I got an early session on the radio as the sun was rising this morning. The solar conditions were shown as “Poor” and “Unsettled”, but there was some good stuff out there. New Caledonia, Australia, and Japan were all seen on FT8 and were making contacts with US stations. The Mayotte DXPedition (TO6OK) was really strong here on the East Coast on FT8, but there were lots of callers worldwide, and I didn’t luck out, though I really tried. I did work a new one (Belize) on forty meters, so my morning efforts were a success as far as I was concerned.
I’m not lacking stations to work, and my best success seems to be on the lower bands (80, 60, 40, 30). I’m not running anything special here … 30 to 40 watts on digital modes through a LDG tuner to a 31-ft vertical wire, through a 100-ft RG-8X feedline, with a 4-to-1 unun at the base of the antenna, and one 31-ft counterpoise laid on the ground. I get acceptable SWR on all the HF bands except 160. The fiberglass antenna support is fastened to a clothesline support with several pieces of stiff twisted wire. Can’t get much more kludgy than that!
The bands suck … right? If you look at the solar conditions, they’re no good, right? Can’t hear anybody, right? Behold …
Those flags represent the stations I heard on FT8, 80 through 17 meters, this evening. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, loads of Europeans, Australia, Oman … what more do you want? Could I work them all? Unfortunately, no. But I worked a bunch … twenty-one of them. With a better antenna … you never know. But they’re THERE … and they’re WORKABLE … by SOMEONE! Might be you! The right time and the right place!
Turn the radio on … don’t sit and complain. They’re there! They’re waiting!
Wow! The little chart you see everywhere that shows band conditions and solar activity says everything is “poor”, but you wouldn’t know it on forty meters. I just worked W9IMS, a commemorative station at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway … he gave me a 59 and he was an indicated 59+20 on the S-meter. Lots of other stations, mostly up and down the east coast with booming signals … CW, SSB, whatever! Just goes to show you, don’t believe everything you read! Get on and see for yourself.
Still on a hurricane watch here in coastal Virginia. Still uncertain landfall for Florence, but not looking real great. I think we’re in for a wild ride no matter where it hits. I’m charging batteries and getting things together.
The CW North American QSO Party is coming up this weekend. I hope to get into it, at least for part of the time. The way things have been going lately, though, nothing is sure. I think I enjoy the CW contests the most of all. I’ve been doing so much keyboard digital operating lately, it’s nice to get back to the original digital mode for a change. Not to mention that the bands seem to miraculously spring to life during the bigger contests.
It’s been raining and storming for the past few days, so even though I’ve been hiding indoors out of the damp, the lightning and thunder have kept me “radio silent.” Tomorrow night is our monthly club meeting, so I’ll have a chance for some “eyeball” QSOs.