Cretan Blog – January 2012

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(Happy New Year!)

Let’s all hope it is better than last year.

RSGB Musings.
My January RadComic has still to arrive (so yet another letter sent to Mr Beattie asking why I keep getting forgotten) but I was able to see in on-line.  I still can’t save it but at least I can look at a few things of interest.  I know that Mr Wilson said in his EGM remarks that the editor of the comic had made space in all the 2012 editions for info on all the ‘changes’ that were happening, but I would have thought that at least there would have been something, a few lines even, in the December edition about the EGM, especially as we were told it was so important, but what do we find?

Absolutely Nuffink.
So, the QSL Buro has seen an increase of 8% per year in the QSL card through-put despite the ‘so-called’ increased use of eQSL and LoTW.  When that G3 fellow ‘bought’ the QSL Buro from the RSGB in the hope of making some money, did he not realise that with better band conditions, and 10m opening up, that more people would QSL and so he would be busier?  Do seem to recall several of us sitting round a table in the Robin Hood a few years ago and saying that this would happen…
I see in the January RadComic that they are to charge non-members for the QSL Buro service, but I would have thought that amount is so small as to make it uneconomical.

Funny how the Hon. Treasurer quit so soon after the EGM.  The ‘personal’ reasons sound about as genuine as an MP quitting ‘to spend more time with his family’ but as someone said, how come they are putting someone else in the roll when this Advisory Bunch said that the post should vanish?  Ho Hum…

In the December edition, did you see the bit in the QRP section of RadComic about G7DIE operating from Crete?  All very good but his operation was illegal as only the old Class A licences are allowed to operate SV9 stroke your call. i.e. SV9/G0TOC would be legal but SV9/G8DZH would be illegal.
Now, just to confuse things, all this is changing in Greece but although the new licence conditions are published, they are not in operation yet as they have not yet been passed into Law.  After this happens, Deez will be able to operate SV9/G8DZH, but until they get their act together over in Athens, he can’t.  Other things happening out here are that, when the new licence condx come into force, the SW prefix (Class B VHF Only) will disappear and those SW9s out here will become SV9s and be allowed on HF.  Also the SY prefix is being removed and will only be issued to a new class of licence that will be limited to certain bands and low power.  There was talk of us lowly SV0s getting the SY prefix, so I would have become SY9XBN, but this was not to be.

Radio News.
Well, I have now made it over the 1,000 Suffixes mark on CW.  I started to collect these on the key when I first got the SV0 call.  It sounds quite easy, just collect the Suffixes of the calls you work, and you would think that entering contests would help a great deal.  Well, it does for a start but after a few contests you find that you are working the same people and so your Suffix count does not rise by much.  Still, by working the odd station, we finally made it.  Keeping a record of all the Suffixes started out being a pain but the XYL used her Excel Spreadsheet knowledge and had a system up and running that records everything and keeps a running total.  Always knew she was good for something!
I have also just received the Worked All Asia Prefix Award.  Usual sort of thing – work over 100 different Asiatic prefixes, JA1, JA6, 5B4, VU2, ZC4, UA9 [See addendum below] etc and claim.  Cost was €10 and turn round time only a few days.

microHam CW Keyer (USB) update:
Last time I said that after help from ‘COL, I had the thing working, well, sort of.
I spoke too soon.  The keyer would change from Iambic A to B each time you turned it on, and if you set the speed range, say from 10-20 WPM, next time you wanted to use it the thing would send at 40 WPM.  Also, when pressing F4, for example, to send your call, only half of your call would come out – ruddy useless…  Even the speed control knob fell off after a week.  The thing never did talk to my rig and as I am no computer Einstein, I gave up.
I wrote to MicroHam saying that the little beast had beaten me and I did not even get an acknowledgement, which really shows their caring sharing side…
I did a short review (here) for eHam just to let the world know that the thing is basically junk and that microHam support doesn’t.

PSK Update:
Apart from a few QSOs early in the year and a few on World Amateur Radio Day, my PSK activity has been about zero.  I had a short play in the Aegean RTTY Contest in April but that had been about it for my Data activity until the end of November when I hooked up the old Icom and had a play on 10m.  I seemed to be very popular and after working G4DZE, who uses a TS590 on PSK without any interface as this is all done inside the 590, I thought I would try and get mine running on PSK as well.  It is meant to be very easy as all you need between rig and pc it a USB cable.  Great, I thought.  One lead – plug and play.
How wrong can you be!
Yes I could receive PSK OK and could play with the rigs filters to cut down QRM and splatter, and was quite impressed with this, but could I get the thing to transmit?  Nah.
I downloaded the Kenwood software, looked at Forums and Web sites that tell you how to do it and how easy it is meant to be, but they speak with forked tongue.  I struggled for weeks and, having got nowhere, again I just gave up…

I know it must be me but why has everything got to be so complicated these days?
It should be dead easy to just plug something into your pc and expect it to work “Exactly as it says on the tin”, but it seems that you have to be a computer expert these days just to get even the basic stuff working…  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the full instructions for the Tigertronics USB interface – 12 pages of destructions which would take about two days to read and understand.
Anyway, wanting to keep simple, I am back on the old XP laptop with the 735.  No more stress, just easy PSK QSOs…  That’ll do me…

Greek News.
I said to Deez that I would try and include more stuff on living out here which you do not find in the tourist brochures or at Thomas Cook when you book your holiday, so here’s one:

December 6th was St Nicholas Day out here.  In the UK this would mean very little but here, as the local town is named, Aghios Nikolaos, in honour of the Saint, the town celebrates by taking the day off.  Special Church services are held and everything is shut, supermarkets, banks, petrol stations, factories, everything.  The only places open are Tavernas as despite everything, the Greeks like to eat!  Outside of Aghios, say in Elounda or Neapoli, shops remained open as usual, but in Aghios itself, it was dead.  Of course it is also the Name Day of anyone called Nikolaos or Nikos and so for these people it was like a birthday.

Anyway, let’s finish this Blog thing by putting this Euro money nonsense in perspective.
You will, no doubt, have heard about bail-out money for Greece and wonder how it all works.  I am not an economist like Robert (let’s talk ourselves into a recession) Peston, but I can make it all very simple.  It is like this:-

It is a slow day in a little Greek Village.  The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted.  Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.  On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village.  He stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.  The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.  The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.  The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.  The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the Taverna.  The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.  The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.  The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.  At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything.  No one earned anything.  However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.  And that, good people, is how the bailout package works!  To be serious for a minute though, the following is from a Greek newspaper published along with a whole raft of other information and explanations about the Greek financial troubles.  There are far too many points to bore you with now but this extract may give a small insight and, hopefully, change one perception, at least.

It says:  “Greece has a considerable problem with collecting taxes but it is inaccurate to suggest that a large percentage of the population is involved in serious avoidance.  According to the Finance Ministry, some 900,000 people owe the state an estimated 41.1 billion Euros in outstanding taxes.  However, a mere 5 percent of tax dodgers owe 85 percent of the outstanding amount, so just 14,700 individuals, companies or organizations owe 37 billion Euros, according to the ministry.”

It is a pity then that the current Government put an extra tax burden on us, the general population, by adding a ‘property tax’ to your electricity bill, when most of the money owing the Government comes from such a small percentage of the population.

Looking forward to tripping over some of you at the Bash on the 15th where I will not talk about the Greek economy – I promise!  Just hoping that it does not snow on me this trip…

Yammas es Gud DX in 2012!

Dick – SV0XBN/9.  (E-mail:
1st January 2012

Addendum: Re the UA9 part of the Worked All Asia Prefix note above.  As of December 1st 2011, those UA9s with the first letter of the suffix being: F, G or X, are now in European Russia.  So, UA9XAB is now in Europe as is RK9GH or UI9FDS for example.

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