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 😀 .
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!
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!!
We had some good news last night at the club meeting from Charlie, WB4PVT. T-Mobile is putting up a new tower and they seem agreeable to hosting our 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters on it. Both repeaters have been homeless for a couple of years after losing our previous site. Quite a bit of the meeting was taken up with discussion of this topic. We don’t have a lot of details yet.
We’re also seeing a positive turn in membership after several silent keys in our membership over the past few months. Unfortunately, with the aging of the ham population, it seems to be an inevitable trend.
Last night was a good night on the lower bands … 80, 60, 40 meters. I had 22 QSOs, mostly on 80 meters, and mostly FT8. There were two CW QSOs mixed in there. I worked VP9/AA1AC in Bermuda on 40 meters and VP2MKG in Montserrat on 80 meters. Both had moderate pileups going, working split, and I got them on the first call. The VP2 was a new country for me with my N4BC callsign. I think I’m up to 95 confirmed with that newer callsign.
The low bands seem to be the place to be during the solar minimum. I was decoding stations all over the world … Asia, the Americas, Europe … they’re out there! I don’t have a superstation, either. I’m running 100 watts to a 31-foot homebrew vertical. Not a model of efficiency. My tuner is working overtime! But it works!!
I guess the moral of this story is … put a signal out there. Get some wire in the sky. You won’t catch any fish unless you get a line in the water. Good fishing!!!!