Recap …

I got on for a while late yesterday afternoon, using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5, and had some luck. It wasn’t a lot of luck … just some luck.

You can see, there is more 77-bit messaging showing up on the bands, but it’s still pretty slim pickings. I’m hoping the BIG flip-over will come when version 2 is finally released in its finished form on the 10th of December.

Eighty meter Propagation from N4BC 11/27/2018

Eighty meters propagation was  really good last night. the low bands are the place to be to work stations, but there are still some real gems to be found on the higher frequency bands. I even heard some strong CW signals up on ten meters yesterday evening.

Oh, I got a confirmation from 5T2AI, Ahmed in Mauritania, yesterday. Worked him last week. This LOTW stuff works fine (and fast)! Shame on you if you’re still a denier :-)!!

73 de Dick N4BC


I was just fiddling with numbers this afternoon and was surprised to find that my LOTW account shows a 68.42% confirmation rate. That’s a pretty good number, isn’t it? Had to recheck my cipherin’. I had no idea it was that good. If only the lottery had that kind of return, I could put up that 75-foot tower with multiple beams on it!!

A lot of those confirmations are due to digital modes. Lots of digital operators are uploading to LOTW in near real-time, as the QSO is ending, or very soon after. Logging programs make it so easy nowadays. The software does it for you.

I see WSJT-X 2.0 rc5 is now available. Joe says that it is pretty much what the final release on December 10th will look like. I haven’t had a LOT of luck working stations using the new 77-bit message format. Lots of people still hanging on to the older 75-bit messaging. Hopefully, they’ll move to the new format, but I expect it’ll take a while. Hams can be slow to change …

One incentive is the contesting mode that’s built-in and the ARRL RTTY Roundup on the radar in January. This’ll be the first time FT-8 has been a contest mode, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

73 de Dick N4BC

A Bit of Nostalgia

Good Morning, everyone!

I was just looking at my QSO confirmation rates … not too bad, actually. With the advent of electronic QSLing, the percentages are really pretty high, I think.

I track QSLing on two sites, primarily … Logbook Of TheWorld and QRZ. I also upload to EQsl and ClubLog, but seldom visit. I do that mostly for others. On LOTW my confirmation rate is a bit over 66% and on, it’s a whopping 76%.

Obviously, for the “biggie” awards (ARRL and CQ), the LOTW logbook is the major one, but just look at those percentages. I don’t have any numbers, but I guarantee you that I never approached that before electronic QSLing … maybe when I was rare DX, but not as a lowly US ham. 

Looking back on it, as a DX station with US managers, I was pretty isolated from the confirmation part of the hobby. I really didn’t care about that aspect of hamming. I just had a blast operating. Without the burden of LOTS of cards arriving in my mailbox, I was continually on the air when I was free. That being said, I still got a LOT of QSLs sent directly to my overseas mailbox … mostly foreign hams and HUGE stacks of bureau cards. I remember getting an entire mailbag of VQ9 (Seychelles) cards one time from the Russian Bureau at Box 99, Moscow (I was the VQ9 bureau). They got answered, but it took time.

Nowadays, it’s a lot cheaper. Essentially free. Back in the “good ole days”, all QSLs went either via the bureau or direct. With the cost of postage now, it’s just not a viable method for most hams.

Times change and we just have to change to keep up. I think LOTW was a great idea, and I’ve never had any problem, either setting up an account or using it, but I DO miss all the paper QSLs. Sigh … times change for sure.

73 de Dick N4BC

FT8 Works!


Downloaded the rc1 version of WSJT-X with the new FT8 mode, and made several contacts. Works as advertised! It’s so fast, that I don’t have time to read the guy’s bio on QRZ like I do with the slower modes. I had to modify TQSL and DXKeeper for the mode. More experimentation required, but it’s neat to try something new!

73 de Dick N4BC

A New One!

Scored a new country on digital last evening … South Africa. Ten watts to a vertical on JT-9 mode. He copied me at -15 DBm on 20 meters, and he was much stronger. I’ve seen him on several times before, but had no luck connecting with him. Now just waiting for a LOTW confirmation.

First ZS on JT-9/20 meters
First ZS on JT-9/20 meters

The bands were not especially hot last night … as a matter of fact, there was not much happening other than stateside and European stations. But there he was … and relatively strong, too. That’s what’s so exciting about ham radio. “The thrill of the hunt,” if you like.

I’ve tried listening in the early morning to see what might be happening, but no luck so far. For instance, this morning at 4am I tuned the bands and heard ZILCH! Not so much as a stray CW signal that was readable. I’ll keep on trying, though. One of these days …

73 de Dick N4BC