Conditions were really nice this evening. Plenty of action on FT8, CW, and SSB on 40, 30, & 20 meters. Lots of Thirteen Colonies stations active. I think I worked about seven unique stations, and several of those on multiple bands and modes. I probably would have worked a few more, but there were some pretty active thunderstorms on and off all evening, so I pulled the plug several times. I think there’s another day of activity left, so maybe I’ll see if I can get all thirteen in the log … probably not, though. No big deal if I don’t!
The storms played havoc with my barbecuing plans for dinner, too. The chicken went into the oven instead of onto the grill. Not a good idea to be outside waving a set of metal tongs around in a thunderstorm. I can remember being at a transmitter site when lightning hit the tower … it took a while before my heart rate calmed down. The fiberglass antenna cover for the antenna that was struck looked like a burned, peeled banana. That definitely increased my respect for Mother Nature.
Oh … I calculated my ten-digit grid square (don’t know why, other than just for the heck of it). In case you care, it’s FM17SB46MH. I think that puts you in the middle of my living room. Can’t be too accurate … HA!
Last night was pretty active on the bands. The lower bands were pretty noisy, but conditions were good on the higher frequencies. I could hear a lot on six meters, but my vertical just won’t load properly there. I’m going to at least put up a dipole for six this week.
As you can see, there were contacts to be had for the picking. I definitely stayed busy. I was sort of keeping an eye (ear?) out for the Baker Island DXPedition, since they were working FT8. I did see stateside stations calling them in Fox/Hound mode, but never saw any of the DXPedition’s transmissions on my screen.
Everyone laments that “the bands are dead … Woe is me!”, but as you can see, they’re there. As an example, twelve meters … there was not a single signal in the FT8 portion of the band when I checked. So, I said “What the heck … let’s try a CQ and see what happens.” It took several CQs, in fact, but eventually I had a mini-pileup going … two or three stations coming back to me on top of each other. Dick’s sage advice #1 — “If you’re gonna’ catch fish, you gotta’ put a line in the water.” Everybody listening = no QSOs!
So, the moral of the story is … put a signal on the air! Fling yourself out there! “CQ, CQ, CQ … This is <you fill in the blank>”. Be BRAVE! Any mode … Any band. JUST DO IT!!!!
WOW … 529 visitors yesterday. I don’t know where you guys are coming from, but thanks for stopping by to read my incoherent ramblings!
Ya’ know, I’ve been hauling around several hamstick antennas buried behind the seat in my truck, and have never really used them. I’ve got a mag mount to plop on top of the truck cab, but usually when operating portable, I set up an antenna of some sort away from the vehicle. I actually don’t even remember whether the hamsticks are tuned for SSB or CW, it’s been so long since they were used.
So … my project for today is to dust them off and tune them using my MINI-60 analyzer, so I can start doing my lunchtime ops again from the parking lot.
What triggered this flurry of activity was that I picked up a six meter hamstick at a yard sale. Six has been pretty active lately, so I want to get this antenna tuned up and useful. If I’m gonna’ do one, I might as well do all of them … right? I’m also going to LABEL them with the tuned frequency.
I realize that these are not high-gain, super-efficient antennas, but you know what? They’re better than no antenna. AND … they’re unobtrusive and easy to deploy during a short lunch break in the parking lot behind the shop. If I make it easy, maybe I’ll do more operating there.
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.