Cretan Blog-May 2015

Greetings once again from the South East corner of the Mediterranean where over the past month we have had everything from wall to wall sunshine with very high temperatures to snow and sleet.

Congratulations:
I guess congratulations are in order as I see that John, G0VEH, has been a member of the RSGB for 60 years man and boy. Must have joined when he was about 2 years old I reckon.

Unsolicited Mailing:
Anyone heard of UK Amateur Mailing Ltd? They can be found at wwwukamateurmailing.co.uk and are probably an offshoot of the RSGB.

This ‘company’, I use the word loosely, are being used by the Radio Society of Greater Bedford to try and drum up business from those Amateurs whose calls do not appear on the RSGB database. People whose calls are not with the RSGB get an offer of free membership for three months and the promise of all sorts of things to come, such as, RadComic Basics and something called twitter.

But how do I know this?

Well, my G3URA call is listed with Ofcom as being in Kent but the RSGB have me as SV0XBN hence the RSGB don’t ‘know’ me under my UK call. Had they back-checked their records with this wonderful new expensive computer system they had to install for all this IOTA crap, they would have seen that I was G3URA for their records, but am now SV0XBN – and this is due to change again shortly, so that will probably confuse them even more!

I did get on this mailing web page thing and told them to remove my details as I had not given Ofcom permission to sell my details to any money-grabbing outfits.

I wait to hear . . .

T’other day I received the new licence regs from Ofcom and lo and behold, the references on the UK Amateur Mailing letter are the same as the Ofcom references. Well, well . . .

SDR? Probably not:
As I said a couple of months ago, my plan was to get one of these little DX-Patrol receivers (OK, you know it as a Watson W-SDRX1) just to see what this SDR stuff was all about but each time I think about ordering one, I see articles about how complicated all this SDR stuff really is.

The May edition of PW arrived t’other day and in it are two SDR related items. I think that both have been written by Mike Richards just to show how clever he is. In the review of the Anan rig, it is recommended that you need at least a 24” screen to be able to see everything – Hell, that is bigger than our television! Tuning is just a point and click thing where, we are told, you can ‘dart around the band’. But what if you want to tune up the band slowly, such as in a contest? No mention of how to do this, so one assumes you can’t as it just a ‘point and click’ method of tuning.

In order to alter your output power it would appear that you have to go into the software that runs the rig in order to change from say, 5 watts to 10 watts. Seems unduly complicated to me as all I have to do is turn a knob on the front of my rig – simple!

In the other article, in explaining how to connect the rig to this huge screen, you have to understand something called ‘Virtual Cables’ which are not actually cables at all and about as incomprehensible to me as virtual com ports which I have never understood, let alone get to work, so how do you connect the rig to this huge screen then?

The article explains nothing about this and everything else is explained in such a complicated manner that I feel I am being talked down to by Mr Richards and so he has finally managed to put me off this SDR stuff. I reckon that only a tiny fraction of the worldwide Amateur population uses them and so I now revert to my original opinion: –

“If they are meant to be so good, why don’t Yaesu, Kenwood or Icom make ‘em?”

[Answers on the back of a 100 Euro note to me QTHR]

JT65:
Since we have a cheaper access to t’internet, I have been able to keep the laptop clock correct to within a couple of milliseconds and because of this I have been able to check out JT65 on the bands as my pc timing is now correct. [Andy Talbot please note] Although, to me, it is not a ‘proper’ mode where you use a Morse Key for example, it does show what can be worked with low power. I do wonder why though, why you can see JA or BY on JT65 but cannot hear them on CW where they could run so much more power.

Using my current call is a bit of a problem when using the mode and the /9 does not allow me to add my grid square when calling CQ, for example. Also, when someone is viewing the decode screen, my call does not always come up as SV9 as it should, but as SV.

I will await my proper SV9 call before trying the mode again. (See below)

The above paragraph was prompted by looking at JT65 on 18.102 this afternoon (7th April at 13.52 GMT) and seeing Dave M0TAZ calling CQ. Nice signal too at -5db!

New Call:
As I type this in mid-April, I am waiting for my new call.

Some years before we moved out here I applied for a Greek call under the SV0 Series as this is what foreign nationals received. However, a couple of years ago the Greek authorities changed the rules to bring them into line with some other countries and this allows you to apply for a ‘full’ Greek call depending on your home licence. This was announced very quietly and it was only in the middle of last year that an OH2 chap living near Hania used the new system to get a full SV9 call. He was quickly followed by Paul, SV0XCC/9 (ON6WP) who received SV9RNG.

Amongst other things, like your residency permit, you have to produce a HAREC certificate which states which sort of licence you have. Should you have not taken the proper Morse Test, in other words, if you got your ‘full’ licence without CW, then you will not get a full SV call, but probably an SY one which is band and power limited.

6m:
After Moonraker said they could not post a package as it was ‘too long’, I ordered a 2 ele 6m beam from Radioworld with shipping by UPS.

I now know what UPS stands for – Unreliable Parcel Service.

Their ‘Standard’ service means that it will take 11, yes, 11 days to get from the UK to Athens. The UPS people in Athens will then LIE and put on the tracking information screen on a Friday afternoon saying that I have requested a future delivery. Then there is the weekend when no one does any work and then on the Monday a comment is made on the tracking screen that the address is incomplete and so the package cannot be delivered!

On Tuesday afternoon I get a phone call from a chap in a lorry who works for a logistics company and who says he has a package for me from UPS! When questioned it seems that this logistic company only work for UPS a few days a week and if your package misses one shipment down to Crete from UPS, it could be days before they send again.

UPS really is a crap outfit. I have advised Radioworld to look for a different courier service . . .

Anyway, the antenna went together in about 45 minutes and is currently sitting on top of a 6ft pole and pointing roughly North. That evening I copied a beacon in HA at about 5 & 5 which was rather pleasing at about 1,400 kms, but an hour later ZS6AYE was copied on CW off the back of the beam. No bad as they say – now I may have to think about a cheap rotator!

2 days later and the idea of a rotator is getting more serious as this evening I heard 3B9 off the back of the beam . . .

RadComic:
May RadComic duly arrived and is already gathering dust in the corner. Apart from Mr Skelton’s piece and some good Aural reports in the VHF column, there was very little of interest again this month. I see that Dobbs is scraping the barrel again as the piece about G3BDQ and his multiband antenna was first published in the late 60’s if memory serves. John Heys used to be a ‘local’ to me when I lived in Sussex and used that aerial back then.

HMS Belfast:
Good to see Marc mentioned in the piece about the Belfast in the DXNS as QSL Manager.

Time for yet another cold one I reckon.

Yammas!

 

Dick. SV0XBN/9.   SV9RPE.

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1 Response to Cretan Blog-May 2015

  1. M0TAZ says:

    Hi Dick, nice to see my little 10w was reaching SV land. That was most likely on my 12m roach pole vertical with the remote ATU at the base. Hopefully once you get your new call into the software you will find another mode to experiment with.

    I have no doubt SDR is the future of transceivers, many new radio are already SDR but with knobs and switches. Have a look at the ELAD SDR or the flex 6700 series to name a few. Imagine having the radio on, and having a receiver on 7 and one on 14 and one on 21 and another on 28 MHz.

    Now imagine being able to decode all of the CW/PSK/RTTY data on these bands simultaneously. Like you I have enjoyed digital modes for a few years now, and I found quickly that monitor “real estate” as our USA cousins would say is key. I use two large widescreen monitors here, one for DM780 and the other for the log book / qrz / internet.
    Why don’t Icom and Yaesu do SDR ? Good question, but a better question is Why are all the new entrants to the market embracing SDR. Elecraft KX3, New Flex series , Ten Tec, Elad, Anan ?

    It’s not for everyone, but using a SDR and looking at the spectrum scope (band scope) is like finding your glasses after you lost them for a week and realising the world is much nicer in focus.

    PS The minimum TV size allowed by “law” is 50″ now, something as small at 24″ would usually be reserved for the caravan?

    73 Dave M0TAZ

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