Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Group signing up for LoTW

The guys are getting those Logbook of The World (LoTW) accounts established this week. At risk of being accused of being a "league basher", my goodness this system is not the friendliest system in the world to use! I've got a degree in Computer Science and understand concepts like digital signatures and public key cryptography systems, but certainly the average ham can't be expected to have the same sorts of intuition about such things. It isn't that the system doesn't work--it does; the problem is that the system is a little opaque to many. Your average ham probably doesn't quite know what going on half the time, not because they're stupid, but because the actual model, the mechanics of what this system is doing, are not obvious from the user interface.
Ward Silver (NOAX) wrote a very nice article for the September 2005 issue of QST magazine attempting to explain this model. I don't think anyone can explain it better than Ward Silver has done in this piece. That's both good news and bad news, I guess. Anyway, if you are interested in LoTW, and you should be, there is no better place to get started than with this article. Once you have an account established for your first call sign, adding another call sign is quite easy. I've added a Hints and Kinks entry to my home page for adding a QTH to the LoTW. I've added NE1RD/1 (Georges Island), KP2/NE1RD (USVI), K1P (special event station), and now VP2MRD (Montserrat) just in the last year. All of the team members are establishing LoTW accounts for their home call (if they didn't have them already) and will then create additional certificates for their VP2M calls in a separate step.
In addition to the LoTW credentials, we're also getting our eQSL accounts, and QRZ entries finalized, too. My goal would be to have all of this stuff completed by year's end.
In other news, I got a quote back from QSLworks today. I asked Tami (the graphics artist on staff) to quote me for a card that was 3.5 x 11 (to be folded in half so it makes a booklet shaped regular card 3.5 x 5.5 inches). I asked for two quotes, one full color, full bleed, both sides, and one with full color one side and black-and-white on the other. Here are the quotes. They come out to be about:

Two-sided-color: $0.18 each (for 5000)
Color/B&W: $0.16 each (again for 5000)

I have no idea if we need that many cards. (In fact, we probably won't.) But, it is interesting to see that even a very fancy card (four sides instead of just two, full color all sides) wasn't that much more expensive than their standard offering. I've not shopped around; perhaps I could do better. I simply wanted to get a general sense of what such cards would cost.
Finally, there has been some discussion in the group about whether we should use items left behind by another ham for this trip. The subject came up again today in a couple of mail messages. It seems to be a matter of honor, or principle perhaps, to really do a 100 Pound DXpedition and not, well, cheat. {grin} The big stickler appears to be a large tribander that was left from a ham that had done CQWW from that location. Would using it be cheating?
I have a couple of slides in my talk that show you can bring a yagi as part of your 100 pounds, if you are willing to trade if off for something else. Specifically, I had a Force-12 C3SS tribander that weighted about 30 pounds. It could go, if I left lots of other stuff behind. There were some situations where this made lots of sense. A yagi isn't inconsistent with my vision of a 100 Pound DXpedition--it is just one flavor. Put another way, I don't care what makes up your 100 pounds of equipment. It could be a K1, mini-straight key, and SteppIR. If it was 100 pounds or less packed, that works for me.
Also, using local materials isn't cheating. If you can locate batteries, mast material, or even antennas (or antenna-making materials) locally, I believe you can use them with a clean conscience. Certainly it is our intent to show that just the equipment carried with us provided ample opportunities for an effective DXpedition. We will do that. I think we should also make the best use of anything we find locally, too. So, unless there is a group revolt, I'll be on that tribander (if it is still there)!
Tomorrow I'll talk about some excursion planning that's been done over the last couple of weeks. While I want to put plenty of QSOs in the log, I also want to get to know Montserrat (and capture some great images on videotape as well).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, I don't know if using a tower that's already on the island is "cheating" but I have every intention of working you when you are down there and I hope you are using a Buddipole for that contact! :-)

You are doing a GREAT job with the blog and it sounds as though the operation will be hitting high gear as soon as the holidays are over.

Vy 73 de Jeff, KE9V

December 23, 2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger NE1RD's Blog said...


Thank you very much for the note and well-wishes! I will be using the Buddipole a great deal while on the island; I'm just not committing to using only the Buddipole. {grin}

And, thank you very much for the compliment. This trip, and this blog, have been a labor of love. It is hard to believe that we have just over a month left before we leave. Time really flies!

Take care. Have a safe holiday and new year.

-- Scott (NE1RD)

December 24, 2006 7:41 AM  

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