Wednesday, February 21, 2024

ARRL International DX CW contest.


Overall the weekend had great solar conditions and huge participation worldwide. At times it was very hard to find a clear section of the band to call "CQ Contest". Some may find that frustrating but in the big picture that is a very good thing. I had some memorable contacts in Japan, Australia, St Helena Island, FK8IK on New Caledonia Island and last but not least PE4BAS fellow blogger was logged on 15m. In this contest, I ran (calling CQ contest) for about 98% of the time at about 32-24 wpm. I did have an "I can't believe I did that" moment. On Saturday just before I stopped to have dinner I wanted to try a different macro. I turned the power down to zero and tried it a few times to make sure it would work. I then went for dinner and came back to go on 40m. Now 40m openings for me most of the time do not last very long. I got right back on and started calling CQ and calling and calling. I noticed on the RBN I had no spots which was a bit odd as most of the time I can something into the U.S. Then it hit me the power was still at zero! Well, that was about 20 minutes of lost time. 

All the bands (for me 10-40m) were in great shape and very busy. On Sunday evening around 6:30 local time, things started to go downhill for me. My ability to concentrate was just not there as I heard a call sign and only one or two letters registered with me. The best way to describe it was brain fog, it is not unusual for me toward the end of a long contest to get this. I was even having issues with keyboarding. I would type Zero when the call was 9, the call 9A2Y I had 0A2Y also when typing I would hit two keys at once. I then would be transmitting oddball calls. At that point, I would try to fix the call on the fly and most of the time that is a challenge and at this point in the game, it just made things a nightmare. I decided to pull the plug early as my frustration level would take the fun out of things.

The final tally


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Taking my moms advice.......


Once moved out from home and on my own, I always remembered what my mom told me regarding credit cards. She said it was always good to have one as a just in case emergency BUT put it in a zip lock bag, fill it with water and put it in the freezer. This way if you are tempted to use the card you have to wait for it to thaw out and by then you may feel what you really "needed" was not a need but a want. 

The bottom line to that way of thinking is sometimes you have to take time to think about what you're going to purchase. Recently I did not use the frozen credit card theory but I am glad I took time to think. I had an email notice come to me informing me that my RSGB membership was coming to an end. The renewal was 70 British pounds which converted to about 120.00 Canadian dollars. ( I was just adding an RSGB link and noticed the fee was not 73.00 pounds which is 124.00 Canadian...NOT) That seemed very steep for me considering the main reason for my membership is the read Radcom magazine. The bottom line for me was that it was way too pricey so I was considering another radio magazine. 

I was looking at CQ magazine as in the past I did have a subscription from them but even then (about 8 years ago) the subscription missed issues and other times issues were late. I decided to wait it out and let the RSGB membership expire and then think about the next move. Kinda like letting the credit card thaw on the counter before I jumped.

Well CQ magazine does not seem to be doing well and online chatter has not been glowing. I just recently checked and their website is no longer loading. There was a statement from CQ saying they have "temporarily " suspended the magazine. In my humble opinion that is never a good sign. I have also read recently of those who just purchased a 1 or more year subscription and so far have received nothing. As a sideline, I feel CQ magazine should refund those who just purchased a subscription but we shall see. 

Well, I am glad that I let the credit card thaw on the counter before I jumped and made a subscription purchase to CQ magazine. To be upfront I will not be taking my chances on this company until it can show stability for at least 2024 without issue. Until then I will have saved some money and I can throw the credit card back in the freezer.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Computer issue solved.



Last week I clicked on a desktop shortcut to open one of my radio programs and the arrow kept spinning and then disappeared and no program opened. I tried some other desktop shortcuts and some worked and some did not. 

Below is the road I travelled down to eventually fix the issue and it turns out that this could happen to any one of us. By outlining the path I followed I hope it helps others out there who may encounter the same issue. 

Before I begin by way of background my setup is as follows:
Win10 home 64bit
 Intel Core i5-10600K CPU @ 4.10GHz  4.10 GHz

My first step was simple and has helped in the past, to restart the PC and give the desktop shortcuts another try. That did not work.
 I then chose one desktop shortcut and it's program to investigate and try to get it working. 

Next, I turned off my Antivirus software (Bitdefender) for a period of 15 minutes and restarted my PC, checking to make sure the Antivirus was still off (it was). I tried the program again and it did not start. 

I then went into Bitdefender antivirus made an exception file for the sample program and restarted but that did not work either.
Next, I started the PC in safe mode and was going to try the programs there but once the PC started the programs I wanted to test were not there. 

I uninstalled the program using Revo uninstaller (great program by the way) I then restarted the PC went to the program's website and downloaded the program again with the antivirus turned off. After restarting the PC I tried the program and it did not work. 

I did not think it was a Windows update as I run a program called Windows Update Blocker (another great program) it blocks all updates until I get the all-clear from the Askwoody site. This is a great site and click on the link to check out lots of great information there. 

It was now time to take things to the next level. I am a firm believer in backing up your PC for the just-in-case moments. The program I use for this is Macrium Reflect and with it, I make a clone and image file of my solid-state C hard drive. The backups are stored on separate internal HDs. One drive for the clone and one for the image. Click on clone or image if you are not sure what they are and you will be taken to a website that explains them. 

I decided to use an image of my C drive from an earlier date when I knew the desktop shortcuts and programs were working. Now you have to remember that anything on your PC after the date of the HD image date will be gone. If your image is from January 30th, 2024 anything on your PC after that date will not be there once you revert to that image. Now I know there is the Microsoft system restore as well but I have never had success with the program. I always get the message "System restore failed to restore to earlier image"
After Macrium Reflect did its magic and I was using an earlier image of my HD all programs were now working fine! So this thought.........
The next day I was on my PC and started the sample problem program and low and behold a spinning arrow and then the program did not start! 

I was doing some nosing around in Bitdefender and turned off the antivirus again, then under protection I turned off Online threat protection and did a restart still had the issue. I then did the same to firewall, ransomware, vulnerability protection and advanced threat protection. It was then I turned on advanced threat protection everything started to work just fine. 

Macrium Reflect restoring HD to earlier date

I then turned on each protection feature and checked the programs and there were no issues but once advanced threat protection was turned on programs would not start.
Within advanced threat protection in the settings, you had the option to set up exceptions but these exceptions had to include the "exe" program file within the file exception. (I found this out with lots of reading on the internet). As well all exe files from the program have to be included or the program will still be blocked from working.

Bitdefender Advanced threat exceptions

Once all this was done my problem of certain programs not starting was solved. I don't understand why only certain programs were affected....that is for later reading. Bitdefender is constantly performing updates in the background and I am guessing that something was added that marked some programs as a threat and stopped them from loading until an exception was made.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Winter field day....burrrrr well not for me.


Well, last weekend I completed my 2nd field day "event" Some don't consider it a contest. I had a blast and can't understand why I have not taken part in this event in the past. This field day was the winter field day, now I am NOT a snow bunny at all so I was at my home station with the classification H and it was only me which made it 1H for the session...event....contest. I enjoy this contest (ops I said it) because max power is 100 watts and lots of folks are operating with minimal setups. This means I have to listen hard and pull some stations out of the noise floor. I operated only CW ( surprise surprise) and the speed is not rocket speed and things are much more laid back! I found the average CW speed in around 22-25wpm and that is fine with me. It gives my ears a break from the 35wpm and up I am used to in contests. The way I look at it any practice at any CW speed is great practice. In this...contest I hone my skills by digging calls out of the noise floor and there are lots of them. So cheers to all who took part in winter field day especially those who braved the snow and cold temps! Looking forward to the summer field day coming soon.