Cretan Blog-January 2013


(Happy New Year!)

I trust that Santa brought you the new rig you wanted and that you obtained the planning permission for the 80ft tower and 4 ele Quad.

I have lost my J49XF contest call. J4 calls are now only issued to Greek citizens and then only for special events. The Club expect to get J49A for the IOTA contest but from Crete, that will be about it.

So at the time of writing, I am now waiting to hear if I can use a different call for contests. With the changes in the rules out here, if you want a special contest call you now have to pay and this is roughly €10 for a two day contest. I was going to apply for 12 contests during 2013 but now find that for the same price, €120, I can use the contest call in any contest I like, so for the same money (the Government must be desperate) I can play with the call whenever I want. This is not a bad deal as if I find that there is XYZ contest on at the weekend, rather than use my longwinded, SV0XBN/9 call, I can just switch to my contest call and use it for a few hours without having to plan ahead, apply for the call, send cash and wait for an answer, which must be done at least 6 weeks in advance of the contest you wish to play in. I have applied for a SW9 call . . . We wait . . .

I have never been much of a Christmas sort of person (19 years of fixing TVs around the Xmas period knocks any festive spirit out of you) but a couple of weeks ago we went to a ‘Carol Concert’ put on by a local choir, made up of people of various European nationalities who live in and around Aghios. Carols in several languages, some where you join in, some when you don’t, along with free wine and nibbles.

An excellent evening but the best parts, to my mind, were two performances by a local Cretan dance ensemble. This was not your ‘tourist fare’ with everybody trying to dance round in a circle but intricate movements and gestures. Just to watch their foot-work was amazing. Probably why they received the largest applause of the evening.

January RadComic arrived but did not keep my interest awake for very long. Lots of ‘one-page’ articles which usually means that the Editor is running out of decent stuff.

Anyway, one of these ‘one-pagers’ was a piece about the CDXC DX Archive. I left the CDXC as they now just exist for only the really well-to-do Amateurs as well as support the stupid IOTA thing.  However, the haste at which the article was put in the magazine shows as the references that the little numbers refer to, such as [1] [2] [3] etc, are missing so even if you were interested, you could not follow up on anything. In the article itself they refer to ‘Q4’. Anyone know what this is? Probably some form of ‘Management Speak’.

I see that once again the equipment review, this time the Elecraft linear, has a corresponding advert on the opposite page complete with banner that says: “The review says it all!” Why do I think that these reviews are not impartial? It just seems that Peter Hart is in the pocket of these manufactures or Emporiums (Emporia?). Oh, and by the way, the advert says that the linear will work with any transceiver. This is a change from the last advert which said most transceivers. If you look at the Elecraft web site, they do not mention about using the linear with a Kenwood rig as they only supply connecting leads for Icom and Yaesu.

Now to upset a few people: I see on page 10 of RadComic that the RSGB announced some ‘Exciting Initiatives’ (their words, not mine). These revolve around new Licensees and will involve a new section in the magazine dealing with the fundamentals, such as: Antenna safety, the half-wave dipole, end fed wires, EMC issues, minimising interference to others etc. If we still had a proper Radio Amateur Examination, these items would have been covered in the syllabus – like they were in the City & Guilds RAE Exam – and if you had a half-decent lecturer, all the other items listed in the article on page 10 would have been covered as well.

Is this RSGB Centenary thing a sudden afterthought by Abbey Court?
There does not seem to be a huge take-up in using the special call and the Centenary Award is so complicated, and difficult for someone outside the UK, that I’d be surprised if anyone, other that a G or close-to European station will actually work all that is required. How will the people that work Gx100RSGB know which Region they are in, and why bring IOTA into the equation when there will only be about three different numbers to get? This whole thing was obviously not thought out enough as even in the instructions they admit to it being complicated. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the spreadsheet you have to decode and fill in. I also doubt that anyone, other than a G, will try to get the VHF version either.

Avian Happenings:
Returning to the village the other afternoon, a bird of prey took off from a tree as we were passing and flew down the road in front of us. We were not sure what it was but it was not as big as a Buzzard and was not the Sparrow hawk that lives in the hills behind Plaka. Then, about a week later, the bird must have been perched on our roof because, as we were standing by the lounge windows, it swooped down within a few feet of us and picked off a Sparrow in mid-flight. It then flew off up towards the old mills only to be harassed by a Buzzard who happened to be close by. Investigation revealed that it is an Eleonora’s Falcon. [Confirmed on 25/12/12 by a local Ornithologist]  They are a migratory bird but a few over-Winter in the Eastern Med, usually on Crete and the islands offshore.

On 28th our young Golden Eagle returned and perched for about 15 minutes in a dead tree down by the old wells. Good to see him again . . .

WX Report:
Winter is with us now and, like you, we have had some rain. Maybe not as much, but some heavy rain never the less. Early in the month we had a day of heavy showers and a day later we noticed that the bottom 3 feet of our garden, and a retaining wall, had fallen away into the Olive grove some 15 feet below. Our neighbour also lost his wall and some of his garden and when the WX improves, he will repair it all.

On the Lassithi Mountains we have snow but this was late in arriving this year. Usually they get their first dusting of snow in late October but this year it was mid-December before they had any snow at all.

Meanwhile, Christmas Day was warm and sunny at 18°C – a pleasant enough day although around 9.15pm local time we did have an earthquake centred out in the Mirambello Bay just 6kms east of Aghios Nikolaos. Only 3.71 on the Richter scale and of very short duration, but it certainly shook the house a bit! Nearly spilt my beer . . .

That’s it for this time.

Have a Happy and Peaceful New Year es hope to see some of you at the Christmas Bash on the 13th.



Dick. SV0XBN/9


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