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

Bummer!

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend, a three-day weekend. I decided to take an extra day … Tuesday. Hey maybe I could have a great ham radio weekend?

Not to be! We had a BIG geomagnetic storm and conditions were crap! Even today … Tuesday … they’re still not great. There were lots of spots for POTA activations, but I only managed to work one. Dave, K4CAE, was heard, but he obviously couldn’t hear ME! He was about a 3×2 with me.

Dorian continues its march towards the Virginia coast. The forecast is for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing like they experienced in the Bahamas, thank God! I expect the area will experience some tidal flooding (the lower areas always do). The last I saw, they’re talking about 50 knot winds, with all the associated problems … beach erosion, tidal flooding, trees and limbs down, power outages, stuff blown around, etc.

We’ll see. Things can change pretty quickly … for better or for worse. It’s forecast to be off the coast here Thursday night/Friday. Saturday is the Virginia Beach Hamfest … maybe. Tomorrow night is the radio club meeting, so maybe we’ll get some news then.

73 de Dick N4BC

FrostFest

Well, I made the annual trek to FrostFest at the Richmond International Raceway Complex the first Saturday in February, as usual. It’s about an hour’s drive from my QTH, depending on traffic in several construction zones on I-64.

Frostfest 2019

Although in years past I had an early start in order to be there when the doors open, this year I took my time and didn’t arrive until after 9 AM. There was a pretty good crowd, and lots of interest in the offerings by various vendors. None of the “major” vendors were there (Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, HRO, etc.), but that’s par for the course nowadays. Quicksilver and Ham World were there in force and were doing brisk sales.

I am particularly interested in the Forums, and this year, the website only showed the ARRL forum. Upon arrival, I saw that they had added SKYWARN and Mesh Networking, both of which I had attended before at the Virginia Beach Hamfest. I did sit in on the SKYWARN again, mainly to support Howard, WZ4K, who did the presentation. It’s almost like the forums were an afterthought this year.

Of course, I did make the rounds of all the vendors. There were some nice items for sale, but nothing that I needed. Some vintage rigs were for sale, and of course lots of everything else, including cookies, brownies, and candles 😀 .

My pet peeve (as usual) is everybody’s obliviousness of their surroundings. People stop right in front of you to carry on a conversation and totally block the aisle. A subtle word or, in desperation, a gentle push, usually moves them, but come on guys … move to the side!

All in all, it’s one of the better hamfests that I attend, and I congratulate RATS, who organize and put FrostFest on each year. Good job!

The trip back home was not a pleasant one. Just outside of Richmond, I spent over an hour in the I-64 parking lot. There was an accident in a construction zone, and we didn’t move until it was cleared. By this time, my back was killing me, and I was not my usual happy self! I finally got home, and my first action was to get horizontal and take a nap! Priorities!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Hamfest and Weather

Saturday was the Virginia Beach Hamfest, and I made the annual trek to the Convention Center. The crowd was smallish, and there were a few vendors, and several tailgaters at inside tables. I ran into a lot of friends and acquaintances, and generally had a good time.

I attended the Mesh Networking talk (two hours) and found it interesting and informative. They talked about the implementation in Hampton and some of the issues with installation and operation. Good forum and well worth the time spent.

This past weekend, we had a pretty strong storm event … lots of thunder and lightning and several inches of rain, causing a lot of flooding. We’re under the gun for a hurricane watch as well … all waiting to see just what hurricane Florence is going to do. The storm has the potential to tear us up and we’ll surely get flooding and rain, but just how bad it will be remains to be seen. I’m charging everything up, just in case.

I’ve already been informed that I’ll be on call for the duration of the storm. When you’re involved with public safety communications, your time is not your own. My family doesn’t appreciate that philosophy, but you “gotta do what you gotta do”.

So we’re doing pre-storm checks at work, and just waiting for the forecast to become more refined. We should know more by mid-week.

73 de Dick N4BC

Updates

Last night, we had our monthly radio club meeting. We had a good turnout, with some old friends we hadn’t seen for a while, and some new ones. We even picked up a few new members … HOORAY!

Our Treasurer, who has held that position for over fifteen years tendered his resignation as treasurer due to health and family issues, and I was elected to take his place. I’ve really got some big shoes to fill, don’t I?

We had a good meeting, and the presentation was on mobile radio installation. Well done and very interesting. It’s my turn next month, and my tentative subject will be portable operation … Radios in the Wild.

There were ten checkins to the Tidewater 31515 DMR Net this evening. Topics of discussion were the upcoming Virginia Beach Hamfest and IDing on DMR to comply with FCC Regulations … Section 97.119, to be specific. As I’ve said before, it’s more of a casual gathering than a formal net, and it’ll be nice to put some faces to the calls at the hamfest Saturday. I noticed that a couple of new calls showed up as unknown, so I updated the user database in my MD-380. I hadn’t done that for a while.

I also went into my new DStar radio and added some local non-digital simplex channels. The programming in that radio is still a work in progress, but truthfully, with the GPS and built-in repeater database, not much pre-programming is needed for repeater use.

73 de Dick N4BC