Monday, March 19, 2007

Amateur Radio Banned in Iraq (again)

From RSGB News comes a report that Amateur Radio has been banned in Iraq (VXE: again). The report reads:

"As from 13 March all amateur radio operation in Iraq has been suspended indefinitely. The President of the Iraqi Amateur Radio Society, Diya N. Al-Asadi, YI1DZ, verified that Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research had confirmed the suspension order. The move, which has been attributed to the current security situation in that country, applies equally to Iraqi and foreign amateurs"

My experience, over the years, is that countries committed to democracy rarely have a problem with Amateur Radio. Let us hope that this is a short term measure to safeguard the security of those operating and nothing more sinister.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Where's all the (mobile) activity gone?

I mentioned the fact that I'd got the headset for the VX1-R so that I could listen on the train.

The thing is, listen to what! I thought that the repeaters around London would be buzzing in the rushhour. Apparently not! I hear some activity on 433.375 (generally old friend and contester, G8KQW is there) and perhaps some activity on GB3BN (433.000) there's not a lot.

Well, GB3LW (433.150) has some activity, but I'm not sure if it's licenced! They sound like taxi-drivers to me.

On 2m, I've not heard anything other than my local repeater GB3WH and GB3RD - further into London - nothing!

If you've got a mobile rig, why not get on and use it? Drive sensibly, of course and don't compromise your safety - but the bands are just waiting to be used.

I'm keeping up with my resolution to call CQ on a band at least once a day. I challenge you to do the same!

Anyone QRV on 501kHz

I was just looking at the RSGB News page and I see that OFCOM are offering Full Licencees the option to apply for a permit to use a frequency around 501kHz. Sounds fascinating.

The implication is that existing LF users at 73 and 136kHz are more likely to get permits.
Though I've no TX capability around there - or indeed an antenna, I think I'll definitely be listening.

It sounds as if permits could have started on 1st March, 2007 - but I'm not sure whether any have been issued yet. You can download an application form here

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Commonwealth Contest

We've had a busy weekend - more on that in a moment - but the Commonwealth Contest (alias BERU) was my radio distraction this weekend. By the time we got in on Saturday, 21MHz was fading fast. In fact, I heard Nigel, G3TXF call a couple of times before he QSYed to 14! Needless to say, my signal wasn't loud enough - so that was that.

Plenty of VEs on 14MHz on Saturday evening, including a couple of VE7s and VE5 and 6s. Didn't hear any 4s (fairly normal!). Dave, VO1AU had an outstanding signal and interestingly was audible and workable on 3.5MHz by around 2100z!

I always like to work John, VE3EJ on as many bands as possible and as I'd not heard him on 3.5MHz by the time I went to bed, I got up around 0530z and quickly worked him, as well as Nigel on 3.5MHz. Despite being a great signal, J88DR remained unworked on 3.5. I remember the same happening last year :-(

Sunday morning did see 21MHz liven up a bit with 9J2BO worked as well as ZC4LI, P3J et al. I'm told that 28MHz did open, but I didn't hear anything.

Then, it was outside to make up some frames for our new beehives - see the Fiddlesticks blog for more details!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

V25XF in the Commonwealth Contest 2007 (this weekend!)

From Nigel, G3TXF comes the following news bulletin:

V25XF will be QRV from the V26B Contest Station in Antigua for the Commonwealth Contest (aka BERU) this coming weekend : 10z-10z 10-11 March. A common-darkness table and a simple set of propagation forecasts have been prepared for several of the main BERU activity areas (G, VE, VK, ZL etc) and have been put onto the V25XF webpage......

The simplified propagation forecasts cover G, VE1, VE7, ZK1/s (for E51PJT), VP8 (for VP8NO), VU, VK4 and ZL. The forecasts are based on W6EL with SFI=70 and K=3. The tables are only intended as a general indication of propagation from these areas to the Caribbean i.e. times when it may be worth checking the bands.

Hope to see you all during the 2007 Commonealth Contest!

73 - Nigel G3TXF V25XF

Contest logging survey...

Dayton's Contest University has issued a survey on the subject of Contest Logging Software here.

I have to say I clicked on the link intending to submit an entry, but it's so lengthy and so didn't fit my use of contesting programs that I lost the will to live. Still, you might be more patient than me!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunar Eclipse photo - or how to do it properly

My snap is a bit feeble compared to this - taken from David Arditti's observatory in Edgware, Middlesex. Just incredible!

Thanks to Justin, G4TSH for passing this along.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

RSGB 144/432MHz contest



We had some beehives to pick up this weekend (see http://www.fiddlesticks.uk.net for more details!) but I was keen to see if anyone was out in the first of the main VHF contests of the year. Not too many portables, but I was happy to make a few QSOs on each bands.

Best DX of the contest was PA6NL on 432MHz with ON4WY being the best DX on 144MHz. Funnily enough, I heard a huge but brief meteor burst from an SP station on Saturday evening, but it was only enough to get the prefix.

It was the first time that I'd used Mike, G0GJV's Minos Contest Logger and I liked it.

I don't think that conditions were terribly good - the pressure certainly dropped big time overnight and the wind and rain came in. The other distraction overnight was the lunar eclipse which I enjoyed seeing. Snapped a few photos. I know I should have got the telescope out....

Train Mobile....

A week or two I ordered a lapel mike/earphone for the little VX1-R that I keep in my rucksack. I thought it'd be interesting to listen to the repeaters on the train on the way in and out of London.

The unit cost a tenner, including shipping from Hong Kong (possibly not very high quality then!) and it arrived last week. Actually it seems fine though quick tests did suggest that the microphone may not be a very high quality device.

Friday morning, for a bit of fun, I worked Chris, G7JGE/M on his way to work on the M4 from the train between Didcot and Reading via GB3RD. It's a bit random with just a few milliwatts from inside the train and of course, cuttings really don't help! I also found that the GB3BN 70cms repeater was loud and clear, though I didn't attempt a QSO and I could hear another 70cms repeater on 433.375.

Not sure I'll make a habit of QSOs from the train - but it makes a change from those 'I'm on the train' phone calls that you hear all the time...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

N6ZZ - Silent key

From, Roger, G3SXW comes the following sad news:

"Phil, N6ZZ died February 27th of a brain-haemorrhage on the squash court. He was 64. This is distressing news for all who knew Phil - a really good guy, always smiling. He was a world-class contester and had operated CQWW from every one of the 40 zones. "

Though I didn't know Phil well, I had the pleasure of meeting him at WRTC in Finland in 2002 and everytime we worked in a contest since then we always shared an extra dit or two in our contest exchanges as you do! He took a great deal of pleasure and interest in the achievement of operating in the CQWW from all forty zones.

John, G3LZQ noted that Phil had recently re-married and talked like a school-boy about his new love. Which makes the news even more sad and poignant...

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