Strange Times

It’s eerie at work this week. Normally, we have a steady flow of customers in and out of the shop, all having some sort of communications difficulty. This week, I think I can count the number of visitors on the fingers of one hand … the Coronavirus is definitely affecting business. Traffic is noticeably lighter when I head home after work, and it’s odd seeing all the empty restaurant parking lots.

I’d much rather be at home, isolating myself. My wife and daughter are both at home this week, due to their workplaces being closed. I’m in the at-risk group … chronic illnesses, over 66, etc. But since I’m working in the public-safety field, I’m considered “essential personnel.”

FT-modes have been pretty busy this week. I’ve worked a lot of Europeans. I’ve seen quite a few Asian stations, but haven’t managed to work any. I check the spotting page for POTA frequently, and see lots of posts, but when I go to the indicated frequency … nada! Forty and twenty meters are not being cooperative for CW and SSB.

Today is the first day of Spring, and the temperatures are supposed to climb into the mid-seventies, but it’s still gray and dreary-looking outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the eighties … maybe Spring is actually here?

73 de Dick N4BC

Changes

I’ll have to admit … I haven’t been very active lately. Not sure really why … band conditions, dreary weather, just didn’t feel like it … whatever. I was off work today and fired up the radio to mediocre propagation and not much going on. I did manage to snag a KL7 station on 20 meters FT4.

I’ve had a big change in my life, too. My hearing has been declining for years. I’ve really been having difficulty in understanding speech, and decided to finally do something about it. A trip to Costco, and now I’m the proud owner and user of hearing aids.

What a difference! I’m still acclimatizing to them, but the improvement is spectacular. I’m hearing things that I haven’t heard for years. I never realized how noisy my shack was! Clicks, squeals, fans … all audible now, but not that hard to ignore. I need to find over-the-ear headphones that can accommodate my RIC hearing aids. They need to cover the part behind the ears.

73 de Dick N4BC

The End Approaches …

The end of the year, that is. It’s been a mixed year for me … both high and low points, radio-wise. There seems to have been a steady decline in propagation conditions. But … in spite of that … I’ve made a LOT of contacts. The total count of QSOs would be a LOT smaller if not for digital modes … primarily FT4 and FT8.

I have noticed a real decline in the number of Parks on the Air QSOs as the year has progressed. I see numerous activations spotted, and can’t even tell that there is a station there. Single sideband contacts have decreased. However … I’ve had more CW POTA contacts.

Hopefully, your year has gone well. If not, well … 2020 is just around the corner … a new start. Wishing everyone the best for a great upcoming year!

73 de Dick N4BC

This time of year …

Christmas is nearly upon us, and I am so far behind the power curve that I will never pull out of my descent! This is a particularly hectic time of year, and there are never enough days to fit all the activities into. Parties, shopping, church … all demand their slice of time. I’m off all Christmas week, so maybe I can play catch up on some of the things I slacked on.

I haven’t been on the air for a while (because, see above). This morning I flipped on the rig and worked some FT4/FT8. One of the FT8 QSOs was on 20 meters with VE1GPY, who was activating a Canadian park. That’s only my second FT8 POTA contact. I also worked ol’ reliable N4CD on 20 meter CW for another park contact this morning. Most of my QSOs this morning were on forty and sixty meters.

Yesterday, there was a huge pileup on I-64 near here. Fog and freezing temperatures caused a 70-car junkpile. I lived in Southern California for years, near the coast, and I know you can’t drive the posted speed limit in the fog. The problem is, stupid drivers behind you don’t follow that rule and have a tendency to run over you. At least we didn’t have to worry about fog freezing on the bridges in San Diego County!

73 de Dick N4BC

Random Thoughts

It’s a beautiful day outside … sunshine, but a little chilly (41 deg F) and breezy. The prior couple of days have been wet and cold. The folks north of us have been “blessed” with a major winter storm. I don’t envy them!

Tonight is our annual Radio club Holiday Banquet. This year it’s a potluck with the clubs (PARC and SPARK) supplying the fried chicken and all us attendees bringing a side dish or dessert. Last year’s party was mass confusion due to a mix up about the restaurant reservations. This year it was decided to have a self-catered meal.

I was off work all last week. As usual I had a list of things to accomplish and never got around to any of the items. There were lots of POTA activations, but most were not even copyable at my QTH. I could hear hunters giving them reports, but for me … NADA! I did work a few, and my unique park count is now up to 216.

I’ve been concentrating on the FT4/8 modes and had reasonable success with contacts there. JS8 has upgraded to version 2.0 with some new features, so I’ve been looking at that mode a bit harder. Then too, I’ve been playing with my new RSP-1A SDR receiver. It’s fascinating tuning through the shortwave bands and listening to what’s there.

I’ve also been working on a few FEMA certifications. They’re not only applicable for my job, but also for ham radio stuff like SKYWARN and ARES. I had completed most of them years ago, but couldn’t confirm it, so I’ve been working my way through the training and tests again.

73 de Dick N4BC