Magritte’s famous painting "Ceci n’est pas une Pipe" pictured a pipe but Magritte stated that is was only an image of a pipe and not a real pipe. Well, today’s writing will mostly be an image of a blog – or better: several blogs. I don’t have anything to say myself (what’s new pussycat woho hoho) but I read some stuff left and right that I have thought over. My ham activities are at an absolute low now. I don’t feel like going into the shack either because I was there all too often in December. There are about ten different threads in my head’s software that each in turn trigger an interrupt and ham radio is NOT one of them. The jargon in that last sentence is a clue about what I’m doing. Lots of work to prepare my classes so I’m counting down to the UBA SSB contest – if only the WX won’t poop the party. Pardon my French.
A new blog has emerged from ON land. Frank ON7RU decided to share his HAMventures with us. He also picked the Microsoft Live Spaces environment. It’s an honor to read that my modest blog here is one of his favorites. The link is http://on7ru.spaces.live.com. Are there any other Belgian ham blogs out there?
John K3WWP talked about the influence of the solar cycle on the 10 MHz (30m) propagation. The question was wether there actually IS any influence. I personally don’t think so after been there 7 years and neither does John who has been through a couple of cycles. That band (30m) really is my favorite DX band. Always open to somewhere and lots of nice DX there. I think out of any major DXpedition to a rare one I worked ‘m first on 30m ànd always pretty fast. Only a rotary dipole and 600W or less. I guess competition isn’t as strong antenna-wise on that band than on the other bands.
But that 10 MHz thing got me thinking about 40m. Flash back to August 2002, peak of Cycle 23, Worked All Europe CW. I was living at my parent’s place and only had a low inverted V dipole for 20m. So I put up a delta loop for that contest, making it as high and wide as I could fit in the garden. I guess the circumference was about 30m and I fed it in the lower corner with an SGC SG-230 SmartTuner. On Sunday morning when the sun came up I worked ZL6QH barefoot on first call. The S-meter said: S9+20dB. A bit later some more DX like VK came though with very loud signals and I worked USA with ease and they were loud too. This particular morning has always been the benchmark afterwards only I haven’t heard ZL6QH or any ZL for that matter that loud again though now I have a better QTH and a better 40m antenna. Same with USA: quite loud but never that loud again. Was it a sort of once-in-a-decade experience or was it just the solar conditions at the top of cycle 23? I could work W6 that morning on 20m too with 100W and an inverted V cut for 14 MHz. Now running a kW into a 3el yagi but no go.
I should note that it was my first real activity on 40m because I didn’t have an antenna before and after that it took almost a year and a half to arrive here in our own house and put up a 40m antenna. Then in April 2003 I only had an antenna for 40m for half a year and I worked many, many DX on that band but NEVER again that loud. I always thought that since 40m is considered ‘low band’ it would have been better later on in the declining phase of the sunspot cycle. So now it’s my turn to wonder: will 40m get better or not when Cycle 24 goes berserk?
I also read that Jeff KE9V has bought a copy of CQ Magazine. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, it’s not that he buys it, it’s WHERE Jeff buys it: "…on occasion I’ll pick up a newsstand copy. When I do that I’m generally in a big-box bookstore like…". Buy a ham radio magazine in a bookstore? What a concept! To my knowledge there is NO bookstore here in Belgium that sells ham literature. They don’t stock or carry it since no one will buy it. Until 3 years ago there was a chain of stores in Brussels that had a magazine called ‘CQ Radioamateur’ – in French. It had the official CQ logo on the cover and was (is?) a French magazine but I can’t Google any details on it and I gave the issues away. It was light reading and not way as thick as QST to which I get as an ARRL member. Occasionally I picked up that French mag when I took the train and needed to wait on the platform but it’s been quite a while since I last saw one. That magazine, not a train. I’d just like to pick up a CQ Magazine too when I walk into a book store!
All this is quite a lot for someone who hasn’t got a thing to say, no? Now I’m walking out. Take care!