF power harvesting is felt to be desirable, then a special segment of the spectrum should be set aside for this purpose, into which any power supplier can transmit energy intended solely to contribute power to RF harvesters... Let's not pollute the RF spectrum any more than necessary!"
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
Recently, WB9SBD asked "Why Contest" on the CQ-Contest email reflector. This elicited a response provided by K3ZJ: "...Bill Leonard, W2SKE (SK) was former president of CBS News and wrote the ham classic back in 1958 for Sports Illustrated. As an aside, today's ARRL 'Professional Media Award' is named after Bill. The story grew from Bill's experience at Buzz Reeve's legendary K2GL station, which is part of the article. Here is a link to an authorized reprint of the Sports Illustrated article. "
If you're logging computer is older than you'd care to admit and is acting a little slow, you may be able to revitalize it by replacing its spinning hard drive with a Solid State Disk. The prices of SSDs have fallen, and continue to fall. The speed-up you experience could be substantial. Before undertaking the replacement, make sure your computer has a SATA interface, and the operating system that you are using will support SSDs. As a reminder, if your operating system is no longer supported with security patches (Microsoft Windows XP, we're talking about you), it really is time for a more comprehensive upgrade - even web browsing using a vulnerable operating system can jeopardize your computer and the computers "around you" on your LAN. If you are up for adventure, you can download and try out Windows 10, which is available in pre-release form.
A leap second was scheduled to be added on Tuesday according to the New York Times. If all went well, you'll be reading this newsletter or email with no other problems. In the past, adding an extra second has caused unanticipated glitches in various computer systems.
A sign with "Free Technical Books" is usually enough to get folks to look through the box under the hamfest table. You can also do the equivalent on line -- Check out the "Radio" section of Tubebooks.Org. You may find yourself spending a lot of time reading some of these, and maybe getting the itch to build something that needs time to warm up. The web site includes Radio Handbooks ("both kinds, Eastern and Western!"), engineering books, etc. The site author is always looking for more material to contribute. (thanks Robert Morris)
WORD TO THE WISE
CEPT - "European Conference of Postal & Telecommunications Administrations"
An agreement between specific countries that may allow you to operate an Amateur Radio Station in a foreign country using the license of your home country - like "reciprocal operating privileges." There are specific requirements for carrying documentation, and specific restrictions apply. See your national radio society, or the ARRL information on CEPT. Depending on where you go, this is a great way to experience being a mult!
Dave, NN1N, went roving for the ARRL VHF Contest. He writes: "My main goal for the contest was to hand out a rare multiplier and not to compete, but having only a few hours of Es hurt. The Es opening that I did get to the Southeast USA was really good and fun. The meteor scatter and tropo QSOs were fun once completed. As this was also mainly a driving vacation for my wife and I, I had no real worries about things not working out - I just hoped to "wing it" as needed. But, fortunately everything worked fine and I learned more about portable and mobile operating. When the Es were good, the loop on the roof was adequate to work yagi-equipped stations. The loop was useless, of course for tropo and meteors. When I do this again I also want to carry a quick-deploy set up, such as a drive-on mount with a fiberglass mast and a 3 el yagi that I can install in less than ten minutes. This tower and 6 meter yagi took about 75 minutes to install. Some of the best QSOs were made while mobile in VE9 (FN67) with Es to the upper midwest that also led to double-hop QSOs with W9RM and W0BV in Colorado."
W3LPL had an Open House, and you can see the video. There's something here for everyone to enjoy, including a hexcopter, Frank's description of the antennas and towers, and operating tidbits.
Are you travelling this Summer, taking a radio, and want to know what it might be like to be on the other end of a pile-up? Here are some audio perspectives, courtesy of dxuniversity.com.
That the final results and PDF certificates for His Majesty The King of Spain CW Contest 2015 are available at http://concursos.ure.es/en/s-m-el-rey-de-espana-cw/resultados/
Keep those operators fresh! In a multi-operator event change operators frequently. Under adverse conditions, change operators even more frequently. Rob N7QT and Brian N7RVD put Table Mountain in Washington state on the air for field day, changing operators every two hours during the hot and dry daytime conditions (N7QT).
"Active Lightning Control"? Mark K6UFO noticed this article on "Laser-assisted guiding of electric discharges around objects" - using really high power lasers to provide a desired path for lighting to avoid objects. Mark comments: "Now we just need Gigawatt lasers mounted at each tower!"
Wearable technology is getting a lot of attention, but how will this technology be powered? Avnet has an interesting article on some of the choices, with a couple of the options involving "the host" as the source.
Amazon has a device called an Echo; it sits in a room, it's internet connected, and can respond interactively to human voice commands (even while playing audio). The voice recognition is quite good. This week Amazon released information to allow third-party services (web sites) to integrate with this device. The Echo device is addressed as "Alexa." One could imagine some amateur radio related uses, such as these interactions:
Op: "Alexa, ask DX Spotter if 10 meters is open"
Alexa: "There are no R-B-N nodes near you showing activity on 10 meters."
Op: "Alexa, ask Contest Update if there's a contest this weekend"
Alexa: "There is a radio contest every weekend of the year. This weekend, the following contests are happening..."
It is possible to integrate with local control systems:
Op: "Alexa, ask Rotator Control to turn tower one to Japan"
Alexa: "Turning tower one to 310 degrees."
By the way, if you ask Alexa to tell you a joke, you might get this one: "Did you hear about the two antennas that got married? The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent."
Selecting the right heatsink for that homebrew project can be confusing. Here's an article from Nuts and Volts that explores the theory and practical considerations behind heatsink selection.
Technical Web Site of the Week
PA1HR has compiled key measurements from over forty ARRL product reviews for transceivers into a table on his web site for easy comparison. The reviews were originally published in QST between 2006 and 2015.
In some parts of the computer software industry, the accrual of 'Technical Debt' is discussed and debated. What 'techical debt' means for software is that over time, certain decisions made about the architecture or implementation of computer programs to get them completed have significant potential negative impact on the future - for example, it could make the software more difficult to maintain over time, harder to use, or make the next version of the software more difficult to write. It's difficult to directly attribute a monetary value to 'technical debt.'
Our contest stations can be very complex systems, and some of the same issues of 'technical debt' can apply. Every contest start time is a "delivery date," and we have to be ready. We allocate and consume resources as we see fit to attain a higher score. We make tradeoffs ("Summer contest: more likely to use 10 meters than 160"). Is the antenna we're putting up for this contest going to be permanent? Do we bury the new coax? Do we spend five hours doing something "right", or thirty minutes in a way that will work for this contest and maybe continue to work? That headphone connector is just a little flaky, can it survive one more weekend? I can use non-insulated ground wire now, but it will only last 1 year. If I use insulated, it costs more, but it may last four years.
Let's not neglect the other kinds of 'debt' we may be accumulating - an evening or weekend contesting is time you're not spending with your family (unless it's a multi-op). Sitting down for 48 hours straight is a badge of honor and conducive to high scores, but it's also likely taking a real toll on your health. Be mindful of your tradeoffs, and make sure you get in plenty of safe tower climbing between contests for exercise!
2 July through 15 July 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, July 1 1300z-1400z, July 1 1900z-2000z, July 2 0300z-0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 4.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, July 2 1700z-1800z, July 2 1800z-1900z, July 2 1900z-2000z, July 2000z-2100z; CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: July 16.
QRP Fox Hunt, July 3 0100z-0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 4.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, July 3 0145z-0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 5.
NCCC Sprint, July 3 0230z-0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 5.
Venezuelan Independence Day Contest, July 4 0000Z to July 5 2359Z; CW, SSB, PSK; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: see rules.
DL-DX RTTY Contest, July 4 1100Z to July 5 1059Z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: July 12.
Marconi Memorial HF Contest, July 4 1400Z to July 5 1400Z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 10.
Original QRP Contest, July 4 1500Z to July 5 1500Z ; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + Power category; Logs due: July 31.
FISTS Summer Slow Speed Sprint, July 4 1700z-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: August 3.
PODXS 070 Club 40m Firecracker Sprint, July 4 2000 local to July 5 0200 local; PSK31; Bands: 40m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 18.
DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest, July 5 1100z-1700z; RTTY, Amtor, Clover, PSK31, Pactor; Bands: 10m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 20.
QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint, July 5 2000z-2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI no./power); Logs due: July 19.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, July 6 1900z-2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 13.
ARS Spartan Sprint, July 7 0100z-0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: July 9.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, July 8 1300z-1400z, July 8 1900z-2000z, July 9 0300z-0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 4.
QRP Fox Hunt, July 10 0100z-0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 4.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, July 10 0145z-0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 5.
NCCC Sprint, July 10 0230z-0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 5.
FISTS Summer Sprint, July 11 0000z-0400z; 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: August 10.
IARU HF World Championship, July 11 1200Z to July 12 1200Z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; IARU HQ: RS(T) + IARU Society, Non-HQ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: August 11.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, July 11 1200Z to Jul 12 2400Z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: July 19.
CQC Great Colorado Gold Rush, July 12 2000z-2159z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + class + (member no./power output); Logs due: August 11.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, July 15 1900z-2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: July 22.
WAB 144 MHz Low Power Phone, July 5 1000z-1400z; Phone; Bands: 2m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: July 26.
LOG DUE DATES
July 4, 2015
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