Friday, March 28, 2008

Nothing doing tonight

Both 80 and 40 Meters are vast wastelands tonight. The few signals I heard were like rolling tumbleweeds bouncing along the dreary, sun baked plains. The reason of course, is that this weekend is the SSB portion of the CQ WPX contest - so everyone is busy screaming into their microphones. THAT won't happen here at W2LJ - as I don't even own a microphone!

So the big radio event for the day for me was checking the 5T5DC online log to find my callsign and the evidence of my QSO to Mauritania. I'm not enough of a DXer to have that "confidence". I KNOW I heard them correctly; and I KNOW they heard me correctly; but until I see that concrete evidence, I always have that little nagging voice in my head "They got my callsign right ..... of course they did!" "That was ME they came back to .... right? Sure it was!". Lack of swagger and confidence, I guess. But alas, I was relieved to see that W2LJ is indeed in the log; and now I can send in for a QSL card.

While checking for my own call sign, I was happy to see that Bob W3BBO's callsign appears no less than 3 times! 80, 40 and 30 Meters QSOs are in the books for him - good show! But then what can you expect from someone who has made DXCC Honor Roll? I'm willing to bet he's feverishly listening for them on 20 Meters, trying to work them on his new SST rig with 1.5 Watts! And if I was able to work them with 5 Watts, I'd bet money that Bob could snag them with 1.5 Watts - he has better antennas than I do.

I'm also still trying different logging programs. I think by the time I've tried them all, that I'll be able to write an authoritative article on the subject for one of the Ham Radio magazines. At this point, I'm still leaning towards AC Log as my primary program. I remarked the other day in one of my posts here how I was experiencing a hesitation problem as I was tabbing through data entry fields. Once more W3BBO came to my rescue. He pointed out that instead of tabbing through, I could simply navigate with my mouse to bypass the field where the hesitation was occurring. DUH! I felt like slapping my forehead like in the V8 commercials. An elegant, simple and easy fix to the problem that I was too stupid to see! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees ......

But getting back to AC Log, now that I've got a bypass around that hesitation thing, I can see why it is considered to be one of the most flexible logging programs available. I can customize the content of 4 data fields, which I have done to allow me to record which antenna I was using for the QSO. I also set up the other fields to accept NAQCC, FISTS and SKCC membership numbers. Searching ANY field is a snap; and AC Log is one of the few ones that allows you to keep track your output power, as well as your start AND finish times of the QSO. And I discovered a neat little feature that is really super cool. Up at the top, where the "Help" drop down menu resides, you can click on "Frequency Privileges" which will instantly conjure up a chart that shows the frequency privileges for your license class.

The one thing I wish was different has to do with QSOs where you record the QSL sent/received information. AC Log allows you to customize the color of the font in those rows. So in my case, if I come across a red data line, that denotes that I've received a QSL card; but have not sent one out yet. A blue data line indicates that I've sent out a QSL card (but have not received one) and a green data line indicates that we have successfully exchanged QSL cards. All that being said, AA Log (a different logging program) allows you to do basically the same thing; BUT it changes the entire background color of the data field boxes for that line (not just the font color). Now THAT really stands out and screams at you. And I've already proven to you how dense I can be; so that's a really neat feature I would like to see incorporated into AC Log.

I have commented that there are so many logging programs out there and they all have so many features that it would be neat if you could cherry pick want you want to create the ultimate custom logging program. I guess the way to do that would be to write a program yourself from scratch. Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to be able to do something like that.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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