Frostfest 2017

I made the annual trip to Richmond for Frostfest, leaving at about 7 am for a drive of a little over an hour. The crowd seemed to be a bit bigger this year, and the vendors seemed to be doing a lively business. The video below was taken about noon … the crowds had thinned a bit, and people were also grabbing lunch.

I saw a few old friends … Rob, Al, Dan, Darrell, Will, Charlie (I’m terrible about callsigns). We talked about a variety of stuff … none of any great importance in the overall scheme of things. Still, it was great to see them and catch up.

I attended a couple of forums, both very interesting. the first was on DMR radio and I learned a lot from that. The second was a Winlink forum. It was interesting, but I don’t think I will ever get into it. It’s primarily used for ARES/RACES, and I don’t participate due my status as “critical personnel” during an emergency because of my job in public safety communications.

I hung around until the bitter end so I wouldn’t miss the grand prize drawing ($1000 to be spent at the Hamfest). There were several other unclaimed prizes drawn then, too. As usual, it was a bust … no goodies for me.

I DID have a great day, but my back and feet are a bit tired. All I bought was about $40 worth of powerpoles and coax connectors. Then again, that’s all I planned to buy, unless I saw a deal I couldn’t refuse.

73, everybody de Dick N4BC

Oh my aching blood pressure!

***RANT ON***

I sat and listened to a DX station working split last night. Most of those calling listened to the instructions and were calling above the DX’s transmit frequency. I never DID hear the DX, myself. There were so many calling on his TX frequency, and of course, the self-appointed traffic cops sending “UP … UP” (without IDing, of course), that I couldn’t hear the DX. There can’t be THAT many clueless people out there, can there? Oops … silly question. Of course there are! Don’t people LISTEN anymore? Where’s my blood pressure medicine?

***RANT OFF***

73 de Dick N4BC

A Voice from the Past

I recently received an email requesting a QSL from a Russian station for a contact when I was VQ9RB, on Diego Garcia. Even more interesting, I got a card in the mail from a Brazilian station for one of my Seychelles cards! Needless to say, I no longer have any blank cards for those QTHs. They were all used up or lost in a move many moons ago.

So, necessity is the mother of invention, they say. I searched the OfficeMax location here and believe it or not, could not find any card stock in the weight I was looking. So, Amazon Prime to the rescue. I ordered a 200-sheet pack for about ten bucks, and will roll my own. Microsoft Publisher and the ol’ laser printer should work just fine. The trouble I go to for you guys out there still working at increasing your DXCC numbers :-D.

Remember, the final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL. If I can, through some earthly process, supply you with a needed card, I’ll take care of it. I have been there, guys! My pleasure!

73 de Dick K4FTW (ex-VQ9D, VQ9D/D, S79D, VQ9RB, G0/WB4YZU, WB4YZU, ad nauseum :-).


I worked with Tom, WE4TOM, to get his PSK31 up and running. We only live a couple of miles apart, at most, but it was great when I finally saw his transmission on my waterfall and printing out on my screen.

We had tried a couple of times over the past two weeks to get something going. He could copy my transmissions, but I wan’t getting a whisper from him. I still don’t know what he did to get it working, but after a couple of iterations, HE DID! Sometimes you have to keep banging away at the problem until you get a break.

So Tom … guess what I’ve got for you? That’s right – a shiny new QSL card. I’ll deliver it at the next Club meeting. Great job of figuring out HRD and DM780. Here’s a preview …

Office Lens 20160623-210240


73 de Dick

Celebration of Life for Bill, WB4UYA

Before Bill passed away, he told his family that his wish was for them to throw a party in memory of him, and to invite all his ham buddies. Well, today that happened. We met at Nick’s at Gloucester Point for a celebration and get together. Everyone was given 5 raffle tickets upon arrival and had the opportunity to buy more.There were several HF radios (Icom 746, TenTec Orion) and several VHF/UHF radios (Kennwood TH-F6A, several mobiles) raffled off, along with miscellaneous items (RigBlaster, antennas, microphones, a fifth of Jamieson’s, etc). Not to be forgotten was his collection of coffee cups.All proceeds of the raffle went to the ARRL. I won the Kenwood TH-F6A and several coffee cups.We had a great lunch as well, and left laden with our wins and lots of fond memories of Bill.

de Dick, K4FTW


Tonight was the first scheduled PARC (Peninsula Amateur Radio Club) 2M net in a long time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Tom (WE4TOM) & I were the only ones that showed up. Everyone else must have forgotten. We used the WN4HRT (144MHz, -.600, 100Hz) repeater at Riverside Hospital. Hopefully, participation will increase.

The bands have been iffy, with lots of QSB. A station will be there one minute and then disappear. I’ve done more listening than talking.

Saturday there is a celebration of life in memory of Bill Howell, WB4UYA, at Nick’s in Gloucester. Bill passed away several months ago. Everyone is invited.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Back Again

I seem to show up here apologizing for not posting in a while quite often. What is it they say? “Good intentions pave the highway to Hell” … or something like that. Anyway, I have been somewhat productive. I’ve been experimenting with a homemade magnetic loop antenna for QRP operation, and it looks promising. I am AMAZED at what I can hear and work with a 13-ft loop of wire at ground level on twenty meters. Sure, it’s obviously not as good as a beam at 75 feet, but I can get on the air and communicate with it.

I also finally gotten around to loading FLDigi onto the new laptop. I expected a lot more trouble, as I remembered that there were problems when I first started using it. I must say, WIndows 10 cooperated wonderfully. The setup seemed to go much easier, too. Maybe experience counts for something.

I’ve been lurking on 20 meters in the digital portion of the band (14.070+) and reading the mail. Just trying to get a feel for QSO content and so forth. The last time I really was serious about RTTY/PSK/DIgital/etc. was when I was operating as VQ9RB on Diego Garcia. Those were the good old days … hamming pretty much every night from the club station, and a great bunch of guys. Some now Silent Keys and others still very much alive and kicking. It was a good mix of people, too. Navy guys who were fluent in CW and Merchant seamen (mostly Radio Officers who, in those days, were REALLY CW ops). Satellite communications on ships was fairly new, and CW was still required. Me, I was one of the few there that did CW only for fun! For all the others, it was job-related.

I think the first time I ever did RTTY was when I was VQ9D or S79D in the Seychelles. I had a Commodore 64 computer with a plug-in module on the backside that generated the keying signal. Worked great.

Well, enough reminiscing. Look for me again around the digital frequencies. I’d be pleased to have a chat.

73 de Dick K4FTW

What happened to Spring?

We had a few nice Spring days, but it seems like Summer has arrived about a month early. Temperatures and humidity here in coastal Virginia have been Summer-like already. I sure hope this is not a taste of an unbearable August.

Saturday, we had our annual Southeastern Virginia Ham picnic at Deer Park, in Newport News. It was a nice get together, with a chance to put faces to some of the calls I hear on the local repeaters. We had hamburgers and hot dogs with a few sides, and just generally relaxed and got to know each other a bit better.

Field Day is approaching, and once again our club, PARC, will do a joint venture with SPARK at the usual Hampton location. Things will be as usual, but I don’t think we are going to run a GOTA station this year. Last year we had zero luck with that. We are always looking forward to improving every year, and hopefully we can make a better CW showing this year.

I still haven’t had a chance to get an 80M antenna up in the air yet, but with the good weather, I’m going to have to get out into the yard and just do it. I’ve got the wire, 9:1 UN-UN, rope, coax, and slingshot, so the only thing holding me back is lack of motivation! I’m going to go out on a limb here (not literally!) and promise myself to GET THIS DONE!

I’ve recently started trying to make a contact or two at lunchtime from work, using the HB1B from the truck, but not a lot of luck so far. Yeah, I’ve gotten a couple of contacts, but with only a half-hour for lunch, it’s difficult to get some food into myself, get the rig connected and then dismantled, and not feel terribly rushed. Maybe it’ll get easier as I get more familiar with it.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Field Day 2014

I had hoped to help more with the club Field Day, but too many other things going on this weekend. I did get down to help set up on Saturday morning, but unfortunately, wouldn’t make it back to operate. I had my granddaughter’s fifth birthday party to attend, and that’s very important. I also had to buy a new dryer for the wife, since our 20+ year-old drier finally reached the dreaded “point of no repair”. I did get a good deal, though :-).

W4MT Field Day Site
W4MT Field Day Site, Northampton Church of Christ, Hampton, VA

I did get a chance to operate some from home as a 1D station, but it’s not quite the same. I worked probably 75 stations, mostly on 20M CW, but also some on 40M and 80M CW. It was a good run, but alas, no elusive ND section :-). Propagation was good … I can’t complain.

73 de Dick K4FTW