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

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

Catchup

Not the red condiment … just a few notes about what I’ve been up to.

I just did a quick calculation of confirmations. Confirmations are running at 80.3% on QRZ and at 71.2% on on LOTW. I must admit, I NEVER saw rates that high, even when I was at a DX location years ago. Electronic confirmation has revolutionized QSLing. As a practical matter, I really don’t care as much as I did when I first started out fifty-three years ago. I still really appreciate the occasional physical card in the mail … very few and far between nowadays.

I haven’t been active much lately. I’ve had other things to compete for my time. One BIG life-changing thing I’ve done is get my first hearing aids. Truthfully, after the first week, I could kick myself for not doing this years ago. Meetings had become a real ordeal. I could hear fine, but understanding what was said was the problem. My problem is high-frequency loss … moderately severe. That’s where all the speech intelligibility lies. Too many years working around aircraft and in a shipyard, back before hearing protection was a big thing. It’s been a real eye-opener … or should I say ear-opener? 😀 😀

I’ll try to work a bit harder to get back into the radio groove and catch you all later.

73 de Dick N4BC