Zzzzzzzzz …

Been lazy the past week or so … just couldn’t get up the energy to work the contest this past weekend. As usual, I hear there was some interesting propagation … openings on 10 and 15 meters. Isn’t it interesting how that only happens on contest weekends? 😀

I got on a while after work this evening (2030Z – 2100Z) and there was some decent propagation on 17 meters. I worked a bunch of stations in the western USA primarily … that’s all I had any luck hearing, anyway.

17 Meter FT8

I caught up on some cable-making this past weekend. I made up some new coax sections, and also made up a few power cables with powerpoles on them. I’m just sort of getting things collected in anticipation of some warmer weather in the not too distant future (fingers crossed!!). I want to get out and do some Parks on the Air activations. I literally live a few blocks from part of K-4567, Captain john Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail, and within twenty or thirty minutes of several other parks.

73 de Dick N4BC

Low Bands

Last night was a good night on the lower bands … 80, 60, 40 meters. I had 22 QSOs, mostly on 80 meters, and mostly FT8. There were two CW QSOs mixed in there. I worked VP9/AA1AC in Bermuda on 40 meters and VP2MKG in Montserrat on 80 meters. Both had moderate pileups going, working split, and I got them on the first call. The VP2 was a new country for me with my N4BC callsign. I think I’m up to 95 confirmed with that newer callsign.

80 meters stations that heard me
40 meters stations that heard me

The low bands seem to be the place to be during the solar minimum. I was decoding stations all over the world … Asia, the Americas, Europe … they’re out there! I don’t have a superstation, either. I’m running 100 watts to a 31-foot homebrew vertical. Not a model of efficiency. My tuner is working overtime! But it works!!

I guess the moral of this story is … put a signal out there. Get some wire in the sky. You won’t catch any fish unless you get a line in the water. Good fishing!!!!

73 de Dick N4BC

President’s Day

I got up late today, it being a holiday, and flipped on the rig. I tuned around 40 meters, and heard a couple of Parks on the Air (POTA) stations, and gave K3USI (portable on Howland Island, NY) a call, and he came right back to me with a 59. He was a good 59 as well. I also heard W4BKR, who was working from the Plumtree Island NWR and booming in at 59 plus a bunch (I could almost throw a rock and hit him from my shack). Both were handling pileups well and knocking them off one by one. Good ops! BTW, those were both SSB contacts, and I had to find my mic before I could call them 😀 .

From there, I moved to see what was on the FT8 segments, and didn’t find much of interest, so I called CQ and landed Thomas, AE4TH, who lives in the Fox Hill section of Hampton, my neighboring city … probably not ten miles as the crow flies! Howdy, neighbor!!

Just planning a lazy day off. The XYL is going to cook up some ribs and cabbage and sweet potatoes later for dinner, and I’m looking forward to that. I will probably turn the rig on later and see what’s going on. I’ve also got a new in-line meter for my portable ops to keep track of my battery voltage, and I need to rig up some wires and powerpoles for the input/output.

Coming up next weekend is the North American RTTY QSO Party. I’m hoping to participate for some of that, but once again, I have conflicts that weekend … we’ll see what happens. Life just gets in the way of ham radio 🙂 .

If you’re off today, have fun … if you’re working today, my sympathies. Sometimes working for local government has its advantages.

73 de Dick N4BC

Downtime …

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!

73 de Dick N4BC

The Aftermath …

It’s always interesting to get on the bands on the Monday after a big contest, and last evening was no different. The FT8 crowd was there … 80, 60, & 40 were full of FT8 signals … 20 and above were dead here. CW was a far second place …

BUT, the interesting thing …

I could not find a single RTTY signal, anywhere. Just the evening before, it was wall-to-wall RTTY with the ARRL RTTY Roundup going on. I don’t know if they were all burned out or if they only fired up that mode during contests. I suspect some of both!

I dove in and worked a bunch of North American FT8 QSOs, with some Caribbean islands thrown in for good measure. I also worked a few CW contacts as well. Had some enjoyable chats there. I try to pick the best-sounding fists. I’m getting too old to try and parse poorly sent, poorly spaced CW. Running words and letters together is NOT GOOD!

Sorry for my mini-rant there … have a good week and get on the air! Enjoy!!

73 de Dick N4BC