Not prepared for IARU

Things are NOT going the way I planned them. Summer holidays but zero preparation for the IARU contest and not even a single QSO made since WPX CW end May. The reason is simple: BAD WX. Nothing even remotely resembling summer. Temperatures are only so/so but that is not a problem, expecially for a contest. It has been raining a lot which is worse. And on a few days, the wind has been blowing harder than I can appreciate (like today and yesterday!). But there have been a lot of thunderstorms in the past weeks. Last week it was so bad that circuit breakers tripped at some of our neighbour’s. And in the ten years we’ve been owning the place, I have never seen so much rain coming down in one hour. Luckily our house is more than half a meter above street level. The road got flooded and there was water on our driveway too. When the water was gone, the street was covered with a layer of mud coming from the corn fields around us. So with the constant threat of severe T-storms I haven’t bothered to raise the tower and connect all cables.

The problem is the WX forecast talks about lightning for Friday and the weekend too. Bummer! I remember IARU 2010 and I was forced off the air too then by a surprise thunderstorm. I have been checking five different online WX forecast sites a dozen times a day for the last week. And talk it over with OT1A. It seems he’s quite positive about it. Maybe the forecast is too pessimistic? It seems the latest updates predict showers and some sites talk about ‘possible local thunderstorm’ along with the rain. Not all forecasts agree. We’ll see on Friday. They predict a lot of rain then, so setting up will be fun – NOT!

But there’s not only outside. Inside there is some work too. I let the shack PC run it’s Win7 updates. Last week I had some insomnia and spent the night updating some software and the microHAM USB router software. Yesterday I tried to update the K3’s firmware through the virtual com ports. In the past this didn’t work but maybe microHAM fixed it with a new version? Not really: the firmware update froze the K3 and I had to revert to the USB-to-serial interface. My PC motherboard does have a native COM but I didn’t bother to connect the DB9 and bring it outside. To make things worse: suddenly the USB COM port didn’t work anymore. WTF? I tried everything like changing com port number a.s.o. but I lost the radio. Finally I rebooted Win7 so the microHAM virtual com ports were killed. That fixed the problem and I managed to bring the transceivers up to date with Elecraft’s latest versions.

In the mean time I put the netduino back in the box. First things first! I finished checking the UBA CW logs so I can prepare the scores and UBN reports. Then I really should get back to working my way down the pile of QSL cards. And some contesting in between? Let’s hope for acceptable WX tomorow and over the weekend. I don’t even hope for good weather!

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