Club Stuff

Club meeting last night! After a dutch-treat dinner, where I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of Brunswick stew, we all met in the Community Room at police headquarters for our monthly meeting.

This was one of the better ones. We had a couple of prospective members attend (Bill and Phil) , and lots of interesting discussion about lots of different things.

Lots of discussion on our repeater woes. We’re still looking for a site since we lost our previous site, and several new leads were proposed. We also talked about this year’s upcoming Field Day, digital radio systems, public service, 60 meter operation, and several other subjects of interest. Lots of information shared made for a great, fun meeting.


I got on the bands last night to see what was happening on FT8, and 40 meters was really busy. I tried replying to several station, but either they couldn’t hear me or were ignoring me. I ended up working one station in California that was a repeat contact. Eighty meters had a few stations, but no luck there either. Just a bummer of an evening.

I fired up the DMR rig and hotspot and talked to a couple of guys … one in Yorkshire, England, and another in Malta, and had a pleasant chat with them. That’s a great medium for ragchewing. Crystal clear most of the time … world-wide.

Well, that should hold me for this morning. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight … not sure what the program is. I should be able to hit the local DMR repeater from our meeting location (which I can’t do from home, thus the reliance on a hotspot). Maybe I can demo some DMR to a bunch of D-Star folks!

73 de Dick N4BC

FrostFest 2018

FrostFest was last Saturday, so I made my annual trek to Richmond to attend. It was clear, but cold, and waiting in the line outdoors to enter was not pleasant for me. I was bundled up in a heavy coat, and I was amazed at the people standing with me in just a T-shirt and seemingly comfortable!

The first thing I noticed was that the layout in the exhibition hall was different this year. All of the empty space was moved to the center aisle, making it a wide expanse and much easier to navigate than prior years. I was told the real reason was to allow less chaos with vendor vehicles coming in to offload equipment … evidently in prior years, navigating the narrower aisles was not pleasant.

One consequence of the wide open center of the hall was that it gave the impression of a smaller crowd this year. I read that the organizers have unofficially said that this year’s crowd was the largest yet. We’ll have to wait for the final count, I guess.

The only significant manufacturer there was Elecraft, but there were lot of second-tier vendors there, and LOTS of “tail-gate” individuals with tables. There was much nostalgic equipment there, and I did see quite a few “boat anchors” being carried out to waiting vehicles.

I spent most of the day attending the forums … DMR, Puerto Rico recap, ARRL, SkyWarn, and I did wander the sales floor several times, too. I actually didn’t buy anything this trip … my big purchase for the winter was a new IC-7300 on  Black Friday last year. I was looking for a shielded USB A-B cable, but didn’t see any, so I ordered one from Amazon when I got home.

It was a pleasant day, and worth the trip. I did take some things away from the forums, and I reconnected with several friends and acquaintances that I only see here every year at FrostFest. My congratulations to RATS (Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society), the club that puts all this together and coordinates this. Well done!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Early Operating Impressions for the IC-7300

Oh, man … this is one smooth rig. Now I’m asking myself why I didn’t buy one of these IC-7300s months (or years) ago. I’ve gotten a bit of cockpit time on it and I am impressed. I’m sitting here reading the mail on some 40-meter SSB nets this evening, and between the PBT, Notch, RF Gain, Noise Reduction, and BP filters, I can tune out pretty much most interference and heterodynes.

Earlier, I was doing some digital operations, and it’s just so effortless. One cable – USB-A to USB-B. Setup was easy … plenty of documents and YouTube videos to help you along. G3NRW has a resource page with loads of information. Click on his callsign to visit.

The audio is superb. It’s pleasant to listen to and not tiring at all. I’ve been listening to SSB nets this afternoon while doing some other tasks in the shack, and I’m not irritated yet!

Tuesday evening is our club Holiday party. We’ll be having dinner along with one of the other clubs in the area. Unfortunately, it takes two clubs to muster up enough manpower to come up with sufficient numbers to reserve a banquet room at the restaurant these days.

More later!

73 de Dick N4BC

There it is again …

I had that problem pop up again where my output power in WSJT-X dropped to 5 watts and I couldn’t increase it. I fiddled and fiddled with settings and turned knobs and fiddled some more to no avail. Still good power out with FLDIGI and on CW, etc. So, that seemed to be a good time to have dinner. I returned from dinner and lo and behold, everything was back to normal. Windows 10 had just finished its big Fall update earlier in the day, so maybe that had something to do with it? Still an unknown …

I made a few FT-8 contacts on 80 meters, and a few more on 40 and 30, but 20, which is usually pretty good, just wasn’t cooperating with me last night. I tried calling CQ on JT-9 on several bands without any luck. Although I like the speed of FT-8, I like the sensitivity of JT-9 better. It can really pull the signals out of the mud.

Saturday I’m going to the QCWA Chapter 119 luncheon. Twice a year, it’s on my side of Hampton Roads (Newport News vs Virginia Beach). It’s the only time I get to see some of these guys. I’m not sure what the program is about, but it’s usually pretty interesting.

There’s a real chill in the air, now. Fall is officially and truly here. The past couple of mornings, it’s been in the 40’s when I leave for work at 5:30 AM. Used the heat in the house for the first time this season just the other night. Yep … Winter is coming!

73 de Dick N4BC