Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crossing the Streams, uh, Threads

In the wake of the CQWW phone weekend, the contest reflector is awash in the usual post-game chatter. There are however, two particular threads that are worrisome.

The first is a discussion thread about the, umm, extremes some ops go to in order to maintain a full 48-hours of butt-in-chair (BIC) time. Nature calls us all, but we don't all get up to answer, apparently.

The other is a discussion thread about self-spotting.

My fear is that these threads will inevitably merge.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Big Event - Round One

With zero hour fast approaching, all the LIDS are making last minute preparations for CQWW - The Phone Edition.

Cousin QRM is pouting that he didn't get selected by the CQWW contest committee for a station inspection.

Macho Cuesew and Leche Dinero are squirreled away in their secret lairs trying to desperately steal enough network bandwidth to operate their worldwide network of remote receivers.

Rusty Key is practicing his vocal exercises to keep his voice in shape for an entire weekend of screaming into his trusty D-104.

The LIDS will all sit out the first minute of the contest in memory of C6APR.

It's almost time, fellows. Join the LIDS and fire up the filaments, point the beam somewhere, strap in and enjoy the show. You're all Fi-Ni!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tragedy Strikes C6APR CQWW Team

The Fi-Ni Report attempts to find the humor in our shared obsession we call radio-sport. Today, there is no humor, only sorrow as we mourn the tragic deaths of four of our Big Gun brethren. Yesterday W2GJ, K3IXD, W3PP, and K4QO were killed when their plane crashed on takeoff from the Summerville, SC airport. The four were headed to Bermuda to operate as C6APR for the CQWW phone contest this weekend.

Whether we knew them personally or just from the contacts on the air, the contesting and DXing communities have suffered a loss. We mourn for the families and friends and share their grief. At 0000Z Saturday the bands will explode with activity as usual, but there will be a hole in the bands where C6APR should be. We pray that they are now where the bands are always open, even the long path, and all the signals really are 59.

You can read a recent article about the C6APR operation here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CQWW Team Competition

The Lost Island DX Society is putting together a pair of teams for the Team Competition of CQWW.

In light of the recent rule changes, we will assemble two teams - team one will the Yellow Cards, team two will be the Red Cards.

Sign up today for your choice of team! Just leave a comment below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UP5LID DXpedition Report

The first DXpedition by LIDS for LIDS, working all LIDS is now history. The Lost Island DX Society sponsored not one, but two DXpeditions back in August. What? You didn't know? Two groups of LIDS headed out to activate special calls; one to Kazakhstan to operate UP5LID and one to Sri Lanka to operate 4Q2LID.

The UP5LID group arrived at the airport bright and early for departure, loaded down with gear, only to meet their first obstacle. The airlines had no reservations for us. Turns out the package deal we got from Madoff-Ponzi Travel really was too good to be true. With the expedition threatened to end before it began, the group pooled their traveler's checks and maxed out their credit cards and kited a few checks to book new flights. As our travel arrangements were last minute, the routing was not the most direct. Somehow we managed to fly through Atlanta and Newark. Twice. And that was just on the flight out.

After a torturous 72 hours of air travel, over half spent in various airports bars to pass the time, we managed to arrive in beautiful Kazakhstan. Our computer/logging guru, Rusty Key, managed to be in country a full ten minutes before offending our hosts by observing that the Kazakh people were nothing like Borat. Rusty is a phone only operator and not the sharpest tack in the crew, but he does know his way around logging software, so we tolerate him. Rusty claims to be a distant relative of Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem and one of the most unsingable songs of all time. Rusty fancies himself a songwriter as well and we have to suffer his country ballads such as "Mommas don't let you babies grow up to be QRPers" and "Rhinestone Contesters".

Having spent all of our money buying new airplane tickets, we didn't have much money left for accommodations, since those arrangements were also made by Madoff-Ponzi Travel. Fortunately we found a very helpful cab driver named Nockmore who directed us to a very affordable bed and breakfast run by his sister and her husband. Only there were no beds, just mats on the floor, and no breakfast either. But, hey, we were here for DXing, not sleeping. Or eating.

We starting setting up our station in Nockmore's sister's garden. Since all our money had gone to buy new plane tickets, we didn't have money left to afford the extra baggage charges to bring the beams and amplifiers. But we did bring along some wire to make dipoles from. Unfortunately, we managed to leave behind the coax, too. Fortunately, zip cord is pretty universal and can be pressed into service as a feedline when needed.

With a dipole in the air and the rig ready to go, we were ready to put UP5LID on the air. That was when Rusty discovered we had also managed to leave the microphone behind, so he was SOL for the DXpedition, but the rest of us could still operate cw.

When UP5LID came on the air, it certainly stirred up a lot of excitement. We generated lots of on-air activity, but few of them seemed to be trying to work us. In fact, some of the responses we got when we called "CQ UP5LID "were down right rude. The pileups we did generate were exciting . The JA's were the most unruly, while the Europeans were gentlemanly and well behaved. Did I happen to mention that Kazakh vodka is amazing cheap and plentiful?

With the delays caused by our travel snafus, we had to cut our operating time short by several days. But when we shut down the UP5LID operation, we were happy with all the calls we had put in the log, and hopefully gave many a new one.

The circuitous routing to get to Kazakhstan was repeated on our return flights. But as luck would have it, we had a long layover in Morocco, which would allow us to play tourist for a few hours. For security sake, we had to carry all of our gear with us, which made things a little awkward, but we still managed to get out and see a few interesting sites.

During our site seeing trip, our log master, Rusty Key, made the mistake of eating some shawarma from a street vendor. About thirty minutes later, Rusty was in severe intestinal distress. In a fit of panic, he traded his laptop for a half roll of scratchy toilet paper. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Unfortunately, Rusty's laptop contained all of the expedition logs. Our QSL manager was all prepared to order cards and ready to upload the logs to LoTW as soon as we got back, but unfortunately we have no other records to QSL from. If someone is passing through Morocco and finds a fellow named Murkat with a nice laptop, he might be able to confirm a UP5LID QSO for you.

We have not heard back from the 4Q2LID crew, but last reports sounded like they were doing well. The last contact we had from them, they had managed to hook up with what I assume is some sort of Sri Lankan baseball team, as their name was the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers must be in spring training since the LIDS crew said they were staying at the Tiger's camp. Actually, they said they were "being held" at the Tiger's camp, but I assume the message was garbled during transmission. They are a little overdue returning, but we assume they have had travel difficulties similar to the UP5LID team. When they return, we'll share all the exciting details with the Fi-Ni Report.

Full Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released new guidelines governing endorsements and testimonials which include blogs for the first time. Under the new rules, blogs that do not disclose "material connections" with the products they advertise or endorse can face fines of up to $11,000. What are "material connections"? Getting stuff for free or getting compensated for the endorsement.

To insure that we are in compliance with the new FTC rules, the Fi-Ni Report would like to disclose that, yes, we have received and used Dr. DX's Antenna Wax and Sunspot Salve, as well as McElroy's Key Grease. However, we have received no discernable benefit from any of these products. So take that as you will.

What stylish LIDS look like

Doing what they do best....