I worked seven more parks yesterday afternoon, and I can safely say that it was not “a walk in the park” (Get it? Hah!!). The higher noise levels, combined with the weak signals made for difficult copy. The QSB was ferocious as well … signals disappeared into the noise and then reappeared. Very tiring on the ears! I really admire the activators venturing out into the conditions we’ve been experiencing lately.
The weather has been oppressive. Heat indices have been over 100 too many days, and the pattern will probably continue at least into August. That, coupled with high humidity (over 80% some days), makes for miserable days. This morning when I left for work at 5:30 am, the temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit and nearly 60% humidity.
I’m certainly ready for the new sunspot cycle. It’s reported that the first numbered sunspot of the new cycle has appeared (and persisted), so change is on the way. The bummer is that it’s going to take a few years until things are significantly better. Oh, well … it is what it is.
Well, I got a clean sweep of all 13 Colonies during the special event. I didn’t get the bonus stations (K2Z and GB13COL), but the pileups were so chaotic I gave up on them by Friday. I did get WM3PEN on both CW and SSB. I’m not blaming the Op at K2Z … the AHs calling him just ignored normal protocols and rules of basic courtesy. I’ll send my log in with my $5.00 for the great-looking certificate … I’m a sucker for wallpaper (although I keep most of my “wallpaper” in a binder with transparent document holders nowadays).
On the other hand, I did work a couple of POTA stations on Sunday (K0BAK and KE8BKP). Forty meters seems to be my “go to” band, but during the day, it’s so noisy it’s almost unusable at my QTH … lots of QRN! Looking forward to the winter months when it’s relatively quiet.
Monday was the start of the 13 Colonies Special Event. This is an annual event held during the 4th of July week. I’ve never participated before, but for some reason, this year I was bitten by the bug. See the above link for details.
The first day of the event I worked ten of the thirteen colony stations and one of the Bonus stations. I did hear the other stations (except GB13COL), but couldn’t bust the pileups with my 100 watts and a wire. BUT … I have all the rest of the week to get them. I used a mix of CW and SSB to work those that I have in the log, but also noted that some were operating FT8 as well. It’s a fun event and will keep you off the streets (unless you’re operating mobile!).
I also worked about ten parks, for the POTA totals. I even found a Massachusetts park activation on ten meters, and he was booming in! Many other stations on ten as well, including Canada Day contesters. And this is all with ZERO sunspots showing on old Sol!
Hopefully it’ll continue, but we couldn’t be so lucky, could we?
I just read somewhere that we have been weeks without a sunspot. Boy, can you tell! Although there are openings … good openings … the overall propagation has been pretty dismal here. The summer storms haven’t helped. Lots of static crashes and noise, especially on the lower bands.
Well, there’s nothing WE can do, other than turn on the radio and see what’s going on. If you just sit back and bitch about “the bands”, you’re definitely NOT going to work anyone. You’ve got to put in the time to reap the rewards.
I got my first physical QSL card in a long time last week in the mail. It’s a notable occasion when I DO get one. It took me quite a while to figure out settings (again) to print a label for my card. I always forget to write them down. I send so few cards that I print my own on a color laser printer as needed.
Last week, I took the SkyWarn Advanced Spotter class online. Very interesting … I learned quite a bit. It was well worth the time I put into it. Lots of good information on thunderstorm formation, tornadoes, radar interpretation, and a good review of basic information. The next course that I want to take is the net control operator class.
Speaking of weather … we’ve had some pretty strong thunderstorms here in the evenings recently. Temperatures in the upper 90’s Fahrenheit during the days … high dew points … frontal activity … yeah, we’ve had thunderstorms 🙂 . Summertime is always active here.
Afternoons and evenings, the noise on 40 meters has been terrible here at the ole’ homestead. Lots of hash and static crashes from weather-related phenomena. Of course, this is prime park-hunting time. It’s frustrating to hear stations working the activators and not hear those activators. You can tell they’re there … you can occasionally hear them rise above the noise for a moment … and then they dive back down into the noise. I could probably fake my way through a contest-style QSO … signal report, QTH, and 73 … but that’s almost like cheating if I’m not sure what they’re saying … if I have to guess.
CW’s a bit better. In the past couple of days, I’ve worked NK8O and WB8ERJ, and they had great, readable signals … hey, CW is like SSB with an amp! Digital and CW are certainly the way to go when conditions suck!
Even when you can copy with lots of difficulty … the old ears ain’t what they used to be … the noise and crashes are really fatiguing. You can’t keep it up for long. In the afternoons, after work, I like to listen and monitor the spots while working on other stuff at my desk … it gets irritating fast. It’s summertime!
Late evenings and nighttime are better, but unless they’re camping, most of the POTA guys have packed up and gone home. Parks being what they are, they close at sundown unless you’re registered and camping … nature of the beast.