A New Baby!

Look, guys … it’s a new baby straight key!

Black Micro Morse Key with Red Knob

It’s a 3-D printed straight key mounted on a solid aluminum base … really stable (also available without the base). The base is 3.75 x 1.5 inches (10 x 3.8 cm). It’s produced by a father/son team in Texas and the price is reasonable. The service is super fast, too!  The company is CW Morse and there are all sorts of color combinations and styles available. A more limited selection is available at MFJ, under MFJ’s own part number. Check out CW Morse’s site for more details and prices. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the field with this one. Actually, I think it’ll be put to use in the shack on the ARRL Straight Key Night, January 1st, from 0000 to 2359 UTC. See you there!

73 de Dick N4BC

Lazy Me

I confess … I had a very lazy weekend. I just piddled around the house and got nothing accomplished. Monday morning, I did fire up the station and do some FT8, though. Conditions were pretty good. Eighty meters was great, and 40/30/20 were good, too.

80 Meters

I logged forty-four contacts on those bands in an hour or so … mostly from the Americas. I was calling CQ and responding to those calling me back, running 40 Watts to my vertical. I guess if I had searched and pounced, I could have had more DX, but I enjoy working them all.

I’ve been pretty slack about operating from my truck in the parking lot at lunchtime, and want to get back into that. This evening, I plan to check out the portable equipment and put it back into action. I really need to get away from my desk at lunchtime. If I don’t, I find myself doing work when I should be taking a break. Ya’ know, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work breaks make you more efficient!

73 de Dick N4BC

Good props …

Look at this …

This is what I was hearing
This is who was hearing me

Seriously, guys and gals, this is where the DX is nowadays. Sure, I catch a few on CW (I seldom operate SSB unless there’s a contest), but it seems the action is on FT8, at least for the foreseeable low solar activity period.

Lots of stuff going on … I spent a LOT of time calling VP6D, the Ducie Island DXPedition, to no avail. I was copying them solid on FT8 on 17 meters, but at about a -13db. With all the QRM, I’m afraid it needed a bit more oomph on my end! After that, I put quite a few US stations in the log, as well as JA and VK.

I guess Fall is finally here. The mornings are downright chilly and a light jacket is not unappreciated during the evening. We fired up the heat over the weekend, and it feels GOOD! We haven’t had a frost yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I’ve mixed up a spray bottle of homebrew de-icer to carry around in my cupholder in the truck. I’m ready!!

73 de Dick N4BC and good DXing

And on we go …

I worked with the Win4Icom software last night a little more … or maybe I should say with the WSJT-X 2.0 software. I couldn’t figure out why the color coding for the callsigns had disappeared since the other evening (different colors for new DXCC, new grid square, new call, and so forth). It turns out that I did it! when I was getting the program set up the other night to integrate with Win4Icom, I did a reset, which set everything back to default, and the default was for minimal colors. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy!

My next project with Win4Icom is getting N1MM+ integrated. It should be fairly straightforward unless I get hit with the stupid again :-D.

I’m presenting the program at our club meeting next month, and have been thinking about what I’m going to talk about. Maybe DXLab Suite … or, I could do a presentation on portable operation. I just haven’t decided yet. I’ll nail it down in the next few days, and then start working on a PowerPoint. I’m just not sure what would interest such a diverse group of hams. I want to pick something that will keep the attention of most of them.

The remnants of Michael are approaching and should really start to affect us this evening. It’s been cloudy with showers all day, but nothing intense. Choir practice has been cancelled, so I don’t have to go out and can batten down the hatches and stay at home. Right now, we’re under a tornado watch, a flash flood watch , and a wind advisory and severe thunderstorm watch. I’m on call tonight but I don’t expect to be called in; the wind and rain are expected to be a lot less severe than they could have been.

73 de Dick N4BC

Portable Antennas

WOW … 529 visitors yesterday. I don’t know where you guys are coming from, but thanks for stopping by to read my incoherent ramblings!

Ya’ know, I’ve been hauling around several hamstick antennas buried behind the seat in my truck, and have never really used them. I’ve got a mag mount to plop on top of the truck cab, but usually when operating portable, I set up an antenna of some sort away from the vehicle. I actually don’t even remember whether the hamsticks are tuned for SSB or CW, it’s been so long since they were used.

So … my project for today is to dust them off and tune them using my MINI-60 analyzer, so I can start doing my lunchtime ops again from the parking lot.

What triggered this flurry of activity was that I picked up a six meter hamstick at a yard sale. Six has been pretty active lately, so I want to get this antenna tuned up and useful. If I’m gonna’ do one, I might as well do all of them … right?  I’m also going to LABEL them with the tuned frequency.

I realize that these are not high-gain, super-efficient antennas, but you know what? They’re better than no antenna. AND … they’re unobtrusive and easy to deploy during a short lunch break in the parking lot behind the shop. If I make it easy, maybe I’ll do more operating there.

73 de Dick N4BC