Parks, Islands, and Old Timers

Tomorrow is one of two QCWA chapter meetings that I normally attend during the year. Chapter 119 meets in Virginia Beach most months on Friday, when I am at work. Twice a year, they hold it on the Peninsula where I live, and it’s on Saturday … April and October. Those I can make!

Stu, WA4JUO and his team will treat us to an interesting presentation on the QCWA Expedition to Tangier Island.

Tangier Island

I’m still chugging along with my Parks on the Air (POTA) contacts. I have 198 unique parks confirmed now. the first 100 or so seemed to add up fast … the second 100 have been considerably slower. Some of that is attributable to band conditions. I have heard lots that were just too far down in the mud to copy.

I’ve actually worked more than 200, but the requirement is 200 confirmed! Everything depends on the activator turning in his log and the administrator for that call area getting the data into the database. Some are fast … some are slower. Hey, it’s a hobby … I haven’t seen a paycheck yet. Us hunters just work ’em and wait!

73 de Dick N4BC

Up and Down

I was doing my usual thing yesterday afternoon after work, looking for POTA activators, just tuning around and checking the spots from the parks website. I worked a few, and then just left the tuning on the last one I checked, where I could just barely make out a signal … no copy though.

I went on to do some paperwork, just listening to the subdued noise from the receiver. After about ten minutes, the signal caught my attention … I could actually make out a few words here and there. Another ten minutes, and the signal had improved to the point where I could copy.

I gave him a quick call … he answered me … 5 by 7s were exchanged … good QSO in the log! Ten or fifteen minutes later, he was gone again … hidden by the vagaries of QSB 🙁 .

So … the moral of this story? Sometimes, patience is indicated, Grasshopper … (my apologies to the old TV show, Kung Fu). Take your time and listen … take time to let things develop.

73 de Dick N4BC

So True …

Saw a great quote today that I’m sorry to say really applies to me!

Speaking about antennas …” The one that works best is installed, in the air, and connected — always better than the one in the carton in the garage.

I’ve had an MFJ Cobweb antenna for several years now … still in the box. I always have an excuse for not getting it assembled and in the air … too hot … too cold … too busy … etc. I promise to get it up “real soon now”, but later, OK? It’s too hot right now 😀 .

73 de Dick N4BC

:)

Longevity

On a whim, I just looked back to the start of this blog. I can’t believe the statistics. My first post here was on March 23rd 2013 … that was 53 pages and 263 posts ago. And even before that, I had other blogs and websites with previously held callsigns.

It’s not like I had anything earth-shattering to share … just a random narrative of (mainly) what was going on in my “ham life”. But, it’s fun to look back and see what’s changed, as well as what’s stayed the same. I sort of look at it like a journal. It’s nice that people stop by and seem interested in what I’m thinking, but it’s mainly for me … for whatever reasons … it’s fun!

73 de Dick N4BC

Rough Copy …

I was working POTA stations in the upper reaches of 40 meters, and you wouldn’t believe how rough the copy was … or actually, maybe you would. Summertime is here … terrible deadly thunderstorms in the Midwest … the general elevated noise levels in our normal environment … all combine to raise the noise floor on the lower bands to the point where many signals are on the cusp of being unreadable. Quite a few of the stations are using low power and compromise antennas. That, coupled with the heterodynes from AM broadcast stations, drive you to distraction. The QSB tantalizes you by raising the signals above the noise and then just when you’re ready to copy something critical, dashing them down into the mud. Life is hard 😀 !

But … help is available! Today’s SDRs really have the capability of pulling some of them out of the hash (I have an IC-7300). Yesterday, I resorted to using all of the bells and whistles I could … auto notch, noise reduction, twin passband tuning, RF gain, tone controls … even the outboard audio filters in my speaker enclosure. All helped to give me just enough of an edge to copy some of those “unreadable” stations. DSP RULES!

So, what’s the moral of this story? Use all the tools that you have available! Yes, many of the older radios have beautiful sounding audio and great sensitivity, but today’s modern radios offer many tools that were not even dreamed of when those radios were designed and built. We truly live in amazing times!!

73 de Dick N4BC