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A good Sunday

With all my recent posts on the run-up to Sweepstakes and SS itself, it's easy to overlook how I spend most of my time on the radio -- with casual random contacts with other hams. Today -- Sunday -- was a good example of a day of radio for me. This morning I had a couple short contacts, then got in a long conversation with W3ANX, Geo, in Pensylvania. We quickly we discovered we had a common passion -- radios -- and spent about an hour talking about different radios, pluses and minuses of each, etc. etc. It's like when a bunch of car guys get together, they can talk about cars for hours. We can do it on radios, but we do it via radio and with Morse code. This afternoon I was doing something else when I heard a loud CQ on 80 meters from K5HZ. I answered, and started talking to Ron in Autrian, MI, in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. As we talked, I discovered he lived on a lake I've driven by several times, always thinking that a home along that lake would be ideal. Now I&#

I almost met my goal

With over 500 contacts I only managed 79 sections, one short of the coveted clean sweep. On Sunday morning I only had four to go, ND, and NLI in the US. and NWT and NL (Newfoundland) in Canada. I got them all but NL. Oh well, that gives me a goal for next year, to finally get that clean sweep. In the end, I had fun. That's all that matters.

Sweepstakes goals

It's Saturday morning and Sweepstakes, the biggest and toughest contest, starts this afternoon. It's tough because the exchange is long and unpredictable. People complain about contensts having a meaningless 599 exchange, but Sweepstakes is just the opposite. I'll be sending a serial number, precednece or the classification I'm in, my call, the check which is the year I was first licensed, and my section -- 1 U K9OZ 65 IL. That may not seem like much, but copy different variations from different stations a few hundred times at high speed CW and you start to see the problem. I ususally set a goal for myself prior to the contest. Last year my goal was 400 contacts and a clean sweep -- working all the sections. I wound up with 380 and 75 sections. Someday, I'd like to do the clean sweep, but most years I wind up in the 75 to 78 range. There are a few tough ones, like the Northwest Territories in Canada. So my goal this year is 500 and a clean sweep. I'll report ba

Ready for Sweepstakes

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After what seems weeks (okay 2 weeks) of swearing at the computer, I have the station fully set up and ready to run for the contest season. In this screen shot you can see LP-Pan giving me a visual display of the band, CW Skimmer decoding a signal, and N1MM logger running. I had most of this running on an old XP computer two weeks ago, but I was at 100 percent processor capacity. So thinking it would be too much work to upgrade to a bigger processor on that machine, I bought a basic new gaming computer with Vista, a high-powered processor and lots of RAM. That made sense to me. I could get the machine for $500 or so, move the sound card and extra port cards from the other machine and be ready to run. If Vista was a problem, I could downgrade to XP. I waw wrong on every assumption. The sound card I had -- an M-Audio Audiophile 2486 -- has no Vista drivers and it was a bear to get the Power SDR software to run on Vista, so I decided to downgrade the computer to XP. It didn't want

Illinois QSO party

I took part in the Illinois QSO party today, racking up arond 250 contacts in about five hours of operating. The K3 with the LP-Pan peformed great, and I'm ready for Sweepstakes in two weeks. I even plugged in the microphone and did 40-some phone contacts on 40.

More on LP-PAN

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Here's a screen shot of the setup, ready to rock and roll. You can see N1MM logger ready to control either radio, and the PowerSDR is showing the bandscope from the K3. If I see a strong signal on the bandscope I can click on it and the radio will move to that spot. And I'm just getting started with this.

K3 as a software defined radio

I've added the LP Panadaptor from Telepost to the K3 last week. The LP-PAN take an IF output from the K3 and adapts it into the sound card of a computer. You can then use Power SDR software, the same software used to run the FLEX radios, and use the computer as your receiver with full filtering. You can use the computer as a second receiverm while using the K3 as your first receiver. It also gives you a very nice band scope you can use while choosing to use either the receiver in the radio or the computer. In short, it adds a whole lot of versatility to the K3. It also adds complexity. Getting this all set up isn't for the computer illiterate, or someone who doesn't want to spend some time reading manuals, user groups, and puzzling through getting all the settings tweaked. Enjoy the video. I got this set up last Saturday night, just before leaving for a week on the road for work, so I haven't had much time to play with it. I'm still learning. Like any computer th

Getting the station set up

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With new radios, it always seems to take a while to get the software, the wiring, the station set up correctly. I've got the K3 now running throught the ICOM PW-1 amplifier, along with the 756 Pro. I've got both radios interaced withe the computer logging program, and a different computer set up as the contest station. There are still a couple bugs to work out, but I'm getting close. I tried testing things this weekend running the Texas QSO party, but propagation seemed to be against me. On both 20 and 40 meters, I could barely hear anyond from Texas this afternoon. Oh well, it's almost contest season. I'll be trying to update my contest activity more regularly as the season progresses. I'm now feeding the RSS feed of this blog to my twitter account. So if you're a twitterer, you can follow this at twitter/bplantz.

K3 contacts

Okay, here's the contacts with other stations with K3s. W7ZQ, Jim near Riverton, WY. He was running a two-element quad at 180 feet on 40 meters. He was loud. I'm having a case of antenna envy. W5WSF, Jack in Raleigh, NC. Running a K3 and Steppir vertical. Identical station to mine. W9AC, Paul in Jacksonville, FL. A K3 and vertical. That's just the ones I noted the K3 in the log. A word on logging. In the old days -- 60s -- hams were required to keep logs. With the advent of two meter FM in the 70s, the logging requirement went away, and many quit keeping logs. I keep a complete log using WinEQF software, and upload all of my contest logs into the master log. Since 2001 when I started computer logging, I've got 12,000 contacts in the computer. If I hear a station, I type in the call and the log tells me of past QSOs. I've gotten better at keeping notes in the log, I try to keep age, and rig used, and often a couple other details. Here's a funny story. I was

Too active

I've been too busy with the new radio to get on the air much. I'll try to catch up this weekend with some updates. It's funny, but about half of the people I've worked -- okay, maybe one fourth -- seemed to be running K3s as well. Having a good time with it.