Yesterday was only partially about radios. I pulled the trigger on a Bioenno BLF-1212W/A, 12V 12AH LiFePo4 battery and charger. My old SLA 12V 7AH battery was not cutting it any more, so I have upgraded to the new chemistry. By all reports, it should be a quantum jump for my portable operations. It’ll even allow me to use my FT-450D when I need more than 5 Watts.
I ordered from my favorite ham store, Ham Radio Outlet in Woodbridge, VA. Always great service from them. I had shipping confirmation from them within hours, and being so close, the order should be on my porch today or tomorrow. The USPS tracking leaves a lot to be desired … I sometimes receive an order before the USPS says it’s been picked up 🙂 .
The wife and daughter and I went out to the Surf Rider restaurant in Poquoson, VA for a belated Anniversary dinner last night. Our wedding anniversary was Monday, but Monday being a holiday (Memorial Day), the restaurant was closed. I had a plateful of juicy, perfectly fried Chesapeake Bay oysters. I seem to be stuck in a rut … I almost always order oysters here. Love ’em!
It’s been HOT here … 94 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday and 57% humidity, with 97 degrees being called for today. Uncomfortable, but certainly nothing compared to those folks in the Midwest, with tornadoes and flooding. Terrible!
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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!!!