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


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

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

Post-Christmas Stupor

So, Christmas is over for another year, and, as usual, I ate too much! We went over to the kids’ house on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. In addition to a gut-busting meal, the snacks were present in great abundance. Every year, I say it’s going to be different, but once again – I had no willpower!

Oh well, next year it’ll be different!! HA!!

It’s been quite a while since I worked any JS8Call, so I downloaded the latest version and found quite a few changes … keys moved. new functions … lots of new stuff. Plus, it’d been so long, I really had to figure out what I was doing all over again. Interesting mode, to say the least!

I’ve been working a bit of CW and FT8 over the holidays, but nothing to write home about. I’ve just been doing family things. I’ve got a dozen days off and go back to work the 3rd of January, and only had to take 4 days of leave with all the holidays. Haven’t got cabin fever yet!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holidays in their own way. No matter what you celebrate, I wish you the all best!

73 de Dick N4BC


It was a pretty good Friday at work, actually. We had out Shop Holiday Party and the boss paid for everybody’s lunch. It was a a buffet restaurant, and I subsequently fell into a food coma! Honestly, I always eat too much when it’s laid out like that. Anyway, we were given the afternoon off afterwards, so I went home and immediately took a nap to sleep off the food overdose!

Later on, I woke up and flipped on the rig and checked out the bands. Not very exciting … quite noisy and weak signals. I tuned around 30 meters and found FY5FY in French Guiana, Didier, calling CQ. One call to him and he was in the log. He was literally the only CW signal I was hearing on that band.

I dropped down to 60 meters and saw some FT8 activity, so I called CQ, and had QSOs with California, Florida, and Poland … the Polish station was really marginal, but finally in the log.

Stations hearing me on Sixty meters

There was good activity on 80 meters CW and FT8, but I didn’t have good luck there. My vertical loads perfectly through my tuner on 80, but it’s really short (31 feet), and not an efficient radiator. With good conditions, it works well enough, but in these current conditions, it’s hit or miss sometimes.

So that’s my Friday. I’ve got a busy weekend with several holiday concerts to attend, and Sunday afternoon, a friend and I are replacing the driver’s side window on my truck. It was frozen shut one morning and I cranked it a bit too forcefully. Lesson learned! It’s forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so maybe I’ll get on sometime.

73 & Happy Holidays de N4BC