This weekend was the CQ WW WPX Test, CW. As you can see, the bands were pretty busy …

20 Meter Band on Saturday
40 Meter Band, 45 minutes prior to end of the contest.

Imagine if it was like that every day!

I dabbled a bit and worked 80-some stations over the two days. I also took breaks and worked a few FT-8 contacts, too. Not in it seriously, but just keeping my CW hand in.

This was the first time I’ve hit the CW heavily with the IC-7300 in a major contest, though, and I’m really impressed. It is a real pleasure to work CW with this rig.  I never experienced any overload, even though the bands were booming. The filters are superb, and I could pull out just about any station I tried. Judicious use of the RF gain is the secret!

The only problem that I didn’t resolve was with the N1MM+ logger … I could not get the Telnet working for the packet cluster. It worked the last time I used it … not this time though. Telnet works fine with SpotCollecter in DXLab, so I dunno?

An observation … although they were there, the 50 wpm ops seemed to be fewer. There were lots more stations sending at an easily copyable 25 – 30 wpm.

There were good signals on 80 through 10 this weekend. I checked six meters several times, but if there was an opening, I missed it. Not only good signals, but some good ops, too. It was a pleasure to participate.

My setup was the IC-7300 with 31-foot homebrew vertical and an LDG AT-100ProII tuner. Nothing special. I was hearing North America and South America and the Caribbean pretty well, but Europe was pretty sparse, propagation-wise (for me). Nothing at all out of Asia or Africa.

There was some pretty violent wind, rain, and lightning on Saturday night, but I’d already pulled the switch and gone to bed. Didn’t bother me a bit.

So … now the contest is over, and the bands are back to normal. See the picture above? I just checked, ten minutes after the end of the contest, and there are only five or six CW signals visible on my 40-meter spectrum scope … . What a difference forty-five minutes makes!

Field day is coming up next month. I guess that’ll be the next big thing I’m involved with. I’m looking forward to it!

73 de Dick N4BC


Bands Not Noteworthy, However …

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.

73 de Dick N4BC

Miracle Drug

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.

73 de Dick N4BC

60 Meters and upgrades

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!

73 de Dick N4BC

Casual Evening

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.

73 de Dick N4BC