Monthly Archives: August 2009

For the Want of a Nail – 50-Cent Station Necessities

For the want of a Nail – Fuse – my station is off 160m. For no apparent reason my Alpha-78 Amp blew a fuse and I had no spares on hand.

Most bands I can work quite successfully without an Amp, but 160m seems to all but require the amp’s QRO efforts to push my signal out.

On a Sunday Afternoon the 3AB-314 15A 250V fuse was not only something I didn’t have a spare for, but something the then open Hardware outlets didn’t have.

A trip today to the electrical supply house should sort out the problem, and I will put up a few spares in my Ham Shack tool box.

It is the “For the Want of a Nail” – lacking those 50-Cent Station Necessities – that shut me down on a favorite band.

I simply had overlooked having proper spares.

Lesson learned, and as I do my station layout redesign I will make a list of the various fuses and other “50-Cent Station Necessities” that I should have on hand.

UPDATE A new Fuse seems to have sorted out the problem, and I now have several spares.



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Winter Reads – 2008-2009 – Batch VII

A further quick update on my eigth batch of books read so far during my 12 month reading log. I have added the previous lists a cumulative list to help me keep track of my reading goals:

Another Place to Die, by Sam North
The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Great Depression and the New Deal, by Robert Murphy
Sweet and Sour Pie – A Wisconsin Boyhood, by Dave Crehore
Gaia’s Garden – A Guide to Home Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway
How to Build with Grid Beam, by Jergenson, Jergenson & Keppel

Previously Read This year:

  1. Seed to Seed – Seed Saving & Growing Techniques, by Suzanne Ashworth
  2. Molon Labe – Come and Take Them (A Novel), by Kenneth W. Royce
  3. Everything You Know is Wrong, by Russ Kick (ed.)
  4. YASME – The Danny Weil & Colvin Radio Expeditions, by James D. Cain
  5. Earth Sheltered Houses, by Rob Roy
  6. Small Strawbale – Natural Homes, Projects & Designs, by Bill Steen & Others
  7. Building Green, by Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan
  8. The Age of Bede, by Betty Radice (ed.)
  9. Ten Years Behind the Mast – The Voyage of Theodora R, by Fritz Damler
  10. The Polically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman
  11. When All Hell Breaks Loose, by Cody Lundi
  12. Transfer (A Novel), by Jerry Furland
  13. The Electric Car, by Michael Westbrook
  14. The Adventure Motorbiking Handbook, by Chris Scott
  15. Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
  16. Patriots – Surviving the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles
  17. The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why, by Amanda Ripley
  18. Celsius 7/7, by Michael Gove
  19. The Blacksmith’s Craft – A Primer of Tools and Methods, by Charles McRaven
  20. Leaving the Left, by Keith Thompson
  21. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
  22. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades
  23. Rocket Mass Heaters – Superefficient Woodstoves You Can Build, by Ianto Evans & Leslie Jackson
  24. Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental, by Marc Gerstein & Michael Ellsberg
  25. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman
  26. The Third Revolution, by Anthony F. Lewis
  27. Dreaming of Jupiter , by Ted Simons
  28. Middle America, by Anthony F. Lewis
  29. The Last of the Mountain Men – Sylvan Hart, by Harold Peterson
  30. Tappan on Survival, by Mel Tappan
  31. Radicals for Capitalism, by Brian Doherty
  32. Carbon in the Solution Not the Problem , by Donald VanDusen
  33. American Farmstead Cheese , by Paul Kindstedt
  34. The Cheese Primer, by Steven Jenkins
  35. Brotherhood of Darkness, by Dr Stanley Monteith
  36. The Driver, by Garet Garrett
  37. Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
  38. Mad Science, by Theodore Gray
  39. The Secure Home, by Joel Skousen
  40. Boston’s Gun Bible, by Boston T. Party
  41. Managing Interstation Interference (Rev. 2nd Ed.), by George Cutsogeorge W2VJN
  42. Terrorist Trail – Backtracking the Foreign Fighter, by H. John Poole
  43. Adventure Motorcycling, by Robert Wicks
  44. Torch, by Lin Anderson
  45. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  46. Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart
  47. Term Limits, by Vince Flynn

I am continuing to better my goal of reading a book-a-week, and it looks like the continued hard winter will let maintain the pace.

Let me know if you want information on a specific title, as unless it is Amateur Radio focused they won’t be reviewed here.

73 & Happy Reading


Further Thoughts on the K9ZW Operating Desk Redesign

Having further thoughts on doing the redesign of my operating desk. Have started recording what switches I need to access at what points, making a list of what I need to be able to see.

Some items are “start & forget” for the most part – Power Supplies, Amp Keyer Interface, and similar items only need to be accessed to start or stop the station, in normal operating conditions.

Other items are “band switch” items that really only have to be manipulated and monitored when switching bands or antennas.

Several of these “band switch” items can be automated. When run in their automated modes, with their software control showing on the screens, they approach becoming “start & forget” items.

Then there are the “see to adjust” items where I need to have access to their controls and be able to read their indicators or screens. Without having good access to these controls and their feedback indicators, my station would be much less effective.

Another important consideration is the “I/O gear” being the Input/Output stuff like Keyboards, Monitors, Microphones, Speakers, Headsets, mice and HMI (Human Machine Interfaces – fancy for USB knobs). These are the ones I really need to have access with absolute ease.

I’ve not really decided how to handle “Other Stuff” – whether I should ban these items from the shack, let them happen ad hoc, or plan them in. Have to think some more about these things.

I am considering three modes of operation – First the Usual DX/Ragchew using the Flex-5000 as the radio, Second a Contest Mode of operations, and Third being alternate configurations like a different Transceiver in use or no computer use.

In a week or so I should have my charts to start analyzing for access, line of sight and control issues.



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New Operating Station Design for K9ZW

I’m busy working on a new operating station design for my operating console.

The layout is far from ideal, and evolved rather than was planned.

Though it is working OK, the “piled-up” style makes even minor maintenance troublesome. A recent RFI in the shack took way too long to track down, mostly due to evolved rather than planned cable layout.

I’m also planning to finally get my 6m amp in the shack, ready to go.

Physically the operating desk has a lot of limitations, ones I will need to live with for another couple years at least.

For those that haven’t followed my operating desk is as far away from my antennas in the house as could be possible, and in a cool but immaculately finished room that had been intended to be a wine cellar of sorts. Other sporting supplies, stored items and our meagerly few dozen bottles of plonk take up a fair bit of space.

Presently the station is on an electrical worker’s factory desk, which I will continue to adapt to suit the station needs.

I’ve sketched an “under table shelf” that will become home for quite a bit of gear that does not need to be in line-of-sight once started.

As my main radio is the Flex-Radio Flex-5000A SDR Software Defined Radio, computer integration is critical. Presently I have two 20 inch widescreen LCD screens in a side-by-side configuration. I’ve like to add a third wall-mounted screen to host the rotor control program, the SWR/Power meter control program, perhaps a DX Cluster display and eventually Amp & Antenna Switch control programs.

Hopefully by the end of September I’ll have some sketches or photos to put up.



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Recent QSL Cards Received by K9ZW

QSLs on Table

QSLs on Table

Here is a quick list of some of the recent QSL Cards I have received:

IR0IPY – Italy (International Polar Year Station)
OF8X – Radio Arcala Team
FJ/OH2AM – First St Barthelemy Island Operation
4A3IH – IOTA NA-183 Ixtapa Island
IW9HII – IOTA EU-025 Sicily Island
VP9/K1XM – IOTA NA-005 Bermuda
ER4DX – Moldova
CU2/DK5SAL – IOTA EU-003 Sao Miguel, Azores
FM/DK5AL – IOTA NA-107 Martinique
JQ1BVI – Japan
CO7PH – Cuba (Direct Card!)
RA3AJ – Russia
SV6CVY – IOTA EU-015 Crete
EG5S – Spain
IM0/IK0FMB – IOTA EU-024 Sardinia
EA8/DL3KVR – IOTA AF-004 Tenerife
DL5MEV – Germany
JE1LET – Japan
9A5D – Croatia
9A4W – IOTA EU-016 Brac Island
9A5AN/P – IOTA EU-170 Balabra Island
U1NZ – Karelia (Russia)
HL0O – South Korea
DD3CF – Germany
P49Y – IOTA SA-036 Aruba
TI2JCY – Costa Rica
VE1JF – Nova Scotia
AH6NF – IOTA OC-019 Hawaii
SM7EHU – Sweden
OX3MC – IOTA NA-018 Greenland
C6DX – IOTA NA-001 Bahamas
HI/AA2AP – Dominican Republic
H44MS – IOTA OC-047 Honiara Guadalcanal Island (Solomon Islands)
MD0LON – IOTA EU-116 Isle of Man
OK1VRV – Czech Republic
JW/IN3SAU – IOTA EU-026 Svalbard Island
JH1OBS – Japan
II1W – Italy
OA4AWW – Peru
PY5JO – Brazil
6H1L – Mexico
RV6FT – Russia
RX0QA – Asiatic Russia
OR6N – Belgium
TO5FJ – St Barthelemy Island
LA6YEA – Norway
5W0AA – IOTA OC-097 Samoa
4N4BB – Serbia
XR3P – Chile
4Z4DX – Israel
CQ9T – IOTA AF-014 Madeira Island
CT1IZU – Portugal
EK0W/P – Armenia
EN62EN – Ukraine
HF0POL – IOTA AN-010 – King George Island, South Shetlands
HH4/K4QD – Haiti
LX1EA – Luxembourg
LZ1JZ – Bulgaria
OZ0KP – Denmark
PA0GMW – Holland
T93J – Bosnia and Herzegovina
TM5EL – IOTA EU-048 Belle Ile en Mer
UA4PK – Tatarstan (Russia)
VO1HE – Newfoundland
VY1CQ – Yukon Territory
VC2W – IOTA NA-038 The Magdalen Islands
VE2XPO – Quebec
VE4GOM – Manitoba
VE6KD – Alberta
VP2VW – Tortolla, British Virgin Islands
Z35T – Macedonia
ZL3KR – New Zealand

Plus a couple hundred more European, North American and South American Cards.

Lots of domestic cards, including some very nice 160m SSB contacts I am very pleased to have confirmed.

Not the worst for low propagation.



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NUE-PSK Modem adds RTTY Mode

Just over the reflector, news that RTTY has been added to the very interesting stand alone NUE-PSK Modem:

RTTY mode now fully supported in NUE-PSK Digital Modem!

W8NUE and I are very pleased to annouce that RTTY mode is now fully supported on the NUE-PSK Digital Modem!

Milt has been working like crazy this summer to complete support for the transmit portion of this mode, and in the last week or two we’ve been quite successful in testing it on the bench and on the air.

The website has been updated with the latest software version 2.10g supporting this new mode, as well as an RTTY App Note describing all the details for use and enjoyment. It’s in the form of a PDF (, and I’ve attached it in text form below here in this message.

I’ve also updated and simplified the wording that describes the multiple ways one can update the modem software. The mem.dat file and three .hex files are are directly accessible at the top of the Technical Resource section under “Latest Software” … just right-click on the desired file and “save as…” to your computer; then follow the standard directions on the page called “Loading the Latest Software” ( Many of you now have the optional USB card installed in the modem, making your update process just as simple as can be by just using the mem.dat file on your thumb drive. (Details on the USB card are at

We really hope you have fun using RTTY with your NUE-PSK Digital Modem. It’s a fun and time-tested mode that still has much of the old time operating “flavor” — long brag files, banners, and more — and now you too can play along, even while going portable with field operation! Be sure to let us in the NUE-PSK Yahoo Group know how it works out for you.

73, George N2APB
& Milt W8NUE