Monthly Archives: March 2008

Bureau or Burro? – Sorters Spoiling Cards

A while back I wrote about the hiccup where GlobalQSL was putting USA-to-USA QSL cards into the ARRL Bureau System. (Domestic QSL Hick-Up – GlobalQSLs are not DX QSLs per ARRL and GlobalQSL – US to US QSL Options & Solutions )

Proactively I wrote to each of our Bureaus apologizing & explaining that their was a hiccup and how that I would gladly pay the cost to return any of my cards back to me.

Several Bureau Managers wrote back, some saying not to worry, some saying they would forward the misdirected cards, one welcoming any & all cards no matter where from, and a couple Bureau Managers bluntly being crabby about the problem.

To be clear the problem was not created by the individual hams using GlobalQSL, but by the same mixed bag of responses GlobalQSL received from the various Bureau Managers.

It seems that one Bureau in particular has enough of a case of heartburn as to waste everyone’s resources shipping cards to my home bureau so I can personally see how they defaced the card.

This sure falls far short of the ideals of Amateur Radio.  One wonders why someone would be so bitter and yet volunteer to do QSL bureau work?

To satisfy the apparent offense to their self-righteousness they make a point to spoil the card, preventing it from being mailed onwards once returned. 


To be fair of the cards returned from my batch of misdirected USA-to-USA QSL cards only a very small handful were defaced.  Most cards came back with either a form letter, a note, or some without comment.  I’ve made a point of sending a donation to cover costs where the cards were returned.

Also I have learned that a great many of the cards were delivered to the other ham by various ARRL Bureaus despite being USA-to-USA cards in a DX system in error.

More importantly the vast number of Amateurs involved in doing bureau work are our unsung-heroes of DX QSLing, and deserve our praise and admiration!

Perhaps the Bureau Managers are working on a unified policy to respond to these hiccups and what to do with USA-to-USA cards in the system by error.?

Somehow one would suspect that trashing cards to make a point, to make any point, would not be part of that policy.

(Note I decided not to post a copy of the Bureau Defaced cards as it would identify the Bureau & Sorter before they had a chance to reply to my enquiry why they felt they needed to deface cards.)



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TWIAR Turns 15 – Podcasts & Repeater Broadcasts for 780 Issues!

Twiar Turns 15

 This Week in Amateur Radio starts its 15th year, having finished 780 audio issues!

 Think of it, 780 audio-casts roughly 1 to 1-1/2 hours each over a 15 year period!

 Here is TWIAR’s Press Release:

This Week in Amateur Radio Begins 15th Year
of Service To The Amateur Radio Community

With this issue of This Week in Amateur Radio
And This Week in Amateur Radio Headline News,
edition 780, we begin and celebrate our 15th
year of service to the amateur radio community.

The bulletin service has changed greatly over
the years, and certainly would not have made it
this far without the loyalty and dedication of
our world wide all volunteer staff.

We’ve come a long way in the past fifteen years.
From the old analog days of open reel tape (I miss
those old Revox machines) to early telephone quality
audio on satellite subcarriers, to today’s all digital
editing and distribution on the Internet.

Over the years, many folks both hams and non-hams
have graced the airwaves of This Week in Amateur Radio.

I would like to take this opportunity to list here,
all of our current staff, and what contribution they
make each week. It takes over sixty man-hours of time
to complete production on each of the programs.

Here, in no particular order, are the people that make
This Week in Amateur Radio, This Week in Amateur Radio
Headline News, and This Week in Amateur Radio International
possible. As we begin our fiftieth year:

Our Internet team:

Greg Williams K4HSM (web site design & maintenance)
Dale Sargent N0WKF (web site audio engineer)
Fred Moses W8FSM (web site hosting and server maintenance)
Al Waller (QSL.NET) (back up server hosting)
Jay Silvio, N9WMU Staff artist

Our Segment Producers:

Bill Baran, N2FNH “The Random Access File”
Bill Continelli W2XOY “The Ancient Amateur Archives”
Vern Jackon, WA0RCR “Gateway 160 Meter Net Report”
Leo Laporte “Technology News and Commentary”
Steve Nichols, G0KYA “Monthly Propagation Forecast”
Will Rogers, W4WLR “More Musings”
Bruce Paige, KK5DO, “Working Amateur Radio Satellites”
Greg Stoddard, KF9MP “Tower Climbing & Antenna Safety”
Phillip Neidlinger, KA4KOE, “Dead Electrical Dudes”
Brent Taylor, VE1JH, “DX Podcast”
Pat Tice, WA0TDA “Courage Handi-Ham Update”
David Stark, NF2G “Ask Doctor Scanner”

Our Current News Anchors

Blair Alper……..KA9SEQ
Greg Barker
Cliff Boand……..WA0JTW
Craig Fincher……N5KKB
Sam Fleischer……WB2EZL
Mike Gorniak ……NM7X
Larry Guerrera…..W2LAG
Nick Griming
Rowe Hudson……..K04PK
Ken Julian………K7VOX
Paul Kolacki…….K2FX
Byron Lee……….N0EEK
Jeff Lehman……..KC8QCH
Dave Lufkin……..KB3JRJ
Wayne Nelms……..N4DCL
Chris Perrine……KB2FAF
Mark Phillips……G7LTT
Bill Russell…….KC2IFR
Cory Sickles…….WA3UVV
Larry Shilkoff…..KJ6NV
Andrew Slaugh……KB2LUV
Peter Summers……KL2GY
Jay Silvio………N9WMU
Brent Taylor…….VE1JH
Mark Wheeler…….WB2ULR
Scott Westerman….W9WSW
Duane Whittingham..N9SSN
Jim Wishner…..N0EXX

To all, a big thank you! All of the amateurs
listed above give back to the amateur service in
their own special way, by helping to keep the amateur
radio community informed. If I forgot someone on the
list, please forgive me, and write me a note to add
you in!

Here’s to another fifteen years!

George Bowen – W2XBS
Executive Producer
This Week in Amateur Radio
This Week in Amateur Radio Headline News
This Week in Amateur Radio International

Well Done TWIAR!!!

And our thanks for your efforts!

You can find TWIAR at:

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AmQRP’s NUE-PSK Digital Modem

The very exciting new AmQRP NUE-PSK Modem is starting to ship.I’ve written about them before at:

Field Portable PSK without a Computer – AmQRP’s NUE-PSK Digital Modem

AmQRP’s “NUE-PSK Digital Modem” Reviewed in QST and QEX

 AmQRP now has a dedicated website for the project at:

Per the latest website update the unit I ordered should ship in the next week. 

The cable I ordered has already arrived. 

I’ve also ordered a bound copy of the manual to keep with the NUE-PSK unit.

More once I get my hands on one!



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SQL, CAD, H44, Exchange Students, 5T2008 and Nuts & Bolts

What does SQL, CAD, H44, Exchange Students, 5T2008 and Nuts & Bolts all have to do with Amateur Radio?

We’ll I’m just back after a week training on SQL & CAD software, just finished a large special CAD project (using software other than what I trained on of course), had a large number of Bureau Cards arrive including confirmation of H44, was just told by my sons that “by the way, we’re getting a 14 year old German Exchange Student for 3 weeks, we think he will be here in a couple weeks….,” found time to fire up the station to worth the 5-Tango DXpedition, and then the keep busy stuff started…..

Changed Cars (it was overdue, as I clock a lot of miles each year), squeeked in a couple rehearsals & played a concert with the University Band, finished up my taxes & met with my accountant, ran middle son to Solo & Ensemble (Music Competition), completed some FASDA student thing for oldest son, firmed up Dayton Hamvention arrangements, drew up plans for a new deck at the house, upgraded several core systems software packages, had several overseas relatives and friends call saying they were coming to visit this summer – all at the same time – which needed sorting out, planned college visits and all the usual stuff….

All in all “life as usual” for me.

A bunch of blog posts prepared somehow didn’t post as scheduled, so I’ll be either clearing those or redoing them over the next few days.

Maybe I’ll squeek in enough time to work the 9X0R DXpedition and more as I do the blog fixing.



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It’s “Gold” – The Power of Real Letters & Heartfelt Communications

We have an expression here at home about “receiving Gold.”

It’s Gold!

With so few people sending real letters, and with the proliferation of junk mail, when someone we know takes time to write a real letter to us we’ve named it “Gold” in our conversations.

One of our dearest friends occasionally even illustrates his letters! As he has written, he writes a bit, makes a cup of tea, fusses about his studio, perhaps goes off to work (or perhaps the pub) and then returns to the letter. When words need visuals the letter goes up on his easel in his conservatory to have watercolors illustrations added.

That his letters say things worth the hours or days that the letter is “in the works” highlights the magnitude of receiving such “Gold!”

Another dear friend who is a retired professor sends very intellectually challenging papers by post, which we then take apart over the months until one of us does another mailing.

Amateur Radio has it’s chance for Gold too. I’ve received some wonderful QSL cards and accompanying notes. Reality is that as an amateur can make hundreds of QSOs in a month, week or even day, it is pretty certain they can’t do something really personal to confirm each one.

But they can do QSL cards that have some meaning – that tell something about themselves, their QTH, their shack, their family, their country (specially if a DX country) and more!

If the QSO was specially noteworthy does it deserve a specially noteworthy confirmation?

Inbound QSLs have included notes, letters, flyers about the area, even a few hand done QSLs themselves.

Outbound I have multiple cards to choose from, try and add a couple lines of message, and have added a typed letter to a few.

I don’t think they K9ZW QSL’s have arrived at meeting the “Gold Standard” yet, but I am trying!

As for my dear friends who send special “Gold” in the mail, I make a point to handwrite letters when I can!



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Back to Scripting Basics – Revisiting PERL as Software Tasks are Addressed

It has been a few years since I’ve done any serious coding, to say the least.

From those heady days when I could move my programing off the Harris Mainframe and work right on a Columbia MPC Portable (really “luggable” as it was a beast) working at home at a cottage in the Penine Mountains using Turbo Pascal 1.0, Turbo C and Turbo Prolog I’ve only occasionally returned to program design, or to be honest mostly task-orientated scripting.

The Original Turbo Pascal Logo

click on logo for link

Now that I have identified a handful of Shack Automation projects the decision as to what environment to code or script with has to addressed in the here & now.

Cross-Platform Ability has become important with three operating systems in use in the K9ZW shack – Windows XP, Apple OS-X 10.5 and Linux.

After looking through various options – Tom KC9JGD’s Microsoft Visual Suite (purchased as part of a course he took) and others, I’m leaning towards PERL.

Perl Logo

click on logo for link

As it says the the Perl Tutorial by Doug Sheppard:

“Perl is the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages: powerful and adaptable. It was first developed by Larry Wall, a linguist working as a systems administrator for NASA in the late 1980s, as a way to make report processing easier. Since then, it has moved into a large number of roles: automating system administration, acting as glue between different computer systems; and, of course, being one of the most popular languages for CGI programming on the Web.

Why did Perl become so popular when the Web came along? Two reasons: First, most of what is being done on the Web happens with text, and is best done with a language that’s designed for text processing. More importantly, Perl was appreciably better than the alternatives at the time when people needed something to use. C is complex and can produce security problems (especially with untrusted data), Tcl can be awkward and Python didn’t really have a foothold.

It also didn’t hurt that Perl is a friendly language. It plays well with your personal programming style. The Perl slogan is “There’s more than one way to do it,” and that lends itself well to large and small problems alike.”

and for the PERL FAQs:

“Perl builds and runs on a bewildering number of platforms. Virtually all known and current Unix derivatives are supported (perl’s native platform), as are other systems like VMS, DOS, OS/2, Windows, QNX, BeOS, OS X, MPE/iX and the Amiga.”

So a quick dash to and I’ve got the benchmark standard PERL book on its way – “Programming Perl”

Programming Perl

click on cover for link

Looks like this should be able to cover all the bases I want to cover at this time in my shack, and as OS-X has PERL included I’m ready to go.

I’ve some SQL database training coming up this month, and a series of lighter scripting projects to finish up (mostly either in the “File Maker” script environment or in “Crystal Writer” report designer.

Wish I had the same view of the low mountains, sheep & stone walls – complete with my old local pub – as when I earned part of my grad school costs coding & scripting. But today’s better tools are some consolation.



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