Christmas is nearly upon us, and I am so far behind the power curve that I will never pull out of my descent! This is a particularly hectic time of year, and there are never enough days to fit all the activities into. Parties, shopping, church … all demand their slice of time. I’m off all Christmas week, so maybe I can play catch up on some of the things I slacked on.
I haven’t been on the air for a while (because, see above). This morning I flipped on the rig and worked some FT4/FT8. One of the FT8 QSOs was on 20 meters with VE1GPY, who was activating a Canadian park. That’s only my second FT8 POTA contact. I also worked ol’ reliable N4CD on 20 meter CW for another park contact this morning. Most of my QSOs this morning were on forty and sixty meters.
Yesterday, there was a huge pileup on I-64 near here. Fog and freezing temperatures caused a 70-car junkpile. I lived in Southern California for years, near the coast, and I know you can’t drive the posted speed limit in the fog. The problem is, stupid drivers behind you don’t follow that rule and have a tendency to run over you. At least we didn’t have to worry about fog freezing on the bridges in San Diego County!
This is a screenshot of the forty meter band during the CQ Worldwide CW contest last weekend, Sunday afternoon. For those bemoaning the fact that there’s no activity on the bands … VOILA!!! Just get on and call CQ. Someone … somewhere … will hear you!
Just a quick update of my POTA status. As of today, I have 213 total confirmed contacts with parks; 178 of those are unique parks. The difference is duplicates, different modes, and different bands.
Looking at the stats, the majority of my contacts are SSB, but CW contacts are a significant minority. I’d love to do more CW, but the majority of activators operate SSB, and you have to work ’em where you find ’em. Most are on 40 meters, with 20 meters the second most common.
Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.
The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.
I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …
Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.
More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!
Afternoons and evenings, the noise on 40 meters has been terrible here at the ole’ homestead. Lots of hash and static crashes from weather-related phenomena. Of course, this is prime park-hunting time. It’s frustrating to hear stations working the activators and not hear those activators. You can tell they’re there … you can occasionally hear them rise above the noise for a moment … and then they dive back down into the noise. I could probably fake my way through a contest-style QSO … signal report, QTH, and 73 … but that’s almost like cheating if I’m not sure what they’re saying … if I have to guess.
CW’s a bit better. In the past couple of days, I’ve worked NK8O and WB8ERJ, and they had great, readable signals … hey, CW is like SSB with an amp! Digital and CW are certainly the way to go when conditions suck!
Even when you can copy with lots of difficulty … the old ears ain’t what they used to be … the noise and crashes are really fatiguing. You can’t keep it up for long. In the afternoons, after work, I like to listen and monitor the spots while working on other stuff at my desk … it gets irritating fast. It’s summertime!
Late evenings and nighttime are better, but unless they’re camping, most of the POTA guys have packed up and gone home. Parks being what they are, they close at sundown unless you’re registered and camping … nature of the beast.