Tuesday, 12 April 2011

NARSA (Blackpool) Rally

Sunday 10th April - Attended the rally above not knowing what to expect having been disappointed at the Red Rose rally in January. Pleasantly surprised, especially with the attendance of 3 major suppliers.
Having been disillusioned by prices of new gear, and the lack of availability of multimode VHF/UHF rigs I was looking for something to replace my ageing TR9000 and the FT-480R which I bought on eBay as functional but turned out to be a box of @#*!; this has cost me over £300 to get the TX and RX operational, and it still has faults...
Bumped into G3OCR at the Rally - Hi Stu - hope you got the amp you were looking for. I was after a GDO of some sort. Found 2 on one stall, cheap at £10.00 and £25.00, with coils, but on one the coil on the unit seemed immovable, and no instructions. The other seemed a bit battered and considering my experiences with second hand gear decided to look around a bit more. After a full circuit I returned and found the better one gone, no surprise really.
Spent money at the RSGB bookstall where I purchased an ARRL Antenna Handbook. I saw one in the US last week when on holiday there, and found this one cheaper. Will remember that for future trips. Also bought 30 or so assorted ferrites to help me combat the electrical noise emanating from those damned switched mode PSUs. my router, and also to block RF getting into my Sky box which does not affect the signal, but disables the remote control.
Such a lovely day I decided to have lunch in Blackpool, but after driving around for 20 minutes and not finding a parking space I headed for Lytham. Found a nice seafood restaurant wher a plate of fish and chips hit the mark.
Drove home with the top down on my Saab, exhilarating.

Friday, 8 April 2011

RST - a New definition?

In my time, RST stood for Readability, Strength, and Tone (CW).
Has it changed?
On several occasions now I have heard new callsign holders telling a station that they are coming in at Radio whatever, and Signal whatever. Is this correct, or it it a matter of lowering standards, or just ignorance of the protocols of signal reporting. As an addition to this one station reported to another that "you are coming in clearly, about 4 and 5".
Been back on the air now for almost 4 months, and in my QRT time new license classes were introduced. I do not know what level of knowledge is required to obtain a license now, but when one amateur needs to spend several minutes describing what a dipole is to a new licensee then I fear the worst for the hobby.
I appreciate the need to introduce new blood into our wonderful hobby, but are we to become a hobby where everything is bought 'off the shelf'?

Any views?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Snowdonia Radio - get your act together

Despite me sending them my details on 9th March 2011, they have still not responded to my 3rd support call. 1x phone, 2x e-mail.
Note to self: use alternative supplier who actually cares about a customer.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

G4EST - a ham abroad

I have just returned from an 11 day trip to Orlando Florida and would like to tender a word of warning as regards bringing kit back.
I went to AES Orlando, a Ham  equipment supplier, and found them a friendly bunch, their shop festooned with antennae externally, and with books and mainly mobile and CB stuff internally. I purchased a 4 way antenna switch which I seem unable to obtain in the UK for a reasonable price. This is where the fun started. On returning home I thought of what the security at the airport would think of this solid (to X-Rays) bit of kit, the thought not being one of ease, so I packed it in my hand luggage. Upon entering the security area, I removed belt, shoes etc, and placed these in a tray along with my laptop, my Camera bag in a second, my jacket, iPhone, loose change and the antenna switch removed from the camera bag  in a third. I went through the metal detector arch without incident and waited for my stuff. Tray 1 sailed through. Tray 2 took longer as my camera bag held my sat-nav, video camera, camera and 3 lenses, and assorted power leads and chargers. Then Tray 3 got some attention... I could see from the end of the belt how the tray was moving... it was going back and forth, then the operators seemed to play with a setting or two. Eventually the tray appeared and the security guard grabbed the antenna switch which was still in it's transparent packaging. She looked puzzled, then asked a colleague (background scene - other passengers waiting to be processed looking frustrated). This colleague then wandered off to ask a third who seemed to recognise what it was and from that point it became a non-threat.

This process took around 3 minutes, and was facilitated by having the equipment easily available for physical inspection, I hate to think how it would have been handled had it been buried in my camera bag, or worse still in my hold luggage.

ADVICE: Think ahead and segregate any 'dubious' items out for inspection to save time through security, and avoid the daggers  emanating from other passengers held up while your equipment is being evaluated..