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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-23 (MW Transatlantic)

1540 0400 USA KXEL Waterloo IA. KXEL IDs Weak  6547 km
1570 0401 PRU OCU4J Radio Bethel, Lima. OM La palabra de dios, fanfare and religious talk
              Weak  10246 km


Some reasonable signals around this morning, but these were the only ones of interest apart from the regulars. 0200 seemed to be better in terms of signal strength. Signals were much weaker by 0400.

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL
Blog: http://skegnessdx.blogspot.com

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Antenna:  10ft x 25ft movable flag antenna, at 28 degrees.
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-21 (MW)

1380 0258 USA KRCM Shenandoah TX. Vida AM IDs. Many thanks to everybody at RealDX for 
                   confirming. V weak  7764 km
1130 0300 USA WBBR New York City NY. Bloomberg Eleven Thee Oh ID Fair  5539 km
1510 0300 USA WMEX Boston MA. 15-10 WMEX promo Weak  5245 km
1520 0300 USA WWKB Buffalo NY. Could just make out 15-20 WWKB Buffalo in weak pile-up  
                   5697 km
1560 0300 USA WFME New York NY. Family Radio IDs Fair  5538 km
1660 0300 USA WWRU Jersey City NJ. WWRU Jersey City ID with OM then YL. Off frequeucy at 
                   1660.034 Weak  5540 km
1700 0300 USA WRCR Spring Valley NY. WRCR IDs down in the noise Vweak  5516 km
1010 0349 USA WINS WINS New York City NY. Reference to Wins Newstime Fair  5543 km
1380 0354  ?  UNID OM saying Newstalk at exactly 03:54:06 but the rest obscured Weak
1400 0400 CAN CBG  Gander NL. CBC Radio 1 news jingle heard. Frequency partially blocked by 
                   local noise Fair  3775 km
1430 0400 CAN CHKT Toronto ON. Difficult copy, but heard AM 14-30 CHKT Toronto by YL
                   Weak  5669 km

1540 0400 USA KXEL Waterloo IA. Pile-up but could make out The Voice Of Eastern Iowa .... 
                   KXEL Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Valley. Fair  6547 km

The first reasonable opening to North America for me this season. Pleased to hear KRCM and KXEL in August.

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL
Blog: http://skegnessdx.blogspot.com

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar
Antenna: 10ft x 25ft mobile flag antenna & flag pre-amp

Monday, 15 August 2016

SkywavesDX Forum - Back Soon! (Hopefully)

The SkywavesDX Forum is back online. Wondering why it went down? Read below to find out.



The SkywavesDX phpBB forum has been in operation for almost two years but was forced offline during the first week of August. There was a problem with the hosting company, 123-Reg. Here's a rundown of what happened and a little bit of info into the background of how things work.

The phpBB forum platform requires a certain range of versions of php to function correctly. If there is an incompatibility of php versions, it won't run at all. "php" is a scripting language used by the hosting company which, in our case, were 123-Reg. (Those 'in the know' will now be cringing!)

The problems began about 17 months ago when we suddenly found ourselves unable to update the forum software. Software updates are necessary to keep the forum functioning properly and include new facilities, bug fixes and, more importantly, security updates. However, the forum should continue to function satisfactorily without these updates, providing they are carried out at least occasionally.

When it came to performing the software updates, we decided not to install each update immediately on their release as there can be teething troubles which require software patches and further updates, so it's always a good idea to wait a week or two, or just keep the updates one version behind.

Back to 123-Reg, who stated they were running the latest versions of php on their servers, yet it seems they weren't. Something was obviously wrong, but 123-Reg claimed everything was fully up to date. We knew it was likely to be a php incompatibility issue because of the MySQL error messages which were displayed each time we tried to perform a software update.

We now had a real problem. Would 123-Reg eventually fix this problem? We assumed so as we knew it wouldn't only be SkywavesDX which had been having these problems, so we decided to wait and see. Besides, the alternatives, i.e. changing hosts, would be a nightmare in itself. (In fact, we have since discovered that this php issue was a common problem with 123-Reg.)

As long as Skywaves was running, that was the main thing, but we were aware that a major forum software update which required a newer php version would probably spell the end of SkywavesDX at some point in the future. As it happened, the forum didn't even get that far! On Saturday August 6th, there was a total breakdown of SkywavesDX with a new MySQL error which, yet again, pointed to 123-Reg being the problem. We contacted 123-Reg and asked them to fix the problem, but no replies were received. On August 8th, the decision was taken to promptly go through the upheaval of changing hosts.

1%1 Internet were chosen as they have the highest uptime of all the major hosting companies and I know people who have used them without fault. This includes an entire technology college who use 1%1 Internet and who have never experienced a single problem with 1%1 in several years! So the domain transfer and changover process has begun, but the problems haven't stopped there.

Although the transfer process was initiated almost a week go, it still hasn't actually taken place. 123-Reg are dragging their heels for some reason, but we do have a date of August 18th for the transfer to have been completed. Once this has happened, it then takes up to 24 hours for the new domain to fully propagate around the internet, so we still cannot see SkywavesDX being back before the 19th at the very earliest.

My own experiences of domain transfers are all horror stories. The worst experience I had was with a company called Web Mania. I decided to transfer my domains from them a few years ago due to a few issues, but they wouldn't release them. After SIX WEEKS of trying and many emails to them, most of which were ignored or fobbed off with standardised replies, I was forced to involve OFCOM, who got them to release my domains IMMEDIATELY! (OFCOM were equally as effective with two separate problems I had with Virgin Media. One regarding a mobile phone issue and another with a home multimedia package.) It became apparent that Web Mania were trying to steal my domains as they were TLDs (Top Level Domains) and therefore quite valuablem. (I was once offered £1000 for the Skywaves domain by an American marketing company. Needless to say, I refused as it was then used by our group.)

The fact is, all hosting companies seem to be as bad as each other. My own hosting problems didn't stop after moving from Web Mania to Dataflame as they too presented me with many problems. Also, their own servers were hacked one day and my personal web space became an illegal Lloyds TSB Bank login. Dataflame firmly put the blame on me and never apologised for their own security breach.

So, all things considered, I wouldn't be surprised if the SkywavesDX phpBB forum is offline for a while longer, but we are keeping a very close eye on things and aim to get the transfer done as soon as possible. As things stand, I anticipate the earliest return date for the forum to be August 20th. Fingers crossed!


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-04 (MW Peru)

1540 0257 PRU OCU2X Radio Turbo Mix, Cajamarca (caj) Presumed. Seems to be around 1540.5
              and another 
carrier is very close by - two stations or maybe a peculiarity of
              the carrier? 
Possible OM ID at 02:57:37.  Weak  9906 km
1470 0300 PRU OAU4B Radio Capital, Lima/Pantanos de Villa (lim) Two IDs and full top of the 
              hour announcements by OM, then YL. Lively programming style Fair  10266 km **
1500 0300 PRU OBX4I Radio Santa Rosa, Lima/San Miguel (lim) OM ID at 03:01:57. Offset now at 
              1499.811 Fair  10259 km
1570 0300 PRU OCU4J Radio Bethel, Lima (lim) Bethel Radio OM ID at 02:59:39 Fair  10246 km

** Personal first

A good Peruvian morning.

This morning's UNIDs:

A Portuguese station appeared on 1440 with a lot of lively OM announcements either side of 0300. This was the only peak and it carried on until 03:08. There may be a couple of IDs in there.

1380 was the other UNID with melodic music, peaking here at 03:05. YL vocals and flute, then possible ID just before 03:06. Straight into another melodic song. OM comes in at 03:06:25 with possible ID. Unclear.

No sign of a carrier on 1010 (looking for Radio Cielo).

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL
Blog: http://skegnessdx.blogspot.com

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Antenna:  10ft x 25ft movable flag antenna, at 28 degrees.
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar.

Friday, 8 July 2016

An Enforced Break From The Hobby


I've been taking a few days away from radio while things settle at home. A family member has moved in with us and so access to the shack, where she has been sleeping, has been mostly off limits.

I haven't been in a hurry to move the radio equipment to another room as the current Es season has been largely non-existent at band 2 frequencies. All flag antenna and other radio projects have had to be put on hold.  

So it's been a week of minor frustrations, making all the necessary changes one makes when somebody moves house and moves in, including making several trips back and forth to County Durham. There's been no time for radio. Even when I have switched on the radio, I've just forgotten about it, only to return an hour or two later to switch it off again without even having listened to it! There are just far too many distractions at the moment.

I hope to be back in full swing again in a few weeks. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Flag Time 2016!

Making an early start this year. A  new coax and a new flag is going up in the front garden.

There are a few things I would like to experiment with as I construct the new flag over the next few days: Matching transformers; Flag size; Making the flag properly mobile; etc.

I have some minor adjustments to make to the balun since I am using RG6 on the feed this time.

I also have a flag pre-amp this year, thanks to John G3PQA, who kindly constructed one for me. It has a similar function to the popular RPA-1, but has slightly higher gain while maintaining a good, low noise figure..

Stage one today saw the routing of the new coax (next to the compost heap). As with everything these days, it all takes time. Frequent rain showers have prevented me from doing this last week. My plan is to have this up and running with all tests complete by the end of the week. As if! :O)


Feeding the new coax through the wall next to the compost pile

New flag coax pushed though wall with metal rod,
just below the c
ables for my FM antenna and rotator

Strange bod running out coax!


Little by little, I'll be conducting tests and taking measurements as I go along. I will post anything of note here. 

Friday, 1 July 2016

BREXIT? DXIT? STOPIT!

I recently called for help from a fellow DXer. I had a few stations I wanted identifying, so I called on his help. He has been kind in the past and has willingly identified a number of stations for me but this time there was no response. "Fear not" I thought, my message must have gone astray. I contacted him again. Nothing! So I tried an email. Nothing! I tried one more time and asked if everything was OK. Nope. I was now convinced he was deliberately ignoring me. It wasn't just me he was ignoring though. Another UK DXer asked for help and got the same zero response.

I am not revealing the names and locations of those concerned but, let me make it clear, I do not 'expect' people to help 'on demand'. I think it's nice when we all make some effort, at least once in a while, to return the help we receive.

Our hobby is well known for promoting friendship across the world, but I am concerned that the recent political situation in our country is now starting to cause a divide.

I am ashamed of my country in some ways. More to the point, I am certainly ashamed of our governments. They DO NOT represent the majority of people and they certainly do not care about people other than themselves. They have their own agenda and I am sick of the way they ride over the ordinary people of this country.

What I am seeing appears to be a result of that stupid "BREXIT" thing we had recently. It has caused us a lot of damage. Moreover, I am shocked by the number of people generalising about UK citizens being RACIST as a result of our vote to leave the European Union.

It has often been stated in the media that our vote to leave the EU was based solely on immigration and we this is causing problems. Even by our own politicians were branding us as "racist" if we were going to vote to leave. Let me tell you, there were many reasons people voted to leave. There are always a few - a small minority of people who are racist. It's the same anywhere, but any issues about immigration were never based on racism, but based on numbers.

I know what racism feels like. I have experienced racism in most European countries I have visited. It's not nice. It's scary! But most people are sensible. Racism is irrational. It's reasonable to dislike an individual, no matter where they are from, but to dislike an entire country or race or religion? That's just ridiculous. I am stating the obvious but there is good and bad in all walks of life.

Most people here are in favour of immigration. I think it's great to welcome other cultures to this country. PLEASE DO NOT BELIEVE the CRAP propagated in our media. The media in the UK has a longstanding history of bias and lies. Oh - just like our evil governments.

I DESPISE our governments. We have a terrible history of walking over other nations and helping ourselves to other countries as we wish. Just understand that this is what our governments do and NOT the people. "Not in my name", as people say. The vast majority of people in the UK are peaceful and we welcome friendship with people of all nationalities, faiths, skin colour, cultures, etc.

How about we all try our best to get on with each other? Most of us do. Don't let politics get in the way. I don't vote. I know I probably SHOULD vote, but I have never voted in my life. Why? I don't feel qualified. I know little about politics. It disgusts me. But the main reason I have never voted is because I have NEVER found a party I have WANTED to vote for.

Peace!

Friday, 24 June 2016

The EU Referendum and "British" politics. Disgusted with the whole thing.


The word which comes to mind here is "concerned", but I would have said the same thing had we voted to stay in the EU. 

I don't vote as I have never taken an interest in politics until recently. Quite simply, I have never felt qualified to vote, plus I have never found any politician or political party body I would want to vote for. "Shame on me" for not voting. Perhaps. But I feel slightly more inclined to want to vote after this fiasco. 

Firstly, our politicians have let themselves down very badly in the way they have behaved in their campaigning. If our overseas friends don't already know this, our politicians have been using scaremongering tactics and outright lies to scare us into voting one way or the other. That is totally unacceptable, not to mention embarrassing. Telling us that we are all racist if we vote LEAVE is one example of something which is completely wrong. The whole campaigning has been childish on all sides. 

Secondly, it is thought that the vote for LEAVE has been influenced by our lack of trust in our own political parties (mostly the conservatives) and LESS SO us actually WANTING to leave the EU. I would rather have the EU running certain aspects of this country than our own corrupt politicians. But are the European politicians any more trustworthy? I don't know who to believe in politics, which is one reason I never vote. Party A says one thing, Party B says the opposite is true. How do I know who is telling the truth? Politicians don't do much more than just have a go at each other. Forget about hearing the the actual facts! 

As I see it, the BREXIT (stupid word! What's the opposite? BRAYIN?) campaigners simply want us to be in control of our own country. Nothing more, nothing less. Also to get rid of some of the restrictive and unfair rules and regulations the EU impose on us. 

Common sense tells me two things. 1. "better the devil you know". 2, Strength in numbers as a team and, hopefully, a willingness for us all to get along together nicely". So my immediate leaning was more towards REMAIN. Then I started to read a bit more into the detail of the EU thing. Some things did not seem to be fair at all. I then started leaning towards LEAVE. 

At the end of it all, I was back to being undecided, but possibly still favouring REMAIN, but I could see good and bad if we stayed in the EU or left. Surely safer to stay as we are for many reasons. 

At the end of the proverbial day, I think all sides need to get their act together and the EU should stop being so dictatorial. "Fair's fair", but some people did not find everything completely fair. Quite the opposite in fact. So the bottom line is that something needed to be done. My concern is that this exit will cause a lot of unnecessary trouble. 

For whatever the above is worth, these are my personal views.

2016 Mid-term Es (& Weather) Analysis

We're about half way through the 2016 Es season, so time to post my personal opinion on this year's Es season. These are my own experiences and differ from other DXer's experiences.

Like last season, this year's Es have been the worst and the best for me. "The worst", based on the sparse number of openings, the lack of intensity/lower MUF of the openings and the number of stations received. "The best" because of the frequent double-hop conditions to Turkey, plus the phenomenal opening to Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East on May 29th! So the contrasts have been quite extreme.

Being on the east coast places me closer to the European action, so I am often lucky to experience some Es openings which don't penetrate further inland.

What I am still struggling to get my head around is the fact that I have received Turkey more than twice as often as I have received Italy this season and almost four times as frequently as I have received Spain! That just doesn't happen .... well, clearly it DOES happen. This is the nature of sporadic E. You just never know what to expect, even when you think conditions are poor. It only takers a few minutes and the Es clouds can develop in the right places. But such DX is rare.

Also, just like last summer, there have been more Es openings in Eastern Europe and which didn't reach this far west, so DXers in eastern parts of Europe may argue that their season has been OK, but even there, you can see that the openings have been less frequent.

There have been many days with no Es at all here. The same could be said for the sun. Yes, I am going to moan about the weather. Cold northerly winds have often dominated our weather here on the Lincolnshire coast. The sun has been quite scarce too, with many days of cloud cover. Unusual for the east coast.

We sometimes use the term "British summer" hee to describe the weather. This is usually taken to mean "two sunny days then a thunder storm". That's about right, but storms never seem to come overhead in Skegness and are drawn into the Fenlands or into the Wolds. We are exposed to many elements in these Islands due to our geographical location. It can be oppressively hot due to high humidity levels sometimes, or the opposite, though we don't really have extremes here. It's a fairly 'temperate' and pleasant climate on the whole. Not too hot and not too cold. Personally, I do not like hot weather.

The eastern side of England usually benefits from drier, sunnier weather than the rest of the UK. Not so this season! Weather systems have been in the wrong place, so we have had a lot of cold northerly winds for most of the British summertime. It's been hard to believe that the east of England has been struggling to reach 9C at times when it should have been more than double this.

So, in conclusion, it's largely "RUBBISH" but with rare and unusually good highlights. The season has a few weeks to redeem itself, but I am not holding my breath.

Monday, 13 June 2016

New Web Hosts - 1&1 Internet. Here We Go Again! :O(

Some years ago, a good friend told me that all web hosting companies are, more or less, exactly the same. The message he was putting across said that any one was equally as bad as the next. They all have their problems and they all offer a level of customer support which can best be described as poor or worse. In my own experience, his comments were completely correct.

My first experience of a web hosting company was with Web Mania. Their service was unreliable at times and their customer support was a joke. I stuck with them for a few years, but I decided to move to new hosts when things went from bad to worse. They literally refused to let me go and ignored all my attempts to migrate to new hosts.

The last straw with Web Mania was taken when I realised that they were trying to steal the top level domain I owned at that time, which was hosted with them. I had to get NOMINET (the OFCOM of the web world) to force them to release me. NOMINET were excellent and sorted out all the problems in less than one hour - something I had failed to achieve in six weeks.

Next came Dataflame. To be fair, I had several years of fairly reliable service with them, with the odd hiccup. then a couple of CMS websites I had been running were hacked. One day, my hobby domain, g1vvp.co.uk was hacked and turned into an illegal Lloyds TSB Bank login page. It was quite a shock to find that my domain suddenly became what looked like the front page of Lloyds TSB's customer website. Dataflame threatened me with the police over this, but a little digging told me that it was their servers which had been hacked, yet that didn't stop them trying to pin the blame on me. There was no apology.

Earlier this year, I chose to leave them, but they insisted on billing me for excessive amounts of money I did not owe. Luckily, I managed to sort that out myself.

Dataflame's service had collapsed. about two weeks after I left Dataflame, I received an email to say that Dataflame were no more and that a new company were taking over.

After some research, I moved to 1&1 Internet. A company which did not have a good reputation for customer support, but they are a large and established company, which told me that they should at least have the power to deliver. But only a few weeks into the contract and I find that their system is failing me spectacularly. My FTP accounts have not worked for about six weeks, despite phone calls to their hopeless telephone support service, based in the Philippines.

Following my last telephone call to them yesterday regarding my FTP problems, their operators demonstrated once again just how clueless they really are and sent me 'around the houses' for an issue I did not have - email. I don't have problems with their email service, only with FTP access. I had to abandon the phone call due to serious language barrier issues. My message was not getting through to the girl who took my call. She would not listen to a word I said, talking over me all the time. I hung up.

Another problem I have is that my g1vvp account has disappeared from my Control Panel. They deny that I have ever had one! Well look here www.g1vvp.co.uk I most certainly do!

My initial problem, six weeks ago, was a simple case of losing access to my FTP accounts. After a telephone call to their operators, I discovered that my FTP password had been changed. I had definitely NOT changed this myself.

Complaining to 1&1 Internet is far from simple. It took me an hour to research who to contact.

Why am I complaining about this here? Because I am going to need some muscle in getting this sorted. 1and1 Internet do not like their customers making their problems public. So I may be writing yet another blow-by-blow account of the shoddy service I have been receiving from yet another useless, 'don't-give-a-shit' company I have encountered.

I will add more as I go along as necessary.

To get the ball rolling, I submitted an email of complaint yesterday to their complaints department at complaints@1and1.co.uk It's about 12 hours since I contacted them and I have not received an acknowledgement as I had expected. That is fairly customary with these companies, but nothing so far. Next I will write to their head of support at m.wolf@1and1.co.uk