28 August 2008

18 km per liter = 42 miles per gallon

I've read on CNN.com a long article about hypermilers. I've read on WIRED (April 2008) about a fake company that promised electric cars and, to go with them, a Smart Fortwo that scored an eco-friendly 37 mpg (15.7 km/l).

Yesterday I filled the tank on my FIAT Seicento (1100cc unleaded fuel engine) with 31,61 liters. I had driven 575km (357 mi), on highway, countryside (80%) and suburban, with an average 70 km/h (44 mph) speed limit. With some easy math it turns out to be 18,19 km/l (42.78 mpg). Cool!

My urban average is between 14 and 15 km/l (33-35 mpg) driving 20-25 km per day.

19 August 2008

Field Day Logging and the Dupe Sheet (on paper)

If you've browsed through my past posts, you probably know I like to do outdoor VHF contesting. Since I usually carry my station on my shoulders (from battery to antenna), there's no way I would take a laptop with me. Therefore all the logging is done on paper, using a homemade logbook.

I have produced and published two PDFs with either A4 or A5 size pages (scroll down my website to HAM Travel section), the latter being much more convenient when there is no chair and table at the operating position.

Each page obviously stores a limited number of contacts so soon the list of worked stations gets out of sight. In the old days without real-time computer logging, how did contesters avoid duplicated QSOs? Here's a tip I have not seen mentioned in the last years: use a dupe sheet!

What is it? The dupe sheet is a separate page where you copy all worked callsigns, sorted by the first suffix letter, after each QSO. If you turn page on the main log, the dupe sheet will stay under your nose for a quick lookup. During the post-contest log typing, the dupe sheet provides a callsign cross-check to minimize bad/quick handwriting errors.

The dupe sheet from my Alpe Adria VHF 2008 Contest.

From the picture you may also spot another field day tip: you need a sure-write mean of writing. Something that works below 0C/32F and upside down (as well as in absence of gravity). While a scalpel or a chisel might do, they're not fast enough for contest logging. A pencil does the job. I also carry a felt-tip marker (OK for low temperatures).

08 August 2008

Open project of keypad for FT-817?

I posted this request on the GQRP reflector.

I am looking for an external keypad to match my FT-817 that can be built at home. Has it ever been published on SPRAT?

I've seen a couple of commercial products whose cost is equivalent to setting up my own development station, since I can master both software and hardware programming.

Yesterday I operated 6 hours /P in the Alpe Adria VHF contest and noticed that I'd like to have direct access to, in descending order:
- VFO A/B control
- Power setting
- Direct frequency dial
- Metering control (Pwr, Mod, Alc, Swr)
- VOX on/off
- Operating Mode (but this control has dedicated buttons anyway)

If there is no known open (= free circuit diagram and microprocessor code) design, I will develop my own external keypad and share it.

I received no feedback, so either everyone is on holidays or the world doesn't need an(other) FT817 external keypad.

Update 2008-11-24: the IK1ZYW keypad is now real! See newer blog posts or its homepage.

06 August 2008

My QSL for 9A/IK1ZYW, Summer 2008

I had a little more than 50 QSOs from Rab, nevertheless I wanted to design a nice QSL front.

This originates from a digital picture I shot, some work on the computer and printed at the photo shop around the corner. I printed it in 10x13cm format, and will cut the excess bottom band to fall within QSL bureau 9x14cm limits.

The bottom band also carried an experiment: how small can the text be to stay readable (with magnifying glass, if needed)?

Using a pro service for printing is both cheaper (30 eurocents/pic in small quantities) and guarantees a longer lasting product than home printing.

I will honor all QSL requests for my contacts from 9A of July 2008. I am not sending out first.