Sunday, 20 December 2015

It had to happen - RoPoCo Contest Dumbed Down AGAIN!

If it wasn't bad enough to change my once favourite twice-yearly short CW contest "RoPoCo" (Rotating Post Codes)  into a CW/SSB contest, the RSGB have now in their infinite wisdom completed the dumbing-down process and changed this into something which is now called "RoLo" (Rotating Locator).
The whole essence of the contest in its original format is that it was a test of both sending and receiving CW skill.
UK postcodes have a slightly quirky format in that the number of letters and numbers in the first part of the code is inconsistent, being either one or two letters followed by either one or two numbers.  The second part of the code (separated on paper by a space) always has a single number followed by two letter.
This made the sending and receiving of the codes accurately somewhat challenging, and part of that challenge is that the SPACING of characters becomes of some importance. (Note that the spacing embedded within the codes when submitted as contest results was never taken into consideration, but receiving a space in the correct place encourages the receiving station to feel that he may or may not have copied the code down correctly)
You may have read elsewhere that the SPACING of CW is one of my pet hobby-horses, as one of the main quality defects of a great many CW operators in my opinion is that their spacing is abysmal, assuming there is any spacing at all.
Perfectly formed characters can be rendered fairly unintelligible (especially when reading the code in one's head) by poor or non-existent spacing.   Conversely, less-than-perfectly-formed characters when spaced correctly should cause the experienced CW operator no difficulty in decoding.
So now we have a CW contest (at least one of the two segments of this contest is for CW operators) where the desirability of good spacing has been eliminated by replacing "quirky" alphanumeric postcodes with monotonously regular Maidenhead locators in their strict format of letterletternumbernumberletterletter (forgive my spacing ... !)

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Don't Turn it On, Take it Apart (a homage to EEVBlog)

Don’t Turn it On, Take it Apart!

So says Dave L Jones, the man behind what I think is the best channel on YouTube, EEVBlog.

If you haven’t paid EEVBlog (which stands for Electronic Engineering Video Blog) a visit yet, you simply MUST.

Dave is (inter alia) an experienced electronic design engineer turned full time Video blogger who happens to live in Sydney, New South Wales Australia.  

 He’s passionate, entertaining articulate, knowledgeable and opinionated, and above all as “Australian” as they come, and rightly proud of it.

His video blogs cover a wide range of subjects including equipment reviews (Dave seems to have a Test Gear fetish!) “teardowns”, tutorials and rants.

His approach might be regarded as rather brash by some, and his language occasionally becomes slightly “colourful”, but I find his no-nonsense-tell-it-like-he-sees-it approach extremely refreshing, and not agreeing one hundred per cent with everything he says is just part of the appeal.

Introducing a “Fair Dinkum Flying Pig”

As an appetiser may I suggest the following viewing for your maximum entertainment?

EEVBlog #39 – Microchip PICKit 3 Programmer Review

Microchip Response to PICKit 3 Review from EEVBlog #39

EEVBlog #41 – Pigs fly at Microchip

Dave admits in his 500th episode – a 5 hour “live” show, when asked by one of his online chatroom colleagues that this series are amongst his own particular favourites of all the shows he has done.

As the man says : “check it out”!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

After the Storm (s) - "Wind Pruning"?

Like a lot of folk here in the U.K. I've been outside catching up with some property maintenance during what appears to be a welcome break in the long sequence of Atlantic depressions we have been suffering from lately.

Fortunately for me (I do not wish to appear selfish but I can only state the facts, as I see them!) in my part of the world, North West England, we appear to have got off lightly compared to our our countrymen in the Southwestern corner of our island, so my "property maintenance" is basically the cosmetic job of tidying up the detritus left by recent storms using a stiff broom and a manual spring lawn rake.

What has been interesting to me is that whereas I have been used to raking and sweeping up last  year's leaves deposited by the wind, nearly all from neigbour's trees and not my own (such is life!), on this and recent occasions, this "detritus" has actually been in the form of small twigs as much as, if not more than dead leaves.

This has caused me to ponder whether, assuming that the weather eventually returns to something like normal, this
    wind pruning
of the trees will ultimately reap some benefit.

Mother Nature has a habit of being very resilient to disturbances in the normal scheme of thing - the regeneration of woodland following forest fires is perhaps a classic example of this - so I wouldn't be all that surprised to see renewed and vigorous growth when the warmer weather returns in a few weeks' time.

If the weather pattern steadfastly refuses to return to anything like "normal" then all bets are off, of course!