Sunday 23 December 2018

FT8 - A Rant

I'm going to pin my colours to the mast, I am NOT a fan of FT8!

Sure it's very clever.

Sure it's very popular (that tends to suggest that I am anti-establishment at least ...)

The problems are twofold, as I see it.

Firstly, the mode is so dependent upon computer technology and so non-dependent upon operator skill that it is verging on "frivolous".  Rather like the concept of the "driver-less automobile"

Secontly, it is dragging so many radio operators away from modes which genuinely require operator skill that it's effect as a whole is a negative one.   For example, if, in an emergency communications scenario, (don't forget this is one of the (many) "raisons'etre" of Amateur Radio) the chances are that the internet will not be functional, therefore (as it is dependent upon clock synchronicity for it to work) FT8 would not be a suitable means of communication, clever as it may be.

Sure, there are good things about it - it's sheer popularity has shown that bands which appear to be "dead", are in fact only "dead due to inactivity", and I actually applaud this.  I wish there were a better alternative, but for the moment I can't think of one.

Nevertheless, weighing the plusses and minuses, by my reckoning, it's a Bad Thing.

There, I've said it. 

I accept that it cannot be "uninvented" - the Genie is indeed out of the Bottle.

I will now crawl back under the stone from which I emerged to make this assertion ...

I know, "antediluvian" might be a (relatively polite) term for my opinion, but it is what it is.

Oh well, back to the Pump Handle!

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”!