The local section of A.R.I. (the italian equivalent of ARRL) held yesterday night its annual Assembly. It was my first time, and everyone told me the participants number (around twenty hams), was in line with previous years. With its 114.000 inhabitants, Aosta Valley (IX1 land) doesn’t count more of 80 licensed operators. So, with such numbers, it can be said attendance was pretty good. We could discuss Read more →
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Work committments kept me far from this column. I beg your pardon! However, luckily enough, they didn't kept me completely away from radio. Gotta different stories to tell you. They'll be in spare order, but I'll try to summarize everything from where we left it.
Another Italian MW one
Prompted by a message on the "Bclnews" list and blog, in the evening of 5th October I gave a try to 1476 kHz where a new Italian station was announced to be testing. Medjugorje Italia Tv was the given name. A signal, in the range of S5-7, was there at 20.45 UTC, as you can witness in this video. Despite the religious denomination, the broadcaster was hitting the waves with a music loop including Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" and "Poker Face". Id was given only one time in the whole cycle, and it revealed also the e-mail address medjugorjeitaliatv[at]libero[dot]it. At present day, my report to that addy, sent on 7th October, is still pending. However, starting from that info, I was able to find an online source for Medjugorje Italia Tv: a website referring to a television channel, which seems to be offline. Playing a bit with the DNS lookup, you'll discover a name tied to previous "experimental" broadcasting experiences in the lake Garda area, like Tele Giovanni Paolo II (which had an MW outlet too, on 1620 kHz). I won't go further on this, nor I did check the following nights the signal, even if someone wrote it's quite good as it's from the same transmitting site (and antenna) of Challenger Radio (in Padova, Villa Estense). As a matter of fact, the only MW licensed broadcasting in Italy is from Rai, the national public radio. Everything else, comes from borderline interpretations of few lines on a law, and – as such – it's undefined in its future life. Aside this, I still can't see how listeners can enjoy a music loop for the whole night!
A(n) touching American history
One night, guess it was around 10th October, returning home from work I found in my mailbox one of the several SAE I send along with QSLs/Reception reports. It had a US mechanic stamp, and sender address was Californian. I couldn't tell much from this, as my outgoing flow is quite consistent, especially to the States. I did then open the envelope. It contained a card, in answer to one I sent as SWL. However, in the very moment I noticed the call on it, something I had read previously popped up in my mind. Excitement for a rare Country confirmation left its space to intense feelings, almost goosebumps. The card was to QSL my reception of T6AF, from Afghanistan, in RTTY, on 20 meters, during March 2010. However, all this didn't count then: I knew James McLaughlin had died, killed in Kabul by an Afghan pilot, along with other several Americans, on 27th April 2011. I was holding in my hands a QSL from an operator who will not be able to transmit once again (his home call was WA2EWE). It was strange and touching. Reading the card, I discovered it was sent by K6KLY, who – I suppose – took over on QSL duties for his colleague. In a few words, not only the promise of a card from T6 was kept (and that's the expectation I had when I sent my card), but Jim was being survived by the marks he left on the spectrum, and by the kindness of a friend. I'm not easy to be touched, but that night I was. I guess this is enlightning about ham spirit, and I hope everyone who hasn't caught the sense of QSLing so far will have a chance to read this. 73, James. I'm sure the bands doesn't show any QRM where you are now!
NCS for one day
In my IX1CKN clothes, I lived, on 9th October, an instructing experience. The local radio Club (ARI Aosta) asked if I was able to join in a radio net supporting the "Jolly Rally" taking place in Aosta and surroundings. I had been assigned, with Antonio IX1AOH, and Carlo IX1VGS, to the Net Control Station, situated at "Cittadella dei Giovani". The set-up was simple: two V/UHF radios, with collinear antennas. The race was not far from us, and we wanted to play safe as far as comms were involved. Someone asked me what is such a net about. I answer that you couldn't give the green flag to the rally without us. Five operators where on each of the four race segments. Everything was being monitored and reported, in real time, to the race director, sitting in front of us NCS hams, and asking to be constantly updated. We had a couple accidents, but nothing that seriously affected pilots. Cars were quickly removed, or were left in a position not troubling following ones, and everything went smooth. In my radio shift, I soon understood concentration was the main point. In such a situation, you are ears and mouth of the race director: you can't pretend an ham on the race track to feel at ease if you're not calm and collected. If you'll put uncertitude into the mike, the same thing will go out on the other end, and it will return back to you. So, being clear, firm, kind, polite and available to recognize your errors is the key. I don't know if I succeeded. I did try, and thanks to IX1BFL, IX1AQW, IX1OAE, IX1AZJ, and IW1APE for having "baptised" me as NCS first timer.
10 meters again!
Saturday 8th October, ten meters worked following the pattern they showed in previous week-ends. At first, in the morning, Russia and neighborood. Then, skip got longer, reaching Asia at the beginning of the afternoon, to turn to the Americas in the end. Such an incredible propagation allowed me, and my completely barefoot set-up (less than 100 watts and an homemade vertical), some seven QSOs: US3IFB, UR4MKY, UX3IT, UX1LN, EK6TA (which has to be my best QRB of the day), RX6AM, and UI7F/6. First contact at 10.55 UTC, last one at 15.49. However, as it happens in such circumstancies, the best part is what you hear, not what you work. So, please enjoy how AP2IA, Ijaz in Lahore, and CX7CO, Carlos in Montevideo, were coming in IX1 land (loc. JN35pr) respectively at 11.52 UTC on 28489.8 kHz, and at 16.11 UTC on 28630. The whole day was made even more pleasant by the continuous info exchange I had not thanks to the cluster, but via Twitter, much more interactive and fun. That way, I learnt also about the 10-10 net, being an an organization of amateur radio operators dedicated to maintaining high levels of amateur radio communications on the 10-meter amateur band. This might sound a bit obvious, but check their website, or follow them on Twitter, and you'll realize it's not. Before starting to write this long story, ten meters were alive again with Uruguay on 28491, heard here at real 5 by 9. What else to say, but "long live to 28 MHz"!
First CKN QSLs…
Day after day, time passed and patience led to the first two QSLs for IX1CKN. In the mailbox (bear in mind, if you want a card from me, that I'm not a buro member yet, so it has to be done direct for paper, eQSL or LOTW for electronic) I had the pleasure to find confirmations from PY7CPC – Peres in Recife, Brasil, who I had QSO with on 20 mt., last August – and 5B4KH, George in Nicosia, Cyprus, worked during the IOTA contest, on 31st July, on 10 meters. Two simple cards, rather old style (no picture on both), but containing the essentials. Peres, knowing it was my first QSO with his country, also added in the envelope a paper brazilian flag. If this isn't the final courtesy! So, two countries up, 327 to go. The way to the Honor Roll is long!
…and KC2YXI new one
Speaking about cards, I can't hide I've a new one for my US call. KC2YXI, so far, sent out a "no picture, basic data" card. Now, since the current week, thanks to the kindness and to the creativity of Giorgio IZ4AKS, I've a photographic one. And a very nice one, even. Manhattan, home for my call, is displayed in a portrait taken from the river, in which clouds add to the charming overall atmosphere. DXCoffee.com logo is there, and I couldn't be more proud of that. Look for me on one of US local repeaters, via the Echolnik (for me it's 100% ham radio), if you want this new creation.
QSL de Radio Trans Mundial
As witnessed by this clip, on 19th July 2011, I had the chance to pick up Radio Trans Mundial, from Sao Paulo, Brasil, on 11735 kHz. It isn't a so regular one, here. So, after reading some reports about this station confirming e-mail reports, I fired one to the address rtm[at]transmundial[dot]com[dot]br . Answer came yesterday, 13th October, under the form of a duly completed full data QSL card. It was filled and signed by Rudolf Grimm. The interesting thing is that he is a Dxer too, and you can read his blog DX Ways-Br to learn what he's up (of course, it's also on the side link list). In the envelope came also some magazines and publications. Thanks Rudy. It's not that easy, nowadays, to QSL brasilian stations, and to get such a sharp confirmation can make but a DXer day!
Going V/UHF collinear!
It was time I had to "settle" my V/UHF home station (consisting mainly of an FT-8800). As I previously tested the area surrounding home with portable set-ups, I know it's not big deal here. No way to sneak out of the Valley, no DX chances. So, I wanted something to give me good results in terms of local traffic. Dear friend IX1VGS, Carlo, had a spare Diamond collinear in its garage. It's the shortest one (X-30N), and I installed it yesterday. So far, reports are good, and local repeaters all have me transiting with good signal. If the test will go on with such results, I'll buy one. No deal to put up a 5 mt. Antenna, when you can fulfil your deeds with a 1,3 one!
That's it. Now the backlog is over. Back to regular schedule, under the promise to update you more often.
Sometimes, I don't understand OMs. Probably I became licensed too recently to fully understand them and in some years I'll see the light. Sometimes, they do focusize on awards that, with all due respect, doesn't show much sense (no examples given, but you know what I'm talking about). Doing this, they forget others, that could reveal much more fun and interesting to achieve. It's the case, for example, of the WAIP, the "Worked All Italian Provinces". You need, to have it on your wall, QSOs with 75 different italian provinces, 60 if you're participating from abroad. That's either an equipment test without equal for a new station, or a determination exercise for an experienced ham. And then, you check A.R.I. records and discover that, since the birth of this award, just 1750, of the HF version, have been given out. To me, it looks like a low figure, as quite every OM doing shortwaves in this country should display it in his shack. That's why I wrote a story about this for the friends at DXCoffee. You can read it here in Italian, and here in English (it's an opportunity you should consider from abroad too!). And then, I expect you to rush to the radio. 75 (or 60) it's something, but impossible is nothing.