Back into the fray …

I sat down to the radio equipment tonight and got a little bit of operating done … JT65. Conditions were doable, but certainly not what you would call good. Twenty and forty were usable, and I did make a few contacts.

I spent most of the evening paying bills and changing emails and usernames on accounts that use my callsign. I never realized just how many there were!

We were under a tornado watch and threats of flash flooding, but luckily nothing materialized. They are predicting rain and thunderstorms on into Saturday, so I don’t think I’ll do much outside work this weekend.

73 de Dick N4BC

New Callsign!

Well, I decided to try for a shorter callsign and it was actually granted. There were 62 applications submitted, and I was the one that got the luck of the draw. N4BC … good! My first choice was N4DC, but I missed that one. I’m satisfied, though.

I think if I’d realized how much work it was to change everything over to the new callsign, though, I’d have thought twice. Email addresses, LOTW account, all the labels on all my equipment, the website, the memberships in various amateur radio organizations, a new callsign hat and badge, etc. I’m gettin’ there, though.

73 de Dick N4BC


I made the annual trip to the Virginia Beach Hamfest last weekend … not sure I should have bothered. Yeah, yeah – I know we need to support the hobby, but this was pretty pathetic. No major manufacturers, no first-tier retailers, no tailgating, and the prices that sellers figured their boat anchors were worth … wow!

I remember the crowds and aisles of sellers not that many years ago. I guess the internet has really caused cutbacks in the numbers of both sellers and buyers, It was nice, though, to actually put your hands on that new or used rig before parting with your money.

I guess the “Good Old Days” are gone forever, though. I’ll keep buying a ticket to support the hobby and keep attending, just in case I see something … anything … I want or need there.

73 de Dick K4FTW

A Voice from the Past

I recently received an email requesting a QSL from a Russian station for a contact when I was VQ9RB, on Diego Garcia. Even more interesting, I got a card in the mail from a Brazilian station for one of my Seychelles cards! Needless to say, I no longer have any blank cards for those QTHs. They were all used up or lost in a move many moons ago.

So, necessity is the mother of invention, they say. I searched the OfficeMax location here and believe it or not, could not find any card stock in the weight I was looking. So, Amazon Prime to the rescue. I ordered a 200-sheet pack for about ten bucks, and will roll my own. Microsoft Publisher and the ol’ laser printer should work just fine. The trouble I go to for you guys out there still working at increasing your DXCC numbers :-D.

Remember, the final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL. If I can, through some earthly process, supply you with a needed card, I’ll take care of it. I have been there, guys! My pleasure!

73 de Dick K4FTW (ex-VQ9D, VQ9D/D, S79D, VQ9RB, G0/WB4YZU, WB4YZU, ad nauseum :-).

In a Real Rut

I seem to have settled into a rut lately. I get home from work, turn on the rig, and work a few JT-9 contacts, and then shut down. I think I need a bit more spice in my life :-). I hereby resolve to try and inject more variety into my ham radio practices. This weekend, I think I’ll do a bit of PSK and a bit of CW, and MAYBE even a little SSB. If it wasn’t so darned hot and humid (106 deg. heat index), I might even venture a little antenna work and generator servicing.

I’m at work right now waiting for the HVAC guy to show up and service the failed A/C unit at one of our radio sites. I don’t like to see high-temp alarms at my sites!

I just finished up a week long class today on Motorola Networking Essentials. I learned a lot and am looking forward to more classes this summer. These classes are a result of us updating our analog trunking system with a new P25 digital trunking system. It’s all IP-based, so networking is an integral part of the infrastructure.

73 de Dick K4FTW


Wow! The sun is naked. The sunspot number has been at ZERO for several days now, and the propagation shows it. I was working a station in New Jersey last night on JT-9, and he had a strong signal  … +00. I watched his trace on the waterfall slowly fade away to nothing. He was not copyable, and JT-9 can usually pull out the data when you can barely see a trace. Really DEEP QSB.

That said, I have been working stations all over North and South America and Europe these past few days. Signals are not great, but they’re readable. When you figure that I’m only running 10 to 20 watts to a vertical on the digital modes, it’s nothing short of amazing.

So the moral of the story is … get on and call CQ. Make some noise! You’ll be surprised at what’s out there. I haven’t heard a lot on SSB, but there’s plenty of action on the digital modes … CW, JT, PSK, Olivia, etc.). Too many people just fire up the rig, tune across the bands and sigh … “Darn! It’s dead tonight!”. If everybody just tunes, there’s nothing to hear.

73 de Dick K4FTW


I worked with Tom, WE4TOM, to get his PSK31 up and running. We only live a couple of miles apart, at most, but it was great when I finally saw his transmission on my waterfall and printing out on my screen.

We had tried a couple of times over the past two weeks to get something going. He could copy my transmissions, but I wan’t getting a whisper from him. I still don’t know what he did to get it working, but after a couple of iterations, HE DID! Sometimes you have to keep banging away at the problem until you get a break.

So Tom … guess what I’ve got for you? That’s right – a shiny new QSL card. I’ll deliver it at the next Club meeting. Great job of figuring out HRD and DM780. Here’s a preview …

Office Lens 20160623-210240


73 de Dick

ZERO Sunspots

The sunspot count is ZERO! Can’t get much lower than that. But … in spite of the low numbers (and a minor solar disturbance), I still make contacts. Even CW seems pretty sparse, but the digital parts of the band still amaze me.

I have been mostly working JT-9 and JT-65, and there’s been a lot of action. Good openings into Europe and South America, as well as stateside  and Canada. Twenty meters has been productive as has forty meters, but that’s about it. Above 20 just sucks, to put it bluntly (although they say 6 meters has been promising).

Well, tonight we’ll have the PARC 2-meter net. At least propagation is consistent on the repeater 🙂 .

73 de Dick k4ftw