The Pits …

I see the sunspot number is still at zero … where it’s been for the last three weeks. Those scientists much  smarter than me say it’ll be there for at least the NEXT three weeks, too. Ah, well … even with secret rites in the dark of night, I don’t think we can make any difference. We just have to wait for old Mother Nature to crank up the next solar cycle.

BUT … as I noted last weekend … even with the numbers as abysmal as they are, there’re always QSOs to be had. Contest weekends, especially, seem to light up the ionosphere.

Our DMR net (TG 31515, Tidewater VA) yesterday evening was a bit sparse … only four of us checked in. It’s pretty much the doldrums of summer now. People are on vacation, outside doing family things … you know the drill. This weekend we’re looking forward to scattered thunderstorms and rain. A typical summer weekend. At least it’s been cooler the past few days.

Not much ham stuff going on this weekend that I’m interested in. The North American QSO Party for RTTY is happening. I haven’t participated in that in forever, so I might dabble a bit there. I’ve got to get me a thicker cushion for my shack chair, though. The IARU CW contest last weekend was murder on my butt!

Well, enough blather! Have a great weekend and do some radio!

73 de Dick N4BC

IARU HF World Championship

I had a fun time Saturday morning  in the IARU HF contest. I made 141 CW contacts … all search & pounce. I had a higher score this year than last year, so I did improve. I had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon and evening and then church on Sunday morning, so my radio time was limited to Saturday morning only.

Propagation was good. I had contacts on all bands, 80 through 10 meters. There were lots of good, strong signals. Eighty and forty were noisy, as is normal this time of year, but there were always contacts available.

I have to say that the IC-7300 was a pleasure to use. The bandscope and filters were so useful. That and N1MM+ made the contest fun! I used my 100 watts, homebrew vertical and tuner and was pleased with the results. I do wonder, though, what I could have done with a “decent” antenna? I remember the old days of paper logs, dupe sheets, and manual keying so well. No comparison nowadays.

I would encourage you to participate in contest operation, especially if you’re new to the hobby and haven’t tried it already. It can be a bit intimidating, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good way to work new countries/prefixes/counties or whatever. Maybe it’s not for you … that’s OK too, but you’ll never know unless you try it.

73 and Good Luck de Dick N4BC

A New One …

There was a nice opening on 10 meters yesterday evening, and I was lucky enough to work a new one … Saint Pierre et Miquelon – FP. I worked FP/KV1J, Eric, on FT8 at 1920Z. He popped up calling CQ and I pounced! He’ll be on Miquelon Island through the 17th of this month and will be on for the IARU HF Contest this coming weekend. He’s operating SSB/RTTY/FT8 and satellite also. You can check him out on his web page here. Always exciting to catch a new one when you’re not expecting it.

Actually, I worked a dozen stations on 10/12/15 meters, all domestic except for Eric. All up and down the East Coast, with a few odd ones in the midwest. Ten meters has shown some interesting and exciting propagation lately. FT8 certainly seems to be the mode for making contacts, even on dead-appearing bands.

The cool weather continues here in coastal Virginia. The past couple of mornings, I’ve actually used the heat rather than the A/C on the way to work at 5:30 in the morning.

73 de Dick N4BC

Nice!

Conditions were really nice this evening. Plenty of action on FT8, CW, and SSB on 40, 30, & 20 meters. Lots of Thirteen Colonies stations active. I think I worked about seven unique stations, and several of those on multiple bands and modes. I probably would have worked a few more, but there were some pretty active thunderstorms on and off all evening, so I pulled the plug several times. I think there’s another day of activity left, so maybe I’ll see if I can get all  thirteen in the log … probably not, though. No big deal if I don’t!

The storms played havoc with my barbecuing plans for dinner, too. The chicken went into the oven instead of onto the grill. Not a good idea to be outside waving a set of metal tongs around in a thunderstorm. I can remember being at a transmitter site when lightning hit the tower … it took a while before my heart rate calmed down. The fiberglass antenna cover for the antenna that was struck looked like a burned, peeled banana. That definitely increased my respect for Mother Nature.

Oh … I calculated my ten-digit grid square (don’t know why, other than just for the heck of it). In case you care, it’s FM17SB46MH. I think that puts you in the middle of my living room. Can’t be too accurate … HA!

73 and thanks for stopping by de Dick N4BC

 

Feeling Slightly Guilty

Friday and Saturday, I worked a LOT of FT8 on 10, 15, 17, and 20 meters. I have to admit … it left me feeling slightly guilty. It just shouldn’t be so easy to make QSOs at the bottom of the solar cycle when the band is pretty much kaput, otherwise.

One that I didn’t snag, though, was the Baker Island DXPedition. I caught a CQ from them on twenty meters FT8 (fox and hound mode in wsjtx), but by the time I configured the software, I never saw another CQ. I evidently copied their last CQ before closing down on that band. Bummer! I’ve seen pileups on other modes and bands, with bunches of stations calling them, but I didn’t have any copy on the DXPedition. I’ll just have to keep listening.

I did see a lot of CW activity on Sunday for the RAC Canada Day contest. The spectrum display looked pretty active most times I checked. Lots of participation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play Sunday … too much going on. I spent the afternoon at my granddaughter’s ninth birthday party … man, where does the time go? I do know, it goes FAST!

Well, that’s enough rambling for today. See you later.

73 de Dick N4BC