Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ham Radio Call Signs – Past & Present

In this month’s QST magazine there was a reference to an “old” article from May 1994 about the evolution of ham radio call signs in the US from the the beginning (before call signs) to the present. Even though the present is 1994 when the article was written, I think it is the same as it is now.  I found it enjoyable to read about the changes throughout the past 100 years.

ARRL members have access to the magazine archives such as QST, etc. The URL of the archives search is http://www.arrl.org/arrl-periodicals-archive-search . The article is titled An Overview of Amateur Call Signs — Past and Present from the May 1994 issue. Once you are logged in, assuming you are an ARRL member, a direct link that should work is http://p1k.arrl.org/pubs_archive/90373 and if not, go to the archive search page and select all the articles from the May 1994 QST issue and page through until you find it. Open the PDF and read it online or print it out.

73,
K2DSL

Brief Efforts in 3 Weekend Contests

I had very limited time this weekend to do much of anything with ham radio but was able to get in some short bursts on Sat & Sun to log some contacts in 3 different contests.

Saturday I logged 21 Q’s in the SP DX RTTY contest and a few Q’s in the first part of the Florida QSO Parry.

Sunday afternoon I logged 2 SSB Q’s with Nebraska stations in their QSO Party and ended up with 36 total Q’s on SSB and CW in the Florida QSO Party.

No big numbers or exotic contacts but always fun.

73,
K2DSL

Andorra DXCC Confirmed – C37URE QSL via LoTW

I noticed that today, via LoTW, my only 2 contacts with Andorra were confirmed. Both contacts were made with C37URE during the CQ WW RTTY contest in Sept 2009. The ham radio RTTY contacts were made on 20m and 40m. I sent off for a QSL card but it’s nice to have this one confirmed via any QSL method.

This new one puts me at 155 DXCCs confirmed.

73,
K2DSL

Botswana DXCC confirmed – A25NW

A25NW was a DXpedition to Botswana South Africa in Nov 2009. I had 2 CW contacts with them on 20m with the 2nd being during the CQ WW contest a couple days after my initial contact with them. Yesterday I received a nice QSL card in the mail.

Thanks for the contact and a new DXCC for me to add to the list.

73,
K2DSL

ARRL Site – More Miss then Hit

The ARRL web site has been redesigned after a very long development cycle and a couple of unsuccessful launches. Now I am typically much more about content then I am about presentation and I would rather have an effective presentation and efficient navigation and search on a site then pretty colors, rollovers and eye candy, especially on a site that I consider a resource site such as the ARRL web site.

When the latest launch of the site was unveiled on Tuesday April 13th I started to find some issues, all of which I have reported to them via their Contact page. Before I speak about what I don’t like, I do like the color scheme as it makes the site very modern. I do like the larger font – even at 46 I can appreciate it. I think some of the new personalization allows or will allow for a more engaging site.

Below are some of the more frustrating items I’ve run into.

The site login is probably the biggest problem I’ve encountered. The old site used to leave you logged in session after session and that was fine. The new site is logging folks out quickly and definitely whenever the browser is closed and re-opened and you need to re-enter your id (call sign) and password. In the old site it was a bit less relevant because there wasn’t a lot of personalization but as this site provides more personalization including feeds on the front page, if you are logged out you don’t see the feeds. So the decision, if it was a conscious decision, to time folks out is a bad decision and needs to be changed. If they dont’ want to default it to persistent, then allow the user to specify how long to persistent the login.

The site seems to have an abundance of +/- spots to collapse show various sections. There isn’t enough content to make it worthwhile.  It also isn’t persistent so collapsing a given section and refreshing the page expands all the sections again. It seems a needless feature as it exists today on the site. The site is also very click intensive in that I seem to have to click multiple times to actually get to the content. As an example, if I wanted to find the latest Contest Update newsletter on the old site I could get it I think right off the main nav or at most 2 clicks. Now on the new site, you click On the Air main link, then click on Contests then click on Contest Information and then click on Contest Publications then on Contest Update Newsletter and THEN click on Contest Update Issues. That is 6, yes 6 clicks. Yes, you can make it a site favorite so it is in your favorite drop-down at the top of the page, but you should never have to click that much and because you need to log in over and over it minimizes the benefit of favorites.

I’ve found a few instances where the content is missing or placeholder text is still displayed. With how long it took to launch, you think all the main subject pages would have relevant content.

Search results are showing the title only. No section/context/description and lots of space between each result. Results also aren’t good. Doing a search for Field Day Locator doesn’t return the page http://www.arrl.org/field-day-locator . Doing a search just for Field Day doesn’t even show http://www.arrl.org/field-day . Performance is also sub-par and I don’t know if it’s just search or overall site performance. But worse then slow performance is poor results. The site currently fails on both accounts. The magazine search seems to be returning relevant results.  But magazine search isn’t listed in the main search drop-down and it seems to be many clicks and hunting and pecking to find it.

The contest calendar page at http://www.arrl.org/contest-calendars-events allows for you to move between months. Every time you go to the next month it scrolls back up to the top of the page. If they are refreshing the entire page as it seems they are, they should use an anchor tag to move the page to where the calendar is at the top of the page.

I’ve found a few broken links throughout the site. There are free downloadable programs that would go through an entire site and find broken links. There’s no reason that shouldn’t have been done here.

The Field Day Locator page looks like it was reset and all the info is gone. At least our clubs info isn’t there and when the site was first launched and I went to the page there were 3 sites listed.

At the top of many pages is a large image and often multiple images which will scroll through. The current delay is way too long. It should scroll through the images much quicker and either continue to cycle or go back to the 1st image and stay there. No one will stay on any page long enough to see all the images so if they are relevant enough to highlight, they should scroll through them much quicker.

The license test session page is messed up too. It shows “no walk-ins” for all tests. That isn’t the case so something isn’t right there. Our club has a test session on 4/16. If I search for test sessions in the Hudson Division or Northern NJ it doesn’t show up. The zip code isn’t completely accurate for our listing which is possibly the cause, though I don’t know if their searches by division/section using zip code which might possibly be the cause.  The hamfest listing for our clubs upcoming hamfest is listed properly but there isn’t much info shown such as hours, cost, etc. I’m pretty sure the old site had more info.

I’m sure you’ve found some of your own annoyances and I’m sure I’ll find more. Hopefully they will get things buttoned up quickly, at least for the more important items such as login, testing and hamfest info and the poor search.

73,
K2DSL

First contact with Kuwait

I was casually making contacts in the Georgia QSO Party while watching The Masters on TV (congratulations Phil or a 3rd green jacket!). I switched to 20m to see if any GA stations were there and on the 20m frequency I switched to was 9K2MU booming in and making contacts. After a few attempts he picked me out of the pack and gave me a 57 report. He asked my name and location and indicated he uploads all contacts to LoTW so no need to send a paper QSL card.

A nice treat on a Sunday afternoon! Thanks for the new one Murtada!

73 and good DX,
K2DSL

WA7BNM Contest calender web site updated

WA7BNM maintains a ham radio contesting web site which is probably the key reference for what contests are going on. http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal is the main site but I typically view http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.php for the upcoming week. A change that WA7BNM has recently implemented shows a graphical representation of when the contest is active using UTC. It gives a quick overview of what contests are active during what times.

It also looks like there’s some customization (stored locally on the computer you use) for which contests to view if you wanted to filter out contests you weren’t interested in. Thanks to WA7BNM for maintaining a web site with great information I visit multiple times a week.

73,
K2DSL

Estonia DXCC Confirmed

I have 19 different contacts with stations in Estonia but none confirmed until today. ES5RW confirmed our 2 contacts via LoTW today with the first contacting being in March 2009 and the 2nd contact being March 2010.  If my count is correct, that is 153 DXCC’s confirmed via LoTW or paper QSL cards.  It appears I have 11 DXCCs logged but not yet confirmed yet with the oddest one being Chile as I have 27 contacts with ops in Chile.

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

2010 EA RTTY Contest

I didn’t expect to operate at all this weekend, but just before dinner with some time to kill, I got on and made some EA RTTY contacts. After I get back from dinner I made some more contacts before heading off to bed with 98 Q’s.  Woke up early and with everyone else still sleeping I got on the radio. In between getting ready for the day and some errands, I ended up with 170 contacts.  Conditions were ok though 15m was a bit light but that could be it is Easter and folks weren’t operating.

Score summary:

        Band    QSOs    Pts   Cty  Sec  Mis
         3.5      19      63    2    6    2
           7      53     180    9   11    3
          14      87     137   27    9   10
          21      11      21    4    0    4
       Total     170     401   42   26   19

       Score : 34,887

73 and good DX,
K2DSL

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