The End Approaches …

The end of the year, that is. It’s been a mixed year for me … both high and low points, radio-wise. There seems to have been a steady decline in propagation conditions. But … in spite of that … I’ve made a LOT of contacts. The total count of QSOs would be a LOT smaller if not for digital modes … primarily FT4 and FT8.

I have noticed a real decline in the number of Parks on the Air QSOs as the year has progressed. I see numerous activations spotted, and can’t even tell that there is a station there. Single sideband contacts have decreased. However … I’ve had more CW POTA contacts.

Hopefully, your year has gone well. If not, well … 2020 is just around the corner … a new start. Wishing everyone the best for a great upcoming year!

73 de Dick N4BC

This time of year …

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!

73 de Dick N4BC

Random Thoughts

It’s a beautiful day outside … sunshine, but a little chilly (41 deg F) and breezy. The prior couple of days have been wet and cold. The folks north of us have been “blessed” with a major winter storm. I don’t envy them!

Tonight is our annual Radio club Holiday Banquet. This year it’s a potluck with the clubs (PARC and SPARK) supplying the fried chicken and all us attendees bringing a side dish or dessert. Last year’s party was mass confusion due to a mix up about the restaurant reservations. This year it was decided to have a self-catered meal.

I was off work all last week. As usual I had a list of things to accomplish and never got around to any of the items. There were lots of POTA activations, but most were not even copyable at my QTH. I could hear hunters giving them reports, but for me … NADA! I did work a few, and my unique park count is now up to 216.

I’ve been concentrating on the FT4/8 modes and had reasonable success with contacts there. JS8 has upgraded to version 2.0 with some new features, so I’ve been looking at that mode a bit harder. Then too, I’ve been playing with my new RSP-1A SDR receiver. It’s fascinating tuning through the shortwave bands and listening to what’s there.

I’ve also been working on a few FEMA certifications. They’re not only applicable for my job, but also for ham radio stuff like SKYWARN and ARES. I had completed most of them years ago, but couldn’t confirm it, so I’ve been working my way through the training and tests again.

73 de Dick N4BC

D’oooh!

I fired up WSJT-X to work some FT-x yesterday … calling CQ … several replies, but the software wasn’t responding. Couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I saw it … the Call 1st button was not selected! I never uncheck that button … it unchecked itself! WSJT-X will never automatically reply to a call if that’s not checked.

Remember, boys and girls … if something isn’t working right, check your settings! Sometimes the application or Windows just changes things to test you 🙂 ! Be vigilant!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Playtime!

I received the SDRPlay RSP1A yesterday evening, and spent the evening getting familiar with the SDRuno software. It’s pretty complex, but allows you to interact with nearly any parameter in the receiver. So powerful!

My first hurdle to overcome was finding a USB 2.0 A-B cable. I was sure I had one in my magic tub of tangled cables, but I couldn’t find it there. I ended up “borrowing” the cable from my CW keyer. I checked Best Buy and they wanted anywhere from thirty-five to two hundred dollars for one! Must have been solid gold (including the insulation)! Amazon had one with ferrite beads for around eight dollars and it was one day delivery! Guess which one I bought?

Anyhow, using the “borrowed” cable and referring to websites and to YouTube, I got everything up and running just fine. I was listening to everything from AM broadcast to 70 centimeters. Lots of neat stuff.

It was a timely arrival, too. I had gotten on the air after work and tried to work some POTA stations and some FT4/FT8, but no luck with either. The parks stations were all down in the mud and few and far between. I think the nasty weather kept a lot of them at home. The FT stations … not sure what was going on there. I could copy them well, but they just weren’t answering. The time offset was good … I was within about 0.1 second on most of them. Just one of those things, I guess. It gave me more time to play with my new toy!

73 de Dick N4BC