Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Too hot? Not!

Man, it is just too hot to blog anymore. Dang, it's hot! Summer just officially started this past weekend and it's already sweltering down here. Luckily I have a nice air conditioning vent just above my writing/computer/amateur radio desk in the basement office, and with no windows, I can sometimes pretend that it is mid-October, the humidity is 40% and the temperature outside is in the 70s.

Then I see the weather gadget over on the computer monitor, reminding me it's 95...feels like 101. Thanks, technology!

There are some things going on, though, heatwave or not. Arbitron announced they will begin measuring "out of home" television viewing, using their Portable People Meter. That includes restaurants, bars, hotel rooms, and more. The big news is not that they are doing "out of home TV viewing" (which is in desperate need of better measurement than Nielsen's lame diary methodology) but that the company is going back into the TV business at all.

ARB furloughed 5,000 people one lovely day in the mid-90s when they left the TV ratings business and it has been ingrained in the company ever since that they would stay out of that Nielsen-dominated world. Even as PPM--a true multi-media measurement device/methodology--was in development, it was always going to be used in partnership with Nielsen, not to compete with that behemoth.

I'd guess that Nielsen's toe in the radio waters has spurred the new management at Arbitron to re-think that. Having their wagon totally hitched to radio's rapidly dimming star may be another factor. We'll see. From an advertiser's point of view, I can only say the more measurement we have and the more it reflects real TV viewership, the better. It's best for consumers and viewers, too, but I'll save the reasons why for some day when I can't fry a beer-battered shrimp on the sidewalk.

TOTALLY DIFFERENT SUBJECT: I had a blast last Friday afternoon. When I got home about 2200Z, I saw a couple of European stations spotted on 10 meters, a band that typically does not offer up such delicacies in this stubbornly disappointing sunspot cycle. Even though I was nursing a terrible summer cold, I hopped on, but did not bother turning on the amplifier--too dang hot!--and promptly talked with four or five stations on both CW and SSB. Easy!

Then there was a fellow in Spain spotted on 12 meters. Sure. That band NEVER has any signals on it. But there he was, with a good, strong signal. I got him on the first call with my powerful, pulsating 100 watts. Though he was dispensing 459 and 559 to others, he gave me 599 and said I was very strong.

17 meters sometimes offers some late afternoon propagation and sure enough, there was a station on the island of Crete in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, loud and strong on sideband. One call and we were in QSO, each hearing the other 100%, even with my 100 watts.

Next, down to 20 meters where there are typically some Europeans on throughout the day--and lately even into the evenings--but it usually takes the amp to get through. Well, what the heck? Still without the amp, I gave a call to a station in Bosnia just as he was wrapping up with another station and he came right back. We had a nice, pleasant chat, and he apparently heard me just fine.

So I had made contacts into Europe on 10, 12, 17 and 20 meters, all within a little over an hour, and all with 100 watts of power. And most of them came back to me on the very first call. Not bad on a day when the solar flux was reportedly below 70 and the propagation prediction sites all said "Bad" for the bands where I accomplished this feat.

My only regrets are that I did not call CQ some on 15 (there were NO signals on the band at all but it "sounded" open. Old Timers know what I mean about a band "sounding open.") or that I did not take a look on 30, just to keep the string going. I doubt, with all the static on 40 and 80/75 that I could have heard Europe through the din, so I did not even try.

See, to me that sort of thing is fun, and just one of the reasons amateur radio is such a fantastic hobby.

Even when it's 95, feels like 101, outside.

Don Keith N4KC

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