ON5ZO QRX 3 weeks

Yes, I force myself off the air for three weeks. That’s right, until WW SSB. I’ve been having too much fun on the bands lately. A direct result of that is that a lot of work has not been done while it should have been done already, or needs to be done ASAP. I must admit: all the jobs on the to do list stink. Clean up garage, prepare garden for winter etc. Compare that to the appealing call of the best conditions on the higher bands in years… No wonder I always end up in the shack! But this afternoon I lowered the tower and took the WARC antenna down. Oh yeah: ‘prepare garden for winter’ also means that I need to reinstall the elevated radials for 80/160. I won’t be needing those soon but still…

Another reason excuse to be in the shack is the new computer. It’s not new, it’s a 3 year old mother board with AMD CPU but it is 64 bit. So I ordered some parts and I’m now running a Windows 7 / 64 bit system with 6GB RAM. It’s not a modern day racehorse, but at least I am now running a 21st century system. I bought a second monitor (LED) and I now have a central monitor to run the N1MM soft and a second monitor on the side for non-contest distraction à la checking e-mail, browser, MSN windows. The new main monitor is very wwiiiiiddee so I can now stretch N1MMLogger’s windows. I did an extensive test and the new monitor/PC setup is QRO proof, and does not emmit RF QRM. I tried the three modes and either works great. So migrating microHAM stuff and N1MMLogger to Win7 x64 a) is possible and b) does not have to be problem. So I hope there won’t be any skeletons falling out of the closet later on.

What did I do with the new system? Yes I am in the MM0RAI/P (Rockall) log! Yes I had some more fun in the CQP last week. Yes I was stunned by the tremendous East Coast signals on 10m. Heck I even took the headset and ran 10m on phone. The XYL asked “Why were you doing SSB?” – as if she thought the real ON5ZO got abducted by aliens and replaced by a no-CW extra-terrestrial. No worries honey, once in a while you gotta try something else.

What didn’t I do with the new computer? Work EU Sprint. The contest I love to hate but hate to love. There were no 3830 reports last week for the SSB part. That’s right: zero. Go figure. There are a few for the CW Part. DJ1YFK had the guts to tell what I’ve been thinking:

This contest either needs a serious boost of activity, or the EU Sprint Gang should save themselves and us a lot of work and time, and discontinue this contest. Which would be very sad, because Sprints can be so much fun, provided there is activity.

I read a message from another WWYC pal, Lee G0MTN. Here’s what I told him about how I see the EU Sprint problem:

I have never really been a good sprinter. But contest is contest and between 2002 and 2006 I tried to participate as much as possible. After all: a contest is only as good as the level of participation.

But soon I found myself trying for 4 hours to make a contact. You worked the regulars, you worked the loud guys, then it stopped. Q-count stuck at 50-60. Since I don’t really ‘like’ Sprint, and don’t make contacts while trying to, I just quit participating. Which makes me a part of the problem, I admit.

I know it is a contradiction: massive quitting means the death of a contest. But for EU print to be fun, you need massive participation. Look at NA Sprint: winners make 350 QSO, records maybe +400? If you’re in Sprint for 4 hours but keep on making QSO after QSO, even at a slow pace, you hang in there. If after 90 minutes the bucket of calls is empty – you bail out.

Lack of MASSIVE participation, thàt is the problem!

I think the same applies to the local 80m contests in Belgium. There was one just like that this morning. Tell me: why would I put up a 80m antenna (normally there is none in the air here) and call CQ on 80m for 4 hours to work maybe 60 contacts, of which half at 20WPM and a lot of repeats, and a bunch of guys that change callsigns every time they repeat it (sloppy fists)? Call me blasé or call me cocky, but I’d rather be working Oceania DX CW then, where every contact is nice DX. Of course an attitude like mine is the end of such a contest, but I have participated numerous times to support the contest (just like Sprint) and it’s not one man by itself that will turn the tide. If it’s no fun, I just don’t do it anymore.

What else? I did not work T32C yet. In fact, I never heard them until today. This morning on 30m. Weak and fluttery. I couldn’t spend time to work them, I needed to go. And I won’t work them the next days either while being on a break. I don’t really care about DX or missing a new one, but this time it’s too bad since ON7RU has left Belgium and is going to join the T32C team. Oh well, can’t win/work ‘m all…

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