Cretan Blog-January 2016

Hello again from a bit of a noisy Crete . . .

The quiet of the village is fast disappearing as the local Dimos (Council) have decided that they will dig up the only road through the place and recover it with stone blocks rather than Tarmac. This process started just round the corner from us by a little church and will continue through the village and out the other side. This process will take months and months.

This raises the question as to where did the money suddenly come from in order to do all this work? The Government? The Bail-Out cash? I know not but I can sure think of better ways of spending any spare money without projects just to keep council workers in jobs . . .

We do not need the road covering with paving blocks and the money would have been far better spent repairing some of the pot holes that get bigger and bigger each day as (a) they are not repaired when they first appear, and (b) when they are ‘repaired’ it is not done efficiently and so they re-appear after a short while.

The quiet life has also been shattered by the noise from petrol generators. These are used in the olive groves to power the rotating ‘combs’ that are used to get the olives off the trees. These are a very clever idea but when you have several generators going all at once, it can be a bit trying!

A couple of months ago we were promised WyFy in the village!

This was to happen as OTE, the Greek equivalent of BT, were to put up a mast so that we could ‘all’ hook up to t’internet. Seeing as 95% of the villagers are over 85 there are only about 10 of us who want a decent internet connection but anyway . . .

In order to do this a slot had to be cut in the road so they could lay some fibre-optic stuff and this started in earnest about four weeks ago from Plaka, about 5 Kms away. The slot is made by a digger-like machine with a huge cutting wheel on the front. All the dug out dirt, stones and road surface is automatically piled up at the side of the road and is all neat and tidy.

The machine enters the village. Things are looking good as we are to be dragged into the 20th century.

Note I said 20th century, as, despite all this modern technology no one thought to check where the slot cutting machine would actually go, and so it plodded down the main (only) road into the village. It severed four water pipes leading from the main to various houses and then took out the water main itself. Lots of workmen running around like headless chickens and total panic was in abundance.

After two days the gushing flow of water was reduced to what can only be described as a small torrent which left virtually no water pressure in the pipes. With 90% of people having their water tanks on their roofs, there was no pressure to fill them and so people ran out of water. Our tank is below ground and below the level of the mains and so even with much reduced pressure we were able to keep our tank full.

The water board people came and spent two days repairing the main and thus people had their water restored – meanwhile, no more digger, no workmen, no prospect of getting connected to the 20th century as OTE and their contractors go away for a while and have a total rethink.

Meanwhile we have a 4 inch wide slot in the road that is about 3 feet deep and runs for 5 kms down the hill . . .

Radio Stuff:
The saga of my friend and his TS-590SG lead finally ended when, after over a month of broken promises, he wrote to W&S and got his money back. He was really surprised that they could not fulfil a simple order for one lead.  Anyway, he telephoned Lynchie and received the correct lead the following day with no trouble.

Yes, I know that everyone will have his or her own preference to the dealer he or she uses but when you keep seeing adverts claiming this and that, it does make you wonder that if they cannot get a simple lead order right, what else could go wrong . . .

My friend and I have been having weekly skeds on PSK and some slow CW. The slow CW has been about 14 WPM lately as we try and increase our ability to read the stuff without writing everything down, (not very successfully in my case) but it is surprising how many people call us afterwards also at a reduced speed, not just because they want Crete or my friends rare WAB number but just for a normal QSO. It does make a nice change . . .

In the “Small World Department”, just prior to Christmas, I was laid low with some flu bug and was feeling bored. The XYL was out and so I dumped myself in the chair in the shack, put the rig on and not wishing to tax my brain too hard, I looked at JT65 on 18Mc/s.

There was only one station visible and he is calling CQ. It was VK4FNQ. I call him with my 20 watts and 10m ‘long’ wire and we work.

Afterwards I sit back and think that his call is familiar somehow. It turns out that he lives in the same outback town where my brother was their doctor and the call was familiar as I actually met John some years ago at his local Radio Club down in Townsville. As they say, Small World!

Talking of JT65, I see that Dave ‘TAZ has worked some nice stuff on 60m with his 15 watts.

As they say – “Way to Go Dave!”

Greek Stuff:
Out here we have an ‘Economy Minister’ apparently, who has been ‘economy minded’ with the truth.

He is currently being investigated because he failed to declare some bank accounts. He says that these accounts belong to his Mother and he and his brother were just listed as joint holders. The committee investigating such irregularities will now launch a full investigation which will include delving into all his accounts and finances.

It turns out that the same committee looking into his accounts about four years ago after he failed to declare savings of over one million Euros. No one seems to have asked how he had amassed over one million Euros while being an MP!

Meanwhile, there is a scheme out here where a business can get a guaranteed loan from the Government, as I think there are in the UK. Prosecutors are currently looking at some 57 businessmen who have received these state-guaranteed loans but have failed to pay them back, thus forcing the tax payer to foot the bill. Not that they owe all that much – just 94 Million Euros between them.

This is part of a wider investigation into an alleged ‘ring’ of businesses that qualified for the loans, totalling over one Billion Euros, but had no intention of paying them back!

The Magazines arrive:
PW was first to appear and came with a free disc, part of which was a UK call database. The call data was taken straight from Ofcom so a lot of calls were “Details Withheld”. The other stuff on the CD was disappointing as most of it was several years out of date.

The FT-991 review by Chris Lorek was pretty poor and just basically a brochure review as it told you nothing about CW, the use of filters or the complaints about the auto ATU being very slow or the clumsy Menu system. However, we did learn that Yaesu do admit that their C4FM Confusion System is not as good as FM under weak [Normal?] signal conditions.

The ‘New Look’ RadComic arrived and duly failed to impress. Yes the print is easier to read but there is now so much white paper showing at the tops of the pages that you really need dark glasses to read the stuff. The articles, such as they are, will now be a lot less informative as (a) with the wide top margin there is less space for the writing (b) the pictures are so much larger, so again there is less to read and (c) any pre-amble to the article is double spaced and in bold print thus taking up more space.

Look too at the space between paragraph headers in all the articles – lots more wasted space. I was going to give it three months before we read “due to lack of space…” in an article but I see that on page 61 in the last paragraph, it’s already there.

Yes the pictures are larger but do we really need over half a page of a picture of the outside of the RSGB Convention? Or pictures of the boxes that the power supplies came in?

No we do not, and why, for example do we need huge pictures of the inside of two power supplies when a full review of the Icom 7851 recently does not even warrant a peek inside?

It would appear that the Editor is wasting space as she cannot fill the magazine with quality material. The RSGB has asked for comments and so I gave them mine. However, if you do comment on the ‘few look’ comic, do not expect a reply. It seems that unless it is praise of some sort, answers are there none.


This is my last Blog Thing for a while, so just a couple of passing shots before I exit Stage Left:

What I have commented on over the last couple of years has just been my take on stuff. I have just said what I think and this has pleased some people and upset others and from the emails I have received, it would appear to be roughly half and half.

The thing that has upset most people have been my comments about HRD which I still think is total rubbish, over-engineered and even the free version was overpriced.  Just one thing here, if you work PSK have you seen anyone using the paid-for version? I.e. Version 6? (Currently 80 quid from W&S) No, I didn’t think so. Says it all really . . .

While the thing that most people seemed to agree with are my sideways comments about the Old Boys Club known colloquially as the RSGB and their propaganda periodical, RadComic.

Most of the comments have been about the lack of being able to download RadComic or have it in a .pdf version at a reduced subscription rate, like QST which could be done cheaply and would not lead to a loss of advertising revenue, which is what the RSGB claim would happen and so use this excuse so as to fob people off.

With regard to the RSGB, things are very different when you see them from nearly two thousand miles away. You only get ‘their’ view of things, it is not like going to the Club on a Friday evening and letting fly about something and having a discussion about it. Out here, you just rely on the new dumbed down Beano version of RadComic and their very poor web site, neither of which puts the RSGB in a good light I’m afraid.

It seems too that recently I find that I do not understand what most of this new Amateur Radio stuff is all about. I look at the other topics on the Blog thing on the LEFARS site and do not know what half of them are, let alone understand them. I am also dismayed at the direction the hobby is going. Everything is being either dumbed down or made to look like you must use the internet to get anything out of the hobby at all. The use of the internet for having QSOs, or helping to have them, is not and never will be Amateur Radio and anyone who thinks otherwise will never be, in my mind, a true Radio Amateur.

Sorry folks, but that’s the way it is. (The clue here are the words ‘Radio Amateur’ it does not say ‘internet amateur’)

With regard to this SDR fad, I do not understand why you would want to buy a rig for three grand or so and then spend another grand on knobs for the damn thing. I may be missing something here but you wouldn’t buy a new Yaesu FTdx-5000 for two and a half grand and then spend another thousand quid on a front panel, would you?

I may send a comment to Deez in future about some momentous news item but it will have to be something very special, such as the RSGB actually listening to their Members and acting on what the Membership want, like a downloadable RadComic for example, and not what the London Wireless Society, think is good for them, or maybe an announcement that there will now be a proper RAE exam and that the CW requirement will be re-introduced.

Now that would really be worth commenting on!

So, for the last time: –

These have been my opinions and only my opinions, unless you have shared them as well, which would have make them our opinions, but I am not of the opinion that I could have expressed your opinion as my opinion without your prior expression of said opinion, and then my re-utterance of that opinion would, in my opinion, be foolish unless I had expressed agreement to your opinion, and then it wouldn’t have been my opinion at all but your opinion to which I only agreed”.

Vy 73s es GUD DX in 2016.


Dick. SV9RPE.

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