On again!

Well, I’ve been somewhat of a slacker … my last sustained activity was in February. I just had an accumulation of things that couldn’t be put off any longer that took precedence. I’m still not out of the woods, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

I have managed to get some JT activity the past couple of days. Yesterday, in particular, seemed to be pretty good propagation during the early afternoon, but I didn’t have the time to get much operating done. Ah, well … I can only hope!

The weather is decidedly more cooperative lately, so maybe I’ll have a chance to get the cobweb antenna up, and do some portable operations from the truck as well. I checked out my FT-817ND and the associated mobile and portable goodies the other evening, and I think I’m OK there.

I got a couple of QSL cards this week, too! That’s an unusual occurrence for me nowadays. Back in the “good old days,” it was NOT unusual to get a few cards every week. Of course, when I was rare DX, I used to get LOTS of cards every week. Times change.

Well, I’m about finished my lunch break at work, so let me get back to work. See you later …

73 de Dick N4BC

Two little letters …

Sunday evening, after all the contests and QSO parties had been turned off, the bands were dead. Sound familiar? “Oh the bands are terrible … there’s nobody there … I think I’ll sell the rig …”.

Geez, guys … just try calling CQ! Everyone moans and groans and tunes from one end of the band to the other and hears nothing. That’s because everybody is listening! Put some RF into the void! Wake someone up!

I tried a CQ on a dead 20 meter band and worked six stations before I had to pull the plug and go to bed. They’re out there … listening! You’ve got to put a line into the water to get a bite. Don’t be scared … throw in!

73 de Dick N4BC

Hamfests

I made the annual trip to the Virginia Beach Hamfest last weekend … not sure I should have bothered. Yeah, yeah – I know we need to support the hobby, but this was pretty pathetic. No major manufacturers, no first-tier retailers, no tailgating, and the prices that sellers figured their boat anchors were worth … wow!

I remember the crowds and aisles of sellers not that many years ago. I guess the internet has really caused cutbacks in the numbers of both sellers and buyers, It was nice, though, to actually put your hands on that new or used rig before parting with your money.

I guess the “Good Old Days” are gone forever, though. I’ll keep buying a ticket to support the hobby and keep attending, just in case I see something … anything … I want or need there.

73 de Dick K4FTW

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 :-).

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

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

Progress report

All in all, the bands have been in pretty good shape lately. Good openings on those above 20 meters, and the usual suspects 20 meters and down. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening and operating after work in the evenings.

There’s a solar storm going on now, so I’m not sure what the bands will be like tonight. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight with dinner beforehand, so I doubt that I’ll get much chance to try operating this evening. But, I’ll at least check the bands. Just like a fisherman, you never know what you’ll catch until you put your line into the water :-).

I was just thinking the other evening … yeah, sure, I miss the operating with a few hundred watts and a tribander at 75 feet when I was exotic DX, but I’m having lots of fun with my height-challenged Windom and 31-ft vertical at ground level. I guess it’s all relative … even with limited antennas I’m doing a lot better than those with a license and no antenna (thus, no operating :-(). I’m not a fanatical op, spending hours every night at the rig, but I do enjoy it when I have a chance to get on the air … and, I do snag a few good ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can’t work ’em unless you get on the air. Good operating practices can boost your signal a bit at the other end. Having been DX, I can say that power and S-units aren’t all that matters.

73 de Dick