Update

Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.

The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.

I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …

Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.

More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!

73 de Dick N4BC

A Bit of Everything

I actually got to sit down in the shack and operate for HOURS this evening … without any interruptions (except a spaghetti dinner … YUM!). It was a real potpourri of contacts. I worked a little bit of everything … SSB, CW, FT4, FT8, POTA, WWFF … even a new country on 17 meters FT4 – Bahamas! Twenty-four contacts for the evening … Bang! Bang! Bang! … interspersed with a couple of more leisurely contacts. Not ragchews, by any means, but definitely real conversations. 😀

The days are getting shorter. I noticed this morning that the sun had not risen when I went out to drive to work. It was cool, too … about 69 F. Thankfully, the heat wave has been broken for at least a while.

On a more somber note … we buried one of our long-time Radio Club members this week … W. E. “Jimmy” Taylor, W1WE. He hadn’t been active for quite a while, since moving to a nursing home and then hospice care. He was 88 years old and a WW2 veteran. RIP, Jimmy.

73 de Dick N4BC

Old and New

Even though the bands were a bit crappy, I worked a new one this evening … S92HP in Sao Tome and Principe, on 60 Meter FT8. Of course, it’s not confirmed yet 😀 .

I tried to find some of the spotted POTA activations, but no joy! Twenty and forty were not cooperative. Once again, I could hear hunters working them, but the activators were down in the hash. Forty had a constant S5 noise level with static crashes over S9. Rough conditions!

73 de Dick N4BC

The Pits …

I just read somewhere that we have been weeks without a sunspot. Boy, can you tell! Although there are openings … good openings … the overall propagation has been pretty dismal here. The summer storms haven’t helped. Lots of static crashes and noise, especially on the lower bands.

Well, there’s nothing WE can do, other than turn on the radio and see what’s going on. If you just sit back and bitch about “the bands”, you’re definitely NOT going to work anyone. You’ve got to put in the time to reap the rewards.

I got my first physical QSL card in a long time last week in the mail. It’s a notable occasion when I DO get one. It took me quite a while to figure out settings (again) to print a label for my card. I always forget to write them down. I send so few cards that I print my own on a color laser printer as needed.

Last week, I took the SkyWarn Advanced Spotter class online. Very interesting … I learned quite a bit. It was well worth the time I put into it. Lots of good information on thunderstorm formation, tornadoes, radar interpretation, and a good review of basic information. The next course that I want to take is the net control operator class.

Speaking of weather … we’ve had some pretty strong thunderstorms here in the evenings recently. Temperatures in the upper 90’s Fahrenheit during the days … high dew points … frontal activity … yeah, we’ve had thunderstorms 🙂 . Summertime is always active here.

73 de Dick N4BC

Workin’ for It

Afternoons and evenings, the noise on 40 meters has been terrible here at the ole’ homestead. Lots of hash and static crashes from weather-related phenomena. Of course, this is prime park-hunting time. It’s frustrating to hear stations working the activators and not hear those activators. You can tell they’re there … you can occasionally hear them rise above the noise for a moment … and then they dive back down into the noise. I could probably fake my way through a contest-style QSO … signal report, QTH, and 73 … but that’s almost like cheating if I’m not sure what they’re saying … if I have to guess.

CW’s a bit better. In the past couple of days, I’ve worked NK8O and WB8ERJ, and they had great, readable signals … hey, CW is like SSB with an amp! Digital and CW are certainly the way to go when conditions suck!

Even when you can copy with lots of difficulty … the old ears ain’t what they used to be … the noise and crashes are really fatiguing. You can’t keep it up for long. In the afternoons, after work, I like to listen and monitor the spots while working on other stuff at my desk … it gets irritating fast. It’s summertime!

Late evenings and nighttime are better, but unless they’re camping, most of the POTA guys have packed up and gone home. Parks being what they are, they close at sundown unless you’re registered and camping … nature of the beast.

73 de Dick N4BC