Saturday, October 28, 2006

CQ WW SSB Contest underway

Probably the biggest contest in the world takes place this weekend. In my youth, this was one of the major contests of the year for us and typically it meant driving down to visit South Wales and join the Red Dragon contest group, GW8GT for a real weekend of radio.

Sadly, GW8GT is no more, though I still get to South Wales to see Roger, GW5NF and his family who live on the farm where GW8GT was located.

My enthusiasm for phone contests has dwindled. Well, it's fine if you've a nice big station, but I have to say that operating phone in this contest with 100w and a vertical is just too much like hard work!

Still, I popped on for a few contacts this evening. To my surprise 10m was open (around 1830z) with some Europeans via Es and some South Americans. Same sort of deal on 15m with a few North Americans coming in - I was pleased to work KC1XX and particularly, John, VE3EJ. A few Carribean guys coming through too - so quite interesting.

Might take a look on 80m at sunrise tomorrow and see what's coming through - if I get up in time!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The things you hear on the air #1

It struck me that we should try and record the little things that you hear on the air from time to time. I was prompted by something I heard on a repeater recently.....

"I drove home and smoked a couple....."

I wouldn't advertise that, myself...!

But then there's radio related stuff...

In Italian accent: "Excuse me, I am rather splattery in this moment"

More to follow..

Monday, October 23, 2006

The RSGB and CB

It's not that I have anything against CB! I mean I used to use it. It was a great way of getting on the air quickly and in the days when there was no such thing as the Foundation Licence, it was a good practical starting point.

I was intrigued in the recent Radcom to find that the RSGB's previously staunch anti-CB stance had changed. Time was (when it would have been profitable) when advertising from dealers operating in the CB market was rejected! But this month, there's an advert for a Midland CB rig and a whole article on the history of CB.

Can we expect a regular column on CB? I understand that the excellent column by Dave Lawley, G4BUO on Morse has been dropped. Perhaps this is what the column inches were needed for.

I'm sure I'm wrong.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A change to my mobile habits...

APCOA, the company who manage carparking at Didcot where I commute from recently saw fit to install a barrier to prevent high vehicles getting into the car park. I think there may have been an incident earlier in the summer with travellers...

Unfortunately, the barrier prevents me from putting one of the large HF antennas on the car, so I'm just using 2m and in theory, 6m to and from work.

DXpedition news - 3B7C

At the recent RSGB HF Convention, the Five Star DXers Association of which I'm a proud member announced their intention to stage a DXpedition to St Brandon using the callsign 3B7C. Take a look at www.3b7c.com for further details.

Sadly I won't be able to go this time - I don't get enough holiday time and anyway there's so much to do here at home! But I'm looking forward to supporting the team from here and hopefully getting involved with some of the preparations.

Monday, October 02, 2006

2m this evening

After a day or so of low pressure - the last thing I expected was much in the way of 2m tropo this evening. Well, not that there was anything special. F5XAM was below normal and PI7CIS pretty much in the noise. But GB3VHF seemed a couple of S-points up on normaml when I listened around 1800z this evening.

Bet it doesn't keep that up for the Activity contest tomorrow!

RSGB 21/28MHz Contest

Managed a few moments yesterday (Sunday) to make a handful of contacts in the revitalised 21/28MHz Contest. In recent years the separate CW and SSB events hadn't prospered so something needed to be done. The end result of a lot (and I mean A LOT) of discussion was a mixed mode event.

My preference tends to be for CW, so I kept an eye on the low end of the bands at various times during the day in between tasks. Nothing very distant, but I worked EA8MQ and ZC4LI on 21MHz for Africa and Asia as well as some HA and DL. 28MHz was less prolific, but when I listened in the late afternoon there were some OKs coming through.

By and large, the serious contestants seem to have enjoyed the event. What's interesting reading the write-ups that a number of serious contestants weren't using beams, but a ground plane for each band. We could do that here...next year perhaps!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

VHF and Echolink

No postings for a week or two. Well, for a start, blogger.com has been blocked from work, so I can't do a quick update at lunchtime like I used to! We've also had some busy weekends. Last weekend, for example, Julie and I did a beekeeping course, which was great fun.

There have been various strands of amateur radio activity going on, of course. I've been on 2m most mornings with Mike, G0UWU as we're both driving to work which is always enjoyable. VHF conditions generally, don't seem to have been great. I've been monitoring the F5XAM and PI7CIS beacons from home on 2m, but though they're always there, there's been nothing exceptional.

I took BT up on their offer to upgrade our internet connection. It now runs at about 7.6MBs rather than the previous 2.2MBs. The 'Home Hub' which came with the upgrade runs as a wireless broadband router. It has lots of benefits, but it IS very noisy on 50MHz. You'll perhaps remember the previous posting about different access points and noise on 50MHz. I'll have to muse about that one and see if shifting the location of the equipment makes any difference.

Although I don't use Echolink much, I find it's quite interesting and always a good way of demoing a combination of amateur radio and computing. Having installed the new Home Hub, I had to find a way to get the router to pass the traffic on the Echolink ports. That took a bit of fiddling around in the hidden menus, but it's all done and works well. If you need a pointer, you need to go into the Application Sharing menu, set Echolink up as an application passing UDP traffic on ports 5198 and 5199 (from memory) and then assign Echolink to the workstation on your LAN will run the Echolink client. This could be multiple workstations if you wish.

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