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.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Updates and Excuses

When I first started this blog I was inspired by other bloggers most of whom over the intervening period between then and now seemed to have dropped by the wayside. You know what I mean; For a while they post every day or every week and then all of a sudden weeks or months go by with nothing posted. I never really understood why, but gradually it dawns on me as I look at my own blog and a lack of posts the denies the fact that I haven't really run out of things to say. It is not even as if I have had one of those "When did it become a chore?" moments either. It is all just down to being too busy. I have had to look at each day and say to myself "What should I concentrate on?" and as a result even my log book is looking like I have lost interest in the hobby, which clearly is not the case.

I have been somewhat tied up at work with a change of employer (same job), training and covering colleagues holidays and then I have had two rather wet weeks holiday with the family in Scotland and a week away with Helen to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. In both cases poor or none existent Internet access did not help. My 3 mobile broadband dongle when it could get a signal was painfully slow (and it is faster than my landline at home) and although we had occasional access via BT Open Zone that too got very slow when my kids tried to use it too. My O2 mobile phone was even more useless with no access in three separate holiday cottages. Text messages occasionally made their way through including SOTA spots that I receive via Twitter, but often they were three or more hours old before I got them.

While I was away I did have HF set up and another indication of how things have been going is that I still have not transcribed my logs from our Scottish trip. Even the logs from my SOTA activations are still in the form of scribble on a reporters pad.

For my birthday Helen bought me an Icom IC-7400, which is still in the box waiting for me to make space in the shack. It is almost sacrilegious to have such a wonderful piece of kit sitting there unused, but I have just not had the time.

My 2m/70cm/23cm collinear is lying in the garden too, having developed a fault that I have not had time to trace. Time for a complete overhaul of the antennas and a rearranging of the shack, but when will I get the time?

At least one worry is over, the club sale went down a storm. There were a couple of mutterings from folk who expected a full blown rally, but they were fortunately in the minority. What do people expect? Even if we hope to turn the event in to something approaching a full blown ham fest it is unlikely to start out that way. Why had a fair number of traders who in the main sold 'not much' but the private sales did a roaring business. Most of the traders said that they enjoyed the event even if the did not cover their costs and as one of them said "It is much about meeting people as selling stuff." His logic was along the lines that "If folk know me then next time, when they want something I am selling, they will come to me (their old mate), rather than someone they don't know", it sort of makes sense.

The Mold club stall made enough money for the club for it to have been worthwhile. The silent key sale sold everything bar the Elecraft K3 and then at the end we had a reasonable offer for that too, that was a big relief for one of our members who had been unable to get in to his garage due to all the equipment stored there. The bar takings meant the Rugby club would be kept happy to.

When I arrived (late straight from work) everything was in full swing and after getting a pint I circulated around the stall owners to thank them for coming. I missed at least one stall owner who initially had a large crowd around him, by the time I got back he had sold everything and gone. From what I gather all the private sellers and club stalls made it at least worth their while. I felt particularly sorry for one trader who managed to pick up a puncture and not just a fixable little nail but a fist size hole in the sidewall. He told me he had taken £97 but a new tire would be £100. Ouch! At least we did not charge anyone to be there. Maybe the message to the traders is "Are you really selling what people want to buy and at the right price?" Time for you guys to think about that one before Saturday & Sunday, 29th & 30st October 2011 and the 24th North Wales Amateur Radio Show. Meanwhile I need to get my shack sorted so that when I head to Ysgol John Bright, Maesdu Road, Llandudno LL30 1LF for the rally I have my shopping list up to date.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

North Wales Ham Sale one week away

I make no apologies for reposting the information bellow. The event is one week today and the interest from traders alone has been impressive. Unfortunately due to the size of the venue we have had to restrict numbers. One guy alone would have had 12 tables if he could. If I had let him there would have been little room for anyone else (as I already had other people booked in) and as I have no idea if we will get 5 or 5,000 visitors he might well have been disappointed. Anyway the event looks like being a good one for our first attempt, but we need your support.

The star of the show is in the silent key sale, we have a mint Elecraft K3, which had only been used a couple of times on CW before the owner passed away. This and the best bits from our friend's collection will be auctioned with reserves. There is also plenty of interesting junk in the collection.

We will also have a club stand selling items donated to Mold and District Amateur Radio Club for funds.

There will be a number of traders and individuals with tables and some club members with items to sell. Everyone is welcome to bring their own gear to sell, swap or trade and it is all free. That's right no admission charge but if you buy a drink or two at the bar it will go some way to making sure we can do this again, possibly on a larger scale.

The Mold and District Amateur Radio Club http://www.madarc.org.uk/ would like to invite all radio amateurs and short wave listeners to a silent key, shack surplus, bring and buy, junk swap and sell evening to be held at 8pm in the Mold Rugby Club Mold in Flintshire North Wales on Wednesday 14th September 2011.

What we hope makes this sale a little different is the quality of some of the silent key items in the sale, which includes an Elecraft K3 and the fact that there is no charge for private sellers. If required a limited number of commercial sellers would be welcomed but please contact Steve GW7AAV (email correct on QRZ.com) in advance for a table reservation. Again no charge for commercial sellers but a small donation to be split 50/50 with the Rugby and Radio clubs would be welcomed.

There should be some very tempting high quality gear on sale as well as some real bargains.

There is a bar too, so team up with your mates and organize a designate driver. Let’s make this a great social evening too and it will be a chance to put faces to callsigns.

For directions see - http://www.madarc.org.uk/location.html

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Not quite dead yet!

Contrary to what my regular reader might be thinking CQHQ is not dead and neither am I. As I have said several times in the past sometimes life just gets in the way of living. It would almost be true to say that in some ways amateur radio has had to take a back seat in my life for a while, but as I am rarely away from it for more than 12 hours at a time it would be stretching the point somewhat.

So where have I been? you may well ask, but mostly the answer would be nowhere in particular. The facts are these; My employer of thirty odd years has sold his business, I still have the same job working for the same bosses but the name on the signs have changed. This all results in some upset both in terms of things that need sorting as well as some emotional turmoil. It also has meant me learning another function. Something that should have been done some time ago, but the funds for the training resource were not forthcoming. Knowing they would no longer have to worry about budget issues with the old employer meant I got my training, and have been up to my neck in corporate bull ever since. The last two months have been busy too due to covering my colleagues holidays and visiting hospitals, loads of folk scaring the hell out of me. Will people please stop being ill it is starting to effect my health too, worrying about you all. I have my own issues but nothing life threatening just at the moment.

On top of this my second eldest son moved back home, so that he can learn to drive and get a car with the goal of getting a better paid job. He is a talented graphic designer but without transport he cannot get to where the well paid jobs are and almost all of his pay was going on paying his rent etcetera. It seemed like a good idea but a lot of work later and we now have two houses of stuff in one house. Correct that, we had three or four houses of stuff already and it now really is a bit cramped.

It was recently slightly worse than that due to an issue we had at the radio club. One day some time ago we turned up for a meeting to find our radio shack and workshop had vanished along with all its contents. The shack and workshop were in a forty foot steel container that the Mold Rugby Club had kindly said we could "Do with what we want.", unfortunately it was not theirs to give away. Therein lies the problem of ever changing committees and the control of assets. It belonged in fact to a senior benefactor to the rugby club who from what I gather had a disagreement with the rugby club, over some issue to which I was not privy, threw his rattle out of his pram and took all his toys with him. We had by that time being using the container for over two years. Our initial problem was getting our gear back. Thousands of pounds of radio and test equipment, which had been swung up on a crane and transported and then swung off the wagon by crane. We feared everything was broken. The Police said it was nothing to do with them and was a civil matter. Even our wrecked antennas and chopped coax (surely criminal damage at least) were nothing to do with them. Typical British Bobbies too bone idle lazy to help someone even when the perpetrator is known. Eventually I calmed down, but I still had to ask a third party to intercede with the guy.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short the mini-bus full of Ukrainian Bratva with pick axe handles were called off and we got our gear back, mostly undamaged. This was mainly due to the power cables and coaxes that stopped the rigs and equipment from sliding off the benches. Many thanks to the guy from GB4FUN for assuring me things might not be as bad as I suspected when I told him the situation. A travelling shack with gear left on benches, he knew a thing or two about how things move about or rather don't move as much as they might.

So we collected all the gear and it too was stowed at my house until we could find alternative storage. Thank goodness that stuff is out of my shack and the lounge floor and the passage, but what a crippling loss to the club. We used the workshop as a temporary school room for the Radio Amateurs Exam courses, away from the noisy bar in the main club and were able to do practical and on air tests and lessons .

Finally I have been on my annual two week SOTA holiday/pilgrimage to Scotland. There is another story there but it mostly rained and we only did two summits, however it did have it's moments and I did return with a new rig, an Icom IC-7400 as a birthday present from my wife. What a fabulous radio and there are loads of them out there, taken as to trade-ins for the 7410 and 9100 Icoms and the Kenwood 590S. So now really is the time to buy one, if like me you cannot justify the price of the latest rigs. Mine looks absolutely new and the mic was still sealed in the packet. I paid a lot less than I would for a second hand IC-7000 and that is a mobile rig without a built in tuner. If like me you have wanted one since they came out then get one now before they all disappear. Trade in that old Yaesu FT-857D or Icom IC-706 MKIIG if you have too, you may only have a couple of hundred to pay. By the way I didn't I still have mine, it is an emotional thing, but I might part with one for an IC-910X to match the 7400. Oh well Christmas is coming and when you wish upon a star...

By the way if you have a steel container you would like to donate to Mold and District Amateur Radio Club we have just the spot and don't forget our silent key/sale and swap meet event, it is turning in to a mini rally fast. 8pm 14th September 2011.