More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Life's Roller Coaster

Wow! Over a week has gone by and I have put nothing on my amateur radio blog. It has been a roller coaster week for me here in all sorts of ways. First of all finding out that by the end of the year I would be working for an almost unknown Indian company famed for asset stripping, poor safety and worker relations and being unable to pay their bills, rather than the Blue Chip superstar I am currently employed by was a blow. I had hoped that the financiers would see things in the same light, but it seems they have an inability to do their homework. The information is all out there on the Net for anyone to read.

I did manage some blog related stuff this week and a whole raft of new videos were added to SOTA TelevisionSOTA TV is a video blog I set up so that all the videos made by SOTA activations are available on one searchable site. There are nearly 400 videos posted so far about portable ham radio activations for Summits on the Air. It is a work in progress and I hope once I am through the backlog keeping it up to date will be only an hour or so a week.

My second eldest son had been away for the weekend and when he arrived in work on Tuesday morning he was called in for a meeting with the bosses. They informed him he was out of a job as they were closing his department. I had visions of us both signing on together, not a pleasant thought. Tuesday was also my eldest son's girlfriend's birthday and that evening over a celebratory meal he proposed. To complete the roller coaster so far on Wednesday number two son was once again called in to the office to be told he was being moved to another department and his job was safe. He then had to tell his colleagues who were loosing their jobs that he was okay, which has made a tense situation worse in a lot of ways. Many thanks to my Ukrainian friends Alex and Ivan, I am sorry guys but no knee caps to break this week.

There were lots of thing I hoped to do this week that never got done but the tick list far outweighed the cross list. I expected to have uploaded my SOTA activations from last week but the log books are still in our rucksacks. I did however do some antenna work. High winds had recently brought down my two metres cross Yagi and wrenched the coax from the N-type plug on my colinear leaving me trying to work the locals on a handheld with limited success and missing everything VHF and above on SOTA. First the N-type was refitted and the antenna re-errected and on Thursday after replacing one director and one reflector element I got that back up too. On Wednesday I had a little return favour from a friend who replaced the damaged cowl on my chimney and at the same time put up a bracket that was to hold the end of my 80/40m trap dipole and get it 10 feet above the roof. The new bracket tuned out to be as poor as the one I already had up and so it is back to the drawing board there. Part of the problem is the antenna is made of hard drawn copper wire that makes it quite heavy, add the traps and the feeder hanging from the middle, then some tension from a counter weight to reduce the sag a the chimney bracket twists out of shape. I have since had a call from another amateur friend who may have just the bracket I need.

The good times seemed to really roll on SOTA this week with the last of the Belgium summits I needed activated by Hans PA3FYG. Steve G1INK was up in Scotland again and supplied a host of Unique Summits including a couple I had activated but not worked. There were lots of others of course but these days uniques mean more to me than the points. I just hope the my last required English summit will fall soon. Crowsborough G/SE-007 still eludes me and if I don't get it soon I might have to drive down there and send Helen up with a hand held. There are a handful of Welsh summits playing hard to get but it is nice to know that there are still some unactivated Scottish hills and then there are all the other hills in SOTA. I just wish more GI and EI stations were active from the hills.

Plenty other ups and downs this week, however nothing I can talk about here, but every time the postman arrived both Helen and I were a little disappointed, because the USB board for the NUE-PSK unit has not arrived. It was due to be posted by airmail from the US on Tuesday and we hoped it might be here by now. Going on other things ordered from the states that arrived almost next day I had high expectations. I did however get some Anderson Powerpoles (About) I needed the next day and they will be put in to use for Helen's linked dipole that will cover 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m and 12m. What this means is with my dipole and Helen's we now can cover all the HF bands apart from 160m on our potable operations. We already have portable antennas for 6m, 4m, 2m, 70 and 23cms so on a nice sunny day the potential to stay all day on a hilltop working almost every band  comes ever closer. The fact that a lot of summits have only been activated on a couple of bands makes it more interesting.

I need some nice weather next week to make Helen's dipole and I also need to mend the one I broke last time out. By Wednesday night I may have another chimney bracket to try and then there is the 2/3s dug hole for the Tennamast to finish. This next few weeks could be exciting with some long awaited new rigs arriving in the shops. Oh dear! Not much time left for anything but radio next week, I guess something will have to give.


  1. Sorry to hear about the bad employment news. As your blog is quite popular why not try some Google ads? You may not be able to live off the proceeds but the earnings might at least provide a justification to not sell radio gear if things get tough. Hope things turn out to be better than they look.

  2. Hi Julian, it has not quite got that bad yet but it might. The new bosses might not change much but I am extremely sceptical of what they have in mind. The big problem is I needed a couple more years on the pension. That will be frozen and I will have to pay through the nose for another one that after three years is not going to be worth the paper it is printed on.
    That is if the government don't move the goal posts again before I get to retire. I believe the sooner I am out of the poisonous chemical soup that I work in the more chance I have of living past 70. I also make a fair bit of money through the share save schemes and I will loose that, which has made me a nice little nest egg over the years (the only reason I can have nice cars).

    It has been a weird week, loads of great news, loads of bad news, some amazing luck and some unbelievably depressing things happening.

    I just filled the Discovery with fuel at £110 if the new employers give us a discount (my present one doesn't) I might think them the best ever and want to stay. Fat chance!

    I had better start a diet and run up more Summits to get fit and ready for my son's wedding next September.

    I think it must be down to an old Chinese curse "May you have an interesting life!" Sometimes boring is good.