I got an early session on the radio as the sun was rising this morning. The solar conditions were shown as “Poor” and “Unsettled”, but there was some good stuff out there. New Caledonia, Australia, and Japan were all seen on FT8 and were making contacts with US stations. The Mayotte DXPedition (TO6OK) was really strong here on the East Coast on FT8, but there were lots of callers worldwide, and I didn’t luck out, though I really tried. I did work a new one (Belize) on forty meters, so my morning efforts were a success as far as I was concerned.
I’m not lacking stations to work, and my best success seems to be on the lower bands (80, 60, 40, 30). I’m not running anything special here … 30 to 40 watts on digital modes through a LDG tuner to a 31-ft vertical wire, through a 100-ft RG-8X feedline, with a 4-to-1 unun at the base of the antenna, and one 31-ft counterpoise laid on the ground. I get acceptable SWR on all the HF bands except 160. The fiberglass antenna support is fastened to a clothesline support with several pieces of stiff twisted wire. Can’t get much more kludgy than that!
Once again, we met last night for our weekly net. It was a good-sized group, and we had quite a bit of discussion on several topics. We talked about choosing a hotspot frequency … what to avoid, such as national, regional, or local active simplex frequencies, weak signal frequencies, repeater input/output frequencies, satellite uplink/downlink frequencies … and probably some I’ve forgotten. The moral of the story is “don’t use a frequency that somebody else is using.”
We also discussed setting up an groups.io discussion group to keep everybody informed about what’s going on locally. We got a bit of a history lesson on how the 31515 TG came about … who set it up, why it was set up, etc. It was suggested that some of the net members visit local clubs and explain about the weekly nets to increase participation. We already have a few new people checking in most weeks, but the more the merrier!
Finally, we had a check in from Guam! It was an active duty Navy member with ties to this area checking in from KH2-land with his handheld and hotspot. Perfect copy … what a great mode for these propagation doldrums we’re experiencing. He gave us a few details of the recent Typhoon that hit Guam.
We meet Thursday nights at 9 PM Local (Eastern) time on TG 31515. Join us!
The bands suck … right? If you look at the solar conditions, they’re no good, right? Can’t hear anybody, right? Behold …
Those flags represent the stations I heard on FT8, 80 through 17 meters, this evening. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, loads of Europeans, Australia, Oman … what more do you want? Could I work them all? Unfortunately, no. But I worked a bunch … twenty-one of them. With a better antenna … you never know. But they’re THERE … and they’re WORKABLE … by SOMEONE! Might be you! The right time and the right place!
Turn the radio on … don’t sit and complain. They’re there! They’re waiting!
Last night, we had our monthly radio club meeting. We had a good turnout, with some old friends we hadn’t seen for a while, and some new ones. We even picked up a few new members … HOORAY!
Our Treasurer, who has held that position for over fifteen years tendered his resignation as treasurer due to health and family issues, and I was elected to take his place. I’ve really got some big shoes to fill, don’t I?
We had a good meeting, and the presentation was on mobile radio installation. Well done and very interesting. It’s my turn next month, and my tentative subject will be portable operation … Radios in the Wild.
There were ten checkins to the Tidewater 31515 DMR Net this evening. Topics of discussion were the upcoming Virginia Beach Hamfest and IDing on DMR to comply with FCC Regulations … Section 97.119, to be specific. As I’ve said before, it’s more of a casual gathering than a formal net, and it’ll be nice to put some faces to the calls at the hamfest Saturday. I noticed that a couple of new calls showed up as unknown, so I updated the user database in my MD-380. I hadn’t done that for a while.
I also went into my new DStar radio and added some local non-digital simplex channels. The programming in that radio is still a work in progress, but truthfully, with the GPS and built-in repeater database, not much pre-programming is needed for repeater use.