Cretan Blog – May 2012

[The following was written prior to my trip to the UK so, at the time of publication, I could well be sitting in a pub down in Kent downing a few warm ones. Of course I will be missing the General Election in Greece but the outcome will not change anything. We will still be in debt and whoever wins will still have to do the same old things; there will still be strikes etc – all the usual same old, same old . . . ] Anyway: –

Greetings again from a very pleasantly warm Crete. Since mid-March we have had gradually increasing temperatures and even before our Easter* we spotted several pale looking tourists wandering about. The shops and Tavernas in Plaka and Elounda that have been closed up over the winter opened up on April 1st and as the weather has been warm they have been doing quite a trade with the locals. I say ‘locals’ but most of the locals are visitors from other areas of Crete. You can tell this by the number-plates on the cars: anything starting with H or I, Heraklion, P – Rethimnon or X – Hania. Our car is an A, meaning Aghios Nikolaos.
Of course all the shop keepers want a good tourist season but with the financial squeeze affecting all of Europe, and the Germans saying that they will avoid Greece like the plague, I don’t think they are in for such a good season as they want . . .
* This year our Easter was a week after the UK Easter but for those of you who follow these things, next year is a really good ‘un as the UK Easter will be on March 31st while the Greek one happens on May 5th.

My Old Flame
I see that they will light the Olympic torch on May 10th and send it round Greece as usual. It will then come to Crete before being flown to the UK. Now, for a price, while it is here on the island, I will blow it out if you want.
We already have some friends staying over here while the games are on so as they can be away from it all and a few weeks ago we had two other couples we know in the UK tentatively asking if they could stay so as to miss the entire hubbub. But I guess even being out here and not putting the TV on we will still catch some of it as all the bars will be showing bits of it and as you walk past [Dick walks past bars! – Unheard of! – Ed] you are bound to catch some of the goings on. Still, we won’t let it spoil our days . . .

I know that I knock the RSGB and the QSL Buro sometimes but how about this for the Greek one: Early in April I received an airmail envelope from the RAST QSL Buro in Thailand. In it were two QSL cards I had sent out via the SV QSL Buro, one to Italy and one to Germany.
How they both came to end up in Thailand I do not know. They were both sent out within a couple of days of the QSOs which were over 6 months apart . . .

Of course this plays right into the hands of the LoTW or eQSL brigade who will say that these systems avoid these sorts of errors but what LoTW or eQSL does not give you are the pretty stamps on the envelopes! My mention of eQSL last time prompted me to check the ‘cards’ waiting for me – over 910 now and this despite me saying “No eQSL or LoTW”. In fact, just before checking the number, I worked a GØ station and during the keyboard to keyboard QSO I said that I did NOT do this eQSL thing. OK he said, QSL via the Buro it is then. When I did look at the ‘cards’ waiting for me, there he was! Duh!

Work one, work ‘em all
Sometimes it seems that you can work one country or area and no other.
Some time back I worked a DL on CW, and then another, and then another and so on. I do not know if someone put me on some form of DL-only Cluster thing but in the end I think I worked 18 DLs of various flavours on the trot. No other countries, no SPs, OKs or OMs just DLs.

It happened again a few weeks ago on PSK. I was just fiddling about on 10m and put out a ‘Test’ and adjusted this and that. A PAØ called. No problem, I worked him and then thought I would call CQ UA as I am still chasing Russian Districts. It was not to be. I just kept getting called by PAØs, well PDs actually, one after the other. Was my signal getting anywhere else? Well, I was called by an ON who was on the border but I suspect I was hooked into some PA Cluster somehow. About 90 minutes later I escaped when Eric, G3TXZ called. Eric and I go back to the days of 160m AM and going mobile to that ill-fated Pegwell Bay Rally all, those years ago . . .

The Greek RadCom.
My copy of SV NEA arrived during the month and inside there is yet another article on the Moxon Beam. Must be the season for ‘em! SV NEA always seems to have useful, practical bits inside. For example, this edition had an item about the Tigertronics Interface and how to use it with different rigs. Those that use this particular interface will know that you have to put ‘links’ in a certain way in an IC holder inside the beast depending on what rig you run. This is no problem as the manual tells you exactly what to do, but what if you use two rigs? Say one for HF and one for 6M or VHF? SV2GWY came up with a solution whereby he extends the IC socket which would normally have the links in, to the rear of the cabinet where he has cut a new slot. Now he uses two different pre-linked IC sockets to plug into the new one and so he can just swap them over without taking the thing apart. Easy and simple.

There was also a nice piece about building a 5-ele 6m beam. Nothing complicated, but just a simple construction article. G3LDO please note.

There was also an article about the Hellenic PSK Club. The article, as you would expect, was all in Greek but they had their web thing listed. I typed this in and low and behold their web site thing is in English! I signed up and am now member number 340. I have no idea what the Club can give you, or what you can give to the Club, but we will no doubt find out in due course.

Going Walkabout
The XYL had to see a Specialist the other week about her Diabetes. He mentioned all the usual stuff but he did emphasise that she should walk more, especially in the afternoons. This is OK now but in the summer we will have to wander about in the early evening as it is somewhat cooler then.
Anyways, the upshot of all this is that we have been wandering/staggering about far more that we have been, and, if truth be known, we do feel better for it. In our little jaunts we do see more of the wild plants and things and the XYL is getting much better at identifying the weeds, sorry, foliage. She has spied things like orchids and wild gladioli (you must realise here that I only write the words she says – I could not tell a wild orchid from a house brick).

Earlier in the month we were returning from one of these little jaunts when we saw our first Golden Eagle. A week or two earlier we had seen a short video taken round and about the village over the past 12 months and the Eagle was shown in this. It would seem that they only ‘visit’ these parts very occasionally, so we were very pleased to see him.

Sand Castles?
Although the WX has been getting warmer overall, in fact over your Easter weekend we had 31C, we still get the cooler days with the odd shower and during the week before our Easter we also had our first ‘sand’ warning of the year.

When the wind comes from the south, we often get some of the Sahara deposited on us and after a shower of rain you can imagine the state of our car. The weather forecast chap on EPT3 shows a map of Europe early in the forecast and there, along the bottom sometimes are these plumes of yellow indicating sand. The week in question showed one moving along the North African coast and reaching up to southern Italy before arriving on our doorstep.
Good job we have a coffee coloured car – the dirt & sand does not show as much!

40m Band Plan
Have you played on 40m PSK recently? If so, what frequency were you on? My guess is that you were not up above 7,040 like we are supposed to be! Recently I have been up on 7,040 calling CQ on PSK31 and 63. It seems that despite all the rhetoric by various National Organisations, no one seemed to have moved up from 7,035 or thereabouts . . .

Fancy a Wage/Pension Increase?
I had a look at the RSGB Annual Report and I see that to recover the $40k owed by the previous General Manager has cost $41k so far. Someone please tell me that this is wrong!
I also see that the Auditors, who did not pick up on the missing $40k, increased their charges by over 36% last year. Did your wages or pension go up by over 36% – I think not. However, if you really want a decent increase in your wages, I suggest you get a job at Sayer Vincent. The RSGB will fix your remuneration . . .
Oh, and you might need a wage/pension increase if you use HRD Deluxe PSK software as they are going to start charging 60 Bucks for it.
[There are a couple more observations about the Annual Report in the Cretan Correspondent in the next Newsletter – Ed]

My plans to have a bash at the 20 QSOs for World Amateur Radio Day were nearly thwarted when the previous evening we had some high winds across Crete. Down in Aghios they registered 107 kph which is about storm force 11.

The problem was that at about 03.00 all the power went off and some major lines came down. These were not repaired until late the following afternoon and so prior to getting over to Heraklion for the Club Meeting, I had just over an hour to get the QSOs in. Managed it but with the bands in such bad shape recently, even on PSK it was not as easy as it should have been . . .

Third place in the National Club Competition for a first attempt is not to be sneezed at and we should all be proud of what the Club has acheived in order to get a Top Three spot, putting other, well known, Clubs in the shade. Well done to Marc and all the Gang.

Dick. SV0XBN/9 (email:

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