Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The QSL envelope and progress to date.

The regular envelope from the QSL buro has arrived and it was bulging. In fact it was bursting out of the envelope and I must send stronger ones in future.
QSL card covering two 70MHz contacts between OH1XT ad GM4FVM
As there is nothing I will not analyse statistically, here are the votes of the Hilversum Jury (Katie Boyle died recently: she was otherwise known as Caterina Irene Elena Maria Boyle, Lady Saunders née Imperiali dei Principi di Francavilla, or just Katie Boyle to us). She was a stalwart host of the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1960s and early 70s. "Come in Ljubljana", as she used to say, and the Hilversum Jury were always suffering QRM). Ah, live TV in the 1960s. It always went wrong.

The Book: "To anyone reading this from "Far Away" (where the cows are smaller), The Eurovision Song Contest is impossible to explain. Many wise humanoids debate how the continent of Australia sometimes comes to be in Eurovision and sometimes not, how Central Asian states can be included, how it used to have relevance which it lost in 1975, how much better it was when Katie Boyle hosted it, why it matters, and even what it is. The Eurovision Song Contest brought us Abba, and little boys discovered where Hilversum was, though not why there was a jury there, and the rest is lost in the mists of time. Like RTTY, it is something ancient which has outlived its usefulness and which should be retired and forgotten about." 

51 cards arrived. One was miss-sorted and was sent back, which left 50 valid cards. Three cards each covered two contacts, making 53 contacts:-
and now the terrible figures which will point to the decline in the hobby and my part it its downfall:-
A nice split between phone (26) and machine generated (26) with CW (1) left over as being in neither category.

Of the machine generated modes, there were 5 different protocols, JT65 (14), JT9 (3), PSK (2), leaving the rest for scatter modes FSK441 (6) and MSK144 (1). Nothing at all on FT8, so either there has not been enough time for cards to arrive or FT8 operators are more likely to use eQSL.

So even with the delay in the QSL bureau system, these cards show I am dangerously near that (apparently) dreadful mantrap of using data modes most of the time. This is more evidence going back further, because we know it was happening for me in 2016.

Defence of data modes is breaking out all over. I first saw Bri, G0MJI's comments, then I sounded off myself, and now GM4JJJ has referred me to G7DDN's posting "It's not real ham radio". The doom-sayers predictions are that "this" means the end of amateur radio as we know it. "This" probably means FT8, but it is really anything which happens to be beyond their ken. These cards, covering the period 2010 to 2016, show that I was already well down the data mode path long ago. Oh dear ,what a stooshie, as they say in all the best comics.

I do not collect cards (other than putting them in the classical QSL storage facility, an old shoe box). However I do enjoy receiving them and I also enjoy replying to them. Pick of the bunch here goes to two cards from Anthonie, NL-8992. I always enjoy receiving SWL cards, and especially those from Anthonie who puts so much information on them.

Also nice are the 2 cards for FM contacts, both on 70MHz. One is from SP6MLK and the other OH1XT which dates from away back on 20 June 2010. In 2010 I was just getting going from this QTH and I only had FM on 4m with a vertical dipole at that stage.

There are nice cards too from JA2ZS and PU2NOL for 28MHz contacts, in fact those are only cards in the batch from outside Europe.

Nice too is the card from SV1BGR for our 4m contact on 22 June 2015. It may have taken almost three years to get here, but it is nice to remember that QSO. That was my first contact with Greece on 4m, and such contacts are still rare.
QSL card for GM4FVM's first 70MHz contact with Greece, with SV1BGR in 2015
Time for a quick review of progress. At this time of year I take stock and see how the last year has been. The object is to look forward to what I might do next year.

Year to 31 March 2018. total of squares and DXCC worked per band at this QTH (previous year in brackets):-

107 squares (92), 24 DXCC (19), 1 continent

204 squares (186), 39 DXCC (38), 2 continents

294 squares (241), 55 DXCC (48), 4 continents

The year to date was steady but nothing really exciting can be reported. Perhaps introducing Earth-Moon-Earth into my range of options is likely to do more for the 144MHz total in future than it has so far. Best DX was a contact with UR3EE in KN88DC, making 2727km obviously my best 2m DX to date. Ukraine was not a new DXCC as I had worked it on 2m Es in this past year, but KN88 is easily the furthest DX, beating my previous best Es distance into Belarus by 700km. This all goes to show what a large country Ukraine is viewed from compact little Scotland. The target for 2m now has to be continents rather than squares (!). Seriously, some nice Sporadic E this year would be good too.

On 4m I have still failed to work North America, though that is certainly a possibility for the next year.  Possibly more likely is Asia on 4m as Israel should become an active 4m DXCC soon. That certainly seems easier for me to work than the various Central Asian states which have 70MHz, and I know that I have been heard in Israel on 70MHz. Cyprus, maybe an easier way for me to work into a country regarded as an Asian DXCC, has not been active on 4m since the early 1980s apart from a beacon and occasional activation from the UK Sovereign Bases. No change to my 4m best DX this year - 3263km, into IL28, the Canary Islands

For 6m it all depends on multi-hop Es. The last year has had a couple of good multi-hop openings, and I worked 8 North American stations including WP4JCF again to confirm my best DX at 6733km. South America is a good 10% further, but you never know. The same distance to the East would get me to many interesting places but not so many of those have 50MHz. I want to try though.

So I had a reasonably good year last year. A lot of next year seems to involve turning the antenna East or South East.

I think that I have done all I can do to get my station into the best shape possible. Now all I have to do is sit and wait for better propagation.




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