I did a bit of FT8 yesterday evening. I managed one contact on 80M and three on 15M. The other bands were sounding good, but I just couldn’t seem to connect. Not a real dense map either … nothing showing anywhere except North America, and one reception report in Venezuela.
I did have an equipment problem surface, though. My USB hub kept dropping out or resetting. Wiggling the USB-A connector at the laptop duplicated the problem. Over time, with connecting and disconnecting, the plug has gotten worn and is loose. At least, I hope it’s the plug and not the laptop socket that’s worn. I looked for a replacement cord, but the hub end is a USB-B connector … like you find on most printers … sort of a square plug, rather than a rectangular one. Ah well, Amazon Basics … should be here Friday. Love Amazon Prime! The old one is still usable … I just have to make sure I don’t wiggle the cord, though.
I’m looking forward to the loooong Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, conditions will improve a bit. I’ve been reading a bit about Olivia and want to give that a try. Maybe I’ll also have a chance to do some antenna experimenting, too. We’ll see.
Right now, I need to find a plumber. The kitchen sink decided to plug up on Thanksgiving eve, when the kitchen is a beehive of activity. Figures …
Went to our monthly QCWA Chapter meeting (Chapter 119). I really enjoy it when I can be there, because it seems like at age 74, I’m one of the youngest ones there!
Seriously, though, it’s a great group of guys with a lot of ham experience under their belts. Today’s presentation was on downsizing from a large house to a condo, and some practical solutions to antennas in a HOA. The presenter (whose name and call escape me at the moment), has a great sense of humor, and really entertained while passing on some great tips. I just wish I could attend more often, but usually the meetings are on Fridays, not Saturdays, and I’m still a working man.
I worked a bunch of stations on all bands (80 through 10) today. FT8 was the mode, and I guess the furthermost was VK3XQ. I was only running fifteen watts to my trusty vertical, and was quite pleased.
I had that problem pop up again where my output power in WSJT-X dropped to 5 watts and I couldn’t increase it. I fiddled and fiddled with settings and turned knobs and fiddled some more to no avail. Still good power out with FLDIGI and on CW, etc. So, that seemed to be a good time to have dinner. I returned from dinner and lo and behold, everything was back to normal. Windows 10 had just finished its big Fall update earlier in the day, so maybe that had something to do with it? Still an unknown …
I made a few FT-8 contacts on 80 meters, and a few more on 40 and 30, but 20, which is usually pretty good, just wasn’t cooperating with me last night. I tried calling CQ on JT-9 on several bands without any luck. Although I like the speed of FT-8, I like the sensitivity of JT-9 better. It can really pull the signals out of the mud.
Saturday I’m going to the QCWA Chapter 119 luncheon. Twice a year, it’s on my side of Hampton Roads (Newport News vs Virginia Beach). It’s the only time I get to see some of these guys. I’m not sure what the program is about, but it’s usually pretty interesting.
There’s a real chill in the air, now. Fall is officially and truly here. The past couple of mornings, it’s been in the 40’s when I leave for work at 5:30 AM. Used the heat in the house for the first time this season just the other night. Yep … Winter is coming!
It’s been a while since I posted, so I reckon I need to check in to let everyone know I’m still alive. I worked twenty-some stations this afternoon on FT-8. Around 1900Z I could hear signals on all the bands, 80 through 10. Went out to dinner with the wife and when we got back around 7:30 pm, 80-40-30 were pretty good, and twenty was marginal. It felt good to get on again this evening. I haven’t had much spare time for ham radio, and when I did, the bands were terrible.
I got on for a while last night, but didn’t have much luck. I did work a couple of stations on 80 meters, but although 40 and 20 were pretty active on FT8, I just couldn’t buy a contact. I was running 15 watts, but there were some humongous signals on the waterfall. Either they had multi-element beams or were running some serious power.
I tried to connect with a British station /portable on St. Pierre et Miquelon on CW. He was up and down in the noise, but on the peaks he was about S5. No luck there either. Ah, well … I can always talk about “the one that got away.” It’s like fishing … sometimes you get a bite … sometimes you don’t.
I tried a new mode last night … WSPR. Essentially a way of checking propagation. “WSPR implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. Normal transmissions carry a station’s callsign, Maidenhead grid locator, and transmitter power in dBm. The program can decode signals with S/N as low as -28 dB in a 2500 Hz bandwidth. Stations with internet access can automatically upload their reception reports to a central database called WSPRnet, which includes a mapping facility. To see a live version of the map pictured at top right, click here.”
Above you can see the results of my efforts. I was transmitting 5 watts with my 31-foot vertical on 20 meters and 40 meters (mostly 20 meters). It does give you a good idea where you’re being heard.
Got on 80 & 40 last night and worked about 15 stations around 2300/0000. Signals were pretty STRONG … some peaking well above S9. Most of the contacts were East Coast and Midwest. I did hear W6B in LA, but wasn’t able to get in. Eighty meters was the real workhorse, and that’s on my 31-ft vertical … not the most efficient of antennas.
The higher bands were crappy! Twenty was really bad here at my QTH. Usually, in the afternoon when I get home around 1430, there’s a few CW stations going, but all I could hear was the ARRL CW practice transmission and a few stations down in the mud.
Eighty meters was pretty good last night. I worked quite a few stations on FT8 mode … all of them North Americans. FT8 is still crowded, to the detriment of JT9 & JT65. I find it puzzling that JT65 seems to be the preferred mode, since JT9 is more bandwidth-efficient and a more robust mode. I usually don’t see many, if any, JT9 signals on the waterfall, so I resort to calling CQ. Sometimes I get a bite … sometimes I don’t.
I DO see the allure of FT8, though. It’s fast. True fact … JT65 & JT9 are like watching paint dry! But … I like being able to do radio while working on other things that have to get done. Hey … radio is radio … right?
Today is the Virginia Beach Hamfest, but I’ve decided to give it a pass this year. I’ve just got too much going on today that has to be done. I’m filling in for the Pastor at church tomorrow, and need to polish up my sermon and a few other things before then.
It looks like we have dodged the worst of Irma here on the Virginia coast. I really feel bad for Florida, though. This has the potential to devastate a lot of Florida. Our prayers are with the people of that state.