Rough Copy …

I was working POTA stations in the upper reaches of 40 meters, and you wouldn’t believe how rough the copy was … or actually, maybe you would. Summertime is here … terrible deadly thunderstorms in the Midwest … the general elevated noise levels in our normal environment … all combine to raise the noise floor on the lower bands to the point where many signals are on the cusp of being unreadable. Quite a few of the stations are using low power and compromise antennas. That, coupled with the heterodynes from AM broadcast stations, drive you to distraction. The QSB tantalizes you by raising the signals above the noise and then just when you’re ready to copy something critical, dashing them down into the mud. Life is hard 😀 !

But … help is available! Today’s SDRs really have the capability of pulling some of them out of the hash (I have an IC-7300). Yesterday, I resorted to using all of the bells and whistles I could … auto notch, noise reduction, twin passband tuning, RF gain, tone controls … even the outboard audio filters in my speaker enclosure. All helped to give me just enough of an edge to copy some of those “unreadable” stations. DSP RULES!

So, what’s the moral of this story? Use all the tools that you have available! Yes, many of the older radios have beautiful sounding audio and great sensitivity, but today’s modern radios offer many tools that were not even dreamed of when those radios were designed and built. We truly live in amazing times!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Checking the Log …

I was looking back at my log today … this POTA park chasing is really increasing my SSB numbers 😀 . Most of the operators (not all, though), are using phone. I AM up to over sixty parks worked now.

I did a bit of FT8 last night … nothing spectacular. I was being heard all over the world, but working mostly stateside and Europe. All contacts are good though … even if I don’t need them, maybe they need me for my state … or grid … or something 🙂 .

The weather has been beautiful the past couple of days. Why are the weekdays beautiful, and every weekend rainy and stormy? At least, that seems to be the case. On that same note … it’s really nice to drive to work at a quarter to six in the morning, and the sky is already getting light. I don’t miss the pitch-black drive at all.

I just built a Porta-Paddle II Kit from American Morse Equipment, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. The instructions were clear and it went together with a minimum of @#$%!&*. I got the heavy base, and it doesn’t go anywhere when I send … it’s solid! I paid $94 for the kit.

OK, that’s about all that’s new … catch you later!

73 de Dick N4BC

A Bit of Hope

We had some good news last night at the club meeting from Charlie, WB4PVT. T-Mobile is putting up a new tower and they seem agreeable to hosting our 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters on it. Both repeaters have been homeless for a couple of years after losing our previous site. Quite a bit of the meeting was taken up with discussion of this topic. We don’t have a lot of details yet.

We’re also seeing a positive turn in membership after several silent keys in our membership over the past few months. Unfortunately, with the aging of the ham population, it seems to be an inevitable trend.

73 de Dick N4BC

What’s Up?

I didn’t dive into the CQ WW WPX SSB this weekend, but I hadn’t planned to either. HOWEVER … I did pursue contacts for Parks on the Air.

I was rather surprised by how many POTA activators were doing their thing during a major contest weekend, but there were lots. I managed to work around ten parks. Some of them were booming in, some were weak, some were down in the noise and really depended on catching them when the QSB brought them up to the workable level. Of course, some were spotted that I couldn’t even tell were there.

POTA Silver Certificate

I’ve had very little luck on any band other than 40 meters. Sometimes it goes long, but most of the time it’s the eastern half of the US that I”m hearing. Most of my contacts have been SSB, but only a few were CW. That’s because most of the activators seem to prefer SSB.

I ordered an American Morse Equipment Porta Paddle II and base last week, and USPS tracking says it’s out for delivery. Great … I’ll have an evening project today. I’ve been looking for a portable key and I think this will fit the bill! I’ll let you know later.

The temperature was up in the 70’s this weekend and just beautiful outside. Today (Monday) and tomorrow, the high is supposed to be near 50. Warming up again on Wednesday! C’mon Spring!!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Crankin’ ’em out again

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.

60 Meters 12/29/2018

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!

73 de Dick N4BC