May 08, 2015

Fun Stuff from the ARRL's Contest Guy

I've never scored very well in a contest, but I do appreciate the ARRL's regular "Contest Update." It goes well beyond the normal list of events and where to find contest rules. In fact, Ward Silver, NØAX, goes out of his way to compile a TON of interesting tidbits of information that appeals to more than typical contester.

Here's a some of this week's update I thought was interesting:


Measuring RF power/signal strength accurately is a non-trivial undertaking. Mike N8MSA strongly recommends this Keysight (nee Agilent nee Hewlett-Packard) tutorial or this older, more detailed treatment. Both cover the complexity caused by different modulation types, bandwidths, onset rise-time and numerous other factors.

A sky full of CubeSats? There will be if Planet Labs gets enough funding to fulfill its dream of taking one full-Earth snapshot every day! (Thanks, John WV8H)

Repurposing champ, Charlie NØTT found a great method of cable control. "I use plastic guttering from the local home center for use as a wiring/cable tray. I homebrewed some brackets to attach it to the back of my desk then cut access holes I wanted with a hole saw/drill."Every time we turn around there is a new technique to do something in your own lab which previously required special machines and techniques. Here's an EE Times story about alternative ways to do your own PCB fabrication.

Brian N9ADG found a one-dollar add-on clip to fix that RJ-45 connector with the broken-off tab that allows your microphone to fall out of the rig and under the passenger seat where you can't reach it and have to pull all the way over to the shoulder to get it and then you can't merge back on to the highway and wind up late! Wait, what was I talking about?

Technical Websites of the Week - Glenn WØGJ spotted this article about disturbances in the upper atmosphere resulting from the recent earthquake in Nepal. Does this imply a mechanism for short-term propagation caused by quakes? On the Sun, nano-flares can stir things up and add heat to the corona - like it needs to be any hotter - resulting in changes in our upper atmosphere, too. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail takes the pulse of Ol' Sol with an article about two-year cycles inside the Sun driving big solar storms. Big cycles, little cycles - as long as they make sunspots, who cares?

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