Ah, yes … I remember being in school and sweating bullets trying to understand and use Smith Charts. Plotting and drawing lines … HATED IT!
Last night, at our monthly club meeting, we were introduced to an elegant solution to my aversion … SimSmith by Ward Harriman AE6TY. It’s a Smith Chart software tool that is really impressive … and FREE!
I won’t go into more explanation here, other than to say his website also refers you to numerous videos and writings that explain its uses and and its operation. Check it out (using the link above) if you have any curiosity or any need for Smith Charts.
Oh, I forgot to mention it, but I won a drawing for a Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet Mini. Bob Plank, KK4DIV, had a drawing to celebrate reaching 1000 YouTube subscribers. My name came out of the hat (literally!). Gonna have to do something mobile with it. Check out Bob’s channel … he’s got some interesting stuff.
This morning when I went out to the truck to leave for work at about 0530, it was in the low 30’s and I had a nice coating of ice on the windows. We didn’t even have a chance to do frost first … directly to ice! My trusty spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and water did the job, though. Take that, ice!!
I did a bit of FT8 yesterday evening. I managed one contact on 80M and three on 15M. The other bands were sounding good, but I just couldn’t seem to connect. Not a real dense map either … nothing showing anywhere except North America, and one reception report in Venezuela.
I did have an equipment problem surface, though. My USB hub kept dropping out or resetting. Wiggling the USB-A connector at the laptop duplicated the problem. Over time, with connecting and disconnecting, the plug has gotten worn and is loose. At least, I hope it’s the plug and not the laptop socket that’s worn. I looked for a replacement cord, but the hub end is a USB-B connector … like you find on most printers … sort of a square plug, rather than a rectangular one. Ah well, Amazon Basics … should be here Friday. Love Amazon Prime! The old one is still usable … I just have to make sure I don’t wiggle the cord, though.
I’m looking forward to the loooong Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, conditions will improve a bit. I’ve been reading a bit about Olivia and want to give that a try. Maybe I’ll also have a chance to do some antenna experimenting, too. We’ll see.
Right now, I need to find a plumber. The kitchen sink decided to plug up on Thanksgiving eve, when the kitchen is a beehive of activity. Figures …
Went to our monthly QCWA Chapter meeting (Chapter 119). I really enjoy it when I can be there, because it seems like at age 74, I’m one of the youngest ones there!
Seriously, though, it’s a great group of guys with a lot of ham experience under their belts. Today’s presentation was on downsizing from a large house to a condo, and some practical solutions to antennas in a HOA. The presenter (whose name and call escape me at the moment), has a great sense of humor, and really entertained while passing on some great tips. I just wish I could attend more often, but usually the meetings are on Fridays, not Saturdays, and I’m still a working man.
I worked a bunch of stations on all bands (80 through 10) today. FT8 was the mode, and I guess the furthermost was VK3XQ. I was only running fifteen watts to my trusty vertical, and was quite pleased.
I tried a new mode last night … WSPR. Essentially a way of checking propagation. “WSPR implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. Normal transmissions carry a station’s callsign, Maidenhead grid locator, and transmitter power in dBm. The program can decode signals with S/N as low as -28 dB in a 2500 Hz bandwidth. Stations with internet access can automatically upload their reception reports to a central database called WSPRnet, which includes a mapping facility. To see a live version of the map pictured at top right, click here.”
Above you can see the results of my efforts. I was transmitting 5 watts with my 31-foot vertical on 20 meters and 40 meters (mostly 20 meters). It does give you a good idea where you’re being heard.