I wrote this in December 2012, and forgot to hit the “publish”  button…

I have suffered a lot of cold, moist days in Santana. It is very much like living steadily in the middle of a cloud. Santana lies on the North coast of Madeira, and it is a favorite dwelling for ham radio operators who love ham radio contesting. From the CR3L residence in Santana you are overlooking the Atlantic to North and Middle America, and also to Europe, and behind that Japan. The QTH lies 500 meters above sea level, on a down slope. Which is the ideal place for launching electromagnetic radiation towards NA, EU and also Asia. There are now 2 antenna towers with beams for 10 – 40 meters, and verticals for 80 and 160 .

Through the moderate temperatures and ultra moist climate, vegetation is abundant on Madeira

But it has a severe disadvantage. The prevailing North.East winds bring clouds in from the North Atlantic. When these hit the 2000 meters high mountain ridge on the north side of the island they stop their journey and, in panic, release the water they carry onto the people living there. Santana is in the middle of a   permanent cloud, and temperatures are normally 5 degrees Celcius lower than in Funchal on the south coast. This year, the cloud stayed for the whole week, and standing underneath the 40 meter beam it was impossible to see where it was pointing most of the time. Unfortunately both rotor control units had a failure, and I had a splendid run on the 15 meters band when I noticed that the antenna had  actually been pointing towards the mountain for most of the 6 hour shift…

The CR3L shack is housed in one of those characteristic Madeiran houses

Until this year, I had only visited Santana during the last week of November, during the the most important contest of the year, the CQ World Wide CW contest. This year everything would be different, average temperatures for the end of May are 17-23 degrees, and we decided to give it a try.  The more so because in 2010 the multi/multi category of the contest was won by the RRDXA team from Santana. And in years before I have had only second and third places operating in teams from CT9L, TS7N and 5A7A, always in the M/2 or M/M categories. A perfect opportunity for a nice, warm vacation. I was even able to motivate the XYL, who had been in Santana before, to join the team. Madeira offers lots of possibilities for wandering through the mountains and other forms of sportive entertainment. Funchal is a very interesting city with its harbour and market place, and there are plenty of interesting cafes on the waterfront.

I just got a phone call from California. It was the technical support center of Micro$oft. The call center agent was very friendly, and he convinced me that I have a serious problem with my Window$ computer, and he was calling to help me solve it. Could I please switch on my window$ computer…

I asked him for his phone number, so I could call him back, but unfortunately he could not do that.

I then told him that I could not switch on my window$ computer, because all of them were already running Linux because it is too dangerous to run window$ computers, which will get viruses from the internet and send emails to all my friends about penis enlargement, and most of my friends are women anyway…

And I told him that I had read a lot of press articles about people who had recently been called by a Micro$oft call center, and the operator had helped them to remove a virus and since then their friends got lots of emails about penis enlargements and interesting very cheap drugs…

Then the friendly call center agent hung up, without solving my problem.

Life is hard…

A Dutch judge has ruled that all Dutch Internet providers must block the Pirate Bay website within 10 days from today, preemptively, even when there is no proof of breach of law. The Netherlands is going the same route as popular countries like China and Iran. Time to fire up your TOR router…

Introducing a new paradigm in digital radio….

Remember the good old days of packet radio? Remember the problems on HF because
the stations were not hearing each other?
The solution is of course to make sure everybody hears everybody else.
We have the same problem on the PSKmail common APRS frequency. The moment I write this, there are 9 servers active on 10147.00. And none of them hears every other server because of the skip on 30 meters. The solution will be to provide a channel without skip.

Fortunately all servers are connected to the Internet. So it is easy to provide a channel without QRM and propagation problems.

The new server, pskmail_server-1.0.45, connects to a socket in the pskmail.org domain, and sends its PTT status to all other connected servers. So theoretically all servers know if the channel is busy, and can act accordingly.

Of course this function has to discriminate between frequencies and geographical locations.

pskmail_server-1.0.45 offers a test environment for experimenting with this new feature, which I call “Cloud Marshalling” (The servers use the Cloud to communicate their status).

I hope many server ops have the opportunity to test this if software is enhancing channel throughput… It would of course be ideal if all servers on 10147.00 would try this 🙂

The geographical footprint is limited to the servers between 70 and 35 degrees North, and -20 to +20 degrees East. So servers outside this range should not be blocked. Which has to be tested as well 🙂

Rein Couperus, PA0R


I have moved my blog from blogspirit to wordpress, because I was getting tired of handling the spam it generated.

I hope wordpress does a better job of fighting spam. The future will tell…