Sunday, February 04, 2007

An interesting weekend

There are times when I wonder if I'm tiring of amateur radio and then something happens that stops you short. There's just so much to do and try, if you only look...

First of all on Friday evening, I was playing around with Echolink as it had stopped working. It turned out that the 'Home Hub' had been upgraded without me noticing (!) and my port forwarding had been broken. Fixed that up and I had a nice QSO with ZL3GSL in Christchurch, NZ who was using a handheld.

At 21z on Friday evening, the FOC Marathon started. FOC is a CW club that I'm a member of. Various things went on within the club last week which rather diminished my initial enthusiasm for the event, so I thought I'd go on and make a token few QSOs and then find something more interesting to do! Well, I made a few QSOs on Friday evening, mostly on 80m. Around dawn on Saturday, I got the chickens up and thought I might as well check out the bands. Worked a few Ws, but best of all, worked V31JP from Belize on 80 CW. I'd worked him before, but it's always a nice contact.

My friend Dave, G8ELH mentioned that he was going to try an Echolink QSO to a friend in Perth, Western Australia through the GB3WO repeater around 9am Saturday. Heard them both, but just missed dropping in to say hello to VK6DK. Perhaps next week.

Back on HF, conditions were obviously dreadful! Very little on 15 or 10, though 7Q7DP was nice on 15. The Ws were on 20, but no higher! Worked a few and decided to try something else!

Having heard Dave, G8ELH link GB3WO using DTMF tones, I thought that might be interesting to try. I'd been hampered by the lack of a DTMF microphone, but suddenly realised with a blinding flash of inspiration (that means it would have been obvious to anyone else...) that I could generate the tones on the PC. A few seconds later and I'm trying to work out what all the tones do! Some odd noises and false starts later, I've managed to link to the W4HAP repeater in Tennessee and make a QSO there. Fun! I also manage to link to the ZL1VK repeater in Auckland and get the whale ID (try it, you'll see what I mean!) but it's the middle of the night, so no QSOs!

On Sunday, I think conditions were worse on HF! Mind you, some fascinating bits of propagation. I've never worked into USA at midday UK time before, making QSOs with W3MC and N3JT. And then seconds later, P40LE is coming through, just on 15!

But that's not all. There's the RSGB 432MHz AFS contest to look at too. Conditions were reasonable, though mostly inter-G. Some nice strong signals from the north, from IO83 and IO93 in particular. Bryn, G4DEZ was louder than I've heard him before on 432. Lots of long distance QSOs from the East Coast, but I was pleased to work some new stations!

That's what makes it all interesting. And having said I'd make a token few QSOs in the marathon, it ended up being a couple of hundred, which is ok for a relaxed weekend's operating

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