What’s New?

I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything.

I’ve been chasing Parks on the Air (as usual), and having some success with the improved solar conditions, but my main emphasis since the 1st of the month has been the 13 Colonies Special Event. So far, I have ten of the original 13 in my log, and still trying to break the pileups on the last three. There are three bonus stations, and I have WM3PEN in the books, but not the overseas two. I’ve worked them where I found them … 80M, 40M, and 20M … and on several modes … CW, FT4, and FT8. Surprisingly, none on SSB so far. The phone pileups are chaotic.

Six meters has been having some nice openings, too. All up and down the East coast from here … the farthest contacts have been into Canada, Cuba, and Bermuda. The majority of those contacts have been on FT8.

Our VHF repeater (W4MT) has been up and running for several weeks now, after having some problems passing audio (knock on wood 🙂 ). We never identified the cause, but the problems were coincident with HVAC problems … the drain on the wall unit was plugged and the condensation was running out onto the floor inside instead of outside. Everything was still cool. We unclogged the drain line, and I wonder if the high humidity had something to do with the issues we were having?

It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be just a rain event here in coastal Virginia. We’ve still got our eye on its progress, but hopefully it’ll just be wet! We’ll surely see some coastal flooding, but we get that with any big rain event.

73 de Dick N4BC

Miscelleney …

The repeater antenna has been repositioned and braced against excessive sway, and all repeater operations are back to normal. If you recall, high winds had blown the antenna into the tower and one of the elements had hung on the tower structure.

Six meters FT4 and FT8 were busy this afternoon. Seems like Cycle 25 is heating up

I picked up a new “Pocket Portable” iambic key from CWMORSE this week. It’s 3D printed and is really nice quality. I’m looking forward to getting out into the field with it soon.

Field day is coming up soon. Our club, in concert with several others, is mounting a combined operation, as we have in past years. Hopefully, it’ll be a great event.

73 de Dick N4BC

Rough Weekend

This past weekend was pretty rough, propagation-wise. Here at the QTH, noise levels were quite high, and the bands seemed to be sparsely populated.

I checked the POTA spotting page and there must have been ten or fifteen activators listed, and I literally could not hear a one! Either the noise covered their signals, or I just couldn’t even discern that there WAS a signal. I gather that there was some sort of solar storm, and I noted that the sunspot number was down to zero again.

No luck! Except for the digital modes, that is! It was easy to work loads of FT-mode stations, pretty much on demand. It seems that there’re always FT QSOs to be had.

Well, every day is a new day! If you don’t like the weather today (space or terrestrial), wait until tomorrow 😀 .

73 de Dick N4BC

A Good Morning

I got up this morning, logged into work from home, grabbed a cup of coffee, and turned on the radio to see what was brewing on FT4/8. Here’s a couple of interesting ones:

Hawaii – 60 Meters
Kazakhstan – 20 Meters

The Kazakhstan contact (UN7LZ) was an ATNO for me. KH6AP was a new one on 60 Meters.

The bands were in surprisingly good shape. I also saw Fiji and China represented, but they were pretty weak and couldn’t hear me. All in all, I worked about 10 stations on 20, 30, 40, and 60 Meters between 7 and 8 EDT before I reluctantly decided to do some real work at my real job 😀 .

73 de Dick N4BC

Interesting Times

The old Chinese proverb supposedly says, “May you live in interesting times.” True dat! I’ve been self-isolating at home and working from home for about three weeks now, and still hanging in there. The Governor has extended the stay-at-home order for another two weeks, so it looks like I’ll be here a bit longer.

I had lots of projects that I wanted to do, but it seems that I just can’t get started on anything. I don’t know if it’s because of a bit of depression … or just plain old laziness.

I did decide to change my logging program though. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but I finally (after years of use) decided that it was just overly complex for my needs. I decided to go with something simpler … N3FJP’s Amateur Contact Log. I’ve installed it and have been using it for a few days now and am well pleased. I’m trying it during a 45-day trial period, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up purchasing it.

I worked 30 stations yesterday evening and this morning (FT modes) … mostly on 40, 30, or 20 meters, and mostly US stations. Signal strengths were good, and although crowded, there was room to squeeze into an empty spot.

Our Club, the Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, has decided to have a meeting next month. With the social distancing in force, we’ve decided to do it as a net on one of the local repeaters. The problem is identifying a repeater that everyone can hit reliably. Our club repeater is still down. Our plans to get it on a new tower and on the air have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.

73 de Dick N4BC