Saturday, September 24, 2016

ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands

The latest ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands  is in the log.  Emil DL8JJ was coming in workable  into 4 land on 20m CW about S2 with th pre-amp off but noise floor was low.  I worked him long path.  I was able to get him with one call at 21:06 UTC on 9/26.  VOACAP did not predict propagation on 20m long path.  I actually had the antenna pointed at 36 degrees which is really a skewed path since long path is about 100 degrees.   The contact is confirmed in Clublog.

A second contact was made on 15m on 21015 KHz at 23:00 UTC on 9/27

On Deck:

There does not appear to have any plans to activate 4U1UN in 2016 and it is almost October.  So I have removed the possibility of working that station in 2016.

#300 5U7RK Niger - September to November 2016
#301 T31T Central Kirabati - October 4 - Oct 30 - 3 Operators led by 3Z9DX
#302 XU7MDC Cambodia - November 4-14, 2016'
#302 XU7AEC Cambodia - Russian team Nov 16-Dec 5, 2016
#303 TL8AO Central African Republic - November 10-22, 2016
#304 Nepal being planned second half of October - with SP9FIH as 9N7CC, SP2FUD as 9N7FD, SP9FIH as 9N7WE.

2017 is looking very lean right now with Baker and Howland Island being the only one as a needed country

Monday, September 12, 2016

ATNO #298 Bhutan A5A

I have been trying for days with no luck.  My luck turned - finally on 9/13 at 02:16 on 18076 CW.  Zorro, JH1AJT team leader of the A5A expedition shown below operating SSB

A Matter of Days - The Genesis Debate

There is a YouTube video, that is comprised of many segments stitched together that totals up to 3 hours and 45 minutes.  On one side is the side comprised of Dr. Hugh Ross, astronomer and president of Reasons to Believe, who ascribe to an "old earth" account of creation and Dr. Walter Kaiser, professor of Old Testament and one of the translators of the New International Version of the bible.  On the other side is Ken Ham, leader of the ministry - Answers in Genesis, and Dr. Lisle, another astronomer.  Both sides present an impassioned plea to ascribe to their points of view.  It got heated but remained civil.  This video, if one has the patience to listen to all three plus hours, shows both sides of the debate by those who passionately espouse their points of view.

I agree with Dr Walter Kaiser's point of view that it is somewhat precarious to be a hard liner on the 24 day point of view, when scripture does not present a clear (beyond reasonable doubt) formula for it.  His point is that there are six distinct time periods for the creative acts by God that were performed.  The important point is not how long it took God to perform these "acts of creation" but that it is God that performed it.  Hour 2:36 is where Dr. Kaiser states his position clearly.  Ken Ham is clearly on the defensive in this video.  I think both views are equally compelling, though one may be in error, in the grand scheme, is not central to the essential message of the gospel.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Που οι άνθρωποι λένε είμαι - "Who do people say I am?"

Mark 8:27-30 “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, 'Who do people say I am?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?'

Matthew 16:13-20 "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Atheists Richard Dawkins, finally admitted that Jesus really existed in a YouTube video below.    Are we prepared to accept the testimony of historical testimony not only from followers of Jesus but also from those outside.  That was the final question in this video.

Islam, however claims, that Jesus really existed, but that he is only a prophet, and denies that he is "God".  The prophet Muhammad is a greater prophet but according to Islam, that only Allah is supreme.
Another interesting debate which involves Hugh Ross - founder of Reasons to Believe, and Victor Stenger.

There are many opinions (perhaps countless)  on what to ascribe to Jesus's nature whether he existed, whether he is truly the God that created the universe.  Where did the universe come from?  Where did human beings come from?   These are rather complex questions.   On one end, there is the thought the we are a product of random chance, of Darwinian, evolution and natural selection, and that given infinite time, our existence can be explained.  On the other end, the existence of an "intelligent creator" is the driving force for all existence.  Not only that, the written testimony of the early followers of Jesus also make the claim that it is this Jesus who created the universe and holds it all together.
Who do you say Jesus is?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Amplifiers - Is The Extra Power Worth The Investment??

Elecraft only produces a 500 Watt amplifier.  Many radio amateurs invest in amplifiers that go up to the legal limit of 1500 Watts in the US.  In Canada, the legal limit is 1000 Watts.  In the UK, the legal limit is 400 Watts.  Just what is the cost difference between 500 Watts and "legal limit" amplifiers and let's limit the discussion to the US where legal limit is 1500 Watts.  Here is a sampling of several 500 Watt and legal limit amplifiers in the US market:

500W Linear Amplifiers:
Elecraft KPA500 - $2299
Ameritron ALS-500M - $849 (does not include 6m)

1500W Linear Amplifiers
ACOM 1500 - $3989 
SPE Expert 1.3K-FA - $5000
Alpha 9500 - $7995
Alpha 8410  - $5995

The Elecraft KPA500 is simply the standard bearer for 500W amplifiers and its mettle has been proven in many DXpeditions in far away places.   The Alphas are the standard in the upper end.  The price difference ranges from $1690 all the way up to a whopping $7146.

The question is - is all the price difference worth the extra 1000 watts.  Lets look at what you are really buying in terms of what you can hear.  10*log(1500/500) = 4.77 dB or 8/10ths of an S unit.

Let's not confuse the issue between twice the power and twice the volume.  The latter is quite subjective

3 dB = twice the power (Power respectively intensity - mostly calculated)

6 dB = quadruple the power, twice the amplitude (Voltage respectively sound pressure - 
mostly measured)

10 dB = "twice" the perceived volume (Loudness nearly sensed psychoacoustics)

I would say that when referring to perception of something being twice as loud to the human ear that 10db is about right. Try it out for yourself with a vocal on a stereo receiver/amplifier that controls volune in dB since our ears are most sensitive to the human voice.

Here are instrumental recordings for you to listen for yourself:  Look for the 2:27 PM post.

Recordings - Reference, 1dB, 10dB and 2dB

You have to go somewhere in the middle of the thread to hear the recordings.  I recommend using headphones.

So an 800W amplifier will correspond to X when a 500 Watt amplifier is Z - 2 dB difference.   I can hardly tell the difference between Z and X.  So a 1500W amplifier is slightly louder than X, when Z is 500 Watts - but how much louder?  They say that 3 dB is the threshold of being able to perceive an increase in loudness.  By the way Q is like 100 watts when X is 1000W.  Also Z is like 800 Watts when Q is 100 Watts.  There is a good amount of perceived difference between 100 Watts and 500 watts but the incremental improvement above 500W to 1500W is indeed small.  Remember that dB's are all relative measures.

I dare say that between $1700 to $7000 you could have spent on the legal limit amplifiers could be better invested somewhere else - and nowhere to that price tag. Because you can't work them if you can't hear em no matter how much power you are putting out, I am of the opinion that you are better off spending a little bit of money in filters and equalizers if not the receiver itself.   Assuming you don't want to invest in a new and expensive high end receiver, my suggestion is to port the audio into an amplified equalizer / filter.   The ear is most sensitive to the midrange of the frequency spectrum based on the work of Fletcher and Munson.   Filter out 600 Hz and below and above 6000 Hz and you filter out any associated noise as well - so all you have is the frequency content that the ears are most sensitive to.  This equipment can be purchased for about $200-$300. 

Another worthwhile investment is that of receive antenna systems.  But now we are talking between another $200-$1000 depending on whether you have land or not.  If you have plenty of land, beverage systems are quite inexpensive.   If you have no land, then receiving loops like the K9AY will do the trick.  I have been successful in employing transmitting full wave loops which are very quiet in terms of noise.  I have used the vertically polarized 30m delta loop during the 13Colonies special event while operating as K2L with good results. Full wave loops are very cheap to make - really just a hunk of wire with a 4:1 balun to match the rigs impedance.  In fact I worked Heard Island VK0EK, Juan de Nova FT4JA, RI1FJ Franz Josef Land  and several other difficult expeditions using such an antenna.  The 30m delta loop nearly outperformed the Hexbeam during the 13 Colonies special event not because the loop is louder but because the atmospheric noise is so low that the signal to noise ratio so high that even the weaker signal of the loop is quite intelligible. 

Fletcher-Munson Curves Below 

So there you go, get an inexpensive tube amplifier like a Clipperton L or Drake L4B which will easily do 800 Watts (for $7000 dollars less) and you are almost on par with a legal limit amplifier on the other end.  Better yet run it at 500W to preserve your tube finals.   With your listening system in place - you can hear them when they answer "Your Call 5NN".   Without the latter, no matter how loud you are on the other end - it does not matter, you won't make the QSO.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Achieving Balance in Our Lives

This blog post is also inspired by the blog post of n6pse and what has been happening in my life over the past few months:

Many months ago, I also went through a similar awakening after having received a nasty  e-mail from a fellow radio amateur who I thought for years was a friend.   I questioned why I was putting in untold hours in front of the radio trying to pursue the achievements portrayed in pieces of paper.  I was focused and I was successful but at what cost - neglect of my wife and family? So i decided to withdraw from amateur radio in palpable and significant ways.  I took the 2 meter rig out of the truck.  For a while I enjoyed having an HF rig in the truck to make CW QSOs while driving to work.  I stopped that too.  So my forays in radio contesting, DX chasing or otherwise have been drastically reduced. 

I measured my progress in terms of numbers and time elapsed and it still is a struggle for me to find that balance between investing my time in this hobby and other meaningful, worthwhile and even enjoyable things,  I just have to keep reminding myself about what is truly important.  I also realized that the achievement of others came at substantial cost in time and money and I simply did not have the resources nor the willingness to pay the price.  I simply have to be satisfied by the capabilities of my "little pistol station" and the amount of time  I can truly afford to pursue what remaining interest I have in amateur radio.  I also believe that the time is ripe for a major pullback.  DXCC entities after 300 are very few and far between.  I have no desire anymore  to get to 1500 Challenge points.  The 160 meter DXCC is still a challenging one but it requires waking up early and staying up late.  

So to the readers of my blog - I would just ask you who spend considerable time in your shack and away from your family to take a second look at what price you are paying,  in the quest for a certain number of DXCC, Honor Roll, Challenge status, and to take time to cherish what you have and enjoy those around you.

I’ve sincerely enjoyed doing my Blog these past six  years. As evidenced by the change in my blog title, the focus of what I write on has changed and reflects my quest to determine what is important -  in finding balance, truth, and meaning.  The science of amateur radio still fascinates me and provides a backdrop in the wonder of why God created this universe and my place in it.