Category Archives: general

Heart problems 2017

It began with some difficulties climbing Mt Taylor in January 2017.   I found after the first 500m of walking, about a quarter of the distance, that I became very tired and did not have the energy to continue.  At the time I put this down to general fitness having dropped during the last year, with an arm injury in February 2016 slowing me down considerably and plantar fasciitis developing when I did resume climbing hills and curtailing much of my usual summit activity.  As I am no longer what anyone will call “young” any more, extra care is required when doing anything challenging.  *

However what I should have realised is that what I was experiencing was one of this list of symptoms:

  • Pain areas: in the chest, jaw, or neck
  • Pain types: can be like a clenched fist in the chest or sudden in the chest
  • Whole body: dizziness, fatigue, inability to exercise, light-headedness, or sweating
  • Gastrointestinal: heartburn, indigestion, or nausea
  • Respiratory: rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Also common: anxiety, chest tightness, or fast heart rate

Some readers will recognise these symptoms as those of angina, a sign that the heart does to have enough oxygen from its blood supply to continue to work at the rate required by your current exertion level. 

The Mayo Clinic describes angina thus:

  • Angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest.

Notice there is no mention of a sharp pain you would associate immediately with your heart.  Why not?  The reason is apparently that the heart does not have its own nerves like other organs.  So when your brain registers there is something going wrong in your heart it tells you that some other organ is under stress. 

It is usually caused by blockages in the arteries servicing the heart (as distinct from the arteries the heart pumps blood into for circulation to the rest of your body).  These coronal arteries are crucial for continued operation of your heart.  

In my case, I experienced the tightness in my chest as I walked back to my accommodation in Canberra on 20th April.  I didn’t recognise the tightness as angina and all I did was stop walking and wait for the discomfort to dissipate, which it did. But on reaching my daughter’s place, I made an appointment with the doctor for later that morning, then went to work.  

What should I have done?  I should have stopped walking right then and called an ambulance.  If you ever get that tightness in the chest, or any of those symptoms listed above, go as quickly as possible to the nearest emergency department of a hospital.  Or the next best thing if you don’t have access to a hospital. 

The doctor diagnosed it as angina and prescribed a pain reduction spray (nitro glycerine) with instructions on what to do if the pain returned.  Basically, use the spray as temporary relief but get to a hospital. 

Within a half hour of seeing the doctor I had more discomfort and I went to the hospital for treatment.  After numerous tests an angiogram was carried out and I was told then that I would have to have a triple bypass operation.  

All of that happened as scheduled on 3rd May and I am now recuperating from the operation.  I am basically OK but a bit weak and have to steadily regain my strength.  It is a very invasive operation but fortunately it is performed quite often and is well proven.

The reason I am sharing all these details is to alert you to this problem. My blood pressure has been in an acceptable range (roughly 125/70) for the last 10 years.  My cholesterol readings have been just inside the “safe” range.  Yet neither of those indicators predicted this problem was looming for me.   If I had been out in th bush needing to walk an hour to even return to my car, who knows what the outcome could have been.  But it is quite possible I would not be here to tell you about it.  I want to achieve a lot of things in the next 20 years and I now have a chance to do that, thanks to modern medical science.  

*Age: mid 60s.  

CW Open contest September 5th

I was listening on 14 MHz CW section on a Sunday morning around daybreak, trying to hear US SOTA activators who had been spotted on SOTAWATCH.ORG.  Hearing nothing I tuned down the band to see whether there were any signals from anywhere.  Propagation had been drastically affected by solar flares and magnetic storms, so the usual conditions had not been enjoyed for some weeks.

Finding some good strong signals from US callsigns handing out contest numbers I wondered what contest they were in.  The CQ call was CQ CWO.  The exchange appeared to be a sequence number and the operator’s name.   I didn’t say “OK google” and ask a complicated question – must try that some time – but I did open up the contest calendar and look for a matching contest.  Sure enough the CW Operators Club was running one of their events, the CW Open.  Interesting format, three x four-hour time sessions.  So I tried answering some CQs, got heard and logged a few contacts.  My contacts were brief and most of the calls I made were heard. 

After making a dozen contacts in the event, the rising sun was clearly closing down propagation at my end and signals from several of the east coast US operators had dropped from s8-9 earlier down to s3-4.  So that was the end of the actual operating.

To submit my log for this event, I needed a log in the now standard Cabrillo format, which resembles a text file in a standardised format.  As an aside, I am puzzled by the use of this format for contest log entires.  An XML format would be much more flexible and would be simpler to produce from the logging software, given that most logging software also outputs an ADIF format for import into your station log.  (Could also ask why ADIF is such an odd thing when XML would also have done the job much better…)

So back to the CWO website where they list a dozen or so potential software packages that will produce the necessary Cabrillo format output and also an ADIF file for my station log.   I downloaded several programs and used one, GenLog, written by W3KM, to type my log using the “after contest” mode.  Although the software provided for options to select date formats to match the preferences in the computer the output format seemed to get totally confused by my DD/MM/YY format and the Cabrillo file contained dates in the format YYYY/DD/MM instead of YYYY/MM/DD.  My first upload attempt failed with the upload robot producing error messages about date formats.  I stopped trying to tame the contest logger and simply edited the file useing Notepad++, making the dates all the right format and taking care not to leave gaps in the data lines.   The next upload attempt was all OK, the robot was happy, so now I wait until the logs are processed and find out whether any other vk2 ops submitted logs.  

The nice thing about those contests is the by far the majority of the operators are very competent, know how to handle QRM and mulitple callers, and are glad to have another entry in their log.  The CW contesters are a good bunch of people.   This was a bit of fun, taking advantage of a surprise bit of propagation to the East Coast and Central US on 14 MHz.  

Fake sellers on VK Classifieds

Some recent ads on have looked very attractive.  Some Icom and Kenwood high value gear (TS950Sdx and IC756 pro3) being offered at about 1/2 to 2/3 of its typical price in Australia.

An email enquiry to the seller, calling himself Donald [name withheld] of Wilmington Illinois USA and using an email address that looks like a callsign plus the numerals 73, returned some telltale responses.  He asked for payments via Western Union and UPS delivery.  And he used some odd English constructions in his wording.  My brother and I exchanged notes on the seller and agreed there was something fishy about the whole thing.

I posted an item categorised under Events, warning readers about unverifiable sellers and it only lasted an hour on the classifieds site.  I don’t know whether there is an automated system to delete items warning others of scams, or whether the site owner is very vigilant and deletes them himself. But in that time I received several confirming emails from others, one stating that it was a scam and he had already lost $200 to the scammer.

The callsign lookup in does match with the advertiser’s name, but the history of equipment used and the interests of that person do not match well with someone selling a TS950 or an IC756.  However the entry does have a prominent comment saying that he had recently obtained the email address used in the advertisement.  This suggests that the email address was chosen to match the QRZ entry, then the QRZ entry was updated (QRZ has no security preventing this) and the comment about the email address was added, to allay any concerns readers of his ads may have about the legitimacy of the email address.  To me it does not match with common practice.  Nobody smart offers their email address in the clear on a website.  No thinking person wants the spam that results from doing that. My conclusion is that the whole thing is a minor example of identity theft, or at least “identity borrowing”.

Don’t send this fellow any money.  As usual, if it looks too good to be true, it is.


QRP Hours Contest 14 April 2012

Reminder that the QRP Hours contest is on 14 April 2012. Rules are in AR for April 2012.

Here is a link to the rules on the QRP club site.

1000 UTC to 1059: CW section 3500-3530 khz

1100 to 1200 UTC: SSB 3550-3590

QRP stations can work any station whether QRP or not.

Exchange is signal report plus serial number starting at 001. No repeat contacts.

QRP = output power no more than 10 watts.

Participation of higher power stations is appreciated as it warms up a contest to have more in it giving contacts.

When is the sun due north?

I needed to know at what time the sun would be positioned due north, to enable me to validate some previous measurements.

I found the following US Navy website which has a universal calculator allowing you to find this data for your lat/long which can be extracted from your iphone or any GPS.

For readers in the northern hemisphere, the calculator does allow for north and south latitudes, as well as west and east longitudes…