Friday, November 14, 2008

DX, DXCC, VQLog and a mountain of QSL cards...

Now that I am getting interested again in the radio scene, I took the time to actually read through the September issue of Echo Ireland properly, the Journal of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society. I had been getting it all the time I was QRT but I paid little attention to them. Looking at the current issue, 2 things caught my interest....

1) The HF Happenings column which covered nearly 4 pages. It's written by EI9FBB who appearently is in Cork and it's obvious it takes a fair bit of work to put it together. I'm not sure if after reading it, I'd go try chasing DX again ;o) but a good article all the same.

2) DXCC awards gained by EI stations, especially the single band ones. This was the aspect that I used to be interested in.....getting DXCC on a band rather than just using a combination of bands. Each band has it's own characteristics and the challenge for me was to see if it was possible to get DXCC on each band using just 100 watts.

The chart in the magazine is shown below...
The suprising thing for me is that there are only 13 EI stations with single band DXCC's. Somehow, I thought it would be more.

Anyhow, it got me thinking again about all the stuff that I have worked and never got confirmed. I remember that when I was on the air before, working the DX was sometimes the easiest part. The logistics of trying to track what was worked, what was confirmed and what I needed to get confirmed was a nightmare.

Fastlog.....back in the late 90's, I started using a Logbook program called Fastlog. It was a simple DOS based program but it was excellent. No nonsense and it was great for VHF operation as well as it was easy to keep track of locator squares worked. In fact, if I wasn't interested in getting stuff confirmed, then I'd have probably have stayed with it.

However, the logistics of tracking QSL cards was a nightmare. What to do? Back around that time, the ARRL started up their Logbook of the World program, a novel way of getting contacts confirmed electronically. Just upload your log and it looks for matches with others that have uploaded theirs. Every match is a confirmed contact, no need for QSL's!! The problem was that Fastlog was not a compatible program.

I had around 20,000 contacts logged in Fastlog and I wasn't going to type 20,000 qso's into a new logging program!! So, I chose VQLog. It was very much a VHF orientated logging program and it was able to import the Fastlog program data. The problem however was that although it imported the data ok, I still had to open every contact and edit it to get VQlog to accept it. A lot easier than having to type in all the data but with 20,000 contacts, still a lot of work :o(

Present status.......I had begun this long process before I went off the air. When I run VQLog now, it tells me I have worked 48 countries on 10 metres when I know that the figure should be around 230. So, the current plan is....
1) Learn how to use VQLog again.
2) Get the data on all 20,000 contacts up to date and correct.
3) Get going on Logbook of the World. Upload the log and see what I have confirmed. There are something like 75 million QSo's up there, surely I'll have a few matches!!

QSL's.........Only at that stage will I even start looking at QSL's again. I have unopened packets of QSL's here that I have received over the last few years so there might be a few confirmations in there as well. If you are reading this and you are waiting for a QSL from me, then sorry, but you'll have to wait! I guess that after 4 to 5 years, you have probably given up on that QSL anyway ;o)
eQSL.......This was another thing in the IRTS Journal....a list of DXCC confirmed on eQSL. I checked out the website and appearently, I have 831 eQSL's waiting for me. All I have to do is pay some fee and I can retrieve them. Considering they don't count for DXCC purposes, I really can't see the point. Maybe it might cut down the number of outgoing QSL cards?? Is it still a novelty like it was 4 to 5 years ago or is it now more mainstream? Is everyone using it?? Regardless of whether it is or not, it's way down the list of things to do.

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