Easier CW

I recently purchased an addition to my portable gear that makes CW much easier. The item is a Ultra Picokeyer kit from HamGadgets.

Ultra Picokeyer - Available Colors
Ultra Picokeyer – Available colors

My favorite portable transceiver is the Yaesu FT-817ND. One of my not-so-favorite things about it is that it has no CW memories. If you’re contesting or working a POTA pileup, it can wear your hand out!

The Ultra Picokeyer solves that problem. It has CW memories, and a continuously variable speed control, in addition to lots of other features. In addition, it’s a pretty simple kit to build … I didn’t time myself, but it couldn’t have been more than an hour or so. It went very fast, and the only tools required were soldering gear and some flush-cutting wire cutters. Easy-peasy!

73 de Dick N4BC

What’s New?

I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything.

I’ve been chasing Parks on the Air (as usual), and having some success with the improved solar conditions, but my main emphasis since the 1st of the month has been the 13 Colonies Special Event. So far, I have ten of the original 13 in my log, and still trying to break the pileups on the last three. There are three bonus stations, and I have WM3PEN in the books, but not the overseas two. I’ve worked them where I found them … 80M, 40M, and 20M … and on several modes … CW, FT4, and FT8. Surprisingly, none on SSB so far. The phone pileups are chaotic.

Six meters has been having some nice openings, too. All up and down the East coast from here … the farthest contacts have been into Canada, Cuba, and Bermuda. The majority of those contacts have been on FT8.

Our VHF repeater (W4MT) has been up and running for several weeks now, after having some problems passing audio (knock on wood 🙂 ). We never identified the cause, but the problems were coincident with HVAC problems … the drain on the wall unit was plugged and the condensation was running out onto the floor inside instead of outside. Everything was still cool. We unclogged the drain line, and I wonder if the high humidity had something to do with the issues we were having?

It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be just a rain event here in coastal Virginia. We’ve still got our eye on its progress, but hopefully it’ll just be wet! We’ll surely see some coastal flooding, but we get that with any big rain event.

73 de Dick N4BC

Chuggin’ Along

I’m still hanging in there … doing my POTA and digital thing. BUT … in case you haven’t noticed … propagation has been pretty grim lately. Even so, there’s always SOMEONE to work!

POTA Totals

My POTA totals are slowly approaching 400. I’m working one or two a day. It’s frustrating hearing the stations calling the activator loud and clear, but not hearing the activator. If it wasn’t for CW, my numbers would be a lot lower. All things come to those who wait, though!

This year, the Virginia QSO Party is the 20th and 21st of this month. I missed it last year, but this year I hope the weekend has some great conditions. I usually enter as a low power CW station. If you hear me on, give a call!

73 de Dick N4BC

Still kickin’

I’m still here, but not real active lately. I continue to chase Parks on the Air activations, and I dabble a bit in FT8/FT4/PSK/Olivia, but I have been lazy lately.

My POTA totals keep going up, though …

I’ve worked several more than that, so I’m over 375 for sure, and approaching contacts with 400 unique parks.

I haven’t done any portable ops lately, either. The weather has been the pits! Although we dodged most of the snow, we’ve had more than our share of cold rain and wind. It was pleasant this morning, with the temperatures in the 50s, but this afternoon we had heavy rains and cold winds again. The ground squishes and yields water when you step on it.

I was scheduled to receive my second COVID-19 shot on Wednesday, but they’re backed up due to a shortage of vaccine, so I’ve been told to sit tight and wait for them to notify me when and where to go to get the second one. I think the weather nationwide has affected supply channels, and, of course, demand is high.

I hear that Icom is going to release a firmware update for the IC-7300 (and their other SDR radios, as well). I’m looking forward to getting that installed.

Well, that’s my update … stay safe!

73 de Dick N4BC