The Pits …

I see the sunspot number is still at zero … where it’s been for the last three weeks. Those scientists much¬† smarter than me say it’ll be there for at least the NEXT three weeks, too. Ah, well … even with secret rites in the dark of night, I don’t think we can make any difference. We just have to wait for old Mother Nature to crank up the next solar cycle.

BUT … as I noted last weekend … even with the numbers as abysmal as they are, there’re always QSOs to be had. Contest weekends, especially, seem to light up the ionosphere.

Our DMR net (TG 31515, Tidewater VA) yesterday evening was a bit sparse … only four of us checked in. It’s pretty much the doldrums of summer now. People are on vacation, outside doing family things … you know the drill. This weekend we’re looking forward to scattered thunderstorms and rain. A typical summer weekend. At least it’s been cooler the past few days.

Not much ham stuff going on this weekend that I’m interested in. The North American QSO Party for RTTY is happening. I haven’t participated in that in forever, so I might dabble a bit there. I’ve got to get me a thicker cushion for my shack chair, though. The IARU CW contest last weekend was murder on my butt!

Well, enough blather! Have a great weekend and do some radio!

73 de Dick N4BC

IARU HF World Championship

I had a fun time Saturday morning¬† in the IARU HF contest. I made 141 CW contacts … all search & pounce. I had a higher score this year than last year, so I did improve. I had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon and evening and then church on Sunday morning, so my radio time was limited to Saturday morning only.

Propagation was good. I had contacts on all bands, 80 through 10 meters. There were lots of good, strong signals. Eighty and forty were noisy, as is normal this time of year, but there were always contacts available.

I have to say that the IC-7300 was a pleasure to use. The bandscope and filters were so useful. That and N1MM+ made the contest fun! I used my 100 watts, homebrew vertical and tuner and was pleased with the results. I do wonder, though, what I could have done with a “decent” antenna? I remember the old days of paper logs, dupe sheets, and manual keying so well. No comparison nowadays.

I would encourage you to participate in contest operation, especially if you’re new to the hobby and haven’t tried it already. It can be a bit intimidating, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good way to work new countries/prefixes/counties or whatever. Maybe it’s not for you … that’s OK too, but you’ll never know unless you try it.

73 and Good Luck de Dick N4BC

DMR TG 31515 – Tidewater VA Weekly Net

We had our weekly net last night at 9pm EDT, and seven people checked in. This was my first check in, and I didn’t have much to contribute, so I just sat back and “read the mail.”

There were several interesting discussions during the hour. The net is primarily a place where locals can meet and ask questions of the “collective intelligence” and hopefully find answers … or at least sympathy.

We talked about DMR IDs, how individuals have programmed the function keys on their radios, POCSAG messaging, and the new interface for BrandMeister Hoseline. Some of the guys mentioned good deals they had gotten on a Radioddity RD-5R.

All in all, it was an enjoyable net and I plan to be a regular check in. I learned a couple of new things last night.

73 de Dick N4BC

A New One …

There was a nice opening on 10 meters yesterday evening, and I was lucky enough to work a new one … Saint Pierre et Miquelon – FP. I worked FP/KV1J, Eric, on FT8 at 1920Z. He popped up calling CQ and I pounced! He’ll be on Miquelon Island through the 17th of this month and will be on for the IARU HF Contest this coming weekend. He’s operating SSB/RTTY/FT8 and satellite also. You can check him out on his web page here. Always exciting to catch a new one when you’re not expecting it.

Actually, I worked a dozen stations on 10/12/15 meters, all domestic except for Eric. All up and down the East Coast, with a few odd ones in the midwest. Ten meters has shown some interesting and exciting propagation lately. FT8 certainly seems to be the mode for making contacts, even on dead-appearing bands.

The cool weather continues here in coastal Virginia. The past couple of mornings, I’ve actually used the heat rather than the A/C on the way to work at 5:30 in the morning.

73 de Dick N4BC