Obligatory New Years Post

Greetings and Happy New Year!  Our celebration last night was one that married 40-somethings with kids often have — a night spent at home watching Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve.

On the amateur radio front, this past weekend I participated in the Stew Perry Challenge, a 160m all CW contest.  I debated whether to go QRP or 100 watts and decided to go with 100 watts.  Although I can’t brag about the amazing performance that QRP and a rather modest inverted L would have given, I certainly had as much if not more fun than last year’s event.  I netted over 180 contacts in my casual operating effort, even bagging about six west coast stations.  I think the Stew Perry Challenge is a cool little contest, perhaps underrated.  Its uncommon exchange for an HF contest, grid squares, and its unique scoring that takes into account distance and worked station transmitter power makes for an interesting contest.  I wrote in my notes for 2013 that I have make a serious effort and do all 14 hours in the test next year.

I can’t say I have any hardcore amateur radio News Years resolutions, other than “do what I like and like what I do”.  I started following this mantra three years ago and it has served me well. I tend to avoid getting into rituals but one I do want to start after authoring one last year is getting at least one amateur radio article published each year in a mainstream magazine (i.e. QST or CQ). I also tend to avoid competition, but I want to “up my game” in the PA QSO Party and also make more than a casual effort in one of the big contests.

In the Radio Artisan lab there are two main projects in progress. I have a working prototype of the Arduino based balanced antenna tuner. It’s been a technically challenging project, but very interesting. I still need to improve the SWR sensor performance and develop some shortcuts in the tuning algorithm to lessen the tune time. The other project is learning KiCad, an open source EDA program for developing schematics and PC boards. In the next week or two I will publish a post on my experiences. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely a viable replacement for the venerable and popular Eagle program.

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2013. Work, eat, sleep, and play radio.

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