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

Training & Stuff …

I attended a four-hour class today to learn all about the intricacies and nuances of being a SkyWarn Net Control Operator. Hurricane season is heating up, and it never hurts to be ready. There’s always a shortage of NCOs, especially when it’s an extended event, as a hurricane and its aftereffects may be.

Skywarn NCO Certificate

Otherwise, I’ve been on the air. The bands are not stellar, but they’re adequate. I’ve been hunting and working POTA activators, and most of them are really down in the noise. It takes real effort to pull them out of the hash. I’ve got 198 parks worked and 156 confirmed now.

73 de Dick N4BC

I fired up the rig when I got home from work yesterday, and found a few takers on the bands.

All of these were quickies (as are all FT8 contacts) … less than an hour for all sixteen. I was rushed, as I had to get myself ready and head out to my weekly Scout meeting and then choir practice … grabbing dinner on the way (Whopper combo). Not the healthiest dinner, but fast.

After choir practice, I had to rush home for the weekly Tidewater DMR net (TG 31515). I joined only 7 minutes late at 9:07. Participation was good, with quite a few new check-ins, and lots of spirited conversation. Next week (being Thanksgiving Day) we’ll not meet.

I can see this holiday season is stacking up to be hectic. Lots of events coming up … concerts, banquets, family events … you know what I mean. By the time the new year is here, you’re just glad for a break!

The combined PARC/SPARK Holiday Dinner is coming up on Tuesday, December 4th at the County Grill in York County on Route 17. The food is always good there, and the company will be too!

I see the ARRL November Sweepstakes is this weekend. This is the SSB one, and I am just not into SSB so I’ll pass. Furthermore, I’ve always thought the exchange was too involved and complex, so I’ve just never participated in the Sweepstakes events. If it’s your thing, more power to ya’. Just not my cup of tea.

73 de Dick N4BC

Moving Right Along …

We had our regularly scheduled Tidewater DMR net last night, and had a handful of participants … maybe around a half dozen or so. Though small, it was a lively group. We discussed Tom’s (WE4TOM) presentation at the club meeting on DMR 101 … “DMR for the novice … by the novice”! Tom presented some good information, but the gem of the presentation was the demonstration that he and Howard (WZ4K) carried out.

You know, you can descend into PowerPoint Hell but a hands-on demo is worth a thousand slides. Actually “fondling” the radios and listening to the voice quality really appeal to a ham’s baser instincts. You can hear for yourself what it sounds like … you can see for yourself how a hotspot works. Hands on … good stuff! They’re talking about taking it on the road to spread the DMR gospel!

73 de Dick N4BC


I was right about the Win4Icom/N1MM+/WinKeyer USB problem … it was a port conflict. I had Win4Icom and N1MM+ both pointing to the same serial port for the WinKeyer. The simplest solution was to temporarily disconnect the connection from Win4Icom to the WinKeyer, and now N1MM+ works fine. If I’m not using N1MM+, I can just toggle the port back on in Win4Icom and all is well again … easy peasy!

I rushed home from choir practice and caught the last half of the Tidewater VA DMR Net (TG31515). It was a small group tonight and Darrell, KF4HJW was doing the honors as Net Control. Don’t know where Howard was … hopefully he’ll be back next week.

I downloaded the latest version of JS8Call this evening … JS8Call v0.7.5-devel. The main update is a fix for some decode issues, and there are several other fixes as well. Jordan, KN4CRD, is really responsive to feedback and the site is a good way to provide that interaction.

73 for now de Dick N4BC