Cretan Blog-March 2014

Greetings from a very pleasant Crete where the weather seems to think that it is Spring. During the past few weeks we have had temperatures around 22°C most days and with wall to wall sunshine. Yes we have had the odd shower but not the amount of rainfall we would expect at this time of year.

So, I was looking at the adverts in RadComic and in the W&S one something struck me about this SDR stuff. How come one little SDR rig, output 5 watts costs 600 quid but one running 10 watts is 1560 notes? Nearly a grand more!

The cheaper one is by FlexRadio and W&S have been saying for some years that they are the best, so why is the price of an Apache Lab 10 watt rig so much more?

Talking of the cost of these things, I also see in Feb RadComic that some chap got his ‘SDR’ receiver for less than 14 quid. Yes, I know it is just a USB Dongle thing and is receive only but it does beg the question, if he can get a wideband SDR receiver for so little, why is the much heralded Fun Cub one so expensive? OK, the Fun Cube one may have a few more filters, but for just finding out about what this SDR stuff is all about, the 14 quid one has got to be the winner here. [See later…..]

Oh, and I see that the cheap one comes with software – none of the other SDR stuff I have seen, does. You have to find it on t’internet which is really good as, for example, if you want to take a look at the latest SmartSDR 1.1 version software, as mentioned in the Lynchie adverts, you cannot see it unless you have bought a Flex SDR rig and have it connected to your pc!

Is this stupid or what?

It’s a bit like “Sorry Sir, you cannot test drive your car until you have bought it!”

No, I am not a fan of this sort of ‘radio’, and I think about 99.99% of the Amateur Radio population feel the same. From what I see, they are far too complicated and are aimed basically at those with a Masters in Computer studies.

To put this all in perspective: Icom have just brought out the IC-7100 and both Lynchie and W&S sold out within a few days. Why? Because, despite, the use of a menu system, the rig is easier to use and understand than all this SDR rubbish – and also gives you 4m!

I feel I must have a little dig at RadComic again. As predicted, the second part of the future of Amateur Radio was as incomprehensible as the first part – and the RSGB publish it from a guy who admits he is not a Radio Amateur despite having a call. His statement about Spread Spectrum that: ‘we might never know … of how the history started…’ shows his lack of even the basic research. Spread Spectrum was experimented with by Telsa in 1903 and even in 1915 the German Zenneck used a very basic system to secure battlefield communications in WW1. However, the best known ‘inventor’ was Hedy Lamarr who, while watching her piano accompanist play, realised what a proper spread spectrum system could do. She was even issued with a US Patent for it.

When I started this missive, my February RadComic had not arrived and so I went on-line to look at it. Have you tried to look at RadComic on line recently?

It is bloody awful!

Four years ago they stopped allowing you to download a .pdf version of the magazine as people were ‘stealing’ copy. Despite suggestions from many people, the wonderful RSGB have decided to make RadComic available through something called ‘Flipping Books – Magazine Software’. The result is a small image on the screen that is difficult to read other than the main page titles. Should you click to enlarge the image you will get the top part of the page, roughly about 10%, and you have to scroll down the page to read the rest. This would be ok if there were scrolling arrows but you have to drag the mouse pointer down and the response from the image is slow and very jerky.

Why they could not just leave the .pdf version as it was and watermark it, I do not know.

And so as to upset everybody and not just a select few, I see (Page 7 Feb edition) that Ofcom say that they are not looking at making people progress to a higher class of Licence. This just confirms that, as we thought many years ago, we have been sold a pup. Seem to recall that when the RSGB put forward the idea for the new Licence structure, the idea was for people to progress up through the grades and not remain on one level. I understood that the maximum time mentioned to stay on one level was two years although this was later changed to four. This was meant to placate the old fuddy duddies (like me) who saw the whole idea as akin to getting an Amateur Licence in a cereal packet.

To be honest, we old fuddy duddies still do.

Best bits in Feb RadComic?
The introduction to EME. Fascinating stuff and well written. If I were more ‘technical’, I would love to have a go. I understand that SV9 is quite rare ‘via the moon’ and was only available last year for about 5 days when some visiting DLs stayed at SV9ANK’s QTH and brought all their EME stuff with them.

Thought the Icom 7100 review was good and probably the best Icom review that Peter Hart has ever done as he usually has ‘digs’ at Icom (and Kenwood) as he is biased towards Yaesu.

I see that The Green Shed is closed again. I gather that this is because of the bad drainage that was put in. Something else we can blame the previous GM for . . .?

Anyone for eQSL?:
While looking on the Lynchie site, at the bottom of the main page is a link to this eQSL stuff. You type in your call and see how many ‘qsls’ are waiting for you, and so I thought I would take a look.

As of 10th Feb we have 1,469 waiting under the SV0 call and 631 for the SW9 call.

I put on my details that I do not subscribe to such rubbish, so why do the people keep sending me a worthless electronic card that means absolutely nothing? A friend, who also does not believe in the system, has racked up over 29,950 unwanted eQSLs. Why do people persist in sending ‘em?

Pity I missed Dave, M0TAZ, and his talk on ‘Contesting, A Beginners Guide’ the other week. Deez told me about the .pdf of the slides and I picked up the gist of the talk from them. (link here)

I am not really a VHF bod, other than a small play on 6m from time to time but for those of you without huge gardens and only a small VHF beam on the chimney, VHF contesting has to be good fun.

So you are not experienced? – so the other chap will give you some huge number when you only give him 002? – so you get a lot of ‘QRZ’ because you are not running 3 KW? – but every contact you make gives the other fella points and without you, he will not win. This is the same on CW, SSB or FM.

On HF I enter several contests and over the whole year I will send in maybe 2 or 3 logs for adjudication but in all the other contests, I send in a Check Log. This gives the organisers a way of checking that Station A did in fact work Crete for a multiplier and they now have a log to prove it.

If you do send in a log as an entry, do not worry that you will be at or near the bottom when the results are published. Your call will be noticed and after a couple of contests, you will find that your position in the results table will rise along with your confidence at having a go.

Dave would have mentioned logging software and a good all-round one is N1MM. There is always help available on line if you have trouble and the Help File is downloadable so you can always refer to it. You can use it as a basic contest logger (like I do) or you can hook it up to the Internet and use all the bells and whistles if you wish. Best of all – it’s free!

SDR (part 2):
Just as I was going to throw this at Deez, I received the magazine of the Southdown Club. In it is long article about ‘a cheap SDR rig’ which cost the chap 10 quid on eBay and included a Mag-mount antenna, a remote control and software. Makes you wonder how come so much SDR stuff is so expensive . . .

My phrase of the month:

My Doctor asked me if any of my family members suffered from insanity.

I told her, ‘No, we all seem to enjoy it.’



Dick. SV0XBN/9

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1 Response to Cretan Blog-March 2014

  1. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hello from Germany
    I am looking for a guy namend Dick Whittering from Herstmonceux in the Uk
    If it is you. Please get in contact to me. thanks very much.

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