Thoughts on the Hobby

I worked a few FT8 contacts this morning … around 6 AM … and decided to check out their bios on QRZ.com. Most had more than the stock entry of name, address, and FCC info.

One thing I noticed about most of them is that their station pictures all showed computers … most with multiple monitors. That really emphasized to me just how much the hobby has changed (and benefitted) from technology.

My computer basically controls most aspects of my operating. Logging, equipment control, instant information … all are under computer control. With the touch of a key, I can pull up your QRZ page and get a pretty good idea of who you are and how you operate.

BUT … more importantly … I can still operate without all that stuff, if necessary. I can fling a wire up into a tree and be working stations on battery power with a moment’s notice.

The technology has advanced the hobby immensely, but the roots are still there. The naysayers preach that we are irrelevant in today’s world. BUT, as has so often been demonstrated, all those sophisticated systems have many points of failure, and WE have been the only means of communication.

Sure, we’re not needed as often as we were in the past, but when all else fails, we’re still here.

73 de Dick N4BC

Rough Weekend

This past weekend was pretty rough, propagation-wise. Here at the QTH, noise levels were quite high, and the bands seemed to be sparsely populated.

I checked the POTA spotting page and there must have been ten or fifteen activators listed, and I literally could not hear a one! Either the noise covered their signals, or I just couldn’t even discern that there WAS a signal. I gather that there was some sort of solar storm, and I noted that the sunspot number was down to zero again.

No luck! Except for the digital modes, that is! It was easy to work loads of FT-mode stations, pretty much on demand. It seems that there’re always FT QSOs to be had.

Well, every day is a new day! If you don’t like the weather today (space or terrestrial), wait until tomorrow 😀 .

73 de Dick N4BC

Storms and Parks

Wow … in less than an hour this morning, lots of parks to work if you’re interested in Parks on the Air.

After a couple of days of a power outage, I just turned on the radio this morning to see what the bands were like. Nothing spectacular, but certainly fruitful.

About a block from my QTH is a beautiful wooded street … the trees formed a green canopy over the pavement … great for scenery, but not when coupled with the high winds and heavy rain of a tropical storm. The falling branches took out most of the power lines, thus my lack of power at the house. I could have gotten up on battery power, but it was HOT as well, with no air conditioning.

We had our first radio club meeting in person (other than virtual), since March, last night. Attendance was pretty sparse, but that was to be expected. Non-essential meetings are not a priority right now. Also, missing was the social get together for a meal beforehand. Next month, we’re planning a hybrid meeting, with both physical and virtual attendance provided for.

Well, I’ll close this for now and see what else I can find on the bands, and then see about finding some lunch. Most of the food in the fridge was a casualty of the power outage … got to look into a new generator soon.

73 de Dick N4BC

Plodding Along

Not a lot has changed in the past couple of weeks, radio-wise. I’m still working lots of digital modes (including CW) and enjoying it. FT4 activity seems to be increasing … probably since the FT8 segments are so crowded. PSK and Olivia activity is still sporadic, but I did notice some nice signals on 20 meters around lunchtime today … strong and lots of them!

One of my coworkers just became a ham last week. He attended an outdoor testing session, to comply with the social distancing recommendations. He passed the Technician and General class licenses, and was formally granted KO4DBF after about a week’s time or so.

Our club held its first virtual club meeting last night, using Zoom. Last week I attended our QCWA chapter meeting via Zoom as well. Looks like Zoom is the preferred method of social interaction now. At work, we’re using Microsoft Teams, but I like the Zoom interface better.

As a matter of fact, I’ve got two Zoom meetings later this evening. First, our Scout Troop, and then after that, our church Choir. We’ve been doing virtual meetings for Scouts for several weeks now and it seems to be working well. The choir meeting is more of a social thing rather than musical … just to keep in touch while in-person services are suspended. Our virtual church services are on FaceBook live.

73 de Dick N4BC

Interesting Times

The old Chinese proverb supposedly says, “May you live in interesting times.” True dat! I’ve been self-isolating at home and working from home for about three weeks now, and still hanging in there. The Governor has extended the stay-at-home order for another two weeks, so it looks like I’ll be here a bit longer.

I had lots of projects that I wanted to do, but it seems that I just can’t get started on anything. I don’t know if it’s because of a bit of depression … or just plain old laziness.

I did decide to change my logging program though. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but I finally (after years of use) decided that it was just overly complex for my needs. I decided to go with something simpler … N3FJP’s Amateur Contact Log. I’ve installed it and have been using it for a few days now and am well pleased. I’m trying it during a 45-day trial period, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up purchasing it.

I worked 30 stations yesterday evening and this morning (FT modes) … mostly on 40, 30, or 20 meters, and mostly US stations. Signal strengths were good, and although crowded, there was room to squeeze into an empty spot.

Our Club, the Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, has decided to have a meeting next month. With the social distancing in force, we’ve decided to do it as a net on one of the local repeaters. The problem is identifying a repeater that everyone can hit reliably. Our club repeater is still down. Our plans to get it on a new tower and on the air have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.

73 de Dick N4BC