A retired ham’s life

The fruits of my labour

I was browsing the WhatsApp amateur radio chat group and Dennis ZS4BS was looking for a two and a half page essay for Radio ZS. Well it reminded me that I haven’t written the RaDAR Column yet but I’m really not sure if anyone ever reads it? Now that we have the online community log and evaluator any RaDAR participant uploading / entering his logs online can do his own evaluations of how he or she compared to anyone else at any time. Usually it’s fair to allow one week for everyone to get their admin up to date that the Evaulator is able to produce a reasonable report. So really from a contest / challenge organiser’s point of view there is nothing more to do. The results are online and for as long as the radarops.co.za website is operational. I renewed the hosting and domain registration last month and all good for another year.

My XYL started a little library. We renovated an old pump house and it looks pretty good. I’ve already taken out my second book to read. It was a place for many to dump their books taking up space in their homes but the concept works. I even donated some technical books but my XYL says no one would want to read my books. I kept a few which have some nostalgic value for me. The book I’m reading at the moment is written by David Bullard who was a journalist for the Sunday Times. An old book with stories from around 2005. It is most interesting and a reminder how South Africa was then. I like his brutal honesty. I think one must feel quite free having the freedom of expression. Like I’d like to say now, “Who in their right mind would want to promote Xeigu radios!”

Many years ago and today still, radio hams share pictures of their shacks and in some cases they show their faces too. You need to know who you’re talking to, right? You kind of get a bad feeling if you can’t find the call on qrz.com but then again not every ham registers his callsign there and whatever he or she would like to share online. Now I wonder, in the old days it made sense to show pictures of the shack. It could very well be homebrew or at least a beautiful view of antique radios. Show your latest and greatest 100k radio plus many others is no big deal for me. Well I guess it’s better than talking on a handheld unless you’re accessing something drifting around in space. Not sure if anyone is active spacewise anymore. Where then are the spokes people?

The past few weeks I’ve organised some activities for the local community. First was canoe races but there were only three canoes. So we made three teams of two rowers each to fetch three groups of three painted 20mm PVC conduits planted downstream. It was fun. My teammate was my grandson Eduan now in grade 11. Well he created a lead in the beginning and oupa lost it along the way. I tried ….

I still want to take my QCX along in the canoe and operate from the wetland. Apparently you need to be on salt water to make it count as “Maritime mobile”. There are so many “On The Air’s” this is another COTA, “Canoes on the air”. Or WOTA, “Wetlands on the air”. I must just GET on the air! Of course it will be most likely CW as I’m certainly not taking my “beloved” 7200 in the canoe. It isn’t my first love though my first was my 817nd and my second was my 897d, together we developed RaDAR.

Just today I went upstream again and getting stuck in some dense overgrowth and had to climb out to push the canoe from behind, sinking into the mud like quicksand but keeping my floating buddy nearby. The mud was caused by the burning wetland a few years ago. Some peat islands were left behind.

So every time I get the need to do some ham radio I feel my time would be better spent picking up the Wolf bush cutter and cutting a path or reeds or anything that looks like it would be nice to look a little more finished. I use a pertol lawnmower for the finishing touches and if a tree falls down I grab the chainsaw and clear that up. Of course I sometimes come inside, start up Morse runner and do a five minute session. Well that only happens when the family are out of the house. DiDiDiDah’s may not sound like Gosh Groban to everyone or Heart or Pink Floyd or Metallica or Black Sabbath not to mention Led Zeppalin.

So I cut a path, another one and created a nice 3km route for joggers or walkers to join me on Saturday mornings at 09:00 sharp. Then the next week I changed the route a little. Not an excuse not to do ham radio but if I go to the trouble of setting up will there be someone on the other side? Will conditions be good? Conditions on Morse Runner are almost always good. Imagine that program is not even a Megabyte in size, written years ago. It’s the only game I play, well besides chess. Young Eduan is pretty good at chess and often gives me a good go. I lose sometimes too, mostly, almost like losing the lead in the canoe race! He still needs to learn the lessons of life that losing is a good thing. Without losing how can you ever get better …..

Tomorrow is my “day off”, Eduan goes to school for the day and the XYL is going into town. That’s about the only travelling we do nowadays. Maybe I should make the effort to do some real ham radio and go and sit in my tent with the 7200. Maybe the static may be broken by the sounds of music …. Morse Code.


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