Soccer bandwagon

I find it quite amazing. Suddenly EVERYONE in the states is a soccer fan, especially after the run of the the Men’s National Team recently in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. I don’t expect the buzz about the sport to remain after July 11 when the World Cup comes to a close in South Africa. After the limited success the US tasted there could possibly be more interest in 2014 if they qualify for Brazil.

At work, I am the only individual who watches football on a regular basis, be it the World Cup or Euro Cup, Serie A or Premiership. When a game is on and I am not working I will be found watching. The going joke is I give people who pass by the break room 3 minutes, after that time, they get bored and walk on, usually commenting something about the low or no score. Typical.

Needless to say the media has been going World Cup crazy with all types of reports from local bars where USA fans gather to support their team. I heard one report of a “fan” who stated, “I am watching because I am a fan of the USA.” Huh? a fan of the USA, not necessarily the sport. Okay, maybe it just give you and many others an opportunity to gather, toss back from beer and watch a game.

I also need to say that ESPN has been worse than they were 4 years ago in Germany. The announcing, which I thought would be better has been horrid. There are some bright spots, such as Ally McCoist and Martin Tyler. Unfortunately ESPN is “renting the British accent” for the worldwide event. Nonetheless the addition commentary being provided by John Harkes I can do without. He like his counterpart 4 years ago don’t lend much to the game. I was tired of hearing about the US team when they were not even playing being televised!

A bright spot has been the insight provided by Roberto Martinez, currently the manager at Wigan. He has been very good in the studio pre-match and at half-time providing his insight to individual players, tactics or the game in general. To a less degree I have also enjoyed listening to Ruud Gullitt. Hopefully 4 years from now they decide to can Alexi Lalas, but PLEASE do not hire Landon Donovan!!! I hope 4 years from now I can get coverage from someone like Sky Sports, where they understand the sport and are passionate about it. Hell maybe I should learn Spanish, as I hear the announcers have been top class on another network from a few friends.

2010 ARRL Field Day

Contest: ARRL Field Day
Date: June 26-27, 2010
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 2059 UTC Sunday

20 / 5 / 6 / 0
15 / 14 / 7 /0
10 / 7 / 7 /0
SCORE: 268 (TIME ON: 3 H 05 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I had never operated an FD event before, even prior to becoming a ham. It was one of those events that I did not put much thought into working this year, but I had some free time and figured I would work for a few hours to see how I could fair.

I operated as a single transmitter, Class ‘D’ using commercial power since I do not have any sort of backup power in my shack. All in all it was quite enjoyable as most contests are. The bands were packed, especially on 20M phone from 14.150-14.350, but many of those signals were weak signals and I did not even attempt to to work them.

I was able to work some needed states for various awards. All in all it was enjoyable. I would consider working this “event” again next year. Hopefully at that time I will be using some source of alternate power, as opposed to commercial power.

Field Day 2010

I have never had any desire to work an ARRL Field Day event. Not sure why, maybe it’s the same reason I could not understand the lure of the ARRL Sweepstakes when it rolled around. Field Day is not a contest, but it’s run just like a contest. The objective as stated by the ARRL, “To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and in doing so to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.”

I decided to “GOTA,” get on the air today and make a few contacts on CW and SSB running 100w, using my home station and commercial power. If you worked me, I would give an exchange of ‘1D EB’ meaning 1 transmitter, ‘D’ is the designator for home station, commercial power and ‘EB’ is my ARRL section, East Bay.

Unlike I contest I started on 10M working CW, followed by SSB before moving to 15M and then to 20M in about 30 minutes. When I finally turned off the rig before heading to work I decided to tune 6M in the truck and see if I could make a few ‘FD’ contacts. I was lucky, worked 3 stations, including my first out of California state, Washington. When I got stopped in traffic, I quickly tuned 10M and proceeded to make some more QSOs, my first on 10M as a mobile or ‘1C’ while participating in Field Day.

Not sure I will put much more time into this operating event, but I can see how there would be a lure to an event, sponsored by the ARRL where hams gather, set up portable stations, BBQ, down some 807s and have a good time. It is also an event to introduce non-hams to the hobby and get them on the air.

I was hoping to get my 4 year old on the air, but he had more important things to do today, like see Buzz and Woody in Toy Story 3…again! Maybe we will have a chance before this event concludes tomorrow afternoon. Now to start considering a backup source of power for my station.

Italy Doesn’t Advance

The 4-time World Cup Champions, Italy are going home. Their performance has been deplorable! From their initial group stage match until the introduction of Andrea Pirlo, during the 56th minute of their match with Slovakia, the drive, creativity and play making of the Azzurri was missing.

Questions will be raised as to the decisions of Marcelo Lippi, his squad, his tactics and his desire to guide the nation through the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, one thing he cannot do is step on the pitch, unlike his selection of the starting XI.

Italy was beset with injuries to Gigi Buffon during the first match with Paraguay. A reoccurring back injury has caused him to miss the remaining two games. This was probably the biggest loss to the team, since he was one of the leaders of the team. Federico Marchetti was his replacement during the match with only 7 caps on his resume. There are no ways around this, Buffon’s loss was crucial. Maybe in 4 years Marchetti will be ready on the international level.

The other injury was to Andrea Pirlo, who was the master of the midfield for Italy. His decision and play making in the midfield helped Italy win the cup 4 years ago, but with his current injury there was no one to step up and fill his boots. Riccardo Montolivo was his replacement, but Montolivo is highly inexperienced on the national level and not the same type of player as Pirlo.

The strikers were probably the worst of the group. I am not sure why Lippi decided to stick with Iaquinta. His play was terrible in 2006 and no better in 2010. While he does have a nose for goal inside the 6 yard box, he brought very little to the offensive attack for Italy. Alberto Gilardino was missing in action. Younger players like Pazzini, Quagliarelli and Di Natale (the future) all saw limited action. Not calling up the likes of Rossi, Cassano, Boriello and even Balotelli will be questioned.

I know this has been mentioned before, but there was no on pitch leadership the likes of Francesco Totti. Maybe I am still living in the past, but Totti brought so much to the squad when on the pitch. His leadership was invaluable and there were no current players who stepped up to fill that role.

The creativity, decision making and play making of the Italians was missing. They were not playing with any heart through out the tournament. Only for a brief moment did we see them switch gears, which led to their goal versus Slovakia. Outside of that moment, the performance of Italy was terrible. We kept saying, “next game,” well during the last match we look back and contempt why we did not advance out of the group.

I guess we look forward to the Prandelli era for the Azzuri, as Lippi steps down now and start working for Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. None of the old guard will remain, names like Pirlo, Gattuso, Buffon, Iaquinta and Cannavaro will all be gone.

Time to Sell?

It was a rather quick decision to buy looking back on it. I had moderate success with the ground mounted Hustler 6-BTV I purchased from DX Engineering in 2007. I figured I could do better with a bigger antenna, which also meant more expensive antenna. Sometimes that logic is right, other times questionable. When I compared antennas to replace my 6BTV I looked at about 3 other options, but the one that rose above the rest was the SteppIR BigIR.

I spent time reading the manual and reviews of the performance of the antenna and thought it was the antenna for me. Now, some 12 months later I am beginning to have my doubts. I have not been completely happy with the purchase since it arrived. It was a rash decision I made, dropped a good chuck of change on the vertical, 80M coil and a 1:1 balun, not to mention the control cable and another cable to connect to my Yaesu.

I have said this before, but I don’t fault SteppIR, it’s a quality product, but currently it is not in the most optimal of areas. That being my backyard, which is limited in terms of space to run effect ground radials. Sure, I can still get out, but at what it cost me I could have bought something else for half the price and been just as happy I think.

So now I am considering selling the BigIR, hopefully to someone local in order to save on shipping costs. I figure I will toss an $800-$900 price tag on the entire setup, which would require me to dig up the backyard again in order to get the control cable out (100′ I believe). Not sure what I want as a replacement and I doubt it will be any better than what the BigIR has done. Considering the current solar conditions and ground radial situation I would say I have done a good job on the vertical. But could I do better?

I have begun looking at those 43′ verticals. Not sure if this is really needed or if I would see an improvement in my signal if I had an antenna tuner at the base of the vertical. Currently, the Yaesu FT-1000MP’s internal ATU cannot tune the entire 80M band, so I am limited at times on how low I can operate. These verticals and I have been looking at the one from DXE seem to be nothing more than a hollow, tapered aluminum tube with a balun and antenna tuner at the base.

I need something to get me on 30-80M and possibly 160M. Mainly for 40Mand 80M during contests is what I am after. The hex holds its own on 10-20M, but I have some issues when the sun goes down and I must move to the vertical. I am keeping my options open. Unlike the purchase of the SteppIR, this won’t be a rash decision. If I can get what I want to ask for it then I could get an all new vertical setup with an antenna tuner.