Monday, September 18, 2017

Digital magazines

Still in the bag
The last time I renewed my QST magazine subscription not only did I get my monthly print addition of QST but I would receive an email about a week or so before the print copy arrived informing my digital copy was waiting for me to download and view. I will admit I was one of those ham's that just wanted to feel the pages, hold an actual copy and ear a page to come back to it later. I had some spare money in my Paypal account and I decided to once again subscribe to CQ magazine but this time I decided to only go with their digital version of the magazine. In the past I had big issues with the delivery of the magazine so I wanted to avoid this again. It was the reason I cancelled my CQ subscription some years ago. As the CQ issues started to arrived I was forced to get used to reading the subscription on line. I found out over time the best method of delivery for me was on my Apple iPad pro. For me it worked seamlessly and to be honest it was the viewing of the occasional QST on my PC that frustrated me with the digital age of magazines. As I read my paper copy of QST each month ignoring the email about a digital copy waiting for me in my inbox! Those at the ARRL who publish the QST magazine are very clever in that they tease you with tidbits "you can view more content in the digital version" "Here is a video of the review that can be viewed in the digital version" I began now and then to download QST's digital version to my iPad pro (once I downloaded the app) After a very short time I was hooked on the digital version. Now the print copy stays on my night stand and sometimes a month goes past and it does not even get removed from the shipping plastic. Why not just subscribe to the QST digital version you ask??  I have now as I found in their FAQ how to unsubscribe from the print version. There is no savings to the member for doing this but I am told that the money saved QST puts that to good use. I have no issue with this and am happy to my this "donation" to the ARRL.
For those of you where like me and have not as of yet jumped into the digital magazine world I will say it's a very interactive way of reading. CQ uses a program called Zinio to view their magazine and QST uses Pagesuite It may just be me but I find Pagesuite easier to use, nice graphics and well laid out and I hope one day CQ will start to use them as well as Zinio.
Some of the advantages I find with having a digital copy are:

  • Ability to view videos (QST often has product reviews and a video to along with it)
  • Web links that can take you to more content. 
  • Ability to enlarge the print which is good for me. 
Some of the disadvantages:
  • You can't just roll up the tablet or PC under your arm and take it with you. 
  • To download a new addition the internet is needed. 
  • To take full advantage of the digital copy again the internet is needed. 
For me I find the Apple iPad pro does an amazing job as I am sure any other tablet would but I am  an Apple fan. As for carrying around my iPad I use the Otterbox product to protect it. The way I look at it if you are going to spend good money on a tablet or phone at least spend 1/4 of the price on something that is going to keep it safe. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Station comfort and ergonomics

My setup now with one monitor on a swivel arm to the right
In this month’s QST I found an article that sparked my interest entitled “Comfort design for your station” This is an area I feel that gets looked over when setting up a station. Most of the time I find we lean more towards how the setup looks as to the ergonomics of the setup. I am very guilty of falling into the trap of setting up a station making sure it looks very pleasing to the eye. After a contest or two and having to sit down at the radio for over 6 hour or more at a time I become very aware that it’s all about ergonomics first and looks later.  These days setting up a station most of the time does not just mean a radio but it can include a computer monitor, Laptop and various bits and pieces.  Some of the mistakes I made:
Rig and monitor up to high
  1. I had selves on the desk and I decided to put the monitor on one of the shelves, it looked very cool but over time I found the slight angle my head was on looking up (just slightly) became a chiropractic issue! I then decided to purchase a moveable arm for the monitor so I could adjust it to any position and this proved to be a great investment. 
  2. Since the radio is the most expensive item I had it front and center on the desk. For me over time I found having my arm extended in front of me was not very comfortable. It may sound strange but the best position for me is having the radio off to my left or right side. My right arm keeps its natural bend as I tune and adjust the radio. 
    Monitors on swivel arms
  3. Sideview of swivel arms
  4. I’m not sure about Icom, Kenwood or Yeasu but Elecraft has only 2 heights for the rig……either flat on the desk or with tilt stand (K3) or legs (KX3).  For me both are just not comfortable. I wish they would incorporate adjustable legs for custom heights. I did purchase the Elecraft K-pod which fixed this height issue but that was not the sole reason for the K-pod purchase. 
In closing there is one radio desk setup that I have seen now and then on the internet and thought for me it would be the best and I say "thought" because it only looks comfortable in the picture and until I was to try it I would not know for sure. It involves mounting the rig right into the desktop and almost having it flush with the desktop. Below are some pictures of this and if you have done this or tried it please post your comments about this setup. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

NAQP CW contest.

On Saturday the NAQP CW contest was on and it's a great what I call "mini contest". For me it started at 2pm local time which is great as it allows me to get some things done before I get on the air. This is a 10 hour contest unless you are a multi-operator station then you can work  the full 12 hours. As I said the contest began at 2pm local time but I never got started until around 2:30 as I was BBQing lunch for Julie and I. I entered this contest as QRP and with it being basically a North American contest even with the propagation conditions being low there was lots of contacts to be made. Most of the code is sent at a decent contest speed but there were there those that were just pounding it out. I just skip by those and look for slower speeds (15-25 WPM) I find the time I take to figure out their call and exchange I could had made at least 2 other contacts, so I opt to make the other 2 contacts and let the high speed CW contester work those who can copy them. This year I only spent an 1.5 hours in the contest and netted 12 contacts. With my setup here at VE3WDM I'm thrilled to just get on the air and make some CW contacts. For this contest I used N3FJP's contest program and it was great, in the past I have always used N1MM+. Nothing against N1MM+ it is a great program and by no means did I stop using it because of any issues. I found N3FJP's contest programs easy to navigate since I have been using his logging program for ages. With my simpler station since I had moved I really don't need all the bell's and whistles N1MM+ has. So with my 12 contacts all on 20m my humble score was 120. I still submitted the score cuz you never know!!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Oh those Eqsl cards

Last evening I was reading Paul PC4T's blog regarding Eqsl cards and that when he logged in he found 60 Eqsl cards that had to be answered. This made me go Hmmmmm I have an Eqsl account and I too have not checked it for some time as well! I have Friday off I and I will use some time to look into Eqsl and checking my account may allow me to pass some time. It's now Friday and I had my morning walk and took my position at the desktop and checked my Eqsl account. I will say not being on the air all that much when it comes to Eqsl has an advantage.....:). I had about 15 QSO's that needed my attention and it really seemed to have to do with UTC times not matching. That made me think to maybe not filling in the times in my log. But then again I could then get flagged for no time at all!!