I had planned to jump into the NAQP this past weekend … I really did! But … for some reason I just couldn’t seem to get up the gumption to press the rig’s ON button. I had a severe case of the blahs this last weekend. I spent most of the day Saturday reading and watching a couple of movies, and took a nap! No apologies … it felt good to veg out a bit. Outside it was rainy and at times a wintry mix … just a nasty day to leave the house.
My wife’s birthday was earlier in the week, and our son took us all out to dinner on Sunday evening at a popular smokehouse in the area. I decided to splurge and order prime rib … that was a mistake! That was one of the toughest slabs of meat I’ve come across in quite a while. It tasted great, but I had a sore jaw from all the chewing. Oh well, it was a nice family get-together. Too few of those nowadays.
Last night was a bit lackluster for FT8. I made a few stateside contacts, but things were pretty sparse. I did try to catch the 9L1 in Sierra Leone on CW, but he had quite a pileup going and I was not a lottery winner! Good operator at the key, though … he was owning that pileup!
Not technically … we’re talking about 15 watts, not 5 watts, but we’re also talking about abound four billion miles away, too. The New Horizons Ultima Thule flyby just happened, and pictures and data are now being sent back to Earth. It was launched around 13 years ago. We live in wonderful times!
Even more amazing was that Voyager 1 was still communicating with the Earth in 2012 after thirty-some years in space and a at distance of more than 10 billion miles away. Awesome!
I had a good evening on sixty meters FT8. It’s been raining all day, so I camped out in the shack and got some operating time in. I worked England, The Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada, and, of course, the good ol’ U S of A. Signals were good. FT8 is primarily found on 5357.0. There’s lots of activity, and sometimes you find real gems there.
That’s not bad for what I’m using as an antenna. I’ve got a 31-foot piece of wire wire-tied to a fiberglass mast with a 4:1 UNUN, fed by 50 watts through a LDG tuner and 100-feet of RG-8X. I’ve got one radial on the ground of indeterminate length. Definitely non-resonant and non-directional. BUT … it works! If you can’t have an elaborate, expensive antenna … just get some wire into the air. ANY antenna is better than NO antenna!
It was a pretty good Friday at work, actually. We had out Shop Holiday Party and the boss paid for everybody’s lunch. It was a a buffet restaurant, and I subsequently fell into a food coma! Honestly, I always eat too much when it’s laid out like that. Anyway, we were given the afternoon off afterwards, so I went home and immediately took a nap to sleep off the food overdose!
Later on, I woke up and flipped on the rig and checked out the bands. Not very exciting … quite noisy and weak signals. I tuned around 30 meters and found FY5FY in French Guiana, Didier, calling CQ. One call to him and he was in the log. He was literally the only CW signal I was hearing on that band.
I dropped down to 60 meters and saw some FT8 activity, so I called CQ, and had QSOs with California, Florida, and Poland … the Polish station was really marginal, but finally in the log.
There was good activity on 80 meters CW and FT8, but I didn’t have good luck there. My vertical loads perfectly through my tuner on 80, but it’s really short (31 feet), and not an efficient radiator. With good conditions, it works well enough, but in these current conditions, it’s hit or miss sometimes.
So that’s my Friday. I’ve got a busy weekend with several holiday concerts to attend, and Sunday afternoon, a friend and I are replacing the driver’s side window on my truck. It was frozen shut one morning and I cranked it a bit too forcefully. Lesson learned! It’s forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so maybe I’ll get on sometime.
I got on the air with WSJT-X when I got home from work this afternoon, and everything worked the way it’s supposed to. I made 25 contacts on 80 through 17 meters, using version 2.0 … except for 60 meters … Everybody on 60 was still using ver. 1.9.1.
This is a good sign. Looks like lots of people upgraded. There is a decided increase in the number of stations running the latest version. I even worked a new one on 17 meters … ZD7JC, St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic. This is where the British imprisoned Napoleon after his defeat.