Jim's Gazette #115


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Subj: GAZETTE #115
Date: 2/4/02 5:27:51 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: mortjame@westnet.com
To: Newsletter@coolwebstuff.com, Readers@coolwebstuff.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)



Jim's GAZETTE
Newsletter #115
5 February 2002

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to any and all interested
parties, or to reproduce it in
any other publication. All we ask is that you give credit where it is due.

SHORT NOTES: Among the boatloads of trivia on the DX and RTTY reflectors,
there is an occasional gem worth repeating and repeating. Here is a good
example.
Bob W2KKZ has a blind friend who can use a computer. But he needs software
that, once a prefix is typed in, gives him the country, beam heading and
distance.
Now that's a tough order and I wouldn't have had any idea where to begin.
Dave AA6YQ, however, responded 13 minutes later; "DXView does that. See
www.qsl.net/dxview. It's free.' What wonderful help the message portends! And
talk about response time! That's the kind of help that makes you feel good
about
people in general and about this hobby.

On the other side of the coin, a not so welcome Email from a Pactor II (and
soon Pactor III) fan suggested that PSK31 was a 'kindergarten' mode. Hmmm! I
didn't
respond but I did search my memory (a hazardous undertaking at my age Hi!) to
see if I could conjure up a time and place when I last saw or even heard of a
Pactor
II QSO. Mailbox contacts don't count! I soon gave up. They are even more rare
than a RTTY ragchew these days!

Then I scanned Dima's UT5RP PSK31 DX notes. This kindergarten mode seems to
be pretty well represented. In fact, if you worked all the stations on the
week's
list I estimate you would have racked up somewhere between 90 and 100
countries from all parts of the world. Not bad for a mere beginner.

Dima also mentions some future and some rare DX opportunities for fellow
kindergarteners: J73CCM Dominica on 16-18 February; A big DXpedition to
Trindade
PW0T 18 February to 2 March, 24 hours a day, all bands
(www.Trindade2002.com); T88XF on 9-12 February. And reminds all of us to mark
our calendars for
the Tara Rumble on 24 April.

As always, send your DX notes to ut5rp@radio.tenet.odessa.ua.

Oh, by the way, Doug N6TQS will be the RTTY and the PSK operator on the KH1
Baker and Howland invasion 30 April-5 May. Maybe we will hear from him on
how he hopes to carve up his operating time between the two modes.


I spent some time playing around and learning at a propagation website
deluxe. You'll enjoy it as well, so take a look at www.qsl.net/dxlab. It's a
fascinating facility.

Finally, Steve KF2TI mentioned an interesting piece of software in a recent
note. The address is www.joshmadison.com/software. What you'll find is not
exactly earth
shaking, but it is a tiny utility that converts anything to anything
else-miles to kilometers, temperatures from F to C and reverse and so on.
While I couldn't find a
dollars-to-doughnuts ratio, the table has a great variety of other elements.
It's small and worth having on your desktop.

Mentioned before, but look again department. The NASA photo of Mother Earth
at night is absolutely awe-inspiring. The entire globe can be visited and,
unless you
are from a very small town in the western USA or central Australia, you can
probably locate your own QTH. Truly remarkable! Go to
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0011/earthlights_dmsp_big.jpg --and
stay awhile!

Finally, Dick K8WT raises one of the more interesting questions of the day.
What, says he, can we as amateurs do to help out in a meaningful way in this
strange and
unsafe world in which we live? It's a good question without easy answers. I
noticed the article yesterday where President Bush got on the Florida
emergency net to
say hello. That will make good press for the ARRL, but it hardly defines the
need nor does it reflect great leadership on their part.

It brought to mind the situation in Desert Storm. At the time, my dear
departed friend TG9VT was handling thousands of messages from the naval
forces in the Gulf.
He and the other Aplink stations around the globe found themselves buried
with traffic. They handled it all because of their complete dedication and
round-the-clock
operation. Yet, oddly enough, their service was somewhat limited because
there were no stations on the ground anywhere near the troops.

Their success led me to write to the head of ARRL suggesting that there was
much more to be accomplished with this technology and its existing network.
Why,
asked I, can't we get volunteers to put stations on land, not too far from
the troops, where with a packet network we could gather up a huge volume of
homebound
messages? Simple, I thought, and a mission to attract many volunteers and
offers of free equipment from willing manufacturers. Perhaps that was a far
too ambitious
proposal but it seemed reasonable at the time in light of what I had heard of
the mammoth phone-patch effort during the Vietnam era. I had a friend, now a
silent key,
who with his engineering students worked his station virtually 24/7 handling
phone patch traffic.

Too simple or too ambitious, apparently, because their answer followed the
usual bureaucratic path to a negative response. 'We are not empowered to do
such a
thing,' or words to that effect, repeated several times, convinced me they
would do anything to avoid the task of taking the initiative. Too bad,
really, because the need
was so obvious (at least based on the volume of Aplink traffic which could
not adequately serve the ground-based troops) that it could have been a
success. A great
and positive aura might have been built around amateur radio's service to the
public.

As it turned out, only the telephone companies reaped much goodwill from that
action. According to my nephew, a doctor in a hospital way out in the desert
near the
front, ATT would occasionally drop a few phone booths near the troops and
give them free access to their family. Wonderful!

Now, the geography involved in today's multi-national action boggles the
mind. Yet we assume that the need for personal traffic is no less than
before, perhaps more
considering the isolation in which most of the forces operate. I surely can't
pretend to know what the answer is. But I don't think we have our hands
around an
up-to-date, viable volunteer service plan. I think the radio operators are
willing and able, I think the technology is in hand, but not much will happen
in a vacuum.

I said several times, 'I doubt I'll watch the SuperBowl.' Gen snorted and
said, 'Yeah!' She, as usual, was right. Having made the mistake of watching
the first few
minutes, I couldn't leave until it was over. What a finish! I surely won't
watch next year because there can't ever be another game like this one.
'Yeah,' I hear from
afar!

73 de Jim N2HOS jem@n2hos.com
http://www.n2hos.com/digital

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