Things are going pretty well since my computer died, with a few exceptions. The replacement computer is great, and I’m back to multi-mode operating and logging. I’m experiencing difficulties with loading a new LOTW certificate, and waiting for direction fom the LOTW staff. I’ve also had issues with the new Windows 11 security enhancements and getting some software to work, but have pretty much resolved those issues. I still cannot get the latest version of Com0Com (188.8.131.52) to work, but the previous version (184.108.40.206) works just fine.
The bands have been “interesting” lately 🙂 . FT4 and FT8 continue to be the most productive modes, with some nice openings on the higher bands. CW is still my preferred mode of operation, but when conditions are “iffy”, digital is definitely the most prolific mode. Last night 80 meters, 60 meters, and 40 meters were the producers. Gotta go where the contacts are 😀 .
I got home from work yesterday evening, sat down at my desk, and pressed the button to power up my Dell Latitude computer.
Nothing happened, until I heard …
The Dreaded 7 Beeps of Death!
This is the indication of a motherboard or processor failure, and was not welcome. Admittedly, the laptop in question is six, going on seven years old, so it had lived a good life, but … it’s always sad to lose an old friend. 🙁
It was not upgradable to Windows 11, so it’s days were numbered eventually, but it did advance my replacement schedule by a year or so. I just wanted a more controlled move to the new laptop.
Now, I have a formidable task ahead of me … reloading and configuring all of the software onto the new laptop. I could restore a backup image, but there’s an advantage to a clean install, and getting rid of all the clutter. Still, it’s a tedious job.
I ordered the new laptop last night from Dell, it’s being shipped today and arrives tomorrow. Then the fun begins …
I recently purchased an addition to my portable gear that makes CW much easier. The item is a Ultra Picokeyer kit from HamGadgets.
My favorite portable transceiver is the Yaesu FT-817ND. One of my not-so-favorite things about it is that it has no CW memories. If you’re contesting or working a POTA pileup, it can wear your hand out!
The Ultra Picokeyer solves that problem. It has CW memories, and a continuously variable speed control, in addition to lots of other features. In addition, it’s a pretty simple kit to build … I didn’t time myself, but it couldn’t have been more than an hour or so. It went very fast, and the only tools required were soldering gear and some flush-cutting wire cutters. Easy-peasy!
Some have asked what triggered my interest in my radio hobby. Well, this is the culprit …
Before television, this was a familiar object in many 1940’s homes. I’m not sure if this is the actually the model we had in my childhood home, but if not, it was similar. You see, in addition to the normal AM broadcast band, it also included shortwave bands.
I would spend hours listening to the BBC, or Radio Deutsch Welle, or any of a large selection of foreign broadcast stations.
But it wasn’t only those stations to be found … there were also amateur radio stations to listen to. Those were the days before SSB, so there were lots of AM ham radio QSOs going on. I was listening to hams from all over the world. CW was also there, but with no BFO, pretty rough copy … if I had understood CW 🙂 .
Just as an aside, there was also a 78 RPM turntable connected to the audio input of the radio, and a big selection of my Dad’s vinyl records. All of the big bands, some classical, and lots of artists of the 40’s and 50’s. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Gershwin … they were all there. I think that ensured that I would have a continuing interest in good music.
I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything.
I’ve been chasing Parks on the Air (as usual), and having some success with the improved solar conditions, but my main emphasis since the 1st of the month has been the 13 Colonies Special Event. So far, I have ten of the original 13 in my log, and still trying to break the pileups on the last three. There are three bonus stations, and I have WM3PEN in the books, but not the overseas two. I’ve worked them where I found them … 80M, 40M, and 20M … and on several modes … CW, FT4, and FT8. Surprisingly, none on SSB so far. The phone pileups are chaotic.
Six meters has been having some nice openings, too. All up and down the East coast from here … the farthest contacts have been into Canada, Cuba, and Bermuda. The majority of those contacts have been on FT8.
Our VHF repeater (W4MT) has been up and running for several weeks now, after having some problems passing audio (knock on wood 🙂 ). We never identified the cause, but the problems were coincident with HVAC problems … the drain on the wall unit was plugged and the condensation was running out onto the floor inside instead of outside. Everything was still cool. We unclogged the drain line, and I wonder if the high humidity had something to do with the issues we were having?
It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be just a rain event here in coastal Virginia. We’ve still got our eye on its progress, but hopefully it’ll just be wet! We’ll surely see some coastal flooding, but we get that with any big rain event.