Blogging time again!

Time for an update. I had an exiting weekend! After 4 weeks off the air, finally some radio activity again. It started with cranking up the tower on Friday. Some rain and a tad of wind. One of the ropes to release the safety flaps was so soaked with water, it pulled away the flap by its own weight. I could not nest the top section in a secure way to relief the strain on the winch’s cable. With the flap in the ‘up’ position, the tower section could not rest on the flap. It took some wiggling with the rope to let the flap fall down. I’ve had that before when the wind would move the rope and pull down the flap before the tower section could push it down. Maybe one of the things to address this summer when the WX is nice? I wonder if the winch and stainless steel rope could handle the continuous weight? I really suck at mechanical engineering and insights. And because I cannot figure out what’s happening with Newton’s science, I don’t trust it. I have visions of snapping ropes and collapsing towers. I understand Ohm’s law and because I know how to calculate things there and understand what’s happening, I feel much more secure in electronics.

Then I put up the 80/160m vertical again. First time with the tower fully extracted. This means the horizontal / vertical ratio of the 160m inverted L changes dramatically. It kept its resonance though. The 80m mutates from inverted L to vertical. I needed to short it from CW to SSB. The funny thing after all these years of fooling around with antennas is that you can “guesstimate” how much wire you need to fold back to shift the resonance. I had it right the first time. Maybe it was just plain luck but still. I did some calculating in my mind: relative change in frequency correlates with relative change in length which translates to an absolute length… If only my students would understand that basic math pays off.

I was ready for 80m in the UBA SSB contest and some contacts in CQ WW 160m CW.  I didn’t get on the air much anymore, and only tried some 160m later that night but it didn’t seem to work all that well. Only EU and no DX. I got up on Saturday and tried 160 again for some sunrise DX. There were a lot of spots on the cluster but it seemed that there were two contests going. One EU-EU and one NA-NA. I made about 100 QSO and called it a day. Then it was time to pull up the vertical dipole for 40m. Only one, not the array this time. I hung it to favor the target area (about 60° from here). Since the tower was all the way up, I could use this antenna. It performs much better than the GP with 2 elevated radials. All set for the contest, several hours before the contest and with Murphy no where to be found.

There is a lot to be said about the UBA SSB contest this year. So I will tell my story about that later on. On Sunday I started on 160m again and it seemed that conditions were much better than the day before. That translated into a few dozen USA stations calling me. I logged Rhode Island which I guess is a new state on 160m and then I got called by NI5T who gave me NM. New Mexico? Yes he confirmed NM. Definitely a new state and NM might be my best DX on Top Band ever. Sweet.

Sunday evening the first UBA logs started coming in. A shocker. I always believed that Cabrillo log files were named ‘call.log’ or ‘call.cbr’. Some of my code assumes it is this way but guess what? Yet again contesters send us the craziest formats. Some with missing info, some ADIF i.s.o. Cabrillo. Some send a mail without an attachment but the worst are files named like ‘UBASSB10.TXT’. Whose log is that? And if you have a few of those, you can’t save them into one folder without overwriting the other. So I needed an emergency exit and wrote some code that opens the log, looks for the callsign and renames the log to ‘call.log’. That went pretty smooth. I hope the contest community will cut us some slack. It’s the first time we are planning to treat the logs this way and we need to adjust procedures and the program’s code along the way. Like I said before: someone has to do it so I will try to do it. And I want to do it good. I’m not on my own, ON7SS is my team mate. But I am the only one to write the code and figure out the routines.

Checking and processing logs takes time. More than you imagine. More than I imagined. Opening mails and saving the attached logs alone takes a lot of time. That should be handled automatically next year. We’ve had over 300 logs in 2 days. You need to address problematic mails. The contest community knows that this takes time but an update is appreciated. Our ‘New Style’ (as I call it myself) plan is to communicate more than in the past. So we decided to update the page of received logs every day. ON7SS worked with the UBA webmaster to get us a page to update the list daily. For some reason I don’t know, the format needed to be CSV. So once again I wrote some extra code that exports the data in this format. That’s really easy. And I found another two bugs in the code.

After all this, my other work is still waiting to be done. Time to work my way down the To Do’s of this week. 73!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.