US Cluster Spot counts by hour

80 Meters

I decided to do a bit of data mining of the US cluster spots, and decided to publish a set of graphs showing the current per hour cluster spot counts for only US originated spots, across the previous day, week, month, and year.  The raw spot counts are obtained via DX Summit, (thank you DX-Summit), then a parser which is written in Perl, (source code available if you want it), takes that data and parses it for US only spots, and only the previous hour of spots.  A file of these spot counts is generated and then further parsed into single files to be passed to Cacti, each containing only the cluster spot count for a single band.  Cacti then exports the graphs, and I upload them to the web page at XX:03:00 every ten minutes.  The current spot counts are now available here.

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Categories: DX, Info, Services | Leave a comment

Review of Ameritron’s ALS-1306 Amplifier

ALS-1306 (Front)

ALS-1306 (Front)

This review of Ameritron’s ALS-1306 was prompted by my selling my older ALS-82 in order to get a no tune amp.  This will not be a technical review, as there are many of those around, and the amp is based on the older designed ALS-1300, with some protection added.

I decided that I wanted an auto tuning amplifier, as opposed to the manual tune, AL-82 I was using.  So I sold the old AL-82, (see me review here), and purchased an Ameritron ALS-1306.   Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: ALS-1306, Info, Radios reviews, Reviews, Service reviews, Setups, Station | 14 Comments

Review of “DX World”


DX World Logo

DX World Logo



Several months ago I did a review of “The Daily DX“, and now it is time to do a review of “DX World“.  One is for pay, and one, (DX World), is free.  Yes, free, “DX World” is totally free to the user.  I did not want to do a review without having actually used DX World for a bit, so I started using DX World on a daily basis the day I did the review of Daily DX.

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Categories: DX, DX World, Info, Propagation, Reviews, Service reviews | 2 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s RCS-4 Coax Switch

RCS-4 by Ameritron

RCS-4 by Ameritron

This is a a review of Ameritron’s RCS-4 Coax Switch, covering its use and mounting.  I purchased the RCS-4 several years ago from HRO thinking I would get it outside sometime soon, that didn’t happen.  Two years later it was it was still installed inside the shack, on my feedline, switching between a dummy load, and my feedline run outside.  I recently, decided to add a 4-Square for 30 meters, completely redo my antenna feed system, and replaced my trusty 756 PRO III, with a new Elecraft K3!  This seemed like a good time to really just redo everything in the back yard, and the shack, moving the RCS-4 outside as well.

My GAP Challenger was giving me a bit of trouble anyway, and it was time to rebuild it as it had not been looked at, or touched in a any way, for maybe 10 years or more.  The feedline was getting water in it, and the phasing harness needed replacement, and the three radials needed to be redone from scratch.   Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: RCS-4, Info, Reviews, Station | 1 Comment

MixW Telnet DX Cluster Setup

MixW Overview

Select DX Cluster

This article will cover MixW Telnet DX Cluster Setup.  MixW is an old, and unsupported program, save for the Yahoo MixW group.  MixW is also the best program I have ever used for RTTY contesting, bar none, and around 4000 other users agree if the membership of the Yahoo MixW support group is any indicator.  I moderate that group, and of late (2014), DX Summit changed it’s format and has broken some functionality of MixW for using DX clusters.  I thought it might be good to put together a guide for how to set up MixW to use Telnet, as opposed to web-based DX cluster population of the cluster selection window.  For some reason many people are not using telnet, but web-based cluster population methods, it seems to me that telnet is much faster, and better, as it relies not on a single site to maintain a set format, for the rest of time, but a set of software packages, (DX Cluster servers), to keep the current formats.  So here is a short tutorial on how to set up MixW for DX Cluster use via telnet.  The steps will be as follows:

  1. Remove all Web-based support.
  2. Modify a script for use.
  3. Add that script
  4. Implement the changes to be automatic on MixW start.

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Categories: Info, MixW Setup, Reviews, Setups, Software information | 4 Comments

Review of the 30 Meter Mono GAP

100_5883This review of the 30 Meter Mono GAP was prompted as a first phase for a test bed for constructing a 30 Meter 4-Square phased array.  I also wanted to get a decent antenna for 30 Meters, and I like vertical dipoles because one does not need the huge radial field a  monopole does.  In fact the GAP 30 Mono has only three radials, which aren’t really radials, they are more of a capacity hat for tuning.  The GAP 30 seemed a good selection for a 4 square system, as I would not need to lay out miles of radials, the antenna is small and need no guying, 30 Meters is a fun band, and will be active across Sunspot minimum times, and I have always wanted a vertical phased array.  So I decided to buy one, and test it.  This review is the result of the install.  Look for addundiums regarding performance her later…  For a closer look at any photo, just click it…  Once you have finished inspecting it, hit the BACK button on your browser.

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Categories: Antenna Reviews, Construction, GAP: MONOGAP 30, Info, Reviews | 6 Comments

NI4L’s 7 Band OCF Dipole

W2AU Balun in place

NI4L’s 7 band OCF dipole in place

This review of NI4L’s 7 band OCF dipole was prompted by my needing a quick deploy multiband antenna for both field day, and for RVing.  Last year on Field Day I was able to use an OCF dipole for the first time, and I enjoyed the quick bandswitching it allowed, so I thought I’d try and find a good OCF dipole for use while in the field.  After looking around I found NI4L’s site.  Interestingly enough I found it while on eBay, not with Google.  Having looked over his antenna selection I decided on the 7 band OCF version, as that would cover most of my needs while in the field, not need a tuner, and was not too large.  Although I really want a Fan Dipole, (less common mode because the system is inherently balanced up to the coax), for speedy deploy, and the up/down setup/tear down of RVing I decided on the OCF dipole, less wire to play with in getting the antenna up/down.  His web site is very difficult to locate on Google. Read more »

Categories: Antenna Reviews, Construction, Info, NI4L: 7 Band OCF, Reviews, Station | 10 Comments

I have RFI, now what– House Cleaning

FFT for 03/28/12 (GMT)

FFT for 03/28/12 (GMT)

This is part II of a multipart series on removing RFI from your world.  Part one can be found here.  Once I discovered that I had RFI, it was time to get down to basics and start house cleaning.  The first thing I needed to be sure of, was that I was not the cause of the RFI…  I decided to rebuild my station as I had also gotten a new radio, so the first thing I did was to make the shack clean from RFI during that rebuild.  See the step by step for that here.  I ordered a large number of 31 mix Ferrite’s and used them on just about every lead, power, RF, control, nothing was sacred.  Again, see the rebuilding blog entry noted back a few sentence’s.  I also cleaned up the wiring of the shack, and in general did all I could to reduce RFI within the shack environment, starting with removing as many 12 volt wall bug transformers as possible and moving everything to a single 12 volt power supply which was recommended to me as having no emissions within the ham bands, and it seems to not have any at all.  I picked up a Powerwerx 30 supply from West Mountain Radio.  That helped a lot!  I have almost not birdies on any bands anymore…  Even the Ethernet birdies are gone now…

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Categories: Cleanup, Construction, Info, RFI Mitigation, Setups, Station, Tools | 8 Comments

I have RFI, now what– Quantification

Example of RFI

Example of RFI

So I have RFI, now what– Quantification, gathering the tools:

This first part will cover gathering the software tools I used for RFI location and removal, while part II covers cleaning your own RFI up.  Quantification, followed by location of the source, that is the first thought that came to my head when I discovered the RFI being sprayed all over the area I live in.  In this set of articles, I will describe the process I used to locate and mitigate a few RFI sources around my area.  Your mileage may vary, and you will need to remember, this is what I did, and not a guide for you, but more of a chronicle of events and actions I took to solve my RFI problem.  Here is the legal disclaimer: None of this should be construed to be a suggestion as to what you should do, that is something you need to decide on, this is what I did, and am doing. Read more »

Categories: Cleanup, Construction, Info, Legal Actions, Quantification, RFI Mitigation, Setups, Software information, Station, Tools | 4 Comments

Review of West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner

Rigrunner 4008H

West Mountain Radio’s Rigrunner 4008H

This review of West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner, 4008H was prompted by a total shack rebuild because I bought an Elecraft K3 and could not bring myself to just drop such a fine radio into the existing shack environment.  I decided to totally rebuild everything, from the station ground system, to both the 12 VDC, and 110 VAC, power distribution systems, before I would even think about letting the K3 on to the operating desk.  That’s where West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner product came into the picture, West Mountain Radio sells a product called a “RIGrunner“, which is basically a 12 volt, fused, power distribution system, which uses Anderson Powerpole technology for connections.  West Mountain Radio sells several versions of this product, ranging from one with four DC outputs, to one with twelve DC outputs.  Some models have voltage indicators on them, and some models do not.  I opted for the eight output version, and for the version which is called a RIGrunner H, for horizontal version. Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Construction, Reviews, Station, WMR: RigRunner 4008H | 1 Comment