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.
I got on for a while late yesterday afternoon, using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5, and had some luck. It wasn’t a lot of luck … just some luck.
You can see, there is more 77-bit messaging showing up on the bands, but it’s still pretty slim pickings. I’m hoping the BIG flip-over will come when version 2 is finally released in its finished form on the 10th of December.
Eighty meters propagation was really good last night. the low bands are the place to be to work stations, but there are still some real gems to be found on the higher frequency bands. I even heard some strong CW signals up on ten meters yesterday evening.
Oh, I got a confirmation from 5T2AI, Ahmed in Mauritania, yesterday. Worked him last week. This LOTW stuff works fine (and fast)! Shame on you if you’re still a denier :-)!!
This afternoon on twenty, after I got home from work, I had a bit better luck running the new wsjt-x, which is not compatible with the older versions. I actually found some takers for my CQs. I suspect more people are downloading and trying the new flavor! For more details, see the WSJT-X website.
On another note, I worked a new country using version 1.9.1, the “stable” version. I worked 5T2AI in Mauritania. I’ll admit … I bumped the power up to around 75 watts! I had to take a quick look at the African map to orient myself. The country is out on the big western bulge of the continent. Snagged him on the first try! Not so much luck with Aruba, P4, though. Just couldn’t connect with him.
UPDATE: Also worked S01WS, western Sahara on 60 Meters FT8. That’s two new countries this evening! They’re out there. You just have to go get ’em!