Returns

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 QRZ.com, 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!

FT8 DIGITAL MODES WORK!

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

 

Weekend Doings – Storms, QSO Parties, and a New One!

This was the weekend of the big storm … Hurricane Matthew … so I planned on hunkering down at home and doing some operating (if the power cooperated). Well, we didn’t lose power (except for a few momentary blips), but we did get a LOT of rain (10.5 inches at my QTH) and some pretty stiff winds (gusts up to 35 mph). There was a lot of flooding in the area and lots of downed trees. I’m just lucky that I never really lost my AC. Of course, I could have gone to qrp and battery power. I’m also lucky I didn’t get called in for work … that could have been nasty during the heavier part of the storm.

This weekend was the Pennsylvania QSO Party, and I spent a bit of time chasing PA stations. Lots of fun. I was mostly on 40 meters, but did operate a bit on 80 and 20 meters as well. I didn’t make a lot of contacts, but that was by choice. There were certainly a lot of stations to contact. Participation was high.

I also worked a lot of DX, mostly on JT65 and JT9. There was a lot of activity in the digital segments of the band as well. I still find it strangely satisfying to sit there for a minute with nothing happening and then the exchange is displayed. Magic!

I worked my one and only Delaware station EVER on 80 meter SSB, too. For some reason (other than the fact that there aren’t a lot of Delaware hams), I have never worked that state before. I was happy to finally fill out my WAS. To top that, he’s already confirmed the QSO by LOTW.

All in all, it was a fun, productive weekend, in spite of all the drama with the storm. It was a great weekend to be indoors!

73 de Dick N4BC