Thursday, 15 September 2016

The AFRICA DX all band all mode 24 hour contest

The 2nd ALL AFRICA-DX contest

1200Z Saturday 17 September to 1200Z Sunday 18 September

The objective of this all mode contest is to stimulate contesting from Africa. All participating stations worldwide may work any country during the contest period, QSO’s with amateurs from Africa is encouraged as reflected in the higher points being awarded in the scoring mechanism. 

African DXCC entities are defined as those valid per the ARRL DXCC AF Listing published at the time of the contest.

Please note the use of the term Africa and not South Africa. We strongly encourage all African stations to take part in this event. The rules are in no way biased in favour of any one single group or country within Africa. We would like nothing better than seeing a bunch of African stations active during this 24 hour event.

This will contest will be beneficial to all concerned. The station worldwide will benefit from increased activity from Africa on all bands and modes, this will bolster their much needed empty DXCC band / mode slots. On the other hand, the Africans will benefit due to the fact that the world outside of Africa will be turning there beams towards Africa for a change and this will be a great opportunity to be at the centre of activity, with its associated benefits, pileups and hopefully finding new entities towards their own DXCC status.

Rules can be downloaded here:
A N1MM+ contest template is available here:

With a bit of luck that this may in time become a popular annual event, I sure hope others feel the same.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

CW Pileup simulation – Pileup Runner

Some years ago I discovered and wrote about the free program “Pileup Runner” created by Alex VE3NEA
I recently rediscovered and started using this fantastic tool on a regular basis.

I am a little surprized that something this good is kept under wraps. We seldom hear any reference to this program. 

This is an awesome tool to improve one’s accuracy with copying and logging of CW under very realistic on air conditions.

Pileup Runner V1.4

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Alcohol backpacking stove

EVERNEW Titanium alcohol stove
This might be of interest for my outdoorsy friends.

I bought this little alcohol stove a while ago and I am still very impressed with its performance.

The stove weighs only 34 grams. Yesterday I did a few tests to determine the efficiency of the stove.

I carefully measured out 20 ml of denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) and set it alight.
It took around 1:30 for the flame to burn as it should from both sets of holes.
A pot containing 500 ml cold water (+/- 10 Celsius) was placed on the stove at 1:30
The water boiled furiously at 7:15
All the fuel was consumed at 8:00

    IMHO this is quite remarkable and efficient.
    One can thus state that 20 ml of fuel is sufficient to heat water to have a noodle meal, couscous or oats and a cup of tea/coffee. 

    Assuming 2 hot meals a day would mean 40 ml/day lets round that up to 50 ml/day. In other word a 5 day hike would then require only 250 ml i.e. only 250 grams of weight to carry.

    The only disadvantage I can see. The flame is almost invisible when it burns during daylight. It is very difficult to know if the flame is burning or whether it has been blown out by the wind. For the record that has not happened to me yet. I am planning to make a lightweight windscreen partly for obvious reasons and secondly to concentrate the heat onto the pot so as to increace the efficiency further.

    The image below was taken at dusk, the flame is near invisible in day light. 

    The EVERGREEN Titanium alcohol stove

    Saturday, 5 December 2015

    cheech and chong up in smoke

    I had a lightning strike the day before yesterday. I was sitting in the shack working on my computer and looking out for new band / slots on the DX cluster. All of a sudden the heavens opened up with a heavy downpour of rain. The next moment there was an almighty thunder clap. Normally there is a delay between seeing the flash and hearing the clap, but not this time it happened at the same instant of time. 

    The earth leakage relay tripped and All the power was off. I expected the worse, thinking the computer would be fried. 

    After reseting the power supply I was much relieved to see that the PC appeared to be working. The IC-756 P3 seemed OK, but the ADSL line was down. 

    I have subsequently discovered that the IC-756 has no RF output, all other functions seem to be working as per normal. Strangely the Expert 1K-FA was also in the line ahead of the transceiver is unscathed. That is a huge relief......

    The YAESU G-1000 DXA rotator is acting strange. The panel illumination is rather dim.  It appears as if the rotator is turning freely in both directions, albeit much slower than normal. The calibration is way off. I am hoping it might be something simple like a voltage regulator that has gone faulty. 

    The image below is of the thick-wall aluminum mast. It looks as if the lightning either entered or exited the mast at this point. This spot was some 2 meters from where I was sitting. 

    This is much like the movie  "Cheech and Chong up in smoke", but not nearly as funny. 

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