[VHFcontesting] ARRL June VHF Contest (My XYL is sneaky!)
les at highnoonfilm.com
Mon Jun 11 10:35:33 PDT 2012
Wives are sneaky. And sometimes that's for our own good.
The past year has been marked by a large increase in my workload to keep
up with an expanding business. Hard to complain about that, especially
in the midst of
a "great recession", so I won't. One of the by-products of 70 hour weeks
and no weekends off is that my shack was seriously neglected. The dust
had gathered (literally)
on gear in various stages of repair---and also on the pages of my log
book, which revealed not a single contact since August of 2010.
I was determined to find time to get the station working in time for the
ARRL June VHF Contest. But Monday dawned of the week of the contest, and
the shack remained untouched. My
frustration grew and time continued to slip away.
After the CQ July contest in 2010, I had ripped out parts of the
shack--intending to put in a new 222 amp. I had also swapped out
the FT-817ND and replaced it with the FlexRadio 1500 to become my new IF
rig. Both projects were only half completed. Worse, during the winter
months, my shack computer
had failed. A new one had replaced it, but it was still in the box.
Equipped with a new OS, Windows 7, I knew that I could expect a long
bout of trial and error to get it to
communicate properly with my interfaces. WSJT and the voice keyer were
going to be a long shot.
On Wednesday, disaster struck. A rolling chair in my office slid out
from under a co-worker, and struck my right foot. It cut a large gash
into the top of my foot. In agony, I
watched as my foot swelled to resemble a baseball underneath. That
night, I could do little but limp around the house. Thursday was
worse--as bruising set it. And to make
things even more fun, I suddenly developed a hacking chest cough. Good
Friday morning saw another rush of unexpected work from a client,
turning that into a long day. When I finally got home after 7PM, I
limped into the shack and just
threw up my hands. I nearly cried---but just when things seemed their
most bleak, my XYL, Abby started her subterfuge.
"Isn't your contest tomorrow?" she asked. I told her that I had decided
to settle for just cleaning up a bit, and maybe trying to get the
computer working. There was no sense in even attempting the contest. She
said, "OK. Well let me help you." We went to work dusting, vacuuming,
sorting through the mountain of books, magazines, and half-finished
projects. As we worked she kept asking subtle questions like, "Maybe we
could just get these loop Yagi's up in the attic, then you can install
them when your foot is better?".
She's sneaky like that. Up she goes into the attic. But I notice she's
gone for awhile. She comes back down the ladder, and says, "Oh, sorry it
took so long. I went ahead and mounted them on the mast for you." Then
she produces her cell phone and shows me a photo of how she had arranged
them on the mast. "Maybe I could hook up the feedline too. That way,
you'd have them ready for September". Sly.
I explained that I didn't have any hardline or connectors yet. She let
that one go.
Next, I cussed at the new computer, which could not be made to
communicate with my computer interfaces. (Long story) After an hour or
so, she said, "So you won't be able to work
meteor scatter or use the voice keyer? Hey, do it old school, like you
used to. Remember when you used to have a sore throat for days after a
contest. It'll be like the good old days".
Pretty sneaky, dear.
We moved on to mounting the transverters under the operating desk. Hours
passed, and at 4 AM, I took a look around. Wow. The shack looked like a
radio room again. The clutter was gone. Projects boxed neatly. A "To Do"
list had been written for things that couldn't be finished in the short
run. I started to think that maybe I'd get on the air to give out a few
contacts after all. Then she asked another question. "You don't have any
cable that would work for those Yagi's I put up?" Hmmm.....the
transverters will all hooked up and working. It
would be a shame not to use them.
I had some RG-6 75 Ohm coax on hand. That would eat up all the power in
it's 50 foot run, but I might have enough left to work W4ZRZ or K4XR.
Hey, what the heck. Let's give it a try. Next thing I knew, the cables
were ran, adapters in place, and in theory, working. It was now after 7AM.
We went to bed, and I awoke about an hour after the contest had started.
The event turned out to be non-spectacular, but I made contacts on all
bands 6 Meters through 1296, and even made a contact on 10 GHZ and laser
too. By the time Sunday evening had came, I was tired, but had a grin
from ear to ear. For the first time in almost a year, I had taken a
weekend to enjoy my hobby. It was the perfect medicine for my foot and
My wife sat during the entire contest and built several Lego models (a
passion of hers) and chatted with me during breaks in the action. She
made lunch, brought drinks, and was generally supportive of my efforts
during the event.
At one point, I asked her about how she had managed to trick me into
breaking down my impossible task into bite sized morsels that made it
possible to complete. She smiled, and
said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't do anything at
all. Just helped you clean up a bit".
Yeah, sometimes an XYL can be sneaky---and often it's for our own good.
If you haven't told your XYL how much you love her today, please do.
Never know when you might be half crippled and need someone to mount a
*Les Rayburn, N1LF*
121 Mayfair Park Maylene, AL 35114
6M VUCC #1712
Grid Pirates #222
Life Member Central States VHF
WPC4LF Popular Communications Monitor ID
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