Cretan Blog-November 2013

Greetings from a very Autumnal Crete.

It is November, the clocks have gone back, the tourists have all gone, most of the Tavernas have closed down and the local Bank has reverted to ‘Winter Opening’.

Part-time banking
As I may have said, there is just one bank in Elounda and from the end of October until the beginning of May it only opens on a Tuesday and a Thursday morning. The ‘Hole-in-the-wall’ still works of course but it has been known to run out of cash sometimes . . .

With fewer disturbances, we have started to see the return of the Buzzards and Vultures in greater numbers than in the past six months. We always get a few during the Summer but now that the hills are no longer alive with the sounds of cars and people, the birds return. We hope that this Winter we will also see the return of a Golden Eagle that visited us for a few months at the start of the year.

Departing migrants
With Autumn here we have also had some nice migrants flying South recently.

During late September and early October we often get flocks of colourful Bee-eaters flying through. They seem to hang around for a couple of weeks and then head off across the Libyan Sea to Egypt before flying further South. Another visitor which is a beautiful bird to see is the Hoopoe. We see them in the garden occasionally but the other week, while driving to our ‘Art’ class, we had one sitting in the road about 6 feet in front of the car. We stopped and turned off the engine and spent about 10 minutes just watching the little fella wandering about. I would point out here that the road we were on was a small single track affair that probably only sees three of four vehicles a day . . .

In my last offering, I mumbled on a bit about this SDR rubbish and that you have to be a computer expert to even understand the basics about it. This was reinforced when I saw the advert in RadComic for some Apache Labs SDR stuff. W&S, the agents, go on and on about this and that and assume that those reading the blurb understand it all. I mean, without looking it up, do you really understand what FFT or FPGA is? And what is this ‘beam diversity’? Sounds like it is an oscilloscope term to me.

Anyway, I saw one of the Apache units on display at Newark but was not very impressed.

Yes, it showed all the fancy controls on the screen and some panoramic display of a band, but no one tells you that you still need two screens when using PSK or RTTY as you cannot see both the Data decoding and your ‘rig’ at the same time. Oh, and no, you cannot reduce the ‘rig’ screen in order to watch the RTTY being decoded as if you have some QRM you will need to see the ‘rig’ screen to adjust the myriad of controls and also view the RTTY screen at the same time to see the effects.

And why all those silly connectors on the back? Why not use ‘proper’ SO-239 sockets instead of the stupid BNC things that no one uses? We are being led into what the ‘industry’ wants us to use. We need to say NO to this creeping malaise.

RadCom – data modes
I wonder if you read the last paragraph in the Data section of October RadComic? Andy Talbot asked for feedback on his articles and what we were doing data-wise. Did any of you bother to respond, or even read the piece? I hit the keyboard and just let fly I’m afraid. I am of the opinion that the Data section should be about Data Operating and not all this emphasis on the Internet to do things.

Data operations, like PSK, RTTY and MFSK etc are not covered anywhere else than in this column and over the past couple of years the trend has been away from normal operating and towards using the Internet for everything. With the HF column now containing this IOTA rubbish and the Contesting bit only mentioning the BARTG contests once in a while, there is nothing for the average guy wanting to know about PSK or RTTY or what is happening on the Data portion of the bands.

If you didn’t, maybe you should read Andy’s bit and let him know what you think. After a few days I received an answer to my comments and was told that some of my ramblings (well, the bits that can be cleaned up), along with comments from other people will appear in December RadComic, but as for thinking that the ‘Data Column’ should contain information about ‘Data Operations’, it would seem I am in the minority.

But hey, the RSGB never listen to Members thoughts and ideas anyway, so nothing new there then . . .

Oh, one of my moans was about the constant use of the Internet when using some of these Data Modes and I mentioned JT65 on HF needing exact internet timing. In Andy’s reply he said that timing was not that critical and +/- 5 seconds should be ok. This seemed wrong to me and so I investigated this by looking at the help files for JT65-HF by Joe, W6CQZ.

As he wrote most of the software code he should know and he reckons that +/- 1 second is the maximum error you can have. Some expert writing the articles then . . .

Speak French? Nah, me neither, so why do they put the same French phrase in two articles in Nov RadComic [Pages 42 & 64] I dunno what it means and reading both article throws no light on it either.

As for the rest of the magazine, I thought the Homebrew section was very good this time. Not just for the content but for the explanation on how a short piece of straight wire can have inductance. The review of the Hilberling PT-8000A was fine and a little more detailed that the usual reviews but at over €13k and no CW memory function I do not think I’ll buy one.

I think you know what my views are on using repeaters to gain access to the Internet so you can ‘chat’ to some other idiot in downtown USA – this is NOT and never will be Amateur Radio – so why do they put a two-page article about it and, even worse, use only commercial Motorola gear and treat this as being normal?

I see in the W&S advert that Yaesu now do a cheap 2m handie similar to the Wouxun and Baofeng. Apparently it is now ‘In Syock’ – does no one ever check adverts anymore? Witness the W&S rigs that go up to 23cn!

I also see that they are to run an ADRF thing up at Cuffley in a couple of weeks – probably at the Scout Camp. I did not know that there were many people interested in running around in the rain in the Hertfordshire area. We tried this ADRF at the Cheshunt Club once, many years ago, and I think all we found were a courting couple in a wood!

More RSGB…
The only good RSGB news is that they have received all the money back from the previous General Manager. So I would hope the accounts next year will show not only the 40k taken but the 45+k it took to get the money back and the interest. I only hope that in the accounts, it is all shown clearly and not ‘fudged’ in amongst other stuff with some bland explanation in the footnotes.

So Ofcom are looking at changing the CB regulations to bring the UK in line with other EU countries – Why? Why not stick to 4 watts of FM and leave it at that? Anyone found using any other mode or power should have their gear confiscated, a prison term of not less than 3 years and a £10k fine. Of course if they really want to use AM or SSB, they could always get a proper Licence.

Anyone seen Practical Wireless now that Don Field is the new Editor? Funny how this has never been mentioned in RadComic before the two lines at the bottom of page 39.

No more Country and Western song lines I’m afraid, but this ‘Phrase of the Month’ seems to say it all: –

“Just because I’m awake doesn’t mean I’m ready to do things.”

Seems to sum up most mornings, doesn’t it?




Dick. SV0XBN/9

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