Sunday, January 06, 2008

Odds & Ends

It looks like this week's blog entry is going to be another potpourri.

I finally finished mailing out the entire pile of cards that I discussed in my last entry, and all the work to send the cards to the outgoing QSL bureau at the ARRL in Newington has been completed. Fortunately, my slight procrastination in actually sending out the bureau cards paid off. Earlier this week, I received a package of cards from the 2nd area incoming QSL bureau which, in addition to confirming cards that I'd sent out, had some new confirmation requests that I needed to send back in return. It was only about five cards, but had I not put them in with the batch that I will try to get out this week, they probably would have waited several months. It's also a good feeling to have zero cards to have to send out. Whew.

What's kind of fun is that now I've already started getting cards back. The majority of the direct cards went out on the 27th of December. I got the first response back on the 31st, which is pretty amazing, even thought it did go to (and come from) a station in NJ. (I believe that the first one back was for VP2MZM via K2DM.) Yesterday was a banner day, with 15 cards coming back (though one was as "Return to Sender"; I had the wrong address for someone). After just over a week, I've gotten back 19 cards already (18 if you don't count the "return to sender"). which works out to be about 16%. (I'd previously said there were 134 cards sent direct; I was mistaken and there were 134 QSOs that I sent out for confirmation direct which went to 111 different stations or managers, so it was "only" 111 out direct.) I don't normally track response rates, but I think it might be interesting to do this time because of the relatively large batch that went out all at once.

I didn't work much DX this week since I was back at work, meaning no radio during the day, but it was nice to hear that Solar Cycle 24 may have finally started this week. (I felt compelled to mention it here, because practically every other ham radio blog and website mentioned it. I didn't want to feel left out.) What will be interesting to see if which group of predictions are right: The ones that say this cycle will be huge, or this cycle will be slightly below average. If I'm still blogging in about 11 years, I'll try to remember to follow-up. The good news is that even though the predictions about this cycle starting in 2007 were wrong, it would appear that those who were predicting another Maunder Minimum type of trough were wrong too.

One thing that I've been squeezing in is to try to help a fellow blogger who is working towards his Amateur Extra license. Although I'm still pretty much a new ham by most standards (first licensed in early 2000), I have managed to pick up a little knowledge here and there, and I enjoy sharing that when I can. We've been emailing back and forth discussing antenna system gain, how you compute Effective Radiated Power (ERP), and trying to understand how much (or how little) a few watts of difference really makes (or doesn't make). It's been fun for me to discuss this, as I try to check my facts, and I usually wind up learning a little with each email.


  1. I definitely hope that you will still be blogging in 11 years... At least I hope I will :)

    Christian, DL6KAC

  2. Thanks Christian!