Another 3 weeks gone by…

Three weeks after my inactivity report, still not much has happened. I visited ON4AFU who took his time to tell me about his recent operations as XU7AFU / XU7KOH. And about two weeks ago he and I went to the annual UBA meeting. I skipped that for the last two years because normally it is a very boring event with a lot of blahblah, not even always about ham radio. But this time I wanted to go. After all, I had to collect my UBA contesting trophies for the 2008 CW and SSB part.

To cut a long story short: the blahblah part seemed shorter but that’s only my impression because my clock said it lasted as long as every year. So it must have been more interesting this time? The organizing radio club did a great job providing exhibitions, lectures and information stands. Anyway no sane man goes there for the blahblah. Besides the contest plaques, which would have found their way home anyway, I wanted to meet some ‘long time no see’ people. And so I did. I agreed with Joe ON4JZ / OP4K that he’d stick to 6h and I stick to the 12h class in the UBA contests. That way we each can win 2 plaques HI HI. I had a few enjoyable conversations about contesting (what else?), poor propagation (what else?) and I got some inquiries about the K3 transceiver. The word got out that I have one – hmm: I used this channel myself to get the word out. And yes I am very happy with it and yes I would buy one again and yes maybe later this year I will trade the remaining TS-850 for a second K3.

In the afternoon I joined ON4WW to a presentation about the OT5A M/M station. A fine station with a lot of BIG antennas. You know what I think but I’ll say it again: a crying shame they only get on with CQ WW SSB and CQ WPX SSB. Two times a year, only SSB. And a couple of others like 160m and 10m contest I believe. Although they have a way of routing all antennas to a central shack to play SOAB or M/x. So I asked a question that I already asked in 2005 (for a M/S in IARU with ON4CCP): “Is the station for rent?”. Not use it for free, no: FOR RENT. In 2005 they replied that the station would be used by an ON8-guy in the IARU contest and since that ON8 was a member, he got priority. That makes sense although ON4CCP and myself were on from here 24h and never heard a trace of that ON8 dude which was to be expected. So I got kinda pissed off. Now, almost 4 years later, I asked that very question again in person to the OT5A kingpins. At first I didn’t get a clear and unambiguous answer so I replied that his reply didn’t answer my question. Their final reply was: “Yes the station is for rent, but only to serious and well trained contest operators” and on their conditions which are fair although I had the feeling at that point the guy in the front didn’t consider me serious or well trained enough. Maybe my skills looked too pale because Mark ON4WW sat next to me? BUT, read the fine print at the bottom: “club members have priority and we enter small contests for training purposes”. Those who know me will agree that I do occasionally enter a contest left and right… then how come I almost never hear OT5A? I think I would know if the station was on under a different call too. So again I have the feeling they want to keep their foot against the door.

I must admit the guy has a point when he says that you can’t expect local people and club members to invest a lot of their free time (and money?) in building and maintaining a superstation and then on the weekend of the contest tell them to go home because a “foreign” operator or team just landed and will be using the station. That’s not done. But it’s sad that this superb station is sitting idle most of the time in contests like RDXC, WAE, ARRL DX etc and almost every CW contest.

The day after, on Sunday – I had a strange feeling. I wanted to get on the air and make some QSO. See what effect the conversations had? It was CQ-M contest and I forced myself NOT to go on 20m. So I played a bit on 15m and 10m. No rates and not much DX. Best DX on both bands was the close UA9, not the remote UA9. After about 50 QSO I quit.

I received an email from an ON ham who wanted to know if there would exist a ham log software that would import his Excel spreadsheet logbook. I think none can import such a file ‘as is’ because he used obscure column headers and date format. So I did what I do best lately and fired up my VB.Net and wrote a small program that would read his log as a CSV and save it as an ADIF file. I could reuse 90% of code I wrote earlier (my ADIF Processor). I only needed to write a function that would convert the date as DMYY to YYYYMMDD. That’s only a few lines of straightforward code and a few hours later I let him know that I could process his whole XLS into ADIF but so far I guess he still uses Excel.

I’m still in the market for an accurate wattmeter with digital readout and the N8LP kit seems the way to go. Then Elecraft announces they will be releasing the Elecraft W2 wattmeter. Expected price is a lot lower than the N8LP meter but of course N8LP’s display looks a lot better than the LED bar. But then I read this in Elecraft’s datasheet: “Remote Control and Data Measurement: The W2’s built-in RS232 port allows you to use a computer to read both power and SWR with higher accuracy, as well as to set and check alarms, turn the LEDs off, and other operations. You can use the supplied PC software, or write your own remote-control applications.”. Interesting…

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