Friday, January 19, 2007

Morse Runner and those little things

I gave the good folks at Industrial Communication Engineers, Ltd. a call this morning. I had done some (very) preliminary testing on the filters I'd just received and thought that the 17m and 12m filters were not up to snuff. Well, they are. They are performing as advertised. The bands 17m and 15m are pretty close together. As the fellow from ICE said, "If we made them any tighter, people wouldn't like them." So, I'm packing them and they are going to Montserrat. I might bring that little Elecraft wide-band noise generator with me to show the other team members what I had done. I thought it was interesting. Maybe they will, too.
There was another burst of activity on the list regarding the possibility of obtaining licenses from Antigua for operation on Redonda Island. It would require somebody making a day trip to Antigua (from Montserrat) to process the paperwork. I'm not interested. After looking over my personal schedule, I believe that time would be better spent hiking over the island and taking video for the DXpedition DVD I hope to make. I had considered taking a helicopter ride to get aerial shots of the island and volcano (which would have probably required a trip to Antigua), but, in the end, I've decided that would be too much to do with too little time to do it. Better to do those things I've already planned well.
Speaking of hiking around the island, Sandy got me an iPod Shuffle tonight (there was an Apple store near where we ate dinner). I'll fill that thing up and listen to it while I traverse the beautiful countryside. These little things are amazing. If you've not ever purchased an Apple product, or if you are in the market for a new (and nearly disposable) MP3 player, give this thing a look. As cool as the commercials for it are, they don't do it justice. (I blame my friend Mark Fancher for making me lust over getting one of these, by the way. Hi, Mark!)
One of the 15 or so reasons why I'm currently over my weight budget is because I'm bringing a nice set of paddles for CW work on the island. I was licensed in 2002 and, to be frank, my CW skills are not anywhere close to where I where I would like them to be. Recalling the old joke, "Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? A: Practice, practice, practice!" Well, hams might ask, "Q: How do you get to Honor Roll on CW? A: Practice, practice, practice!" There is a fantastic program to help you practice called Morse Runner. This thing emulates on-air conditions so well it is downright scary. Perhaps a better description is diabolical! A message was circulated around the Yankee Clipper Contest Club today alerting members (again) to this program. It has a competition mode where you run in a simulated WPX contest for an hour and it computes your score. You may then submit that score to the Morse Runner web site and see how you match up with others. You can see that scoreboard here. I was able to muster 74 QSOs in my best hour. That puts me near the bottom of the list. I don't like that! Well, looks like I need more practice! If you've got an hour, try this. Post your score. Let me know how you did.
Finally, I have been carrying around slips of paper with me and writing down things as I remember them. For example, I have to pack one of my knee braces (or those hikes are going to be unbearably painful). That went on the list. The video camera should have a protective filter on its lens if only to keep the dust out. I bought that tonight. These kinds of things will just dawn on you during the day. Write them down. Keep a list. Check off items when you solve the problem or obtain and pack the item. Yes, "anal-retentive" is hyphenated. {grin}
Just 10 days to go...


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