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DXCC in less than 60 Days, Blog Style 30 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Recently WordPress added a country tracking feature to the Statistics Page of their system and I had a look.

It is interesting than in less than 60 days the same contacts as QSOs would have been an easy DXCC (if confirmed).

Over 140 Countries in the last 20-30,000 hits (alas,no total on the page) – here is the list alphabetically:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Albania
  3. Algeria
  4. Andorra
  5. Angola
  6. Argentina
  7. Aruba
  8. Australia
  9. Austria
  10. Azerbaijan
  11. Bahamas
  12. Bahrain
  13. Bangladesh
  14. Barbados
  15. Belarus
  16. Belgium
  17. Belize
  18. Bolivia
  19. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  20. Botswana
  21. Brazil
  22. British Virgin Islands
  23. Brunei Darussalam
  24. Bulgaria
  25. Cambodia
  26. Canada
  27. Chile
  28. Colombia
  29. Costa Rica
  30. Croatia
  31. Cuba
  32. Cyprus
  33. Czech Republic
  34. Denmark
  35. Dominican Republic
  36. Ecuador
  37. Egypt
  38. El Salvador
  39. Estonia
  40. Ethiopia
  41. Faroe Islands
  42. Finland
  43. France
  44. Georgia
  45. Germany
  46. Greece
  47. Greenland
  48. Grenada
  49. Guadeloupe
  50. Guam
  51. Guatemala
  52. Guyana
  53. Haiti
  54. Honduras
  55. Hong Kong
  56. Hungary
  57. Iceland
  58. India
  59. Indonesia
  60. Iraq
  61. Ireland
  62. Israel
  63. Italy
  64. Jamaica
  65. Japan
  66. Jordan
  67. Kuwait
  68. Latvia
  69. Lebanon
  70. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  71. Lithuania
  72. Luxembourg
  73. Macedonia
  74. Madagascar
  75. Malaysia
  76. Maldives
  77. Mali
  78. Malta
  79. Martinique
  80. Mauritius
  81. Mexico
  82. Moldova
  83. Mongolia
  84. Montenegro
  85. Morocco
  86. Mozambique
  87. Namibia
  88. Nepal
  89. Netherlands
  90. Netherlands Antilles
  91. New Caledonia
  92. New Zealand
  93. Nicaragua
  94. Nigeria
  95. Norway
  96. Oman
  97. Pakistan
  98. Panama
  99. Paraguay
  100. Peru
  101. Philippines
  102. Poland
  103. Portugal
  104. Puerto Rico
  105. Qatar
  106. Republic of Korea
  107. Romania
  108. Russian Federation
  109. Saint Lucia
  110. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  111. Saudi Arabia
  112. Senegal
  113. Serbia
  114. Sierra Leone
  115. Singapore
  116. Slovakia
  117. Slovenia
  118. South Africa
  119. Spain
  120. Sri Lanka
  121. Sudan
  122. Suriname
  123. Sweden
  124. Switzerland
  125. Taiwan
  126. Thailand
  127. Trinidad and Tobago
  128. Turkey
  129. Turks and Caicos Islands
  130. Uganda
  131. Ukraine
  132. United Arab Emirates
  133. United Kingdom
  134. United Republic of Tanzania
  135. United States
  136. Uruguay
  137. Uzbekistan
  138. Venezuela
  139. Viet Nam
  140. Virgin Islands
  141. Zambia

Of course some are “uniques” with say one Greenland logged a month, and some are massive like the USA and Canada.  Also I am sure many are “bots” and other web artifacts like scripts, rather than radio amateurs looking at the posts.

Some are DXCC Countries, but then others a multiple DXCC entities lumped as one country (like United Kingdom in the list catching all the UK’s DXCC countries).

Interesting – now if on the air radio time was this productive……

73

Steve
K9ZW

In the Park – A Quiet Field Day 2012 26 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Operations.
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Field Day 2012 was a quick, quiet and quite effective event.

With the W9DK Mancorad Radio Club in a local park.

The spot we had scouted out, AND its backup were both full of people. Unexpected, but hey – isn’t that what Field Day is supposed to be about?

We found a new spot that worked out just fine.

I had brought my Go-Kit primary antenna setup – a Hamstick Dipole which I have very carefully tuned using a Timewave AmtennaSmith TZ-900 to balance between the sides of the dipole.

K9ZW Hamstick Dipole in Action

K9ZW Hamstick Dipole in Action

Getting the antenna in the air is some of my supply of US Army surplus camouflage support poles – usually I use five to seven poles for an effective height of 15 to 21 feet. (Not the lamp post is much further away than it shows in the photograph).

I use a Black & Decker Workmate portable workbench as the antenna mast base, using clamps to lock everything together. When i operate alone I set up directly on the bend, and put my heavy aircraft batteries on the lower shelf to add stability. For Field Day we set up on a park picnic bench 40 feet away.

An extra clamp on one of the mast sections works ok as a rotor of sort. This “Armstrong Rotor” is not precision, but we are swinging a dipole, not a beam.

I did bring a new to me used TenTec Jupiter setup, though never got it out as we used one o fthe club radios – a Kenwood TS-440 that does an excellent job.

Interesting experiment was the huge drop in noise level when we added basic station grounding.

All in all a good time, simple style of operation (we even paper logged our QSOs) and relaxing until I was called away to rescue a family member who was broken down on the Interstate south of town.

A great day in the Park!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Just the Contact, Nothing More – JT65 Mode QSOs 20 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Uses.
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There are a good many people having a stab at running JT65 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JT65#JT65 )

The mode is interesting as it is much about very precise timekeeping as anything. By very carefully syncing the transmitter and receivers software the receiver can complete reception below any normal communication mode.

It sort of reminds me of when I was once asked to be part of a team watching a particular window in a particular apartment building to see if the light was on at a certain time. In the midst of all the noise (all the lights going on & off in the hundreds of windows) that one particular window would be lit up at exactly a certain instance apparently meant something – afraid we were never told exactly what, but it much have been important!

Through timing a sequencing JT65 is hundreds of “little windows” that the software checks in a certain sequence at very specific times. That binary is parsed into a 13 character message from some 47 seconds churning!

I’d originally said I wouldn’t write about JT65 until I had logged 100 JT65 QSOs. Well I am not quite there but I think my thoughts have jelled.

JT65 is a QSO distilled down to nearly the least amount of data to transfer in meeting the most basic requirements for a QSO. Remember a QSO has a certain form – exchange of reports, call signs and such – you can find more on that at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_(amateur_radio)

Ragchewing is simply not going to happen in a JT65 QSO – there is so little data being moved that conversation gives way to just the contact requirements of a QSO.

JT65HF Main Screen (from Users Manual)

JT65HF Main Screen (from Users Manual)

So what is JT65 good for? Well it does qualify as a QSO you can log and count for awards. It does work when conditions are very sour making even CW a task. It brings a challenge of very accurate clock timekeeping to the ham shack. I’ve found it works a charm as a semi automatic QSO process when doing other shack tasks that would make many modes difficult. It is a pretty fear-free way to try digital communications.

Using JT65HF Software a QSO is pretty well defined. Call CQ, Answer CQ Call, Send Report, Acknowledge and Return Report, RR Confirm and an optional 73. Each 13 character and the wait to decode takes about 48-50 seconds, and the next person doesn’t transmit until on the start of the next minute. A full JT65HF QSO is something like a 6 minute undertaking to exchange only the basics.

Yet what other mode can I work across the USA on 160m at less than 20 watts input (and my 160m antenna is most certainly a negative gain antenna) in awful conditions? Even interesting modes like Throb and Olivia are surpassed for rough condition basic QSO contacts by JT65HF.

Do I “like” JT65HF? When conditions are tough it does meet my needs to just reach out and confirm that I can make a contact. While it doesn’t warm up to my interest to learn about my fellow ham, understand his “operating conditions” and hopefully leave a favorable & friendly impression, it does work when almost nothing else does.

I’m impressed by the technology and cleverness of the mode.

It is also nice to have a communication alternative that is sort of mindlessly “point-and-shoot” and nearing QRP levels.

It is obvious the capabilities of JT65 have kept it alive on terrestrial HF bands for several years now. While it never will displace full conversational digital modes, it is neat and has its place.

I can see having the software on the machine and running some periodically. By the way, you get the JT65HF version of a pile-up as a Wisconsin Station on 160m. Apparently not too many fellow Packer Fans run JT65HF regularly. Here is a manual for JT65HF http://openhpsdr.org/wiki/images/0/0c/Jt65-hf-setup.pdf

Catch you on the air, broadcasting exactly on the top on the minute in JT65HF!!

All best and 73

Steve
K9ZW

Planning a Simple Field Day 2012 19 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Planning for a minimalistic Field Day 2012 with Mancorad W9DK Club.

Sharply focused to what matters, we will operate from Lincoln Park using an HF station, some satellite gear and bringing another QRP rig.

“Bring Your Own Lunch” BYOL makes logistics much easier.

Standard Publicity through mainly electronic means matches the time available.

Operating hours have been set for Noon local to 4 PM, with “run-on” if members want.  The park doesn’t allow overnights without special arrangements and we know the mosquitos will be very bad towards dusk, so common sense prevailed.

Using a mix of member and club gear, much to whittle down the amount of gear moved and to limit set-up/tear-down time.  We’ve giving ourselves 45 minutes each side, but know we’ve done this setup in 15 minutes when pushed.

No rain plans, so if the weather sucks we’ll be doing something else.  Some members talked about operating from the Club Station provided it isn’t lightning in any bad weather.

Catch you on the air Saturday!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Why did Dayton 2012 have so many Vaporware Phantom New Product Offerings? 15 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW Built, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Why did Dayton 2012 have so many Vaporware Phantom New Product Offerings?

  • Kenwood had a stage-prop mock-up of what their new FS-990S should look like, but no actual radio, specifications or even pricing. They do have Photoshop created adds in the radio magazines and have been hinting at new “executive class transceiver” for a couple years.
  • Alpha didn’t even had their mock-up of what their new Alpha-4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner would look like when Dayton 2012 opened its doors, though fairly complete hardware models did arrive later during the show. Software apparently isn’t ready, so an operating product wasn’t ready. Alpha had been avoiding pinning down delivery dates for this tuner, but has had a pre-order list taking system up since November 2011.
  • The third is more a pre-announcement and advanced showing, as the product was not announced until Dayton. Flex-Radio had hardware prototypes and panadapter software simulations running of the Alpha Stage hardware & software for their new Flex-6500, Flex-6700R and Flex-6700 series. In all fairness there was no expectation of anything more – just a preview from Flex-Radio on where their next product was going.

What is all this about?

In the case of Kenwood one can only guess. They have hinted for at least five years that they had this class of radio coming out. I listened to the salesman at Dayton who said this new model will be “almost as good” as the other top end rigs out there, but “for a better [lower] price!” Whoopee, I can take out a home equity loan to have a runner up in performance but shave a few bucks off the dollars needed. Can’t say this inspires me in any way.

Alpha seems to mean well and may end up with a great product. The early announcement of a not yet ready product seems to be to create a buzz and do some positioning in the marketplace. I know I didn’t buy a new tuner awaiting this new Alpha – though it is again supposed to be pricey it offered the potential of being the last tuner a ham might ever need to buy. Credit has to be given to not pushing product out before it is ready, though Alpha should have had a better handle on its development time.

Flex-Radio intended to “drop the big one” on amateur radio with a “game changer” and never promised more than a chance to preorder a new radio when production starts in six-eight months (or so). They needed to gauge the support for bringing this technology to the amateur market, and I would guess took away a lot of potential buyers for other premium rigs at Dayton with their deposit for a production slot strategy. They never promised anything but announcements and really delivered more with some prototypes and illustrations of what the software might look like.

So the phantom gear at Dayton 2012 would seem to be each a unique case – Kenwood struggling to find its market and simply not having a ready product – Alpha having good intentions buy not having development far enough along to match real product to marketing’s promise – and Flex-Radio who only promised they would have an announcement only to actually have much more to show.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Almost Field Day – Outdoor Radio Thoughts 14 - June - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Not much over a week until ARRL Field Day 2012 and like most interest hams thoughts are on outdoor operations.

For many it is an annual exercise pulling out the same well honed Field Day set-up – some clubs have been practicing in the run up to the event.

For many it is a weekend of “where is that adaptor? Do we have another ground rod? Why is this generator all gummed up? Did you know that xyz is broken this year, again?” and similar frustrations.

For a few brave ones they will get up Field Day Saturday and start pulling gear to take and set up. Minimal plan and much experimenting.

This year I would like to try out several different field deployable antennas I haven’t spent much time with (or in two cases haven’t spent any time with) as my personal theme & goal.

Will have to see if the rest of the local club will put up with my doing this!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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