Virginia QSO Party

This weekend is the 2019 Virginia QSO Party, and I plan to participate. I usually get into it pretty well, but the past couple of years propagation has been so bad I didn’t even bother. Hopefully the propagation gods will smile on 40 and 80 meters this weekend.

I never get into it well enough to win a BIG prize, like a plaque, but EVERYBODY gets a certificate if they send in a log. So, everybody is a winner!

Sample 2019 VQP Certificate

On another note, I just qualified for my first Parks on the Air certificate. This is the lowest level for Hunters. It requires contact with 10 POTA entities.

POTA Bronze Certificate

Hey … I’m turning into a REAL certificate hunter! I’m not doing it for the glory, though. 😀 I’m doing it for the challenge. Pulling some of these guys out of the QRM and QRN IS a real challenge. Band conditions are up and down from minute to minute. FUN, FUN, FUN!!

It’s a beautiful day here today … temperature is around 70 F … sunny … just a great springlike day. Too bad I’m stuck at work. Supposed to get cooler and rain tomorrow. BUT … I guess we’re lucky compared to the Midwest, which is getting nasty weather again.

Oh well … can’t do anything about death, taxes and the weather! Take care guys … have a nice weekend!

73 de Dick N4BC

Zzzzzzzzz …

Been lazy the past week or so … just couldn’t get up the energy to work the contest this past weekend. As usual, I hear there was some interesting propagation … openings on 10 and 15 meters. Isn’t it interesting how that only happens on contest weekends? 😀

I got on a while after work this evening (2030Z – 2100Z) and there was some decent propagation on 17 meters. I worked a bunch of stations in the western USA primarily … that’s all I had any luck hearing, anyway.

17 Meter FT8

I caught up on some cable-making this past weekend. I made up some new coax sections, and also made up a few power cables with powerpoles on them. I’m just sort of getting things collected in anticipation of some warmer weather in the not too distant future (fingers crossed!!). I want to get out and do some Parks on the Air activations. I literally live a few blocks from part of K-4567, Captain john Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail, and within twenty or thirty minutes of several other parks.

73 de Dick N4BC

Low Bands

Last night was a good night on the lower bands … 80, 60, 40 meters. I had 22 QSOs, mostly on 80 meters, and mostly FT8. There were two CW QSOs mixed in there. I worked VP9/AA1AC in Bermuda on 40 meters and VP2MKG in Montserrat on 80 meters. Both had moderate pileups going, working split, and I got them on the first call. The VP2 was a new country for me with my N4BC callsign. I think I’m up to 95 confirmed with that newer callsign.

80 meters stations that heard me
40 meters stations that heard me

The low bands seem to be the place to be during the solar minimum. I was decoding stations all over the world … Asia, the Americas, Europe … they’re out there! I don’t have a superstation, either. I’m running 100 watts to a 31-foot homebrew vertical. Not a model of efficiency. My tuner is working overtime! But it works!!

I guess the moral of this story is … put a signal out there. Get some wire in the sky. You won’t catch any fish unless you get a line in the water. Good fishing!!!!

73 de Dick N4BC


It was a pretty good Friday at work, actually. We had out Shop Holiday Party and the boss paid for everybody’s lunch. It was a a buffet restaurant, and I subsequently fell into a food coma! Honestly, I always eat too much when it’s laid out like that. Anyway, we were given the afternoon off afterwards, so I went home and immediately took a nap to sleep off the food overdose!

Later on, I woke up and flipped on the rig and checked out the bands. Not very exciting … quite noisy and weak signals. I tuned around 30 meters and found FY5FY in French Guiana, Didier, calling CQ. One call to him and he was in the log. He was literally the only CW signal I was hearing on that band.

I dropped down to 60 meters and saw some FT8 activity, so I called CQ, and had QSOs with California, Florida, and Poland … the Polish station was really marginal, but finally in the log.

Stations hearing me on Sixty meters

There was good activity on 80 meters CW and FT8, but I didn’t have good luck there. My vertical loads perfectly through my tuner on 80, but it’s really short (31 feet), and not an efficient radiator. With good conditions, it works well enough, but in these current conditions, it’s hit or miss sometimes.

So that’s my Friday. I’ve got a busy weekend with several holiday concerts to attend, and Sunday afternoon, a friend and I are replacing the driver’s side window on my truck. It was frozen shut one morning and I cranked it a bit too forcefully. Lesson learned! It’s forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so maybe I’ll get on sometime.

73 & Happy Holidays de N4BC

Recap …

I got on for a while late yesterday afternoon, using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5, and had some luck. It wasn’t a lot of luck … just some luck.

You can see, there is more 77-bit messaging showing up on the bands, but it’s still pretty slim pickings. I’m hoping the BIG flip-over will come when version 2 is finally released in its finished form on the 10th of December.

Eighty meter Propagation from N4BC 11/27/2018

Eighty meters propagation was  really good last night. the low bands are the place to be to work stations, but there are still some real gems to be found on the higher frequency bands. I even heard some strong CW signals up on ten meters yesterday evening.

Oh, I got a confirmation from 5T2AI, Ahmed in Mauritania, yesterday. Worked him last week. This LOTW stuff works fine (and fast)! Shame on you if you’re still a denier :-)!!

73 de Dick N4BC