It’s been a week or two since I last posted. Life got a bit chaotic. A very dear friend was killed in a tragic industrial accident, and ham radio and blogging had to take a back seat.
There’s not actually much to report about. I’ve only been on the air a couple of times during this period, and those were mostly FT4/8 contacts. I don’t think the bands have been too stellar this past week.
I did spend a bit of money on radio things. I bought a yellow reflective vest for when I assist with public service events. I know … I know. Stereotypical self-important ham prepper, right? Actually, it does help with visibility if someone needs to locate you quickly during the event.
I also ordered a new toy. It’s supposed to be here around the 9th of September. I’ve read several blog posts and seen several YouTube videos about this low-cost vector network analyzer that piqued my interest. Less than fifty bucks on eBay.
It covers 50 KHz to 900 MHz … does Smith Chart and antenna analyzer functions … and more. It’s about the size of a credit card, but maybe 5/8-inch thick. I’m going to enjoy playing with it, I think.
I just signed up for my next public service event. It’s a marathon, a 50K, and a marathon/50K relay run simultaneously. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’ll be a bit cooler then … October 13th. The race is so long, we’ll be covering it in two shifts.
Well, that’s about all I have to report. Catch ya’ later!
This afternoon, I downloaded the new version of WSJT-X ver. 2.1.0, and gave the new FT4 mode a try. What can I say? Fast!! Here’s an excerpt of my log …
Some will say, “That’s not REAL ham radio … It’s computers talkin’ to each other.” And you know, that’s partially right. BUT … it’s another tool that’s available to use where needed. And we all know you can NEVER have too many tools, right?
To each his own. It’s there … it’s available … if you like it, use it … if you don’t like it, don’t use it. I see it primarily useful as a contest or Field Day mode (and there are those that would argue with me about that). So be it!
I sat down this evening and calculated my percentage of QSOs confirmed in LOTW. It’s surprisingly high … 70.28 percent! That’s a pretty good return on investment 🙂 .
I think a lot of that can be attributed to digital confirmations. The software used for the digital modes will usually interface with logging programs to automatically upload QSOs to LOTW. I use the combo of WSJTX, JTAlert, and DxLab/DXKeeper. All seamless.
I just got in from Choir Practice, and had to drive home through a thunderstorm. So much for getting in some operating before bedtime 🙁 .
Even though the bands were a bit crappy, I worked a new one this evening … S92HP in Sao Tome and Principe, on 60 Meter FT8. Of course, it’s not confirmed yet 😀 .
I tried to find some of the spotted POTA activations, but no joy! Twenty and forty were not cooperative. Once again, I could hear hunters working them, but the activators were down in the hash. Forty had a constant S5 noise level with static crashes over S9. Rough conditions!
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.