This weekend was the CQ WW WPX Test, CW. As you can see, the bands were pretty busy …

20 Meter Band on Saturday
40 Meter Band, 45 minutes prior to end of the contest.

Imagine if it was like that every day!

I dabbled a bit and worked 80-some stations over the two days. I also took breaks and worked a few FT-8 contacts, too. Not in it seriously, but just keeping my CW hand in.

This was the first time I’ve hit the CW heavily with the IC-7300 in a major contest, though, and I’m really impressed. It is a real pleasure to work CW with this rig.  I never experienced any overload, even though the bands were booming. The filters are superb, and I could pull out just about any station I tried. Judicious use of the RF gain is the secret!

The only problem that I didn’t resolve was with the N1MM+ logger … I could not get the Telnet working for the packet cluster. It worked the last time I used it … not this time though. Telnet works fine with SpotCollecter in DXLab, so I dunno?

An observation … although they were there, the 50 wpm ops seemed to be fewer. There were lots more stations sending at an easily copyable 25 – 30 wpm.

There were good signals on 80 through 10 this weekend. I checked six meters several times, but if there was an opening, I missed it. Not only good signals, but some good ops, too. It was a pleasure to participate.

My setup was the IC-7300 with 31-foot homebrew vertical and an LDG AT-100ProII tuner. Nothing special. I was hearing North America and South America and the Caribbean pretty well, but Europe was pretty sparse, propagation-wise (for me). Nothing at all out of Asia or Africa.

There was some pretty violent wind, rain, and lightning on Saturday night, but I’d already pulled the switch and gone to bed. Didn’t bother me a bit.

So … now the contest is over, and the bands are back to normal. See the picture above? I just checked, ten minutes after the end of the contest, and there are only five or six CW signals visible on my 40-meter spectrum scope … . What a difference forty-five minutes makes!

Field day is coming up next month. I guess that’ll be the next big thing I’m involved with. I’m looking forward to it!

73 de Dick N4BC


The Blizzard of 2018

Definitely not a day for portable operations, and even now, days after the storm, the secondary roads and streets are hazardous. I did get a four-day weekend, though, due to work being closed. I was on call, but didn’t get called out. We ended up with about eight inches and drifts a bit higher. Really nice snow, though … powdery. It would’ve been good for skiing or snowboarding if we had any hills or mountains here in coastal Virginia. I have a friend that was at Massanutten Ski Resort in the western part of the state, and he said they had no snow, other than man-made. This was strictly a coastal storm … a Nor’easter with snow!

My street during the snowstorm

Eighty and forty meters have been active here in the evenings, but the higher bands have been non-productive. I’m really enjoying the Icom IC-7300. As I get more and more familiar with its usage, it makes operating so much easier.

It’s a new year now … 2018 … and I’ve just mailed off my dues for another year to QCWA Chapter 119. I really wish I could make the meetings, but as a worker bee, I can’t get away for lunch meetings … too far away.

Frostfest 2018 in Richmond, VA is coming up the first Saturday in February. It’s always a good show with lots of goodies for sale. I really can’t think of anything I need, but I’m sure I will come home with something.

I’m trying a new WordPress Theme on the website. Looks odd to me, but maybe that’s just because it’s different … hopefully I’ll learn to love it!

73 de Dick N4BC

Forty Meter Propagation

Propagation was not great last night. Here’s where I was heard on 40 meters FT-8  last night about 1630Z. I was running about 40 watts to a vertical.

Only North America … no South American, European or Asian stations reported hearing my signals. Eighty meters was super noisy and twenty meters was not cooperating with the propagation fairy either. Not a worthless endeavor, but definitely not a great evening on the air.

This evening, we’re expecting our first winter precipitation … snow/rain/sleet mixture. No accumulation but it’s going to be nasty and chilly, for sure.

73 de Dick N4BC

I did it!

I knew I shouldn’t have opened that email from HRO … I just knew it! But, of course, I did. That was the beginning of the end. There was that beautiful picture of an Icom IC-7300 staring at me … and at less than a thousand bucks. I deleted the email. but it didn’t work. It just ate at me and ate at me. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video, and they all weakened my resolve to be strong.

Finally, I gave in. I ordered the radio online and then drove up to the HRO at Woodbridge, VA the next day to pick it up.  I got home and unboxed it and admired it. I had to clean up the shack a bit to fit it on the table … so long old faithful FT-450D. I think you’re due to be sold to a deserving ham.

My New Rig

I’ve only begun delving into the features of this radio, but I’m impressed so far. The amount of control you have over those features is great. I think this is going to be a great companion!

73 de N4BC Dick