|Mar 12, 2011||NAQCC Web Site||Issue #138|
In this issue:|
1. March Sprint.
2. February Challenge Results
3. General Club News
3a. Chapter News
4. Elmer Project
4a. NAQCC QRS Nets
5. CW Cartoon of the Month
6. Member Spotlight
7. News Items and Articles by Our Members
|1. MARCH SPRINT: Most of the USA is now on Daylight Savings Time. With the hour difference in time, daylight, sunset, etc., I'm guessing that 40 and 20 will start to pick up and get back to the levels they were at last fall. Hopefully that will mean better things for those who for whatever reason can't use 80 meters. Oh, 80 should still be good also for those who can use it. With all that, perhaps this is the month we reach 150 logs submitted. At the very minimum, let's get 100. That would mean we've gone a whole year or 12 straight sprints with 100+ logs.|
So make plans (if you haven't already done so) to join in the fun this coming Wednesday evening local time (8:30 EDT, 7:30 CDT, 6:30 MDT, 5:30 PDT) which is Thursday March 17 0030-0230Z 'radio time.' Perhaps you're someone who has never delved into the fascinating aspect of ham radio contesting. Well our sprints are an excellent place to 'get your feet wet.' Because of the attitude of our wonderful members and the incentive to use a straight key, you won't find the frantic pace of other contests and sprints that frighten those whose CW skills are still in the developmental stage. Virtually everyone who enters our sprints will slow down for you to help you make the QSO. If someone doesn't do so, you can let us know and we'll confront them with the ARRL 'Wouff Hong.' HI HI.
If you ARE thinking of entering one of our sprints for the first time, we will certainly welcome you and hope you will be a regular participant from then on. We have a nice certificate for the first-time log-submitting member with the best score.
We are also picking up again on our sprint prize of WB8LZG's paddle handles and knobs thanks to another generous donation of the handsome hand-crafted items by Gregg - Thanks. We just received them not long before 'going to press' with this newsletter so we'll have more to say about them later. But there will be a drawing from this month's sprint.
Remember to be sure to read and understand the full general sprint rules and any specific rules for this month's sprint here.
2. FEBRUARY CHALLENGE RESULTS: Our groundhog challenge was another very successful one. While we don't even come close to the 100+ mark of submissions for our sprints, it looks like 12+ is the comparable mark for our challenges and we achieved that again in February. 10 folks made all the groundhog names and 4 more made some of the names. This challenge was a test bed for our 2 new rules, and we found out that a total of some 80-90 letters in a challenge is probably a good mark to make them not too easy nor too hard for everyone. I'm speaking about "no contest/sprint QSO's" and changing the multiple letters in a call rules. I (K3WWP) was able to make all the names twice. Once the first 15 days and the second the last 13 days of the month. I don't get on the bands more than about an hour each day. I think that helps prove the challenges are not all that hard to master.
Full Challenge info here.
3. GENERAL CLUB NEWS:
- I think it is nice to present a tribute to someone who is still living instead of waiting till they pass on. We're doing that here and now for Roy W5RJ who is presently having some serious heath problems. Perhaps this little tribute will help in giving Roy the encouragement to continue the fight against his illness and recover to live many more years.
Roy joined the NAQCC very early on in the first month of our existence as #0212. When he moved to Butler, MO, he changed his call to KC0RJ, but re-considered and went back to W5RJ since that was more familiar to his many ham friends and he felt more comfortable with it. Not long after we started sending out our newsletters, then our newsletter notifications by email, he volunteered to help with the task taking a group of 500 members as his share. He was very conscientuous in the job, doing it promptly and always keeping up to date with member updates for his group. Unfortunately the time came when his health worsened and he had to give up the position.
Dennis N7HRO #2181 knows Roy much better than I do, and they are very close personal friends. So I yield to him now for more info on Roy. Unfortunately the current situation is not that good.
"This is about Roy Jones W5RJ who is a member. We met as maintenance technicians going to school in Norman, OK. I think I first met Roy on the bus back in 1984 and we kept in touch ever since. Roy was living in Texas and I was in Tucson, AZ. After I moved to Las Vegas he and his wife visited my wife and I. I got to visit with them before she passed from cancer when my wife and I were in San Antonio for a Worlds Country/Western dance competition. After his wife passed he met his second wife Marion and they continued to visit us in Nevada. I spent the Christmas of 2005 with him after moving From NV to Torrington, Wyoming. We have kept in touch on CQ100 and on the Breakfast Club, the Texas PON and the Eye Bank Net all on 80 meters. When I am traveling I often was able to contact him using the YL International Single Sideband System on 14.332.
Roy is now under hospice care at home. As soon as his wife said he was under hospice care I dropped what I was doing and drove straight through from Wheatland, WY to Butler, MO. I moved his station to the living room bringing cables through the wall so he could either use his scooter to sit in front of the radios or his wife could bring them in front of his recliner. I did not have time to work in the snow to put up his vertical so he is restricted with an older inverted VEE using a tuner. Not the best antenna but at least he can listen. I boxed up one station so his wife could sell it and when that fateful day comes and the supreme maker calls him home she will sell the other station so she can pay for the final expenses. It really hurt seeing my old friend this way."
Dennis also provided several pictures of Roy at various points in his life. They were given to Dennis from Roy's son Lee. Here are just a few of them.
- We're revamping our certificate process for our club awards. Since certificates are now sent out via email, we are eliminating all award fees from now on with one exception. If you would prefer we print out and send you a certificate via regular mail, the fee will remain at $3.00 to cover the costs involved in printing, handling, and mailing.
Hopefully this will encourage you to earn and apply for our beautiful award certificates to show visitors to your shack the effectiveness of CW at QRP levels.
Maybe this will be the shot in the arm our ailing awards program needs to pick up activity. None of the awards are that hard to earn NOR apply for. They are challenging enough to make them worthwhile earning, but not out of reach of any member, not even our SWL members. Yes, in case you didn't know, if you're not a licensed ham radio operator you are still eligible for the awards as long as you've applied for and received membership as an SWL.
So come on, if the fee has been the factor holding you back, that is no longer an excuse not to earn one or several of our awards.
Finally although it is by no means a requirement, if you wish to include a small donation accompanying your award application, we won't refuse it, and will appreciate it.
We'll update the web site award rules pages to reflect the above changes shortly as time permits.
- Congratulations to NAQCC member Lou Burke W7JI #1600. From the ARRL email letter: "The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for February is Lou Burke, W7JI , for his article 'A Compact 40 Meter Receiver.' Congratulations Lou! The QST Cover Plaque award -- given to the author or authors of the best article in each issue -- is determined by a vote of ARRL members..."
Have you done anything noteworthy like that recently? If so, don't be shy - tell us about it so we can publicize your accomplishment here in the NAQCC Newsletter. I just happened to run across this item when perusing the ARRL Letter.
Just before finalizing this newsletter, I see Lou has a follow-up article in the April QST that just arrived. This article describes a 40 meter transmitter which as it says on the cover of QST is - ...the perfect companion to February's receiver. Great work Lou. We're proud to have you as a (active) NAQCC member.
- Just before we remind you about the hidden call prize again, we have other prize news to share.
Rick AA4W received his prize of a membership plaque donated anonymously by ------ and was delighted with it. He won for having the greatest MPW among those qualifying for our 1000 MPW award during the last half of 2010. We thank ------ for the kind and generous donation.
Speaking of the hidden call, Mike KC2EGL visited here on March 7, and mailed out the gift certificates for the QSL cards to all previous hidden call winners - KD1R, KM6NN, K4UK, K5RIX, N9AKF, W1ICU, N4OLN. All in the list should have a certificate by now or at least in the next couple days. If not, check with our prize manager Mike. The certificates are donated by you, our members, through your generous donations to the club.
On that same day, Mike mailed out the book, "The Radio Boys At Mountain Pass" to Brion VE3FUJ who was the lucky winner in a drawing among all participants in our sprints and challenges in Sep, Oct, Nov, and Dec of 2010. We hope you enjoy the book, Brion. It was donated by Dick N2UGB (#1565).
Late last month, Mike mailed out another QSL card certificate to Bruce WY7N. That is part of a continuing giveaway of a certificate donated by the proprietor of CheapQSLs.com - Hal K6RF. Four certificates will be awarded each year in quarterly drawings among sprint participants in the previous three months. The more sprints you participate in, the better your chances of winning.
We are still awaiting winners of several other prizes. Check out the Prizes page in the Home section of the web site. You just might already be eligible for one of the prizes there, or can make plans to become eligible.
Also we have some new prizes donated by Gregg WB8LZG, the artist who makes the beautiful paddle handles, key knobs, rig knobs, and the like in his woodworking shop. Those of you who have won them previously can attest to their beauty. Gregg always insists that all club officers be included in the competition for his prizes, and Mike KC2EGL was fortunate enough to win a set of paddle handles. He just raves about them and how they have beautified his paddle. We plan to give this new batch away similarly to what we did before. That is to a random drawing among sprint participants each month. We may add a new twist also. More about that in the next newsletter plus on the Prizes page on the web site where we'll also have pictures as before. Thank you Gregg for being a wonderful supporter of the NAQCC and its efforts to promote the use of CW. I'm sure just having your beautiful art work in the shack is an encouragement to get on the bands a little more often.
With all our prizes, previous winners are ineligible to win further similar items, but are eligible to win something different.
For any question about prizes, contact Mike at
- Just a quick reminder we're continuing with the hidden call sign idea originally suggested by Bill KB3XS. Somewhere in this newsletter is a call sign of a member in a place that is definitely out of context and containing a mix of upper and lower case letters. If it is YOUR call sign and YOU find it, email BEFORE the publication date of the next newsletter (March 26) and win a gift certificate for 100 NAQCC QSL cards produced by the CheapQSLs.com company run by Hal K6RF (#0171) and donated by the NAQCC thanks to your generous monetary donations to the club.
Since our selection process is completely random and done by computer, ironically the computer selected Hal K6RF as the hidden call. Prize manager Mike KC2EGL and I talked it over and decided to leave Hal as the hidden call just to see if he would notice it or it would draw any comments. We did get a couple comments, one of which I quote here, "Hi guys: Every month I watch for the hidden call sign and this month I noted a really interesting situation: the winner is K6RF, Hal #0171, who is also the provider of the prize for the hidden call sign!! That's good proof for the absolute random selection process! 73 de K1QED, Bob Coleman #3017."
Now if Hal had won, which he didn't, we would have awarded him another kind of prize. It was also decided that in this issue we'll have not one, but two hidden calls. So search thoroughly. It could be you who wins the QSL cards.
3a. CHAPTER NEWS:
Here is where our club chapters present news about their chapter activities. We currently have three chapters - European, Minnesota, and Texas. We're looking forward to expanding that roster. Chapters are more or less independent local gatherings organized by members in a geographical area and subject to a list of guidelines under the auspices of the NAQCC. If you would be interested in starting a chapter in your area, let us know and we'll send a copy of the guidelines.
Items in this section are from EU Chapter President Matt MW3YMY unless otherwise credited.
Questions or comments should go to
The EU Chapter web site is at http://www.naqcc-eu.org/
Items in this section are from Keith K0HJC (R) unless otherwise credited.
The chapter was founded by Bob K9OSC (L).
Questions or comments should go to Chapter President Rich WD0K at .
The MN Chapter web site is at http://www.naqccmn.com/
Greetings from the Minnesota Chapter! Miscellaneous Minnesota Midwinter Maladies are slowing down the activities this month. K9OSC has his second K-3 on line now. Kit building is proceeding as time allows. KD0V's code classes are on-going, with surprising progress being made. Sideband rag-chew is at 1500 GMT on 3.707 Mhz. We are also listening for the QRS nets as propagation allows, and did manage to get in with Allen, KA5TJS on the east Texas QRS Net on Monday night. Next brunch is Friday, March 18th in Apple Valley. Visit our Minnesota Chapter Website at http://www.naqccmn.com/ for more details.
Items in this section are from TX Chapter Director Ron K5DUZ unless otherwise credited.
Questions or comments should go to
The TX Chapter web site is at http://www.naqcctx.com/
Good propagation conditions and low QRN finally coincided to give the East Texas QRS CW Net its best results to date. Four stations checked into the net, with one each from MN, FL, AR and TX. The full report is in the "Activities" section of the NAQCC Texas Chapter website at http://www.naqcctx.com/
Allen, KA5TJS (NCS) has moved the net up to 3564.5 KHz to dodge other net activity. He will QSY UP by as much as 3 KHz if necessary, so be sure to listen UP if you don't hear him on 3564.5. We still need an alternate NCS for those occasions when Allen is unavailable. If you would like to volunteer for this prestigious job, please e-mail Allen at his e-mail address listed on the "contacts" page of our website.
The next NAQCC Sprint is next Wednesday evening so we need you Texas members to saddle up and be ready for two hours of radio fun! The Texas stations will be listed on our Texas Chapter website with "braggin' rights" to the top Texas scorer.
We really need volunteers to "Elmer" local hams and prospective hams. Please send us your interests and contact information. Until next time, keep those QRP "dits and dahs" goin' up your antenna feedline!
4. THE NAQCC ELMER PROJECT:
Items in this section are from Elmer Project Coordinator Ron K5DUZ (L) unless otherwise credited.
If you are interested in helping out or need help with any CW and/or QRP matters contact:
I'm encouraged by the e-mails I receive after each newsletter. They tell me that there is a real interest in the "art and skill" of CW. Some senior hams have been away from CW for years and are now interested in returning to their keys. New hams are becoming interested in learning this "new to them" mode. One comment I received was "I feel that something is missing because I don't know code". Even hams now on the air with CW are asking questions about how they can improve their CW skills. I'm most happy to respond to each e-mail with suggestions and words of encouragement. If you have any questions about learning CW, relearning CW using the Koch method, or improving your CW skill level, please "ask away"!
Now back to our discussion of learning and becoming proficient with Morse/CW.
I hope you've had the time to think about, appreciate the benefits of and try your hand at the Koch method of learning CW. If you are a "slow coder" as I was, you may have been shocked at how fast 15 - 20 wpm CW sounds. Be assured that you can make the transition to Koch CW, but it does take a bit of time. If you decide that you can "do it", you can! Just decide and begin your relearning of CW by SOUND. The Koch method gets easier once you get into it. It takes a little time for your brain to become accustomed to it, so just relax, clear your mind and let your subconscious mind go to work. As the famous line from the "Star Wars" movie reads "Let the force be with you!"
I've mentioned the "subconscious mind" in my previous columns. Frankly, during the early years of my ham "career" I had never thought about the subconscious mind being involved in receiving CW, In fact, I always seemed to be using my "conscious mind" very intensely when receiving CW and I had a "death grip" on my pencil as I recorded each character as received. About fifteen years after I relearned to copy CW by recognizing the unique character sounds, I had an "Ah Ha!" moment. I had been listening to CW for awhile on my receiver when I decided to take a look at a new magazine I had received. As I often do, I switched the receiver over to a speaker as I like to hear the "sweet sounds of CW" wafting through my shack. I began to read my magazine and became engrossed in it. Suddenly, the words "QTH NR CHICAGO" just "popped" into my head! I immediately began to listen to the CW QSO that was taking place, noted the callsign of the station when he signed and looked it up in the callbook. Sure enough! The station that I had copied using my SUBCONSCIOUS mind was a K9 located in the Chicago area. I remember that moment like it was yesterday! It really was a stunning moment.
Since that "Ah Ha" moment, I've tried to expand the use of my subconscious mind from just recognizing the CW characters, to copying words by their "word sound" and copying CW "in my head", writing down only information in the log book and making a few notes. Indeed, high speed CW ops copy mostly words and I highly recommend practice copying the most common words once the basic level of CW proficiency has been attained.
Really proficient CW operators divorce their conscious minds from their subconscious minds. They can fill in a log page, a dupe sheet, perform some other task, or even engage in a verbal conversation, all the while copying the CW message. It is a form of "multi-tasking" I suppose the all time champion multi-tasking CW operator was Ted McElroy.
Think for a moment of how we verbally communicate. We aren't conscious of the consonants and vowels of the words we hear. We mostly ignore many of the words we hear such as "and", "the", etc. We really just subconsciously understand the meaning of what is said. We don't "think" about it. We just communicate without even thinking about how we do that. A CW operator that can communicate using CW as proficiently as we verbally communicate is the CW operator that we should all strive to be. Obviously, we all have thousands upon thousands of hours of experience verbally communicating. Learning to copy CW totally subconsciously will obviously take a great deal of effort and years of experience. Hams with an innate talent for CW will be able to achieve this level. Most of us either don't have that sort of talent or won't care to make that kind of effort. That's OK, I just wanted to tell you what the ultimate in CW proficiency is like. We can be quite content comfortably copying CW characters and many words without conscious effort and not be concerned with "multi-tasking".
Next time I'll do a short recap of how we should copy CW and discuss some of the tools that are available for learning and practice.
Until then, HPE CU SN ON CW! Ron, K5DUZ
4a. THE NAQCC QRS Nets:
Items in this section are from QRS Net Manager Brian WB9TPA unless otherwise credited.
Brian will handle all Net related material at this email address:
No report was received from Brian for this issue.
Now our NAQCC QRS Nets schedule and activity report:
NAQCC QRS NetSchedule: Sunday evenings local time which is Monday 0000Z on 3562.5 kHz.
Date(UTC) NCS Participants
NAQCC ET Net (East Texas)Monday evenings local time which is Tuesday 0100Z on 3564.5 kHz.
Date(UTC) NCS Participants
NAQCC PNW QRS Net(Pacific NorthWest)
Schedule: Wednesday evenings local time which is Thursday 0200Z on 3575 kHz.
Date(UTC) NCS ParticipantsAll frequencies are +/- QRM.
For more net info, see Elmer Project/QRS Nets on the web site.
5. CW CARTOON OF THE MONTH:
Let's take a comedy and/or nostalgia break now courtesy of Dick Sylvan W9CBT. Dick has been a long-time QRP/CW operator. One of his many talents is being a cartoon artist. Dick's cartoons appear monthly in the K9YA Telegraph, a free ham radio eZine, where he is staff cartoonist. The NAQCC is very honored to reprint Dick's cartoons originally published in the K9YA Telegraph. Dick has also authored a book entitled "Hi Hi - A Collection of Ham Radio Cartoons" available via his web site. A new cartoon will be appearing in each of our even-numbered newsletters.
His cartoons have been appearing in our NAQCC newsletters since Issue #058, November 17, 2007. Dick is NAQCC #2062.
6. MEMBER SPOTLIGHT:
This section is managed by Paul N8XMS and any questions about it should go to . Paul selects members at random and asks them if they would like to be featured in the Member Spotlight in the newsletter.
Nick Franco KF2P #127
My dad had a "Ham License" since I was born, but he was never active. As a kid, my cousin was licensed and got me going, but I couldn't pursue it at that time. However, that sparked an interest and a desire to work CW. Several years later, a friend at work revived that bug in me and I received my Novice ticket. I progressed my way up to Amateur Extra with the 20 WPM code requirement.
I work CW almost exclusively except for 10M and my dual band HT. My weak point was always the electronics, and I still don't understand too much theory. Through the QRP-L email reflector I began to take an interest in building simple transceivers (Pixie contest, SWL-xx kits, etc.). I found a new joy in building my own little kits that actually worked on the air. This also made me appreciate just how effective QRP can be. My shack consists of an ICOM 728 transceiver that I run at 2-5 watts almost always to an end fed wire or a 6-band vertical, plus 10-15-20M fan dipole in the attic just in case, with a keyer and paddles and a Vibroplex Bug #252646. I still operate my kits for fun (NW-40, SWL-30, Pixie-40, Pixie-80, Pixie-40-80, SMiTe-80, Tuna Tin 2 TX, DSW-20 - my favorite, etc.). I have taught a few entry level classes and held VE sessions for their testing. I also held Amateur Radio Merit Badge sessions when my boys were younger. Whether DXing or rag-chewing, I am running CW at QRP levels exclusively.
When I was a Novice, a station called me as I finished a QSO on 15M CW with a straight key. His call was AP/WA2??? (can't remember now, but I have the card) - QTH Pakistan. As I ended the exchange and before I could send my dit dit, thousands of CW signals started calling him - That was very cool. I enjoy DXing and used to participate regularly in the QRP-L Fox Hunts (was a Fox 2 or 3 seasons too).
All in all, I love this hobby and all its various aspects. I am disappointed that the code requirement was dropped, since that is the grass roots of our fraternity, but there are many other areas to learn about and master.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my "hamography" with you all.
72 de KF2P
7. NEWS ITEMS AND ARTICLES BY OUR MEMBERS:
This section is a forum for you to tell other members what you've been up to on the ham bands or to submit an article dealing with some aspect of CW and QRP operation or equipment. Send your news items and articles to our news editor Paul KD2MX at . Deadline for submitting news items for the next newsletter is January 27. For your convenience any links in this section will open in a new browser window so you can come immediately back here to the newsletter just by closing that extra window. DISCLAIMER: Any views expressed in this section are those of the member submitting them, and may or may not be those of the NAQCC or its officers.
From John K3WWP #0002 - I sometimes feel very lonely here in the Member News section. I know a lot of you do things that can be mentioned here. There's no doubt of that. You often will email me personally to tell me of something you did or to ask a question about this or that. I certainly appreciate those emails, don't get me wrong. However a lot of folks besides me would like to know about your accomplishment or perhaps could answer your questions. This Member News section is an excellent forum for things like that.
My news of late has been a resurgence of my interest in DX as Mr. Sol is finally awakening from his long slumber and firing up the ionosphere again. I'm having a ball on 12 meters for the first time since 2004. Signals from EU are at 10 to 20 over S9 and barring big pileups are easy to work with my 5 watts and 15M vertical or even 930mW. That is the only band from 40 through 10 on which I don't yet have 100 countries (entities) worked. A couple days ago, I added Ireland to the list as #96, and I hope to get those last 4 (and many more) now that the band is alive with DX again. Of course it's not only 12, but 17, 15, and 10 are also populated with strong DX signals as well. I had a nice chat with EA2LU on 10 meters just to mention one of my many DX QSO's of late. So fire up the rig and tune to those bands you've been ignoring for so long now and have fun. I certainly am. If you're interested, check my web site here to keep updated on the DX info.
From Pete KB1LZH #2769 - The Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club recently ran a fun event/contest called the lantern battery challenge. It is an annual event and I participated for the first time. It was a lot of fun, and quite a challenge.
The rules were simple. Everyone was issued one of a set of identical "lantern battery" configurations, supplying up to 14 volts output. The object of the challenge was to make as many QSOs as you can, using only the battery. There were several categories. I was in the "transmit only" category, using my ICOM receiver and transmitting with only battery power.
I built a homebrew rig for the event. I started with a simple colpitts oscillator that tuned the entire 160 meter band. I found a power MOSFET in my junk box and tried to make a QRP, class E transmitter for high effieciency. I failed miserably, but I got a signal in the air. The efficiency was about 10% and I simply keyed the power supply to help the cause of preserving the battery. Unfortunately, I found 160 meters to be as dead as a doornail and did not get any QSOs.
So I modified my oscillator for 80 meters. The efficiency went down to about 3% and I was only getting out about 100 milliwatts, but I started making QSOs. I got as far as western New York and was required to make some adjustments to my operating procedure.
First, I tried very hard to not call CQ. The number of people who could hear me was limited and the key closes a lot of times in a typical CQ call. That meant I had to do a lot of listening (not a bad thing). When I heard someone calling CQ, I used QRZ.com to see how far away he was. Then I had to tune my Colpitts to his frequency. The tuning capacitor could provide only course tuning, but I discovered that I could fine tune the rig by moving my hand closer to or further away from the preamp section.
The rig worked and I had until the end of February to make QSOs. One of my latest was with Oceana, WV. The power was now down to about 35 mw, which is 18,000 miles per watt (thanks to KT8N for hanging in there.) I continued to search for local stations to boost my QSO count. Early morning was best, when the band was relatively quiet. In total I made 83 QSOs, all on 80 meters, well past my original goal of 50. When the contest ended at the stroke of midnight on Feb 28, the battery was still going; not strong, mind you; but still going.
I had an inordinate amount of fun making QSOs with that Rube Goldberg pile of components that I threw together. It is unlikely that I am going to win this contest, but I have learned a lot of things about getting power to an antenna. And the most important thing that I have learned is that I have a lot more to learn. I am already making plans to go multi-band next year since it seemed like I was running out of guys on 80 meters who could hear me. My plan is to stick with the VFO, but I must try to clean it up significantly to remove the chirp and other FM noise. In addition, all the listening helped me make a marked improvement in my CW skills.
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Unless otherwise credited, all items are written by K3WWP.
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