Chasin’ Parks

Saturday I got up early and tried some 20 meter FT8 … man, I couldn’t BUY a QSO. There were lots of stations calling CQ, and some neat ones, too … Africans and Indonesians … and at decent signal strength, too. No dice! I gave up and read a book!

I’ve had a pretty good Sunday afternoon chasing Parks on the Air contacts … today I contacted eight ten parks, some CW and some SSB. Four of the parks were with Sean, KX9X, who was running around Connecticut and activating State Parks. Others were in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Texas. Most were not easy contacts … the QSB and noise has been BRUTAL today, with signals dropping from 59 (599) down to unreadable … or should I say undetectable! BUT … it’s been fun and challenging!

I should have been outside today. It was a beautiful day here today, with temperatures in the high 60’s F, and sunny. I really need to get a head start on yard work this spring. Tomorrow it’s back to work … the GRIND … and no time to play radio during the day. It’s that time of year where the temperatures can be up in the 70’s one day and down in the 40’s the next. And POLLEN! I woke up this morning and couldn’t open my eyes. Hate allergies!

73 de Dick N4BC

Low Bands

Last night was a good night on the lower bands … 80, 60, 40 meters. I had 22 QSOs, mostly on 80 meters, and mostly FT8. There were two CW QSOs mixed in there. I worked VP9/AA1AC in Bermuda on 40 meters and VP2MKG in Montserrat on 80 meters. Both had moderate pileups going, working split, and I got them on the first call. The VP2 was a new country for me with my N4BC callsign. I think I’m up to 95 confirmed with that newer callsign.

80 meters stations that heard me
40 meters stations that heard me

The low bands seem to be the place to be during the solar minimum. I was decoding stations all over the world … Asia, the Americas, Europe … they’re out there! I don’t have a superstation, either. I’m running 100 watts to a 31-foot homebrew vertical. Not a model of efficiency. My tuner is working overtime! But it works!!

I guess the moral of this story is … put a signal out there. Get some wire in the sky. You won’t catch any fish unless you get a line in the water. Good fishing!!!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Downtime …

I had planned to jump into the NAQP this past weekend … I really did! But … for some reason I just couldn’t seem to get up the gumption to press the rig’s ON button. I had a severe case of the blahs this last weekend. I spent most of the day Saturday reading and watching a couple of movies, and took a nap! No apologies … it felt good to veg out a bit. Outside it was rainy and at times a wintry mix … just a nasty day to leave the house.

My wife’s birthday was earlier in the week, and our son took us all out to dinner on Sunday evening at a popular smokehouse in the area. I decided to splurge and order prime rib … that was a mistake! That was one of the toughest slabs of meat I’ve come across in quite a while. It tasted great, but I had a sore jaw from all the chewing. Oh well, it was a nice family get-together. Too few of those nowadays.

Last night was a bit lackluster for FT8. I made a few stateside contacts, but things were pretty sparse. I did try to catch the 9L1 in Sierra Leone on CW, but he had quite a pileup going and I was not a lottery winner! Good operator at the key, though … he was owning that pileup!

73 de Dick N4BC

NAQP CW

Just a reminder that the North American QSO Party (NAQP CW) is this coming weekend. The rules can be found here. If you’re a contester, jump right in … if you’re not, it’s still fun. The exchange is your name and location. It’s a good way to pick up whatever you’re looking for — states, countries, grids … whatever!

73 de Dick N4BC

The Aftermath …

It’s always interesting to get on the bands on the Monday after a big contest, and last evening was no different. The FT8 crowd was there … 80, 60, & 40 were full of FT8 signals … 20 and above were dead here. CW was a far second place …

BUT, the interesting thing …

I could not find a single RTTY signal, anywhere. Just the evening before, it was wall-to-wall RTTY with the ARRL RTTY Roundup going on. I don’t know if they were all burned out or if they only fired up that mode during contests. I suspect some of both!

I dove in and worked a bunch of North American FT8 QSOs, with some Caribbean islands thrown in for good measure. I also worked a few CW contacts as well. Had some enjoyable chats there. I try to pick the best-sounding fists. I’m getting too old to try and parse poorly sent, poorly spaced CW. Running words and letters together is NOT GOOD!

Sorry for my mini-rant there … have a good week and get on the air! Enjoy!!

73 de Dick N4BC