[VHFcontesting] ARRL June VHF Contest (My XYL is sneaky!)

Les Rayburn 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 attitude.

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 
loop Yagi!


*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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