Thoughts on the Hobby

I worked a few FT8 contacts this morning … around 6 AM … and decided to check out their bios on Most had more than the stock entry of name, address, and FCC info.

One thing I noticed about most of them is that their station pictures all showed computers … most with multiple monitors. That really emphasized to me just how much the hobby has changed (and benefitted) from technology.

My computer basically controls most aspects of my operating. Logging, equipment control, instant information … all are under computer control. With the touch of a key, I can pull up your QRZ page and get a pretty good idea of who you are and how you operate.

BUT … more importantly … I can still operate without all that stuff, if necessary. I can fling a wire up into a tree and be working stations on battery power with a moment’s notice.

The technology has advanced the hobby immensely, but the roots are still there. The naysayers preach that we are irrelevant in today’s world. BUT, as has so often been demonstrated, all those sophisticated systems have many points of failure, and WE have been the only means of communication.

Sure, we’re not needed as often as we were in the past, but when all else fails, we’re still here.

73 de Dick N4BC


I upgraded to the latest revision of Windows 10 last night. Everything went well, and all seems to be working well. The upgrade took a significant amount of time, but I could have continued to work while the install went on in the background.

I also upgraded WSJT-X to the latest version 2.2.1. That too was painless and no issues noted.

Tonight is our monthly radio club meeting on our repeater. We also do a monthly meeting via ZOOM, but this is for those that don’t use computers. In any case, it’s a nice monthly net and actually gets people to use the repeater.

That’s a rare act nowadays.

73 de Dick N4BC

QSL Percentages (Redux)

I just did a quick calculation of QSLs received versus total QSOs and the answer is an almost unbelievable 71.6% in LOTW and 80.4% in QRZ. This is based on QSOs since 2013. Even when I was a rare DX operator, I never approached this. LOTW has done a lot to increase QSL returns, as has computer logging that automatically uploads to the various QSL sites. I really don’t chase awards any more, but it’s nice to see how things are going, even if I’m not really using the data.

73 de Dick N4BC

Boot Drive Swap

I swapped out the boot drive in my laptop today. The old drive was a 1 terabyte Western Digital Blue mechanical drive (HDD) and the new drive was a Western Digital 1 terabyte Blue Solid State Drive (SSD).

What a difference! Running a benchmark speed program on both drives, the SSD is over five times faster on both read and write. That’s an impressive number and it’s even more impressive watching how fast things happen. I’m a believer!

Using Macrium Reflect, the drive took 2 hours to clone. Removal of the old drive and installation of the new drive took about fifteen minutes. The hardest part of the job was opening the pop-apart bottom of the Dell Inspiron 5588. I’ve got some special tools that made it easier, though.

The only disadvantage so far, is that my wife wants me to update her laptop now. That’ll be a bit more complicated since she’s still running Windows 8 and I’ll want to upgrade that to Windows 10 for her.

73 de Dick N4BC

Digital Stuff

Let’s try this again … I was just putting the finishing touches on this and I don’t know what I did, but everything vanished … and I couldn’t find any of the drafts. So it’s back to the beginning …

I was looking back through my logbook and noticed that the last time I worked PSK-31 was six years ago! I’ve been cranking out FT, JT, SSB, CW, and even some contest RTTY, and neglecting bunches of those other modes.

So I decided to remedy this oversight. I spent the day updating software (FLDIGI), going through the menus and updating entries, rewriting macros, reading the new documentation, and watching YouTube videos. I must say, FLDIGI has had some nice updates in the past few years, but basically, it’s pretty much the same to operate. I saw Olivia, Throb, PSK, Domino, and several other modes I couldn’t ID. I wish everyone would use Reed-Solomon ID on their signals.

I spent a while this evening “reading the mail”… just observing how other operators are doing things nowadays. Pretty much the same … one old guy was cataloging his aches and pains and medical issues, but there were some interesting conversations, too. It’s going to take some getting used to … actually conversing with people again! LOL!

I’ve also ordered a new solid-state drive (SSD) to upgrade my laptop. It’s not as fast as it used to be, but I figure that a SSD will boost the speed considerably … especially on boot and on disk-intensive programs. Hey, it’s cheaper than a new laptop. I picked up a 1 TB WD Blue SSD for $120. Amazon is a bit slower shipping nowadays with the COVID-19 issues, but everything is supposed to be here by May 3rd. Then I’ll clone the HDD and swap the SSD with it.

We had some pretty scary thunderstorms come through earlier in the evening. Thunder, lightning, wind, and rain.

That’s all from the quarantine hut for this evening. Catch you later!

73 de Dick N4BC