Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quiet week

It was a very, very quiet week as far as anything with the radio. Between working late most nights and having bad weather a few nights, I had very little time to play radio this week.

The only thing I did of note was that thanks to Larry, N4VA, I was able to find a form that I could use to send in the fee for my Cayman license. Larry found it on a "rent-a-shack" site on Cayman so I downloaded it and faxed it to the ICTA. I still haven't heard back from them regarding either the original faxed form or the new form, but I'm trying to be patient (things moving slowly on the islands, etc.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Toy!

As you may know from previous posts, I've been waiting for a few weeks for my new Buddistick to arrive. There had been a delay because they ran out of the bags that they ship/store in and apparently the manufacturer was slow in filing the order.

Yesterday morning, the postman came up to the front door carrying a box, which I assumed was for someone else, since the only thing that I was expecting was the Buddistick and Budd, W3FF, hadn't told me that mine had shipped yet.

Surprise! Turns out that Budd and his son Chris had gotten the bags in and immediately shipped out my order (and many others), and didn't really have a chance to notify me. I'm not complaining.

Even nicer was the fact that we finally had a decent, no, great weekend, weather-wise. Beautiful sunny days, highs in the upper 70s, very little wind, so it was a great time to be outside.

The only minor glitch was that Budd had accidentally shipped the wrong instruction sheet in with my order, but based on what I knew, plus finding an older version of the instructions on the Buddipole Users Group (B.U.G) I really had very little trouble setting up the antenna. (Budd responded to my email about the wrong instructions and send me the correct version a few hour later). Getting it resonant on 40m is a bit tricky (and in fact, I've emailed Budd asking for some tips on this), but I did set it up on the lawn, working at the patio table with my 706 MkIIG plugged into a little 25A switcher power supply (my "travel setup"), and made a few contacts, mostly to folks in the Michigan QSO Party on 40m. One nice thing about these kinds of contests is that except for a few really big stations who are always really busy, the guys in these contests will usually have a few minutes to chat, and I asked for "real" signal reports from a few of them. The reports varied from a low of 33 to 59 (the best possible report; that's a blog entry for another time) I then switched to 20m, and made a handful of DX contacts into mostly central Europe. I don't think I'll be competing with guys with big beams and amplifiers, but for portable use this should be just fine.

Nothing back from ICTA on the form to use to send in my credit card information. If nothing shows up in the next day or soon, I guess I'll fax the info to them, and maybe just ask on the fax for the authorization form.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A little DX and some good news from Cayman

As mentioned in my last update, I worked N8S, the operation from Swains Island, for an "all-time new country". Since then, I've worked them a few more times, and now have worked them on both 17m and 20m on both phone and CW. Considering that I've only very briefly heard them on 15m and only very weakly on 30m, I'm pretty happy with the results.

I also managed to work Oman (A4) on 40m CW, which while not a new country, was pretty nice to get especially on such a low band at this point in the solar cycle.

I finally heard back from the ICTA, the folks responsible for licensing in Grand Cayman, and they sent me the proper forms for licensing and for importing my radio gear. The only problem was that although they said that they'd included a charge card authorization form (so that I can pay via credit card rather than having to get a certified check or bank draft) but it actually wasn't included with the other attachments in the email. I've sent an email back to the ICTA folks asking for the form, but if I don't hear from them in a day or so, I'll probably just fax my info to them and hope for the best.

I heard back from Budd, W3FF, regarding the buddistick. Apparently they are having a big problem with the folks that make the bags, with really long lead times. He's been told (again, apparently) that the bags are to ship "soon", but still hasn't gotten info from UPS that they are on the way. He sounded more frustrated than I am. (Well, I'm just one customer; I guess he's got a few dozen more folks all waiting.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Country!

In general, this week was pretty quiet. I helped out with a VE session for my club this week on Wednesday night, helped out with another VE session on Saturday, and attended an ARES meeting after that.

But the real fun this week was that I got to work the DXpedition to Swains Island, N8S. Swains became a new DXCC Entity as the result of a rules change for what qualifies as a DXCC Entity last year. At the time, there was a very short Dxpedition there, but I didn't even hear them, and did not make contact. However, on this past Friday afternoon, at about 2:30 PM local time, while working from home (no, really, I was working from home!), I did manage to work the guys on Swains on 17m CW, and although I was reasonably sure at the time that the contact was a good one, it was nice to see that my callsign is listed in their recently updated logs.

No news from either the ICTA on Cayman this week, nor from the Buddipole guys about my Buddistick. (Last I heard from Budd, W3FF, was the problem with the bags not being available.) If I don't hear from the ICTA in another day or two, I think I may try emailing the guy who is listed as the head of licensing there.