The bands have been pretty crummy lately. Nothing of interest is being heard at my QTH. Consequently, my activity is way down, and I’ve just been cleaning up an sorting things out in the shack.
One thing has been good though … and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with ham radio … McDonalds Quarter-Pounder. I tried one of the new fresh beef, cooked-to-order burgers, and was really impressed. I think Wendys still has the edge, but the taste and juiciness of the new quarter pounder was a big improvement over its predecessor. It tastes GOOD … not like dry cardboard! Try one … I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’ve had an older Kenwood speaker laying around that I bought as a companion to my TS-850 when it was new. It had developed a nasty intermittent crackle, traceable to its A/B switch, although all the switches needed cleaning . I’m now using it with my Icom IC-7300. This is a sealed pushbutton switch that I had tried to clean several times before. The only point of entry without removing and disassembling the switch is a tiny hole on top of the switch.
Enter my superhero … Caig Labs De-OxIT! I I remember I used this stuff when I ran a calibration laboratory. Best contact cleaner ever! I bought a 25ml bottle with a needle applicator on Amazon for $21 … not cheap, at all. But … if you can get it onto the contact, it will clean it, protect it, and lubricate it. I know … I know … it sounds like a commercial, but believe me … IT WORKS!
I dripped a small amount into the hole, waited for it to work its way into the switch, and then pushed the switch several times to wipe the contacts and spread the solution. VOILA! No noise! Clean audio!
End of testimonial!
Seriously, if all else fails, get some of this stuff and try it. I think you’ll be happily surprised.
Sixty meters is an odd band. Last night, I worked a station in Paducah, KY, and a station in Poland. I was being heard in both North America and Europe. Sixty is still an underutilized band, but I’m finding more and more users.
Forty last night was hot! Solid wall to wall FT-8 and CW signals … strong, too! I upgraded Windows 10 with the big Spring 2018 update with only one minor problem … when I opened WSJT-X it would key the transmitter, but there was no output power. I suspected an audio problem, and I was right. For some reason, the audio source changed from USB Audio Codec to Speaker in the WSJT-X Audio setup screen. Two mouse clicks pretty much solved that. No more problems noted and all works OK now.
I read an interesting article last night (don’t remember where, though … somewhere on the internet). Seems the scientist was saying that the new sunspot cycle has just begun. Something to do with the change in polarity of a new sunspot. If this is true, it would make the last cycle one of the shortest. We can only hope …
Spring has sprung, it seems. We’re finally having days in the 70s and 80s. Nights are still pretty cool … in the 40s and 50s. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about time!
Last night, I worked Guadeloupe on 80M. That was a new one on that band for me. I even found a couple of stations on 15M, too … Clint, NW5P in Texas, and WP4AZT, Jose, in Puerto Rico. All in all, a nice evening, playing on the radio. I’m going to try and get a 40M inverted vee up this weekend, and see if that works any better than my non-resonant vertical.
This past weekend was terrible for signals, but things seem to have picked up somewhat. Here’s a snapshot of last night:
I even had some action on 15 meters and 60 meters. Almost all of my contacts were with North American stations.
The weather has become more springlike lately. The birds are singing, the pollen is falling, and the weeds are sprouting. I think it’s time for some antenna attention. It’s raining today, but later this week I need to get out into the back yard and check antenna connections, coax, and matching networks to make sure everything survived the winter OK. I’m thinking of putting up another 40M inverted vee, since 40 is looking to be a workhorse during this part of the sunspot cycle. The inverted vees have always performed well for me.
I also want to get out and do some portable parks work, too. I’m at the age when sitting in the cold, sleety outdoors with a thirty mile per hour wind whistling around my ears is not fun, so the warmer, more hospitable climate is very welcome.